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...


  1. Its not whining. That sucks man. Get well.

  2. Hope you feel better soon Jim! Sorry to hear this, but glad to hear you will make a full recovery and sounds like you have the right attitude. Will miss seeing you at PPM.

  3. Sounds serious... get better and you'll be tearing it up again in no time. Was looking forward to seeing you again at PPM. Maybe you can come out and watch, although that might just be torture in itself.

  4. Man tough luck, you've had your fair share of injuries this year. Hopefully, this will be the end. Good run at LC50 by the way.

  5. Oh man, so sorry to hear about all this. You're one strong SOB and I'm sure it'll be much sooner then later that I'll be reading of posts regarding you hammering out long runs.

  6. Holy crap. I am very sorry to hear that.

    It does make me think how we end up focusing on how much we train, how we train - at some point things like this can happen and we have no control over it. The Tony like injury is sort of obvious when it happens - this has to be a bit maddening because I think it can happen at a level where you don't even get it diagnosed.

    All the best, rest up man and we will get out for some easy stuff this fall.

  7. Thanks all for the well wishes! I'm a patient guy, but a lousy patient. Will be interesting to see how that dichotomy plays out.

  8. Really sorry to hear this Jim. Did the SJ50 have anything to do with it? Get well soon, Pikes Peak ain't goin' no where!

  9. That was me, Rick Merriman. I'm having trouble posting on some blogs, can't figure it out. Yours and GZ, but I can post on Tim W. Hmmmm...

  10. Damn. How the heck do they even diagnose such a thing? That must have been quite freaky to have the pain in the night.

    Hope you heal quicker than expected and get out for some of those dry high country trails!

  11. I'm glad to hear you can keep some low-key runs going. You'll have no problem jumping back to higher numbers once you kick this thing. And don't worry, the only thing you're missing on those higher altitude trails is plenty of sloppy mess.

  12. whoa. that's absolutely terrible news. hang in there and feel better soon.

  13. Sure hope you get back to it soon. Seems like you have the right attitude. Best wishes!

  14. Setback city. I hate that place. Wishing you the best and I hope your recovery is speedy and complete!

  15. Thanks, all. Things seem to be continuing to improve, albeit slowly and with some days better than others (just like w/ most injuries).

    Rick - I don't think it had anything to do w/ the SJS50 run, other than the body stress of the effort probably lowered my immune resistance enough to allow the flu virus to run rampant...which may have triggered the immune response that tricked the body into attacking itself and damaging the nerves.

    Tim will tell.

  16. MTR2 - the diagnosis is one of those things that is assigned based on symptoms. A reminder of what an incredible and incredibly complex system is the human body!

  17. Aw dude..that sux!! Sorry to hear about the diagnosis, but hopefully it's all behind you and you get back to running soon.

  18. Very sorry to hear, if nothing else, since you have a fitness base > 99% of other patients, you'll be able to recover faster.