Something not many people know.
Something not many people know about me…I have what at this point to believe is chronic pain in my right leg.
Running is a freedom I’ve created for myself. When life decided at a young age to impart demons in my body telling me I was never good enough, I find myself always coming back to the solace I know awaits the second I start my stride. And ironically it’s also through running I taught myself how to suffer. How to grind until there is physically not an ounce of energy left to give. I also taught myself to be my own hero. I quickly came to realize that the start line of any race is filled with kindness that’s merely a formality. Saturated with friendly “good luck” and “we believe in you,” when really we’re all just thinking of ourselves. So you learn to run for the satisfaction of giving only your best, so you know more than anyone you deserve to be there. That’s why we find parallels between the art of running and the act of life. You teach yourself how to keep moving forward even when it gets tough, how to find meaning in toeing the line how being your own biggest fan is what teaches you to be brave.
So here is something not many people know about me. December 4th, of 2016, I ran a fifty-mile race. 25 miles in I experienced an excruciating pain jetting down my right hamstring, emanating from my right glute. Alarmed, afraid, uncomfortable, let’s throw out all the naive adjectives as well, I ignored it as best I could and finished that race thinking, “pain like this is probably just what running 50 miles feels like.” It’s been nearly a year to the date and I’ve had the same pain in my right leg ever since. During those 12 months since the race, I took one month off of running completely. Exercising on the spin bike as religiously as Prefontaine believing front-running was the only way to race, I vowed to heal my hip and get back to the sport as quick as possible. It gave me little relief, but left a lingering dullness I chose to give no energy thinking about.
In April I ran the Oakland Running Festival Marathon on pretty much no training. I qualified for Boston, and you know how? The pacer for the 7:30 racers looked me in the eye when I caught their group and said, “kid, I don’t want you to blow up, this might be a bit fast for you. Try running off my shoulder and a few strides back.” I ran stride for stride with him and eventually outkicked him in the last three miles. Our pack of 15 runners which dwindled to three and eventually just me and the pacer. Here I stand to say your mind is your biggest muscle. I crossed the finish line and really believed my hip was about to snap in two.
Every day I wake up knowing there is something wrong with my body. I’ve been to a multitude of doctors, one of which had the audacity to tell me that perhaps it was in my head. Another who told me to take a turmeric supplement as a way to combat inflammation. (For those of you who know me personally, you could attest that my diet is essentially safron colored BECAUSE of the amount of turmeric I put on everything). I have had several dreams of someone taking my right leg and pulling it out of its socket as if having no leg is better than the one I’ve got now. My SI joint feels like it’s been glued to my hip socket with needles. I watch YouTube videos of people getting spinal adjustments to alleviate pressure in their piriformis muscle in hopes that I can replicate them and do it to myself. I’ve figured out a way to crack my right hip socket in a way that gives me relief for sixty seconds, after then it goes back to normal. I've googled the muscles in your hips and discoverd the location it hurts to an exact is the piriformis muscle. And ever since discovering our bodies even had a muscle called the piriformis, I've wanted someone to stick a needle in to reduce the chronic pressure I feel there, or, more severely, just rip it out of my glute entirely. My ninety-minute lecture is the bane of my existence because I cannot sit on it for more than forty-five minutes without wanting to get up and release the pressure that I feel builds up in my glute. I cannot lay flat on my back for more than a few minutes without a severe amount of pressure building up in my lumbar spine forcing me to turn over. I can't cross my right leg over my left without shooting pain in my glute. On long runs, there have been times when the pain becomes so unbearable I have questioned why I even like the sport anymore. On some days, at the beginning of a run the pain is immediate, others it creeps into effect about a mile or two in. Most of the time I’m able to silence the incessant pulling it has down my leg, but others it is all consuming and unbearably exhausting. Since that race in December, I can count on one hand the number of runs I’ve had where I wasn’t thinking about my bum hip. I would like to wake up one morning and not think about how much pain I’m about to face on any given run. And then I ask myself this. How can I love running so much when it inflicts so much hurt on my body.This “injury” has made it at times very difficult to walk. I despise driving for longer than an hour because it is accompanied by shooting twinges down my leg that I cannot get respite for. When I bend down to touch my toes it nearly makes me want to cry from the tightness in my hamstring. And the kicker to it all? I’ve tried everything. From PT to acupuncture, to chiropractic medicine, to cortisone shots, to MRI’s, to X-Rays, to not running, to ignoring it and running like nothing is wrong. I just want it to go away. I want to wake up and lace my shoes without the familiar dread of worrying about how bad today it’s going to hurt. I’d love to run a race in which Advil is not packed in my drop bags. I’d love for someone to tell me what’s wrong, and how they can fix it. I try and eat foods that help fight inflammation and that make my body feel strong and healthy. I’ve gotten blood work done and every one of my panels is perfect, by my doctor's standards at least. I don’t drink alcohol because truthfully I hate the taste (aside from a good glass of wine every now and again) I have never been a smoker, and I despise feeling like I’m losing control (other substances). I’m healthy for god’s sake!
So that’s something not many people know. Every day I’m in pain and I have no idea how to fix it. And I just wanted for whoever to know reading this that running isn’t perfect. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies and winning 100-mile races. Most of the time it really hurts. But at least it gives me something to work for I suppose. I’ve tried my absolute best to put on a brave face about it because there is nothing good that comes from complaining. To be honest, a majority of the time I really actually hate my body and that’s me being very vulnerable and real. I try so hard to do the right thing, and it feels like this is what I’m rewarded with.
Run Hapi and Healthy,