Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Health Note - Protruding Disc - McKenzie Exercises

Some people have been wondering if I am injured or what is going on so here is the story. Early last month, I noticed a little pain in my right hip, sliding in and out of the car. I had no idea what was going on but it seemed pretty minor at this point.

I ran both marathons in September and recovered fine, but still noticed this slight pain in the butt. I used the foam roller on it but never got any better. First week of October, I started to have shooting pains down the back of leg to top of calf. I noticed that my right hip and butt was hurting more, but whenever I would run, I felt fine. There were even times when I felt okay walking. It was strange how it would come and go.

I called Estaban (massage therapist) and got an appointment for the 15th and wished it were sooner. I felt like a massage might work out the soreness. The pains got worse but were better when I ran. I ran a 5K on October 11th. I wasn’t sure how I would do, but once I warmed up 3 miles, I could run pretty normal but a little tight. After, I could barely stand to sit in the car and getting into the car was difficult. After awhile, I could get comfortable sitting but then getting up from a chair or out of the car, I could barely walk the first few steps. I ran Rock Bridge Revenge 25K the next day and the hamstring felt pretty tight and I could feel some twinges. I learned this was sciatic nerve pain. It especially hurt me to duck under anything just like ducking into the car. Overall, it went okay, but I was glad I wasn't running the 50K.

The 50K I was planning on the 18th in Louisiana was questionable. I ran on Oct 13th and butt hurt the entire run and hamstring and calf were so tight I was afraid I was going to pull something. It was difficult to put on socks and shoes. I went to see Esteban on Thursday and he treated me for tight hamstrings. I called my doctor and was hoping to get in Friday to see if she thought I should be running, but could not until Thursday the next week. I decided to go ahead and try running the 50K. I would not run it hard and just see what I could do. It was a flat course so should be easier since no hills. I had to get up extra early race day morning and stretch myself out and get moving so I could try running. The shower in my hotel lacked a mat and I ended up falling and hitting my head on the floor. Left a nice bump and not much blood but wondered if this was a sign I shouldn’t run. I went ahead and ran the race. I was tight nearly the entire time, but ended up having a 50K PR on a flat course and placing 2nd overall. I felt pretty good during and after the race other than I could not bend over to take off my shoes.

It seemed that as long as I kept moving, I was fine. Go to bed or sit down too long, and I had problems. I felt the same as before the race, but didn’t run and went to the doctor last Thursday. She sent right away for some flat scans and an MRI that evening. She suspected a bulging disc in L5 S1. Dan S. had sent an e-mail when he read my symptoms earlier and had suspected the same. It was all confusing to me how I could have a back problem and my back didn’t hurt, but my leg was having the problems.

I never heard the MRI result on Friday, but learned from another runner about some back extension exercises (McKenzie Exercises) that were helpful for back problems including bulging discs. I started to do these assuming that would be the diagnosis and bought the book on Sat. since it had a lot of good information on posture (which I can definitely use). I’ve continued to do the exercises and ice the back where the disc is located. I am noticing a little improvement each day so I am hopeful I can get over this. Today, I was able to tie my shoes a little easier.

Today, I received the official diagnosis and they said it is disc at L5S1 that is protruding a bit (bulging disc). The protruding disc is the same thing as a bulging disc. It can get worse, but it appears maybe I have caught it early enough. Running doesn’t cause them but doesn’t help get rid of them any faster. The bulge applies pressure to the nerves in the region which signals sensations like pain and numbness in the leg. It can also inhibit range of motion and cause pain. People can often having bulging discs and not have a problem. Sometimes things can get so bad that surgery is needed.

The doctor could do an epidural steroid injection or physical therapy. I feel with the exercises I am doing that I am improving enough to treat this on my own from this point. I am taking it easy for now and have been doing the elliptical and walking. I tried weight lifting last night and could not do it. Any runs during this recovery, will be very slow, short, and low impact until I feel like it is 100% recovered. Then I will start to rebuild my fitness.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Q50 USA – 50 K Ultramarathon - Mandeville, LA

Q50 USA – 50 K Ultramarathon. Hopefully, pictures and results on this web site soon.

