Grandpa’s Hyena

There’s a scene in the 1980s teen angst film “Sixteen Candles” where Samantha (Molly Ringwald’s character) meets Long Duk Dong, Chinese exchange student who lives with Grandpa Howard. At dinner that night, Dong explains to the family that he pushes “the lawn mowing machine so Grandpa’s hyena don’t get disturbed.”

I am Grandpa Howard. And I have a hyena. Two actually. Inguinal hernias. The most common kind. The “turn your head and cough” kind. (For the record, I do not have a Chinese exchange student…yet)

I first noticed it a few months ago, in the middle of summer while using the Hanson’s plan to train for Fresno. The lack of rest days and adding a few double runs, I think, contributed to the acceleration of the hernia. Near the end of Two Cities Marathon in November, I really felt it. Not pain, per se, but irritation, enough to bug me and not let me relax. Recovery let the hernia subside a little, but it reappeared quicker than before. And near the end of last month’s Mtn. Mist 50K, I was not happy. Again, the pain was not severe, but irritating and enough to bother me. (Oh, by the way, I even researched ways to KT Tape hernias.  Few people have yet to try that technique, and the KT Tape I used in the 50K didn’t help much.)

I finally had the guts to Google the symptoms and saw that I have the most common hernia, the inguinal hernia. Compared to some of the images I ran across, mine is MILD in comparison.

Left untreated, it could rupture the thin wall it rests behind and lead to a risky situation. I saw my doctor, got a surgical consult, and discovered that there is another hernia developing on my left side.  The surgeon will repair that while he’s under the hood.  And here I am. Outpatient Surgery is scheduled for Monday. The procedure lasts about an hour. The hardest part of all will be the 6 week recovery period of no strenuous movements.

I mentioned my running and cycling and the surgeon started asking me about my bike.  Then he told me he had started running.  I’m pretty sure he won’t do an equal exchange of surgery for running advice, but I offered to help him with running in any way I can. Feels good to have a doctor who also participates in endurance sports.  I like to think that docs who run “get” it, you know?

Im ok with all this. The hernia had gotten to the point where it was in my brain more than anything. I knew it was there and even on days when I didn’t feel it, I expected to feel something and it became so difficult to enjoy the run. Yes, I know an untreated hernia is not good.

As a runner, I am looking at the longest non-running period since 2010 when I had a nasty case of ITBS. Good thing is I am a more mature runner and enjoy a broader view about my running life. Also, i have friends who’ve been out with injury MUCH longer than I. All things being equal, 6 weeks is not that long.

Until Monday, I’ll enjoy a last few runs and soak it in before its gone for a while. I will miss running, what it does for my mind and body. I’ll miss being an active part of the community of runners. But I’ll be here cheering you on, chronicling my recovery, and maintaining my sanity.

Run a few miles for me and be thankful that you have the run.


  1. Glad you’re getting it taken care of! You will be back just when the weather gets nice. It will be glorious running in the beautiful spring air with hernia free body and no worries on your mind 🙂 Hang in there-I will be thinking of you!

  2. wow I can not imagine trying to run with a hernia. man I hope your ok. you’ll be back at it before you know it!

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