So I ran a marathon on a herniated disc – How to advocate for your health

It turns out I’ve been pretty injured for the last 6+ months without knowing it! Just over a week ago I was diagnosed with a herniated disc (L5-S1).

My Injury Story

About three weeks before the NYC Marathon I had a long run of 22 miles and I was in so much pain in my back and right hip, I ended up at the doctor with a possible stress fracture. After a set of x-rays, an MRI, and a visit to an orthopedist it turned out it did not have a stress fracture just a messed up SI joint. Ran the marathon felt pretty good afterward and didn’t think twice about the hip pain.

Almost two months later with a lot of time off running and many visits to physical therapy, my entire leg suddenly went numb while I was sitting in a meeting. I called my doctor and after waiting over two weeks finally saw another spine specialist.

Me at mile 20 of the 2018 NYC Marathon

During my appointment with the spine doctor, all he talked about was what my injury could be the possibilities were endless. The fixes he mentioned were expensive and invasive. In the 15 minutes I spent with the doctor, I heard the words “spinal injection”, and “surgery” more times than I could count, along with some very large words I did not understand and wanted to. I felt like I was being mansplained too about my own body. A medical assistant scheduled my MRI right after the appointment and ended up telling me the wrong time twice, talk about horrible customer service, and booked my follow-up visit two weeks later at a completely different hospital that wasn’t in Seattle.

Thankfully, I got the MRI results back a few hours after the scan which confirmed that I did indeed have a herniated disc in my back that is most likely causing my leg and back pain. But to make matters worse, the email I got was infuriating. Not only was I going to have to wait almost two weeks for a follow up I would have to get a spinal injection to heal my pain no questions asked. After a few phone calls to my PT and boyfriend, another conversation with a coworker who was trying to make me feel better, I realized I would have to be my own advocate to make sure I would get the care I need and was comfortable with.

After a very blunt email to the doctor and three phone calls later I was able to get my follow-up appointment for the next day and convinced my boyfriend to come with me. From the moment the doctor walked in the exam room he was a completely different person. Not only was he nicer, he only spoke to my boyfriend, not to me and I was his patient! I declined the injection as advised by my PT and due to the fact, there is a 50-50 chance it would work. (NOTE: my boyfriend researched the spinal injection, my doctor did not tell there was a high probability it would not work, he claimed it was my only option.) After a long sales pitch for dry needling with plasma (NOTE: I could not find studies that it is proven to work for my type of injury), the doctor prescribed me oral steroids and another NSAID and said to call him if my syptoms don’t go away.

I saw my PT the two days after and he was shocked to hear the ordeal I went through with the doctor and was just as frustrated as me about the way I was treated. There was no excuse for me to be mansplained to and receive sub-par treatment without my boyfriend in the exam room. My PT said it’s an unfortunate part of the medical industry and our society as a whole, that many men think a woman can’t comprehend medical jargon and will just accept the facts and do what they are prescribed to do. Thankfully, I now have a plan that will not require a spinal injection, just a lot of time off of running and strength training with the guidance of my wonderful PT. I do have a referral to another spine specialist at a different practice if the oral steroids don’t work, but my hope is I do not need to see another doctor in the near future.

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What I learned from all of this chaos

I know hindsight is 20-20 but I should have advocated for myself when I was first in pain back in October. Had I not been so focused on running the NYC Marathon – I spent a lot of money on a coach, the actual race entry, the travel, along with the time commitment that was running – I would have questioned my diagnosis sooner and made sure I saw the correct specialists when the pain happened.

My biggest piece of advice for anyone who feels lost about their quality of care is to do your research about your diagnosis and medical providers. I am lucky that I have a boyfriend who works in medical research so he was able to help me make a more informed decision about my treatment and know how to find the correct medical research. Even doing a basic Google search and reading WebMD articles made me re-evaluate my treatment options. The other research I should have done sooner was look into my doctor and his reviews. The spine doctor I saw had no patient reviews and my frustration could have been avoided had I requested a more experienced doctor.

A lot of doctors, especially those who specialize in sports medicine, want to get their patients back out in the field as soon as possible. In my case, I took my diagnosis for granted and assumed it would all go away with a few months of rest. I wouldn’t trade running the NYC Marathon for anything, I had the perfect weather for a first marathon and finished without major pain. Had I known what my injury was, I wouldn’t have run. I hope writing about my experience with the doctors and recovery plan will help others learn that a diagnosis is not the last word and finding the right help is the most important on the journey to recovery.

Product Review: Brilliant Reflective

Disclaimer: I received a free Brilliant Reflective Family Pack as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

I’m in the middle of my New York City Marathon training cycle which means there are lots of early mornings and late night training runs ahead of me. This means I need to make sure I stay safe while I run and that’s where Brilliant Reflective comes in.

Brilliant Reflective are multipurpose 3M reflective strips that come in both stick-on and iron-on varieties. They come in different colors and even shapes! These are super handy for clothes, bikes, backpacks, helmets and much more. For review purposes, I mainly used the iron-on on my clothes and bags.

