Monday, January 24, 2011

Knee Update

Life has been crazy and, since injuries are not fun to think about, posting an update regarding my knee took a backseat to other things.  Since Stuart gave me a virtual kick in the pants, here's the scoop....

The inner part of my left knee has been hurting for almost two years; it's been an odd pain pain that did not match typical knee injuries and its effects made running, yoga, walking, sitting painful.  I actually gave up running "faster" miles because I would feel a catching in my knee and I would end up dragging my left leg/foot along....not exactly fun for someone who likes to race.  Last summer I finally had enough when yoga poses became painful.  I was seeing a wonderful chiro (Dr. Neubauer) for A.R.T. and he was also baffled by the cause of my pain.  My left calf is full of scar tissue and I swing my leg out in a funky way when walking/running so we worked on fixing those in the hopes that it would fix my knee.  After a few weeks of no relief, he sent me for a M.R.I.  The doctor (radiologist) said I had effusion (swelling) and bursitis in a lesser-known bursae.  My chiro recommended the typical course of treatment for it and told me to see an orthopedist if I was not better by November.  I took some time off running, ran very minimal mileage when I resumed, did so much stretching I felt like Gumby, and devoted time each day to using the Stick.  My knee never felt 100% but I held off on going to the ortho....until the pain became unbearable this month.

About two weeks ago I saw Dr.Graham and he took one look at MRI from last year before giving me a diagnosis.  I have a huge cyst along the pes anserinus (area where the three hamstring tendons insert into the knee); the radiologist misread my MRI!  It sucks because I've spent the past 5 months in pain and avoiding running when I could have been treated for it and on the road to recovery.  However, I should have gone to see him a few months ago instead of trusting the radiologist.  According to Dr.Graham, MRIs are often misread.  Yikes!!!!

Dr. Neubauer told me the course of treatment for bursitis when I made my appointment with Dr. Graham so I was prepared for aspiration (draining of burase) or cortisone.  Since my cyst is old (lots of layers), the only option was cortisone.  I happily jumped at the chance for getting cyst-free and he injected it twice.  Fingers crossed it works....he told me to give it 2-6 weeks and to return for another round of cortisone if necessary. It's such a large cyst that one injection may not be sufficient.

I took a mandated 5 day stretch off from working out and am counting down until I am allowed to resume running.  In the meantime, I am working with Dr. Neubauer on fixing what may have caused it; last week I had a grueling A.R.T. session and he taught me lots of PT exercises.  I am on an intensive hamstring stretching and strengthening routine.  Apparently, my hammys are weak so I'm working the life out of them.  I even (gulp) took his recommendation for inline skating; unfortunately, I recently donated my havent-been-worn-in-10 years Rollerblades so I had to purchase a new pair.  Now, I'm hoping I don't hurt myself trying to relearn how to skate.  I am allowed to start "power hiking" this week and next week, if my knee feels "ok", I get to run again...yay!!!

I am having less pain in my knee, though I experienced extreme shooting pains for about 36 hours late last week.  Those, plus some insane bruising around the injection sites, worried me but it could be that the cyst burst.  Apparently, pain and bruising are symptoms of a cyst bursting.  I'm monitoring it and will be smart in returning to running.  Until then, I'm working on getting buns of steel with rollerblading and hammy exercises.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011 Goal

As I look back on my running in 2010, I am happy that I survived the year.  While I had some successful races (100K and 100 miler), I spent most of the year injured or dealing with nagging issues that make running painful.  Obviously, I want this year to be different.  I long to sign up for races but have realized that I will have to deal with my knee injury as it has not gone away on its own.  I took time off running, limited my mileage, kept my paces slow, used the foam roller/stick/Strassburg sock, iced, etc. and got through most of the year without the pain getting back to where it was in late July/August.  However, I guess the combination of some faster miles and my body deciding to put me in check before I sign up for a slew of races caused my knee to start hurting a lot over the past week.  So, my only running goal for 2011 is to get the knee pain resolved. 

Wednesday I will see my orthopedic doctor.  I had a MRI in August and it showed bursitis in the semimembranosus gastrocnemius bursa (fluid sac where calf and hamstring meet behind knee).  I'm hoping the doc can use that MRI (paying for another is not in my budget), drain the bursa, and send me on my merry way to get more A.R.T. with very little time off running.  I am wishing I had taken care of this later in 2010 when I knew that the bursitis had not gone away, but I took less discomfort as a sign of now I have to see what the doc and my insurance can do to help me with my 2011 goal.  Fingers crossed!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Running in Memphis!

I traveled to the Memphis area for 10 days to spend time with my family for the holidays.  While I was always on other people's schedules (sharing car) and trying to optimize my time with my nephews, I still managed to get in some great runs.  Normally the weather does not allow me to run trails because they flood from rain but this year the weather was perfect and I could not get enough of trail runs.

Tuesday 12/21 I checked out Herb Parsons Lake in Fisherville, the tiny unincorporated town where my mom lives.  I ran there years ago but this year I was stoked to see that a newer, slightly longer trail option existed.  I felt like a little kid running through the woods, wondering if I was lost when the trail was hard to see, and silently thanking whoever marked the trail turns with ribbons...I felt like I was on a well-marked trail race course! While there were no true climbs, by the end of the run I felt the effects of the constant tiny rollers...about 7.1 miles with about 850 feet climbed...not bad for a flat trail run!  I was sad to cut my run after one loop but family obligations called so I was thankful for the time out there as it was so peaceful and the solitude was just what the doctor ordered.

Only a small section of the big lake!

"over the hill and through the woods"

 Where's the trail? lol...loved the tree roots, leaves, constant up/down

Photo op

One of many bridges

The new mile markers...a welcome sight

Wednesday I squeezed in a run around my sister's neighborhood in East Memphis/Germantown.  Again, I got to throw in some small hills and my body liked the cold temperatures so I cranked out faster miles than I have since the beginning of the year.  With 3 of the 5 miles in the mid 7s, I finished the run feeling fantastic.  Thursday was another short run around the neighborhood and I was surprised at my "recovery" pace.  Maybe I was so cold that I was just eager to get the run done?! 

Christmas Eve I set out for an 11 miler that would take me through a greenbelt area and allow me to run some on the dirt trails along the Wolf River.  I was limited by time but loved discovering the dirt trails that I had desired to run for years. 

Start of yellow trail

View from yellow trail

Christmas morning I awoke to snow flurries...something I had never experienced on Christmas in Memphis.  I could not resist the chance to run in snow so I went to Herb Parsons Lake and had a fantastic run scampering through the woods, being careful not to fall on slick bridges and leaves, and loving the sight of flurries!  I wished to stay out there but settled for one cold but heart-warming loop.

On the 26th, I was scheduled to participate in the Operation Jack Satellite Run; it was to be a 6.1 mile run as my friend Sam was finishing his 61st marathon/ultra of 2010 (ending a year of spreading awareness about autism and fundraising for Train 4 Autism).  I hit the blue trail along the Wolf River and then ran to my sister's house, throwing in an extra mile just because I was loving the snow flurries.  My recently weekly mileage has been low but that run pushed me to 41.5 for the week.

Snow on the blue trail

My boyfriend and his parents arrived the afternoon of the 26th so I took the 27th off from running but managed to get in some good runs on the 28th and 29th.  Since I wore my Garmin for all of my runs in Memphis, it was cool to see what my easy pace was as I've been running Garminless for most of the runs around my neighborhood.  I was eager to return to Cali but sad to leave the gorgeous trails of the Memphis/Shelby County area.  The pace of my runs boosted my confidence but I know I need to work on endurance in 2011.