I woke up the morning of March 12, 2016 very anxious and excited to run my favorite race of year. Every year I train and excite myself up for The Gate River Run. This race is a 15k and is known for the gruesome “Green Monster” bridge at the end of the race. I traveled to Jacksonville with two of my best friends on race morning and we talk about our strategy. We talked about how since we were all pretty much training at the same pace that we would stick together. and help each other stay at our pace. Then we would all cross the finish line and celebrate with beer and Bloody Marys! Good plan, right?
As it got closer to race time we started to warm up as we usually do before any race. We all took off for our warm up run I felt some tightness in my legs almost immediately. My legs have been feeling extra tight lately and for some reason I thought maybe everything would be okay for the race. I tried to ignore it and just continued to keep hope that with proper warming up it would go away for at least just for the race. Boy was I wrong!
When the gun went off we all took off together just as planned. Of course we were running way faster than our “plan” but that usually happens during such large races because the crowd is trying to disperse. We all crossed mile 1 together and gave each other a smile because we were all still together. Then as we got close to mile 2, I felt it. Ohhhh, I felt it! I knew exactly what was happening. My legs were getting tight and I started losing feeling in my toes. I thought to myself, “shit, please not now.” I tried to play the “mind over matter” game and tell myself I could do this and to stop thinking about it. However, there are just some things you can’t play that game with and this was one of them. There really isn’t any way to talk yourself through running when you can’t feel your legs. I started to slow down and my friend noticed that I was pulling back so she started slowing down with me. I knew I wasn’t just tired and I wasn’t going to eventually pick back up the pace so I told her to keep going. I could tell she didn’t want to leave me, but I eventually convinced her to keep going and that I would be okay.
Mile 3 I stopped. Completely hit the brakes and stopped. I tried to rub my legs to get the feeling to come back, but I felt like my legs were rubber. I sat for about 5-6 minutes and then decided I needed to do something. I mean, I couldn’t really sit on the sidewalk all day! I didn’t know if I should just start walking back and not finish the race, or if I should still continue to race. Well, being the stubborn runner that I am…. I kept going. At one point, I lost ALL feeling in my legs and had to stop and take my shoes off again. I hung out on the sidewalk again and talked to some of the spectators, then I would jump back in the race. This turned into a pattern that I did for the rest of the race. It was kind of nice just enjoying the cheering and the funny posters on the sidelines. I had no pressure, I knew PR’ing wasn’t a chance so I took in the scenery, the fun, and the sun! Oh, and the awesome food and drinks the awesome spectators offered us. I’m pretty sure there were Jell-O shots along the way! 😉
This 15K really felt like a full marathon. I thought I was never going to make it to the finish line, but I did. It was when I crossed the finish line and stopped moving when I really felt the pain. Throughout the race it was mainly the numbness and tightness, and now it was pain. Excruciating pain. My legs instantly cramped up and I couldn’t stand or put any pressure on my legs at all. I knew what was wrong. This wasn’t my first rodeo and I didn’t even need a doctor to tell me that I had Compartment Syndrome again. The feeling and level of pain felt is so hard to explain to someone. However, I had Compartment Syndrome 15 years ago and this was a pain you just don’t forget. I knew what was happening.
A few days after the race I called the same Orthopedic Surgeon who completed my Fasciotomy years ago. I was able to get an appointment quickly and he also agreed that it sounded just like Compartment Syndrome again. The problem was, nobody really knew what to do since this was my second time being diagnosed. I already had the surgery and they just weren’t sure what to do with me or how to treat me. The best suggestion he could offer me was to go to the Mayo Clinic and talk to their group of surgeons.
I wasted no time in making my appointment for the Mayo Clinic. I have been going back and forth to the Mayo Clinic for a few months and I have been doing a bunch of tests. I did x-rays, nerve testing, and MRI’s. I have been waiting anxiously for my MRI results to see if it was in fact Compartment Syndrome. I wasn’t really scared of having Compartment Syndrome, I mean I knew that’s what it was anyways! However, I am scared that they won’t be able to treat it since this is the second time I have had it.
Well, I finally received the call and they were able to confirm the Compartment Syndrome in both legs from the MRI’s. However, they are unsure how to treat it. Ugh, just what I was scared of! Apparently, the issue is that my fascia tissue is still open from the surgery 15 years ago so it makes things really complicated. When the Dr. told me that he didn’t know how to treat it, I lost it. I was so scared of this. I am not ready to give up running. My legs are now tight every single day whether I am running or not. I have to find somebody who can help me.
The surgeon explained all the complications to me and said that he had another doctor that he wanted me to see in Gainesville. He said this doctor is very knowledgeable in Compartment Syndrome and he specializes in running and will be able to offer me some options. I did my research, and I do think this doctor is going to be able to help me. I have an appointment next month so I am trying to be patient and remind myself that I don’t want to rush into any decision anyway and maybe more time is for the better. So this is where I stand right now. I am still waiting…. and waiting. However, I won’t give up until I find somebody who can offer me some type of treatment. I am a runner and I will lace my shoes back up one day soon! In the meantime, I will lift weights and continue to Crossfit!