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No not that kind of bulge. For the first time in my life–well since I was twelve–I am not wishing I could lose some weight.

This is the bulge I am battling:

I have a slightly herniate disc in my back. It bulges out just like in the picture and causes sciatica. I was in a car accident when I was twelve. Way back in the ’80s we only had lap belts in the back seat. So when we were hit head-on by a drunk driver and plunged down a 15 foot embankment, the top part of my body kept moving forward after the car stopped until the lap belt cause my body to be restrained from my hips down. Essentially what happened was my lumber spine separated between L4 and L5 and tore all sorts of bits of spinal bone off each of these vertebrae. Not a happy lumbar spine. The injury cause a natural fusion of these two joints and I have less mobility here. I always have back pain; sometimes it is better and sometimes it is worse, but starting to run at 40 and then almost immediately going into half marathon training mode really caused it to protest.

Now I didn’t know this right away. What I knew was that my hamstring was deeply painful on long runs and continued to be painful with most movement. It took a lot of investigation, an MRI, and a very good Sport Doc to figure out that I have nothing wrong with my hamstring and a lot wrong with my lumbar spine. The simple cure is to stop running, but funny thing, after discovering running I don’t want to stop.

I have taken a lot of time off running over the last six month and replaced it with elliptical training and water running. Now that the weather is nice I just started running outside again. It only took a few runs for my thigh to start up with the familiar ache again. So back to the sports doc. I am going to do more physio and massage. Oh and I am not supposed to run.  ARRRRGGGGG. The doc pointed out that for a sprint tri ( Swim 750m, Bike 20km, Run 5km) , I really don’t need to train for the run because it is so short. Well, okay, I am planning on doing an Olympic length tri (Swim 1500m, Bike 40km, Run 10km) September and I WANT TO RUN!

My body is so much stronger than it was a year ago, but I have this one really weak link. I am reassured that I am doing everything right and that time will make it better. How much time? Time will tell. Thanks a lot! I am doing swimming and biking and core strengthening and cross training and yoga. The doc noted that all of these have made it a lot better than it was last summer, but it is not there yet.  Seriously, how much do I have to do????

The positive thing in all this is that this injury has motivated me to do a lot of things I wouldn’t have done in order to get rid of it. The doc told me to lose weight and do yoga and join a gym to cross train when I couldn’t run. An lo and behold, I have lost weight and discovered I love yoga and joined a fabulous tri training group that has caused me to do all sorts of works outs that I would never have attempted before. I started out mono-focused on running and did nothing else. Now I do many other things that I am really enjoying and I have made some great new friends.

So, while I wish this darn pain would just go away for good and I could head out for a delicious long run on Sunday morning, I am expanding my athletic experience and my fitness goals and having fun along the way. One of my favourite quotes is by J.R.R. Tolkien,  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. I shall decide to bike and swim and do circuits and practice yoga and run just a wee little bit. I will get back to the run–hopefully sooner than later.

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