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The Dreaded Stress Fracture

The Dreaded Stress Fracture

It was 6 weeks before the Boston Marathon.  I should have been in full on training mode.  Feeling strong.  Happy and excited about the biggest freaking race in my life.

Only I was far from it.

I was lying face down on the carpet wearing a sports bra, drenched running shorts,  and a towel, moaning in pain.

Pretty pitiful, right? (I can actually laugh about it now!)

This wasn’t the normal, fatigued ache that usually follows an 18 mile training run; the kind that makes you want to lay in a comatose state on the couch for the rest of the day and do nothing but ice your sore muscles and pig out with a smile on your face.

Not that kind of pain at all.

No, this was different.  It was sharp and nauseating, deep down in my right hip.  Like a knife had been stabbed in some internal place (I couldn’t put my finger on where exactly) and someone was twisting the blade with each movement I made.

That kind of pain.  A runner’s worst nightmare kind of pain.

What the hell happened? Was all I could think, as I lay there on the floor.

I had given up trying to walk as soon as I attempted to take my first step out of the car earlier that day.  Instantly, as my right foot hit the ground, throbbing radiated out from all directions of my hip, sending hot, piercing waves of needles throughout my body.  I let out a yelp and fell to the ground in our driveway.

30 minutes later, here I was, dragging my limp leg down the hallway.  With each tug and bump of my leg, the knife twisted deeper and deeper into my hip. I was still shivering profusely from the ice bath I had just pulled myself out of, which was my last futile attempt to restore some sort of normalcy. It’s funny how we runners turn to ice baths for all our problems. Like a tub full of freezing water is somehow going to magically erase our woes like a wipe on a chalkboard.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way, at least not for me that day. All the ice water in the world could not eradicate the damage done to my hip.

Crap, Was all I could think.  This is bad.

To make matters worse, I was so damn cold.  Mind-numbingly cold.

The ice bath. A last desperate attempt to save my hip.

I heard the front door close.  I could just barely make out the living room clock from where I lay in the hallway.  3:40.  School was out.


My teeth had began to chatter, and I could feel my lips turning blue.

Just try to act normal, was all I could think, as  I placed both my hands palm-down on the carpet, and began dragging my dead weight leg once more down the hallway.

The last thing I needed was to freak out my kids.  After all, I was supposed to be a positive, healthy, example in their lives.  Running is fun, running is good for you, kids!  

I seriously could not move my leg.  How did this happen?

If I weren’t in so much pain, I would have laughed.


I propped my arms up and raised my head  so I could get a better look at the 4 backpack-clad figures that were now standing in the hall doorway, their mouths gaped open.

“OH, Hi, KIDS!” I said, a big smile on my face, my lips chattering. Maybe they won’t notice?

“Mom, you’re soaking wet! What are you doing on the floor?”

Oh, right.

I tried to brace myself to stand, only to keel over again.  Who was I kidding?

“A little help here?”

My 10 year old son swooped his arm around me and we hobbled towards the couch, but there wasn’t enough pressure relief to avoid the searing needles once again.

“Aaaarg!” My words had suddenly reduced to one-word pirate phrases.

My husband came home soon after.  “I’m calling the neighbor; he has a pair of crutches. And here, you call the doctor.” he said, his voice calm and full of reason.

I sighed.  Crutches.  Please, not crutches.

“Here, the phone,” said the voice of reason.

As I sat on the couch, the shivering finally subsided, and I clutched my blanket like a small child.  Man, I felt stupid.  I tried to make sense of how I had gotten into this mess to begin with. Two hours ago, I was in long-run bliss, flying down the road at 7:15 pace. Now, I couldn’t even take one step.   Not one.  It just didn’t make any sense.

Running the Road

The hip had to be cracked or broken.  My heart sank at the thought of the Boston Marathon.  My registration was complete, my plane ticket was purchased.  I had worked so hard…

Nevermind.  I didn’t want to think about that now.

To my relief, my fears were put to rest that next day at the doctor’s office.

It was only a hip flexor strain or tear, I was told. Give it 2-3 weeks.

Great news! I began formulating my plan of attack on how to heal as quickly as possible so I could get on with it. I had a race to run!  Not just any race, the Boston Marathon.  I had worked my butt off for that 3:07 qualifying time, and there was no way I was not going down like this.

No way.

2 months later (after missing the Boston Marathon) I was finally sent to the orthopedics office, where I found myself staring at a large MRI image of my hip that showed a sizeable crack going through the side of the femoral neck. What had originally been diagnosed as a hip flexor strain had actually been a femoral neck stress fracture the entire time.

It would be 12 weeks before  I could even think about running again.   Which in runner’s time, means eternity.

Do you suspect you may have a femoral neck stress fracture or be close to getting one? Don’t be like me and miss the signs of a stress reaction or stress fracture.  Check out my post on Symptoms of a Femoral Neck Stress Fracture to learn more.


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