Thursday, July 28, 2011

You Gotta Crawl Before You Can Run

Let the healing begin.

Things have been gradually improving of late as the body does its best to repair whatever nerve damage was done a bit over a month ago when I woke up in the wee hours with intense and unexplained pain radiating down both arms (and eventually settling mostly on the right side).

Aches/discomfort in the right arm continues to diminish...a little bit more everyday. Feels like some of the diminished fine motor skills are slowly returning, also in a bit-by-bit fashion. Not sure if my right arm strength is improving or not, but it continues to be noticeably less than that of my left.

I took a week off of running last week, due in part to out-of-town visitors, work and family schedules and a weekend trip with jP and friends to camp in Rocky Mountain National Park. I also decided that some time off might kick start the body's repair work. Hard to tell if the time off made a difference or not, but since things are improving, I'll take that as a sign that it was a wise decision.

I'm currently in Arlington, VA on a biz trip.  Got in a 8.78 mile jog last night running from a friend's place on Capitol Hill, down the National Mall, over Memorial Bridge, past the Iwo Jima Memorial and up the Custis Trail to my hotel, finishing up at 11:30 p.m. I felt pretty sluggish, but it was hot and I was toting a belly full of Indian food and a couple of Dogfish Imperial IPAs. Excuses. 

Still, I was happy to be moving for that 1.5 hours, and it felt good to sweat.

Got out this evening for a not-so-fun four-mile jog on some of the local paved bike paths. Felt creaky.

Home tomorrow.

Interesting piece in Velonews about what cyclists (and runners, no doubt) should do when they break their collar bones.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Radio Silence

125 and 85.  Those numbers say it all.

125 is the measurement in pounds of how much force I can apply with my left hand's grip.

85 is what I can pull with my right hand.

I'm right-handed.

Before July 1st, I never gave much thought to those kinds of measurements.

Let's back up a bit.

On June 18th, I ran the San Juan Solstice 50. I finished a respectable 14th overall in 10:15:10.  The post-race recovery went well...Sunday - Tuesday off, easy runs on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.  On Sunday, I began feeling achy and fatigued. Monday morning, I was on a plane to D.C. I spent all day Tuesday and half the day Wednesday (until housekeeping kicked me out) in my hotel room bed crushed by the body aches and fatigue of what I assume was the flu.

I got back home Wednesday night and was on the mend. Better Thursday.  Then, things got interesting.

I woke up around 3 a.m. Friday (July 1) morning with awful pain running down both shoulders into my arms.  I've likened the feeling to hot lead being poured over my shoulders and dripping down to my forearms.  By 7 a.m. the pain on the left had eased, but continued to be agonizing on the right side.

After a brief work-over by a local PT/chiropractor I cold-called, the pain eased enough to carry on with a long-planned Fourth of July trip to Crested Butte. As the pain eased to a general discomfort, I noticed that my fine motor skills and dexterity in both hands had deteriorated and strength in my right arm had diminished, hence the numbers noted above.

Over the last couple of weeks, the constant discomfort has mostly disappeared, replaced by what feels like muscle soreness in the upper arm and shoulder and a tearing sensation in my forearm when I attempt quick movements.  Beyond that, the body generally feel physically disconnected, out of tune and dulled.  Running is doable, but I have no power on the climbs and no braking strength on the descents.  And,  interestingly, I can no longer yell.

Doc thinks I might have a brachial plexus neuropathy, which in a nutshell means the network of nerves that exit the spine and branch out into the upper arm got messed up. In about 30 percent of cases, this neuropathy (disease of the nerve) is preceded by a bacterial or viral (flu!) infection.  Typically, these cases resolve themselves over the course of about three months, in rare cases longer.

I'm now in the fun..."come-back-in-two-weeks-and-let's-see-if-you've-improved" dance with the doc. Easy for him to say...  Acupuncture with Allison at Alternative Care of Colorado, massage and daily icing are also in the mix.

For now, I'm trying to preserve some fitness with near-daily jogs in the 4-7 mile range.  The pace feels plodding and mellow (and a little dull) and has me longing for the quad-busting, full-focus cruises down Green Mountain.

The good news is that I have the sense that things are improving bit by bit, but the rate of improvement is far too slow for my liking, especially with all the high country snow finally melting out. As a result, I've dropped the Pikes Peak Marathon from the race calendar, and in all likelihood will drop the September Bear 100 as well.

Hence, the radio silence and lack of posts on this blog.

Recent runs over the last week and a half, at the aforementioned plodding pace, include five miles at Maxwell Falls in Evergreen, six miles around Elk Meadow Open Space, six miles at Betasso Preserve in Boulder and five miles on the Gudy Gaskill and Beaver Brook Trails in Golden with the kids (they rode their mountain bikes). None of the runs feel anything close to effortless, but they are helping keep some of the rust off.

One thing's for sure...I much prefer the self-inflicted running injuries to crap like this! More to come...