I decided to run this race since I am attending a meeting at LSU in Baton Rouge this week. The race was actually in Mandeville, LA. So I flew to Baton Rouge, rented a car, and drove the 75 miles to packet pickup on Saturday. I got arrived at 5 pm and they said we were eating at 6 pm and a meeting at 7 pm. I decided to go check into my hotel about 10 minutes away and then return.

The pickup was at Franco's Athletic club. The packet had a sample of Q50 coffee and we got a nice tech shirt and a sample Hammer Gel, one of the race sponsors. Q50 is a brand of coffee and they have races in Nicaragua, Italy, and more. The one in the US was to contribute money to help fight childhood obesity in LA. There was a duathlon event on Sat. as well.

The food was setup outside by the pool but it was a bit cool so some people moved inside. I sat with a woman, Mary Anne, from Texas that was race walking the 50K and she had her son with her for support. She said she had signed up for the Rocky Racoon 100 in February that I am considering if I am able. After eating, we went inside since it was getting cold outside.

The pre-race meeting started about 7:30 and they warned us repeatedly about snakes which kind of freaked me out and also that there was some deep mud on the course. That had me wondering what might be at the bottom. The meeting was a bit long and would have preferred to be in my room but it was mandatory. After, I went to the store to find some food since I really wouldn't have time to eat breakfast when the hotel served at 6. I ran into several people at the store from the meeting.

I came back to the hotel and ate the half pound of fudge I had bought to calm my nerves. I got my stuff ready to go for the morning. I was seriously wondering if I could do this race since my right hamstring was super tight and still having a bit of what I think is sciatica. Calf was also tight. I have been barely able to bend over to put on my socks and shoes recently and had not run since Tuesday.

I woke up around 4:45 am and decided to go ahead and get up. The alarm I had thought I set was not for the right time so it was good that I woke up. I ate a shake with coffee, ate some bananas. Then I took a shower. I noticed there was no mat to place in the tub and the surface was slippery. I was thinking I need to be really careful and next thing I know I am flipped out of the tub and on my back. I think my leg was still hanging on the tub. I felt okay so got up and checked my head since it had hit the floor. I had just very slight bit of bleeding and a sore bump on the side near the back, but it wasn't bad enough to be too concerned and only hurt if I pressed on it. There was no way I was getting back in the shower so cleaned up standing on a towel beside the shower. I will never get in a tub like that again without a mat. Then I did some stretches to try to loose up the hamstrings and all the leg muscles so I could attempt to run.

I left the hotel about 6 am and there was no one around to complain about the tub. There was a note they would return shortly so I just left for the race which started at 7. It was about a 15 min drive, but took a little longer since I missed the turn the first time. I got there and rushed to the bathroom for one last time. Then talked to a few people and they thought the threat of snakes was not great. There is one that is poisonous, but since it was around 48F, it wasn't likely they would be out for awhile. I was less worried but still would be careful. I had decided last night I would just run this race to finish and wasn't going to go all out. With the tight hamstring, it didn't seem like a good idea since I could pull something.

Before we started, we were warned again about the snakes. They had seen one setting up the course, but most people didn't seem worried. We started around 7:15 am. There was also a 2 leg 50K relay and 10Kers starting at the same time. The beginning was on grass and it felt good to run but immediately my quad felt tight, but not as bad as Tuesday since I had stretched. I caught up to a group of guys that said they were doing their first 50K. They normally did adventure races together. I went ahead and caught up to a couple women doing the 10K. They were commenting about the the tree roots and to watch out but it really wasn't that bad.

I ran ahead and then eventually had another 50K guy running right behind me until about mile 9 when we hit the paved trail portion of the course and he fell behind. At this section I was really having the urge to pee and we were no longer in the woods so I was looking for options. I was getting close to peeing in my shorts since I had to go so badly. When I turned onto the paved path by the lake, I guess with all the water I could no longer stand it. There weren't a lot of trees but I was looking for a big one to quickly and discreetly use. This was along a street and there were people playing with dogs along the lake. I finally found the right spot and no cars. I felt kind of bad to publicly urinate, but this was just one of those times where I was out of options and I didn't want to wet myself.

