Four days. That’s how long IM training was going well until the wheels came off. On day five, I couldn’t walk across the bedroom to the bathroom without windmilling my arms for momentum. What the heck happened in four days? The ironic thing is, the running and biking on my schedule was about half of what I would normally do. When my hip started hurting a little bit during my swim on Thursday, I wasn’t too worried. After all, I’m doing much less than I normally do. I went home, iced it and took some ibuprofen. When I could hardly walk on Friday morning, I was shocked. Something bad had happened.
I called my massage therapist and he agreed to see me right away. He worked on it but didn’t really find anything in the muscles that would explain my level of pain. He suggested that it might be the joint itself. Luckily, I had also called the doctor and was able to get an appointment for Monday. Friday and Saturday I rested. Sunday I worked around the house and found that the more I moved, the better I felt. I got on the bike trainer for an hour without any pain at all. Maybe I was cured?
Maybe not. I was in pain all through the night and on Monday morning was right back to where I was on Friday. Yesterday I went to the doctor and she pressed on my back and hip and assured me that it was sciatica. I was able to get into the chiropractor she recommended just a couple hours later, I’ll call her Dr. C, who is also a triathlete and works with a lot of athletes. Dr. C asked a lot of questions and asked me to move a lot of ways that my body would prefer not to move. All of it made it pretty clear to me that something is pinched in my back. Dr. C did her thing and gave me some stretches, and I have to admit that I walked out being very skeptical. Given the amount of pain I am having, how is it that a few little stretches and twisting my back is going to make any difference? She asked me to take it easy the rest of the day and on Tuesday and then I would see her again on Wednesday.
I was prepared to not feel any better and pout for the next two days until I saw her again. Shockingly, I almost immediately started to feel better. Before I saw her, if I sat for more than a few minutes it was excruciating to stand up. After, it was much less painful. I slept through the night last night with no pain. This morning, I did have some pain but nothing like I had on the previous mornings. I’ve been doing the gentle stretches that she gave me throughout the day and I’ve been able to stand and sit much more comfortably. If I was confused as to what happened to cause the pain, I’m even more confused as to how she made it better by doing so little.
On the one hand, I’m really upset because it’s only week two and I’m already behind on my training. Now my training will never be “perfect” as I’ve already missed workouts. On the other hand, no one really respects an Ironman that can’t put on their underwear without assistance. And really that’s what I’m dealing with. The pain was to the level that I wouldn’t be able to live with it, let alone train with it. Laying in bed at night, unable to sleep because the pain is so intense isn’t how I want to live. My training plan was 30 weeks, so if I can get healed in the next three or four weeks, I will be able to jump back into my current plan. If I’m out longer than that, I can switch to a 24 week plan. Longer than that, and I will have to re-evaluate whether I want to do the race. Dr. C hasn’t indicated that doing the training is in jeopardy, so I’ll have to be patient and see what happens.
Tomorrow I’ll see what she says and hopefully I’ll get the green light to do some activity soon. In the meantime I’m trying to stay positive, especially since there isn’t much else to do. I’m trying to remind myself that there are many more races out there, and that this isn’t my only chance to do an IM. I could volunteer again and try again next year, or get a charity entry for a race early next season. It’s too early to throw in the towel, though. I’m still very hopeful that I will be back at it soon. Fingers crossed that my relationship with IM lasts longer than Kim K’s marriage.