PC: Tommy Martino

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Patience & the Pubis

It's been a while since I've checked in with a blog. That's because I've been busy! Busy healing and doing fun summer things: friends, family & food.

It was Memorial Day weekend, and I had headed out for my last long run of 16 miles. Ten miles in, I started to get some side stitches, not all that uncommon, but as I got to 13 miles, I noticed the pain was moving south as was my pace. By mile 15 I had run a 9:26... not a good sign. The pain was so severe in my lower abdomen, it was making my hip flexors, butt muscles, upper hamstrings and of course my stomach muscles all cramp and hurt. I walked it home certain something in my belly was creating all this mayhem. Everyone on my moms side of her family including my brother has had their appendix removed, so this seemed like the most logical answer for me. That or perhaps an alien baby. 

You're not having an appendicitis," Andy told me adding "that's not the right spot, and it would feel different. You probably pulled a muscle." Whatever the diagnosis was, I knew it wasn't going to be good and my hopes of running a marathon in 8 days were slipping sideways. 

A few hours later, I still had the soreness in the lower abdomen, but the bulk of the pain had stopped when I stopped running. I tried to stretch the area. Ouch. And I checked to see if there was any strength left in my ab muscles, by lying on my back and lifting my legs. Crap, I couldn't and it hurt. The next morning, I went out for 4 easy miles with Andy. It felt like a gut punch. Every. Single. Step. That "oh shit" feeling pulsed through my body. I knew deep down something was really wrong. But, being the ever optimist, I truly hoped it was a pulled muscle (or alien baby) and that the race in Calgary June 1 would still be on. 

Before I get to the diagnosis, I should back up a little.

Post Boston recovery was going very well. I took some time off, drank a lot of wine and slowly returned to the roads. After about two and a half weeks I was the little kid on the bench demanding "Put me in coach! I'm ready to play!" With his hesitation, I persuaded my coach to let me run the Riverbank Run, a spring classic here in Missoula. Because of other spring races (and also some strong feelings about the disorganization of this event), I hadn't raced since 2008. I signed up for the Tri-Fecta race, which combines all three distances 10K, 5K & mile which are spaced out enough so that you can race all three. 

My coach had to set boundaries for these races. He didn't want me just blowing out of the start and hurting myself or falling apart a few miles in. We decided these would be progression runs. Starting out slow and building to unleash in the final mile (... which isn't much for this one-speed pony). The 10K was good, not great, but after a slow start, I jumped from a 6:10 to a 5:55 mile too soon. I missed the 6:05 and 6:00 miles. I think I was a bit too excited. So for the 5K I really focused on staying on the paces given to me. I ran a 6:01, 5:53, 5:44. So success! (Regarding one small part of the disorganization comment above, the "5K" course isn't even 3 miles. The last mile my watch said .94 but 5:44 pace.) The mile I just wanted to go sub 5:40, which I did, but I'm not certain if that mile is really a mile either. Either way, I was happy to be back racing and feeling solid!

Last mile of the 10K course. Photo from the Missoulian

The next weekend was one of my favorite trail races, 11 Miles to Paradise. Although this race is not quite 11 miles or finish in Paradise, it's still extremely well organized, beautiful and fun!  There's a reason this one sells out quickly. Who doesn't want to run fast trails which finish with a meal and a soak in the hot springs? This race was two weeks from the Calgary marathon, so I was really looking to get in a hard effort. The competition was stiff and at mile 9.5 I found myself duking it out with Nicole Hunt again. She passed me on the final climb and went on to best me by 25 seconds. It was still a good effort and the top 3 women were all under the course record time. I had started my period the day before the race, so the sharp pains in my female parts during the final mile of the race, I attributed to my monthly friend. I even told Nicole after the race as we chatted "I felt like someone was stabbing me in the vagina!"

The top three women hit the single track. Photo by Vo-Tography

Had I only know then that the pubis getting angry.

That following Saturday was the back long run as I previously mentioned. So what the heck was wrong with me?!?

I was able to get an appointment the Tuesday after the holiday with the local sports doctor. I told him I thought I pulled a muscle and I hoped he could clear me for the race later that week. He did a few tests and it didn't take long. OSTEITIS PUBIS aka inflammation of the pubis symphysis. Or a stress reaction on my pubis symphysis.

Huh? Giggle, giggle, pubis what? He busted out the pelvis skeleton and gave me an anatomy lesson.  It's the hard cartilage right in the center of your pelvic bone. What causes it? Overuse. (Insert sex joke here). But really, overuse by training. 
See it? Pubis Symphysis.

An MRI the following day confirmed his findings that this girl's pubis was angry! Lots of inflammation.
  • No race.
  • No running.
  • $#!T!!!
  • PUBIS!!! (It truly is fun to say)

So for the last 7 weeks, I've become very familiar with telling my pubis story and pointing to my lady parts, riding my bike, I spent a wonderful week with family in Oregon, indulged myself in some other activities than running (say what?), helped beginners train for their first marathon and relaxed... a lot. It's been surprisingly nice! Then I feel gross and get irritated that I can't train... then I sit on a patio and drink a beer with a friend I haven't spent enough time with and it's nice again. ....But then I see my friends racing, ahhhh! It's just up and down. I'm practicing patience, something that doesn't come very easily to me.