Shortly after, I am at mile 11 and a guy at the aid station says this is my turnaround. I didn't even realize there was a turn around. I decide to fill my bottle a little even though I had some Accelerade left. There were aid stations about every 4 miles but I didn't take anything since I had plenty of Acclerade and also Accel Gels. Also, they were serving Heed, which isn't my favorite drink. After turning around I saw several people running at me and they asked me, “is there a turn around?” One guy nearly stopped and asked if I was quitting. I guess they didn't realize there was a turn around and didn't notice anyone ahead of me to ask. I ran back on the paved trail and then made another turn toward the start to complete the first “loop”.

Someone had told me at some point I was in 4th but I am not sure if they counted relay people or not and figured I was actually further behind since I wasn't pushing it. The different racers were wearing different colors but I didn't know who might be ahead of me from the beginning. I didn't think I was doing that well considering this was a flat course. There were no hills, but there was some mud and big puddles to go through and a few places that turned a lot slowed me down. I picked up my second bottle of Accelerade and left for the second loop immediately. I think my time was around 2:07 so figured I had a good chance at breaking 4.5 hours. My PR for a 50K is 4:59 on hillier, more trail-like courses.

I had a problem finding exactly where we went into the woods at the start of this “loop” since they didn't have any flags in between where we started and the woods off in the distance. I couldn't see the flag that was that far away and no one to follow. Someone had to run over and help me out and so I got a little extra distance due to the back tracking. I felt like an idiot. Otherwise, I didn't have any problems, but did need to keep looking ahead for the orange flags since there plenty of wrong trails to take. There were aid stations about every 4 miles but I didn't take anything since I had plenty of Acclerade and also Accel Gels. Also, they were serving Heed, which isn't my favorite drink.

I follow the same course as the first 25K and see Mary Anne at the point she was less than 2 miles from the finish. Once I reach the lake some girls say how well I am doing and that I can catch the guy ahead of me. I see him on the way to the turn around and figure he is about 0.25 mile ahead. Then at the turn around I ask the guy at the aid station my place and he says I am second and probably had a chance of catching the guy. I was excited to be in second place so I immediately pick up the pace. I see a relay runner coming toward me. A half mile or so later he flies past me and says he is running the relay.

I wasn't sure I could see the guy ahead of me and I find out later he sees the relay runner coming behind him. He said he also saw me before and so he picked up the pace too. I only picked it up for about a mile and then resumed the 8-something pace. The stretch where we run to the last turn before getting back the woods which was grass and mud which slowed me down more than on the first time. I think we were running between power lines right of way here.. This part of the course had some of the worst huge puddles that could not be gone around. I really slowed on this part. Also, it smelled like pigs and someone said later there were wild pigs nearby. I had given up on catching the guy ahead, no one was close behind, and I was thankful to soon be finishing.

I reached the finish at 4:17:50 so ran the second half a bit slower. If I hadn't wasted the time starting the second loop almost getting lost I would have been a bit faster, but not sure if fast enough to beat the guy in first. He finished around 2 minutes ahead of me. Overall, I ran pretty even. My 50K PR improved 31 minutes and GPS had 31.1 miles so the course would have been almost exact if I had not added a little extra. I heard several people made wrong turns and one guy doing the 50K that was in first went the wrong way and ran 7 extra miles. He got back on track but decided to stop at the first loop. Someone said they don't have a lot of trail races here so I got the impression that could have been part of the problem.

