Wednesday, August 11 — It’s been a few days since the Stormy 50-miler in Squamish and my legs are slowly coming back to life. I’ve finally conceded that it’s time to get my hip checked out again and start looking at another injection, so I’m seeing my doctor this afternoon.
Stormy confirmed that my hip is in rough shape. I had taken it easy for the week leading up to the race: I had a fairly relaxed run with the guys on Wednesday and then again with the marathon clinic on Thursday, opting to run only the first of eight hill repeats with them. A passerby even commented that I was cruel making them do that while I stood at the top of the hill and watched. Oh don’t you worry, I thought to myself, payback is coming my way soon enough. My hip was a little stiff and achy by the time I got home Thursday night, but I wasn’t planning another run until race day so I figured with a couple more days’ rest, I’d be as ready as I could be.
The race started out fine. Tim led a small group of us, and though it took me a while to feel warmed-up, it wasn’t anything I didn’t expect. Tim’s early pace, on the other hand, might have been a little unexpected, but again, it didn’t seem too fast… at least until we hit the first aid station in 40 minutes, probably a couple of minutes quicker than we needed to be. Still, I was feeling okay.
About an hour or so into the race, my hip started to ache a little. There were some winding, rolling sections which are nothing on two healthy hips, but for me, it was like the beginning of Chinese water torture. Climbing wasn’t a problem for the hip (it was for my upper left hamstring, but that’s another story), but after every climb comes a descent and the zig-zag run down Rob’s and Cliff’s Corners brought confirmation that it was in my hip and not in my head.
I was still with Dario and Hozumi to the third aid station and knew the biggest test of my hip was coming up: Marc My Word, a nasty little section of trail highlighted by sharp drops down smooth granite with rickety wooden ladders thrown in for a little extra kick. The trail is loved by the mountain bikers who frequent these trails, but my hip and I absolutely hate it. I told myself if I could stay with Hozumi and Dario through this section I’d be okay. I couldn’t. My hip was getting too stiff and painful to give me any confidence descending those steep drops and I quickly lost touch with the guys.
I would catch Dario by the next aid station after another long stretch of winding descents appropriately named Roller Coaster. I really should be bombing down that trail but the hip made me hesitant. Dario and I ran together for the next hour or so before I pulled away on a long steady climb above Quest University (followed — you guessed it — by another series of steep, winding, pain-inducing descents).
Gradually over the next hour or so, the pain in my hip would take a backseat to intense cramping in my calves, quads, and hamstrings. I was less aware of my sore hip over the second half of the race and at one point, I reflected that maybe that early discomfort wasn’t so bad compared with the spastic tag-team wrestling match going on in my muscle fibres.
The cramping made finishing a struggle. Dario would eventually pass me on the winding Smoke Bluffs trail with about 5k to go to take third overall, but I did hang on for fourth and top master in 8 hours 29 minutes, at least an hour slower than I’d hoped for.
Understandably, I was stiff and sore everywhere, but when I went for a post-race massage I could really feel the pain in my hip build up as I lay on the massage table. The therapist did her best to relieve it, but the pain was too deep, and frankly, in kind of a difficult area to get to in the open air in the presence of children. The hour-long drive home was a real treat too, though not solely because of the hip.
I survived my second 50-miler of the summer, but I’m not satisfied with just surviving. I know I’ve got a few things I need to work out, but my hip is one for which I have found an effective, albeit expensive medium-term solution. So with that in mind, I’m heading to see the doctor and probably starting this whole cycle over again. Durolane Diaries 2: The Sequel? Maybe this time I’ll have to start grovelling to Smith and his Nephew about hooking a brother up with some product. It couldn’t hurt half as much as my hip does!
In addition to telling me I have a broken finger, my doctor gave me another prescription for Durolane and submitted a referral to VGH Ultrasound where I will have the injection done. Now I just have to wait for the call from VGH and hope they can get me in well before the Victoria Marathon so that I can get some decent training in without pain. Until then, I’ll have to do what I can.
I actually managed to drag these pulverized tree trunks around for a run with the guys tonight. I had planned to run down to the Running Room to test them out and maybe run a few kilometres, but with Dario and Tim there for the run, I had one less excuse not to run the whole thing. We ran our 11k at a leisurely pace, but I definitely felt the now usual soreness around my right hip afterwards. One more sign that it’s time for another injection.
Thursday, August 12 — Holy crap! Just when I thought my hip couldn’t get any more sore and stiff, it hit a new low tonight. Sure, I probably shouldn’t have run, but I couldn’t miss my marathon clinic’s Boot Camp Run could I? It’s one of the highlight runs of the whole training cycle.
The run started off innocently enough. The tenderized veal wrapped around my femurs commanded most of my attention for the first few kilometres, but the cumulative effect of all the different hills the route covers started adding up and I began to feel twinges from the hip by the time we hit 37th Avenue. The drop down to Ontario and the subsequent climb up to the top of Queen Elizabeth Park, which I pushed as hard as my leaden thighs could muster, were apparently too much. The hip stiffened up and I could feel a halo of sharp pain around the joint. We hung around and waited for the bulk of the groups to reach the top before heading homeward, and in that brief rest period, my hip almost completely seized up. I kept moving and did some leg swings, but it was a struggle to get it moving again, especially with legs that were otherwise trashed from Sunday. For a moment I thought I might be either walking back or somehow finding a ride.
I progressed slowly and actually fell behind the group which was moving at a very pedestrian and social pace. My hip didn’t allow me full range of motion but it eventually loosened up enough that I could stick with the group. I was moving in the right direction but it was extremely uncomfortable.
It’s hard to properly describe the pain I feel, though I realized tonight that I have felt this before. I don’t know if I’ve felt it as severely as I did tonight but I experienced that combination of excruciating pain and immobility a year ago, before my first injection. The fact that it was long enough ago that I had forgotten what it was like is probably further evidence that the Durolane worked and that my hip joint has completely run dry.
I couldn’t help wondering tonight if this was in part mental. Now that I’ve got a new Durolane prescription on hand and an as yet undetermined date with a fluoroscope, does my body feel like it can just let itself go? Seems awfully coincidental. Then again, what jackass would go out and do that run tonight still feeling the way I do after my 50-miler? Maybe this is just what happens when you go too hard too soon after a tough ultra on extremely fatigued legs? Time to rest up, allow myself to recover, and start thinking ahead to Sunday’s 29k.