Here’s more about both the Stick-on and Iron-on Brilliant Reflective products.
where can i buy isotretinoin yahoo Stick-on strips:

  • Reflective strips that can be seen from up to 500 feet
  • Made with 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material
  • Can be added to hard goods
  • Highly durable, waterproof, and removable if needed

great post to read Iron-on strips:

  • Reflective can be seen from up to 500 feet
  • Made with 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material
  • Machine Washable up to 50 washes

These strips are seriously bright! Putting them on my shirt for running in the dark definitely makes me seen and feel safe. I will say applying the iron-on was tricky, it took a few minutes with the iron, but the final product was well worth it.

I put the strips on my back and front of my shirt, and even while running I noticed that I was visible which was great. A lot of the reflective strips and gear I’ve tried did not live up to the reflectiveness but Brilliant Reflective definitely did.

If you want to try any of the Brilliant Reflective products, use the code “BRP30” at checkout for 30% off your entire order.

Product Review: KT Tape

Disclaimer: I received a free KT Tape Cotton, Pro, Extreme, Wide, and Gentle as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

My Big Sur 21 Miler training is in full swing and right now recovery is super important. Since I started running, plantar fasciitis has flared up from time to time. Because of it and a few other nagging injuries, I have used KT Tape on multiple occasions and was super excited to try out more KT Tape products.

KT Tape Pro, Extreme, Gentle, Wide

What is KT Tape? KT Tape is a specific type of kinesio tape the when applied correctly, helps relieve pressure of sore muscles. One great part about KT Tape is not only are there paper instructions in every package but they have an online library of how to tape videos on their website. All of the videos are easy to follow and cover almost every body part. Each roll of KT Tape comes with 10-20 pre-cut strips and most of the rolls come with their own case too.

KT Tape Pro
KT Tape Pro might be the most popular product. I used the standard plantar fasciitis application except I did not add the third strip of tape. I’ve unfortunately developed a blister on the side of my arch and did not want the third strip of tape to aggravate it. I made sure to clean my skin with rubbing alcohol and shaved my legs so there was a smooth clean surface for the tape to adhere to. 

KT Tape Pro plantar facriitis application

My first application of KT Tape Pro stayed on for about a day. I felt the tops of the tape flap around while I was running the Mercer Island Half. I am a pretty sweaty runner and I think that had a lot to do with why it did not stick to well.

KT Tape Pro Extreme
I tried KT Tape Pro Extreme twice, both times with the plantar fasciitis application. Again, the first application was not successful, it fell off my arch while I was running. I was wearing my normal running shoes and winter running socks. The second application without the third strip stay put for my 18 mile long run and is still going strong. During my run my foot felt supported and I did not have issues walking in and out of the shower or around my apartment. I highly recommend KT Tape Extreme if you are a heavy sweater like myself. I made sure to thoroughly clean my skin before I applied the tape.

KT Tape Cotton
The original version of KT Tape, KT Tape Cotton is not as breathable as the other products. It works great for applications that do not need to stay for more than four days and I find it to be the most comfortable on my feet when I am not exercising. Funny enough my pink KT Tape cotton matched my favorite pair of pink sneakers. I did not work out while I was wearing the plantar fasciitis application but I did not have any issues.

KT Tape Wide it-band application

KT Tape Wide
After the hilly Mercer Island Half my it-band was giving me grief. My commute to work is up and down a huge unavoidable hill so sore knees and it-bands are not helpful. I used KT Tape Wide on my it-band and over the course of a few days I slowly started to feel better. The tape stayed on for 5 days before I needed to take it off. I plan on re-applying it when my it-band flares up again. I highly recommend using this for large muscles like quads and calves too.

KT Tape Gentle
For people who have sensitive skin KT Tape Gentle is a great alternative. As I mentioned before, I sweat quite a bit when I work out, and I found KT Tape Gentle to not stick to my skin. But that being said, if you have very dry skin and/or allergic to latex, Gentle is the way to go. I will stay for up to 3 days and is very easy to remove.

Overall, I would say KT Tape Pro Extreme was the best for my plantar fasciitis applications. I was very surprised how long my second application lasted and that it was so easy to apply with the instructional video.

Want to give KT Tape a try? Use code shannon marie dean florida dating violence injunction BIBRAVE30 for 30% off your order on

Let me know in the comments what you use KT Tape for. I love learning more about other applications!

Product Review: BOCO Gear Run Hat & 360° Visor®

Disclaimer: I received my BOCO Gear Run Hat and 360° Visor® to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

As fall half marathon training season comes to an end it’s time to talk about two pieces of gear I used quite a bit- the BOCO Gear Run Hat and 360° Visor®.

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I love BOCO Gear! One of my favorite hats of all time is their Technical Trucker so when the opportunity came up to test the Run Hat and 360 Visor I jumped at the chance. BOCO Gear 360° Visor®

I do use a visor while running but mainly in usually in warm weather. I tend to overheat in anything over 55 degrees. The 360° Visor® was not a fit for me. I really like the design of it but it was not comfortable for me to run in. The sides of my head started to hurt because it was a bit to snug for me. I have a very large head and a lot of hair which makes finding headgear hard.