They had massages so I went with the first place relay guy, Matt, to go wash off in the lake. He had run with his wife and he was a super fast 2:33 marathoner so no wonder if flew past me. We got to the beach and I told him I didn't think I could remove my shoes. Every time I went to bend my leg, it felt like it might spasm and they were tight. It has been a challenge at any time lately to get on my shoes and socks due to the tightness. They had loosened up just at around mile 22, but were tight the entire race. People that saw me on the course said I looked good running so I guess they were just loose enough to let me run. So he unties and loosens my shoes so I can remove them. I managed to pull my socks off with my feet. Then we get into this shallow lake. It was a huge lake, but seemed to stay shallow for a long time. It went up to my calves and I was able to bend a bit to wash off. Then I went back and washed my shoes off. They smelled like a pig lot.

The massage lady is free when I get back. She worked on my good leg first and then my other leg. She was very good and it was quite painful. Legs were definitely looser when she finished with me. I then went to get some food. We had pork and jambalya. There was an actual entire pig with the head, and it had an apple in its mouth. It was a bit disconcerting to me, but to someone that rarely eats pork it tasted pretty good. I was able to sit down and eat my food and noticed that I didn't have any issues sitting like I have been.

So we all wait around and wonder if there is an awards ceremony. They had given us medals at the finish. I got tired of waiting, so was packing up to leave and the guy who was first says they are going to do awards in 10 min or around 3:30 so we had been waiting awhile. 20 minutes go by and the race director says they typically wait until everyone is finished at these races. The time limit was 8 hours so we would have been waiting a long time and had waited a long time. He went ahead and did the awards. I received a nice curved clear plaque. They awarded the top 3 overall male and female and top 3 relays. They also gave each of us a bottle of Hammergel.

Finally, I can leave and I have a message from Hugh. He had called just minutes before and I missed the call. So I call him and while I am on the phone the last 2 runners come in. One of them is Mary Anne and she is race walking. So I go back to congratulate her and then leave for Baton Rouge. I sat in the car and the drive wasn't too painful. I decided to skip New Orleans since it was getting late. Also, driving was a bit uncomfortable but not bad. It is really strange to me how running the 50K made me feel better but not sure it will continue. I am doing better and but don't know if it will continue. I am still pretty inflexible but moving around seems to help. Unfortunately, I need to sleep so can't keep moving all the time.

I was able to walk this morning and other than soreness, my legs aren't any worse off than before the race. I think the sciatica is a little better but sitting too long and getting up is still an issue. Hopefully, will have a few pictures to post from the race later.

Monday, October 12, 2009

2009 Rock Bridge Revenge

If you are looking for results and pictures see: Rock Bridge Revenge Results

This year the Rock Bridge Revenge was a new experience. In the past the race included a 10K and a 20K with most people running the 10K. This year which included a new course offered a 7 mile, 25K, and a 50K with most people running the 7 mile. I ran the 25K and would recommend anyone running this race to try to run at least the 25K since you get to see a lot more of the park. If you want extra Revenge and to see everything 2 times, then run the 50K.

On Saturday, I ran a 5K in Kirksville and even though I raced pretty hard, I was not concerned about running the 25K the next day since I have done a few multi-day races that were much longer. We had a late dinner at Fazoli's and then went home and got some much needed sleep since it had been a long day. The race started at 8 am. We left at 7 am and Hugh went with me. I had to pick up my packet since I had not done so the day before. Everyone received a Nathan Quickdraw Plus water bottle, a very nice premium for a race.

My sciatic nerve was letting me know its presence and I was limping a bit when walking due to the pain. I ran just a little before the race and could feel it, but not a big deal and no limping when running. The temp was in the upper 30s so I just wore 2 wicking shirts and shorts which felt about right. I carried one Nathan water bottle with Accelerade and 2 gels. Due to the temp and already being well-hydrated I hoped that would be enough although there were aid stations if I needed to refill. At 8 am after receiving pre-race instructions, we all lined up in the parking lot. We had a few yards to spread out before heading into the woods.

I passed a few people at the beginning before settling into a pace. I am never quite sure of my pace since my GPS seems to be a little slower on the trails than I think I am actually running. My first mile was 8:54 and I was hoping to be around 9 min average on this course. Most 50Ks on similar trails have been about 9:40/mi. This was my first 25K so 9 min miles was my best guess. Also, wasn't looking at pushing a super hard effort since I am running a 50K next Sunday.

