Monday, June 04, 2007


I never did a Broad Street Run report. I haven't reported on that race because it was the beginning of an odyssey I would rather have not taken.

Not long after I ran the Washington Marathon Half I experienced pain in the groin area. At first I presumed I had just over did it with two half marathons two weeks apart. I cut back - way back - on running and even skipped a couple of races that I love. (I did work both races and found being on the other side interesting and fun even if less satisfying than running.)

However, I was determined not to miss Broad Street. So on that first Sunday in May I lined up as I have done for ten years. The first five miles were great and despite my lay off I was able to do consistent 8 minute miles. Then the wheels fell off. I got slower and slower even though aerobically I felt pretty good.

I had already alerted my primary physician that if the pain persisted after Broad Street I would ask for an orthopedic referral. I recently went on cholesterol medication and was not doing well on that and needed to see him anyway.

So two weeks ago I saw an orthopedic surgeon. Even then I really believed I had nothing more that a muscle pull and in the end would just feel silly wasting the Doc's time. I liked Dr. Smith very much (and he saw me on schedule and he took his time). He poked and prodded. And then ordered x-rays. Because my medical plan didn't allow his office to do the x-rays (I know it probably has something to do with preventing fraud or abuse but what waste of my time) I had to go to a second site and then schedule an appointment two weeks out. Meanwhile, he put me on Naproxin and the pain subsided but didn't go away. I biked, swam, walked, kayaked (for the first time) but I didn't run.

On Friday afternoon I had my appointment. I brought x-rays with me but obviously Dr. Smith already had the radiologists report. He slapped the x-rays up and without much fanfare blandly stated you have severe arthritis in your right hip and the beginnings in you left hip.

And that was it. Just like that my world was turned upside down. No treatment, no physical therapy, no hope. Eventually, a hip replacement. Will running make it worse? Yes. Will not running make it better? No. It's progressive and it is going to get worse no matter what I do. So run but don't over do it and don't do marathons.

He did recommend I try a cortisone injection which has to be done by a different Doc in a different office because it must be done by Ultrasound. Since I have an irrational phobia about needles I am not looking forward to the procedure. (Despite every effort on my part I frequently pass out when blood it taken. Very annoying but completely beyond control by the higher functioning part of the brain).

I am currently whipsawing thru all the stages of grief except acceptance. I am very much trying to put it into perspective: it's not like being diagnosis with cancer. It is an inconvenience not a tragedy, etc, etc. And yet I am very angry, and guilty (did I bring it on by doing too much), and most of all very, very sad.

If only...if only I could have had another year. Just this year, my sixtieth, I would have been satisfied. Instead I feel cheated.

My wife says I can buy a kayak after all it's not anymore expensive that ten pair of shoes. And I do love to bike . but still to never run the trails, or up the beach, or go to a new city and run its streets.

I am not and have never been a competitive athlete but I think I know how a professional feels when he has a career ending injury or just gets too old for the game. It is not the fame or fortune but giving up the game itself.

Sigh. (Can you tell I am feeling sorry for myself?)

Chad Brooks