I do have to say 'injured Trisha' is WAY better than 'taper Trisha' for two reasons. #1) No scary important race looming. #2) Red wine. Plus, mix the red wine and me talking about my pubis all the time... just good, clean fun. 

After 10 day of zero running, I started adding back tiny runs. First week back - 8 miles, wohoo! Then the next week 12. Biking didn't hurt the pubis at all, so I've been bike commuting a lot to and from work (20 miles round trip). It's not a workout... but helps me feel like I'm doing something productive. I ventured out to try pool running, which might be the more boring than watching women's basketball. (I didn't think that was possible.) I have friends who have been pool running for months due to stress fractures. I don't know how they do it, much respect. 

A lot of people have asked me why I came back to running so fast... 10 dasy off? Why didn't I let the pubis heal completely? Both my doctor and coach (and me and my husband) agree active recovery is best. As long as the pubis didn't hurt after a run or during the activity it was ok to continue to run (or jog actually). No speed, no hills (uphill seemed especially bad) and no yoga or any weird strength training that made the pubis shift. It was a slow and gradual build up, continuing to run and continuing to let the area heal. First time in a very long time I was under 100 miles for a month.

Missoula Aquajogging Team - L to R: stress fracture & angry pubis


This weekend is the 8th Running of the MISSOULA MARATHON! Christmas in July for runners :) I love this race. I am so incredibly proud and bursting with excitement over my hometown marathon. We do it up right! I've been involved with the Marathon for 3+ years now. I've sold sponsorship for the race, been a vocal member of the race committee and consider myself a running ambassador for the city of Missoula the second weekend in July. Although, I've raced the marathon 4 times, the half once and 5K twice... last year I dove in and gave pacing a try. I paced the 3:20 group. I didn't think I could have more fun than I did race day in 2013... it was pretty incredible. I was a bit nervous I wouldn't hold the pace or would be erratic with my splits, but once I got into the groove, the miles clicked off. My core group of guys (pictured here) all made it very close to the 3:20 mark, some a little before, most a minute or so back. I think I received more cheers as a pacer than as the first female in previous years. I actually hear "Go Balloons!" from one spectator. 

The question I get asked the most about pacing is "are the balloons annoying to carry?"... and the answer is no, I really didn't notice them. However I did use them as a baton like I was the conductor of my own 3:20 band. So this year, BP (or before pubis), I made the commitment to pace again. I had dreams of going to Calgary, getting my OTQ (sub 2:43) and pacing in my home town 6 weeks later to the cheers and congratulatory hi-fives from my running community. I probably jinxed by thinking about it so much! I'm good on my word this year. I'm going to pace again. I ran 17 miles last Sunday... so I'm hoping that plus my endurance from the previous years of running will carry me to the finish line. I do know there is a good chance I can hurt bad too. Dropping out will break my heart and would be tough for me to get over, but breaking my pubis officially would ruin any chance I have of running a fast late fall marathon. 

Some where on the hill of the marathon course 2013,
 I'm guessing mile 14 or so. I love this picture. I'm pretty
sure the guys were making painful faces on purpose.... I hope.

So what did I do with all that free time? 
Here's some pics of my mini-adventures!

With limited running, I took to my trust steed!
A lot of bike rides these past few weeks.
 I never got good at the biking selfie though.... 

Awe.... the Missoula Marathon training class - LOVE these people. 
This is only about 40 who showed up on a nasty, cold rainy June day. 
There's more than 300 signed up for the class.
 I'm going to miss them. Tear!

We gathered on the last day to share words of wisdom
and to hopefully get everyone pumped up. I shared you never
forget your first... marathon, that is. But really, so much of
marathon training isn't about running. It's about setting a
goal and seeing it though. I can not wait to celebrate with all
my new friends at the finish line!!! It's been a rewarding and
inspiring 18 weeks with the 300+ class.

Biking took me to some beautiful places!
Including the Deschutes River with
Mt Bachelor peaking out in the background

Golfing with my friend Holly on the Summer Solstice. 
We are both really good at golf... I mean driving the golf cart.

In Central OR visiting my family helping this 
adorable 7 year old make his way to
 a top 5 finish in the Kid's Splash, Pedal & Dash!
The day after the Kids race, Andy kicked butt 
in a close finish for the Long Course Tri at Pacific Crest.

I practiced my pacing skills and helped my mom finish
her 5K with a 4 second gap to clinch
her age group victory!  And Evan crushed the Kid's Mile.

Cross Training.... MT style ... on the Fourth of July
And of course! Cuddling and taking 
LOTS of photos of the monkeys :)
What can I say... they are a good looking pride. 
It was a real shocker to come home one day 
and all four chillin' together.
 I don't think that happens too often!