I passed Kevin T. early in the race in the first half mile. After a about 2 miles, I hear him catching me and then let him go ahead. I figure he is running about the pace I need to be running so I planned to stay behind him. He was running the 7 mile so I would stay behind him until the courses separated at about 5 miles. We had to cross the usual cold creek and get our shoes wet. My shoes did dry out some and had no problems since I had applied Sports Stick to my feet. I was surprised that the trails were in such good shape since we had 6 inches of rain last week. As we were coming out of the woods, Dan H. was taking pictures by the Devil's Ice Box parking lot.

At this point, I crossed the road and run a small 2 mile loop that includes some grassland as well as trail. As I was coming out of this loop, I seen another runner just starting the loop. Kathy and Mary Ellen were directing and cheering for runners in this area. After that loop, I then ran a loop in the Gans Creek Nature area for 6 miles. The trails were very well marked with pink flags and signs in a few places. It was very obvious where to go so I had no problems staying on course. Around mile 8, I stop to get rid of some water since didn't think I could make it 7 more miles. I wasn't drinking much and didn't feel that warm either.

At mile 9, I got to see Hugh and Jeff at the campground which also had an aid station. I still had plenty of Accelerade so did not stop. There was an area shortly after that the trail was flooded with water. A path had been flagged to go around, but I decided to just run through it. It actually felt good and washed the mud off my shoes and legs. I took my final gel before mile 11 (had taken one earlier about mile 6). At mile 11 as I am climbing the steep hill, I see Jeff again. I opted to walk up the hill since it doesn't do much good to run this one. It is only about 0.1 mi long but it is quite a climb in a short distance. This course had plenty of other hills and I did run every one of those.

As I was coming out of the hill, I turned right and was back on the same trail I took going into this loop. I met a couple runners walking on this portion. I was still feeling pretty good and going fast as the last part of this loop went downhill where I had gone uphill in the beginning of the loop. I was back to where Kathy was directing people and Hugh and Dan were there (he took yet another picture). I ran back across the road and I knew I didn't have much more than 2 miles to go. Mile 14 felt pretty good and James was at an aid station somewhere on this mile. Then about mile 15 which had a couple hills, I was really ready to be done. Although I felt strong, I was glad I was only running 1 loop.

The final stretch was up the hill that we had come down into the park at the very beginning. Ended up finishing in 2:22:23, a 9:10 pace. GPS was very close to a 25K and my GPS is usually a little short on the trails. At the end we got a very nice finisher's glass. There was also chili, hot dogs, brownies, and drinks. The food was excellent!

The first female in the 25K finished about 4 min behind me and Kurt K. was 9 min behind me. Overall, I placed 4th out of 16 runners. There were 42 finishers for the 7 mile and 11 for the 50K. Also, cash prizes for the 25K and 50K male and female winners.

Overall, I thought it went pretty well. I did feel my sciatic nerve for most of this run. The times I sped up to about 7:30 or faster, I did not feel it so I guess I just need to run fast. Also, I think the unevenness of the trail might have been an issue. Just like after Sat. run, it was very painful to sit in the car and then get up, but a hard bench was fine. We stayed around until the first couple 50Kers crossed the finish. The first 50K runner was Andy P. at 4:48 and the first 25K was 1:50. I would really like to run the 50K for this race next time since I enjoy this course so much. The course is so awesome, if you are in shape to run that far, 2 times is a must! If not, the one loop which is just a little over 3 miles longer than a half marathon is well worth the scenery.