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Other features of the 360° Visor® are:

  • Lightweight wicking woven or dry tech polyester outside
  • Wicking internal sweatband to move sweat from your forehead
  • Soft brushed elastic back for comfort and fit
  • Relaxed fit front panel for a better performance and comfort
  • Black underside of the bill to reduce glare
  • Curved Bill
  • Machine Washable

I do love the fact that the 360° Visor® can be customized! BOCO Gear and BibRave did a wonderful job at customizing the visor and I really appreciate the printed BibRave logo on the back of the visor. The bill of this visor is also shorter and the front is lined with really nice wicking material which is a nice touch!

Overall, I highly recommend the 360° Visor® to anyone with an average sized head.

BOCO Gear Run Hat

This is quickly becoming my favorite running hat. It has a short bill, is super lightweight and it dries quickly, which is a necessity for Fall running in Seattle. I did find it a bit warm during a 60 degree run but it kept the sweat out of my eyes with the moisture wicking front panel.

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Other great features of the BOCO Run Hat are:

  • Lightweight wicking woven polyester material provides a layer of protection from mother nature on the front and top panels
  • Dry Tech polyester mesh side panels keep your head cool for the length of your workout
  • Soft curved bill that is packable
  • Machine washable
  • Soft polyester mesh wicking sweatband on the inside to help move sweat away from your head keeping you focused on the trail or road.
  • Can be upgraded with sublimated designs
  • Can come with a black underside of the bill to reduce glare

The packable feature of this hat made it easy to stash in my hydration pack and even in the back of my running tights. It is also durable enough to be squashed in my gym bag for the majority of the day before a workout.

I know most companies claim their hats are machine washable but all BOCO Gear products really are! I took my run hat out on a super muddy and rainy run, popped it in the wash and it looked brand new.

I highly recommend buying a BOCO Gear Run Hat if you need a versatile and easy to wash hat.


Product Review: Eagle Creek Hauler Duffel

Disclamer: I received an Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

What a week! Just got back from runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon and an amazing visit to Disney World. I will post more about the race and trip in a later post. Not only was it a great trip and amazing weather but it gave me a chance to test out the Eagle Cargo Creek Hauler Duffel 60L.

The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel is a lightweight, water resistant, and packable duffel bag. It comes in a variety of colors and has multiple hand holds and straps to help you haul your gear around. The packable aspect of the duffel sparked my interest. Living in 600 sq ft with another person and small dog means gear storage is minimal and anything package is a huge plus especially if it’s luggage.

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Other great features of the bag include:

  • Lightweight – the 60 liter bag weighs 1lbs 12oz
  • Made of water-repellent Bi-Tech Armor Lite fabric
  • Three compartments to help organize gear
  • #10 lockable zippers with a storm flap to shield the zippers from the elements
  • Foam padding on the bottom to protect contents against impact
  • Removable backpack straps

Not only did I take this bag on vacation I also used it to commute to work and to running practice. Since the bag is 60 liters I probably overpacked a bit but I was able to shelp everything I needed for the day, clothes, shoes food etc. on the bus to work and on the train to practice. I did get caught in a downpour on my way to practice and even though the Cargo Hauler is made of water repellent fabric, the colored ends of the bag did get soaked. But once I got home the bag dried out quickly.

Eagle Creek Hauler Duffel straps

The other huge plus of the Cargo Hauler Duffel is the backpack straps, which makes it much easier to carry a heavy load. I will note, the backpack straps are nice for heavy loads but carrying over 20lbs on my back during a commute was not the most comfortable. When I checked the duffel in Florida I had to take the straps off of the bag and it took me a bit due to how the straps attached to one side of the bag. Putting them back on the bag was also a bit of a pain too. The nice part is the clips were not damaged in transit. I also found that the straps has a lot of extra length to them, they got caught when I was using the bag and it drove me nuts. Due to these frustrations, this is definitely a road trip or car bag for me, not a commuting bag.

Strap attachment on Eagle Creek Hauler Duffel

I will say for a 60 liter bag, the Cargo Hauler seems much larger than my other 50 to 60 liter bags. This is not carry-on size for most major airlines. If that is important, this is not the bag for you. We ended up checking it on the way home from Florida because it was too long.

Even though the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler is lightweight, it is sturdy. On our way to Florida we threw it in another bag and opened it when we got to our hotel. Since we were there for almost a week we used the compartments to organize our dirty clothes. When it was time to pack up, everything fit in nicely and because of the backpack straps and the sturdy end handles it was easy to get it into the car and to the check in counter. We even checked it and there were no flaws on the bag when we picked it off of the baggage carousel.

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Overall, I recommend the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel for people who need a good sturdy duffle bag for an extended trip. This is definitely a great gift for someone in your life that goes on extended trips or drives long distances for races.