Friday, March 22, 2013

Oakland Half, & The "Subclinical" Blues

First, let me say that if you live in the SF Bay Area and you've been thinking about having an evaluation done by these folks over here on the left but have been waffling about it since they doubled the price, consider holding off for just a bit longer. I have it on good authority that there will likely be a significant price drop in the next month or two.

Second - I don't know what's going on with my right leg & lower back but there is very clearly still *something*. There's a whole constellation of symptoms, none of which are that big of a deal on their own (sore, crampy calf; Jello-like quad; sore TFL; achey hip & lower back), but which all add up to making it really hard to run consistently & well.

In the interest of being proactive rather than just waiting for things to get worse, I called UCSF before I left for Colorado & booked the first available appointment with my gem of a sports medicine doctor. In a world where doctors only want to talk to you about the area they specialize in, aim to get you in & out of the office as soon as possible, & meet every running issue with "Stop running & take some Advil," he looks at the big picture, listens to everything I have to say, and is genuinely interested in root causes & what can be done to keep runners running.

After we chatted for a while, he did all the usual strength / mobility / alignment checks & declared the problem "subclinical," which is basically doctor short-hand for "I believe you that something's wrong, but there are no signs or symptoms detectable by physical examination to support a diagnosis." My mobility is good, my core / pelvis muscles are wicked strong, and (thanks to the recent chiro visit, probably) all my bones & joints were in the right places. Which is good news, he reminded me, because it means no red flags.

He did also remind me that being hypermobile (ie, my tendons & ligaments are kind of loosey-goosey & don't do much) means I will always be more prone to soft tissue overuse injuries and have to be extra-diligent about muscle strength, since in addition to just being muscles mine also have to do most of the stability work that my connective tissue sucks at. (At one point I asked him if he thought maybe I was overdoing all the strength work, and his response was "Not a chance. Do more if you can.")

Finally, he pointed out something that I've never heard a doctor say before but that makes a lot of sense. When something is painful or not working right, there is always a cause, but sometimes it involves so many different variables interacting in so many ways that it's hard to see the pattern without keeping careful track of tons of information -- ie, it could be that if you overdo the stretching one day, don't sleep enough the next night, & go on a long run two days after that, *that's* what causes pain x or issue y. He also pointed out the ludicrousness of the fact that doctors, even sports medicine doctors, even ones who specialize in running, are in the habit of diagnosing runners without ever seeing them run. That, he explained, was the whole point behind the creation of the above-mentioned comprehensive evaluation program for runners.

(And here's another top tip -- apparently, though it says otherwise on the website, sometimes you *can* get insurance to pay for all or part of it, so it's worth checking.)

The bottom line:

  • Three weeks of discomfort is long enough to notice and pay attention to, but not to worry about.
  • There's no evidence of bone, cartilage, or neurological issues anywhere.
  • Keep up all the strength work, maybe even do a little more, & don't push the mileage for a couple of weeks.
  • Track everything & come back in a month.
  • Really, really strongly consider doing the comprehensive evaluation (once the price drops).


Now on to cheerier stuff:

I know I'm a little late to the party in terms of promoting this race, but I will say that I had TONS of fun at it in 2012 and think it's a great value and a wonderful medium-size local race. The full marathon I think has a couple of significant hills in it, but the half is pretty much flat, & although I'm not crazy about the million bajillion turns, it is a fun race to run with all the local groups out to cheer for & entertain you. Keep it on your radar for 2014.

I also hear there are some smokin' hot ladies there. And Dennis.

I'm trying to keep my expectations for this race pretty low, because 1) I haven't run a half in over 5 months, 2) I've been having pretty nasty cramping in my right calf all week that's made it hard to even put weight on it at times, and 3) my muscles feel SUPER sore and generally worn out, as if my race was last weekend instead of this coming one. Which is okay, really, because I think I paid like $35 or something for it. It is a flat, fun course (in spite of the million billion turns), and if I'm going to make an easy long-ish run out of it or potentially end up unable to finish, I'd MUCH rather it be an urban race with lots of people around than say one of those wine country ones that are all lonely back roads and cow pastures. (Don't get me wrong -- I love those races, as long as I am healthy & in shape to run fast and focused & am not worried about having to stop.)

    Best case: I rest for the next two days, race day magic happens, & I PR. Not likely, but not impossible either.

    Pretty good case: I rest for the next two days, feel pretty good but not great, & run low 1:40's like last year.

    Meh case: I feel very far from great, it's another Santa Rosa, & I just do what I can & finish somewhere in the 1:45 range.

    Worst case: The calf just can't hack it & I walk a bunch or DNF.

Basically I am saying I have no effing clue what is going to happen Sunday. I'm just going to show up & do the best I can.

On a positive note, the weather is looking good, and there will be lots of friends to see & hang out with (Karin, Beth, Jessica, RoseRunner, Audrey, Cathryn, Jen....who else????).

If you are there, come say hi! I will be wearing this:

If you're thinking, "Who the hell taught this girl to take a selfie?!?,"
I think the answer is very clearly "No one, anywhere, ever."

I figured I'd bring back the socks for old times' sake, and also because they match the Kinvaras, as (by complete coincidence) does this tank I got on clearance at Sports Basement. As long as my running is questionable, I might as well make myself easy to spot.

Have a GREAT weekend, and good luck with any racing you may be doing!!



  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog with words of encouragement re: LA. Best wishes to you for a great day on Sunday!

  2. Cute outfit!! I hope the calf issues go away. The analysis you got was very interesting -- I totally agree with the "holistic" way of thinking re: injury. A lot of my digestive issues are the same way. It totally makes sense because our bodies are an ecosystem of billions of cells.

    Anyway, I'll see you Sunday hopefully! I'll be wearing a far less cute outfit -- I have to wear a shiny blue Running for a Better Oakland t-shirt -- BOO.

    1. Hey, it might make you easier to find! :)