Here are my splits:

m1 - 8:54
m2 - 8:58
m3 - 8:07
m4 - 9:01
m5 - 8:28
m6 - 8:32
m7 - 8:29
m8 - 9:43
m9 - 9:52
m10 - 8:20
m11 - 10:17
m12 - 10:36
m13 - 10:19
m14 - 8:43
m15 - 11:10
0.32 - 3:02 (9:28 pace)
Map and Elevation Profile

Very cool Nathan Quickdraw Plus Water Bottle and Finisher's Glass

Lisa running the check-in
Bryan & Andy

Race Director, Jeff giving starting us off

Andy at about 5 miles
Andy at about 12.5 miles

Hugh being photogenic

Kurt, Lisa, Andy, & Elaine
Andy P. after winning the 50K

Rock Bridge Revenge had its revenge on Tony with 10 stitches!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

2009 Truman State Homecoming 5K

We arrived at packet pickup shortly after 7 am. Temperature was quite cold today at about 34F. I wanted to arrive early this year since my sciatic nerve really flares up after sitting and especially in the car or in a soft chair. I find if I walk around, the pain goes away so I wanted plenty of time. I had not run since Wed. so had no idea if I could still run, but assumed I would be okay.

We ran the course as a warm-up and it felt pretty good. I had just a slight twinge during the run. The warm-up reminded me this is a challenge course with some hills figured 19:30 would be a reasonable goal on this course and I had never really had a good race here. A couple years ago I ran a 20:10.

Hugh and I lined up in front and when we took off, a bunch of guys were way out in front. I remembered this was the case a couple years ago so kept my pace under control and waited patiently. About 0.7 miles, I pass about 10 or so of them huffing and puffing. First mile split was 5:57. I was very happy to see I had some speed today. I passed another guy shortly after first mile.

About the halfway point, I passed another guy that I had been catching up to. He attempted to stay with me but couldn't do it so I ended up putting a lot of distance between us quickly. The second mile was 6:10. I expected the second to be slower since it had the most hills in the course. I was very happy though with 6:10 since expected I would be much slower.

I still felt strong for the 3rd mile and tried picking up the pace but still some hills. I was catching up to another guy in the last 0.3 mi, but didn't quite reach him. I finished the last mile in 6:04 and the last 0.1 in 33 sec. I had a lot left in me and felt good. I never had any sciatic pain during the run.

Overall I finished 4th of 133, but 2nd of 13 in my age group of 35 - 44. The guy that beat me by 10 seconds was in my age group. I also had never gone under 19 minutes on this course so I am very happy with my time. Hugh finished 23rd overall and 2nd in the 45 - 54 group so we both ended up with silver medals today.

m1 - 5:57
m2 - 6:10
m3 - 6:04
0.1 - 0:33 (5:27)

We noticed a couple guys running in the Vibram Forefingers today which reminded me I would like to try running in mine again. Overall, this was a good race. The course is always well marked and the distance seems pretty accurate too. After the race, we went to move the car and it was quite painful sitting in the for just the few minutes. I did feel like I am noticing some improvement today. Since it is a irritated nerve, it seems to change so much though I don't know sometimes if it is getting better or worse. I think better though. If it is all better by Thursday I will cancel the painful massage session with Esteban.

Race Results

Sunday, October 04, 2009

2009 MU Dog Jog

Hugh and I ran the MU Dog Jog this morning. I don't really consider this a race. I ran with Bruno and Hugh with Rusty. I was impressed with Bruno's splits today. The first mile at 5:50 is the same as I normally run in a 5K. He slowed a bit the second mile. Course was a bit confusing as we were running into the walkers as we ran back across college. I passed the lead guy with a dog back and forth. Then got slowed down by some people in the way coming at us. Almost missed the ramp to go back over the road too. This was supposed to be a 5K so I assumed had some course left but it came up way short at 2.5 miles. I was barely beaten by a guy with a dog and one without by just a few seconds. I was really expecting them to tell us to keep going but that was the end! Both dogs enjoyed the run. I was disappointed to see the course was so far off.

I impressed how calm they were at the beginning. I picked up packets early and then we went back with the dogs. We would have had less than 10 min to wait, but not sure the problem since we didn't start until 8:20 am. They had a raffle and we didn't win a thing! Also, got nothing for second place with dog. They gave something to the first 2 overall men and women whether or not they ran with a dog. The second place male didn't have a dog so I was 3rd overall. We were all very close though. The guy that won ran with an Australian Shepherd.