Strains, Sprains, and Fractures!

It looks like the trend of sporadic blog updates continues but this time, there’s a legitimate reason.  Typing is a challenge when your hands look like this:

Photo on 5-28-14 at 7.01 PM

First, let me break the suspense by announcing that I did complete IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene on June 29, 2014! Stay tuned for a race report.

Now, let me review the incidents that had me on the verge of withdrawing from the race.

More baby cow drama

Shortly after returning to outdoor running, my calf started whining again. My coach suggested trying Hokas to reduce impact of running with my full body weight. Thanks to free overnight shipping from Zappos, these hideous clown shoes arrived at my door the next day. Much to my delight, they kept my calf happy and it hasn’t bothered me since.  Crisis #1 averted!

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What goes up, must come down

The day after my first run in my Hokas, hope soon turned to horror as our group rolled out for a Saturday ride up Mt. Hamilton. Within seconds of pushing off, my front wheel got caught in some train tracks and I crashed.   My left side felt a little sore, but I decided to keep riding and see if it got any better. Within a few minutes, my left knee and hip calmed down and didn’t bother me any more but my right thumb started to hurt like hell. Gripping the handlebars was excruciating so I started climbing with my right hand elevated, determined to make it to the summit and then hitch a ride in my coach’s truck for the descent. The pain became unbearable and it seemed dangerous to continue as I couldn’t brake with my right hand so I bailed after only 12 miles.

A few days later, I decided to have my thumb checked by a doctor.  Urgent care took some x-rays, concluded there was a tiny fracture, and referred me to a hand specialist in orthopedics. The hand specialist reviewed my x-rays and told me my thumb wasn’t broken but he was very concerned that I may have torn my ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) which would require surgery.  The exam involves many crazy manipulations of the thumb that were very painful at the time so the doctor recommended that we wait a week and try again.

When you’re two months out from an Ironman, a week is a long time to wait to find out if you need surgery.  I cried many times because I assumed I wouldn’t make it to the starting line at Coeur d’Alene.  I kept trying to remind myself that there are much greater tragedies in life than dropping out of a race but the pity party raged on.

The next week, I headed to the doctor’s office expecting the worst.  The exam was much less painful on the second try and the doctor was very pleased with the progress my thumb made.  My UCL was sprained, but didn’t need surgery.  I had to wear a splint full time for six weeks but I was cleared resume training.

Another day, another hand injury

A month after spraining my thumb, I broke my finger on the pool wall during Masters. W.T.F.

Feeling like a stalker, I went back to the hand specialist (my last thumb appointment was only three days before).  Fortunately, it was a minor fracture and I was back in the pool the next day with my finger splinted and taped.

All of these obstacles seemed huge catastrophes at the time, but in hindsight they now feel like minor inconveniences.  Well, except for the medical bills.  Clumsiness is an expensive habit!

Stay safe and happy training!

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Walking Disaster *UPDATED*

Although my mom will never admit it, I’m pretty sure my existence started as an accident. This awkward fact has set the tone for the rest of my life as I am the dictionary definition of accident-prone. I honestly wonder how I’m still alive after 31 years of hurting myself in the dumbest ways.

Case in point, I am currently typing this post by pecking the the keyboard with my right hand while elevating and icing my left hand. Wondering what’s wrong with my hand? I broke some blood vessels in my middle finger while engaging in the dangerous activity of WASHING DISHES. Now it’s swollen, throbbing, and a beautiful shade of blue. Hopefully, I can keep it under control and avoid going to the hospital to get it drained.

This hilariously lame injury has inspired me to share a few of the dumb shit that has sent me to the ER over the years.

One of my earliest and most severe accidents occurred when I was only a few years old. I broke my leg when the rug I was dancing on slipped from under my feet. According to my mom, the doctor at Detroit Children’s Hospital pulled her aside to ask if my dad hurt me because I managed to break my leg in a way that’s usually caused by child abuse. After she explained that I did it all on my own, I was wrapped up in a full-leg cast and sent home. These days, I turn into Debbie Downer and tell this story to my friends whenever I see their child dancing on a rug.

More recently, I fell down the stairs outside my apartment while carrying a box of garbage to the dumpster. I thought I reached the bottom step, but I was mistaken. I twisted my ankle, heard a loud pop, fell back, and the box of trash landed on me. No one was around to help me so I had to hobble to the dumpster and back up the stairs to my apartment. Fortunately, it was only a sprain but I had to take a six week break from running and couldn’t race the Big Sur Half Marathon that year. Shortly after my ankle healed, I sprained it again while crossing the street with the dog…

Then there was the bread knife incident… I was slicing a bagel with the awesome Shun bread knife I just received as a gift from my boyfriend. Like a moron, I was cutting toward my hand and sliced my palm. I’ve cut myself many times in the past without needing stitches but this was my first incident with a serrated knife. 30 minutes of pressure and elevation didn’t slow the bleeding so I relented and sought medical attention. My hand needed four stitches and six weeks to heal.

I also had the great fortune of getting a staph infection in my toe during a half ironman. I’m not sure how I caught it, but I do know that it was incredibly painful.

I’ve had so many dumb injuries in my life, I almost signed up for a twitter account last week for this:

Are you accident-prone?
What’s your dumbest injury?

*** UPDATE ***

My finger doesn’t look pretty today but the swelling is under control. No ER trip this time!

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Good News

About a month ago, I began to experience pain in my right foot while running.  At first, the pain felt like it was along the line where the toes are connected to my feet and would dissipate shortly after I stopped running.  Eventually, it moved to the top of my foot and would persist when I was resting.  Lsst week, when I was out for a run, I had to walk after only 2 miles  because the pain was too severe.  I started to worry that a metatarsal stress fracture was to blame so I made an appointment to have my foot examined and took a break from running.

Yesterday, I was finally able to see the doctor.  Thankfully, the x-rays showed that I do not have a sress fracture.  However, he instructed me to avoid running for another 2 weeks and slowly ramp up my running duration an intensity after that.  Based on my symptoms and activity level, he was concerned that I would eventually end up with a stress fracture in my foot.  I’m very happy that the injury is not too severe.  Typically, recovery from a metatarsal stress fracture involves 6 weeks of rest.  In the past, I’ve had injuries that required a long break from running and found the process of getting back in shape to be very difficult, physically and emotionally.

As with any injury, it’s important to understand the cause so those behaviors can be avoided in the future.  I probably injured my foot by making too many significant changes to my running at one time.  About 2 months ago, I started incorporating speed work into my training by attending track workouts every week. I also recently bought a pair of racing flats started to transition from a heel strike to a forefoot strike.  When I can run again, I’ll ditch the racing flats for a while and be more conservative with the amount of impact I put on the forefoot when running.  Until then, I will be doing a lot of swimming, biking, and weight training.

Here is some information on metatarsal stress fractures.