This Is A Test…

Saturday’s long run was quite the adventure.

THE GOOD:

  • logged over 5 hours running with some power hiking on the steepest hills
  • tried some new foods: nuts/raisins and larabar über
  • saw a baby owl!
  • and a coyote!
  • gorgeous cool clear morning with AMAZING views

THE BAD:

  • started by tripping on potholes twice before I even got to the trailhead
  • within 30 seconds of hitting the trails I rolled my ankle…badly. Walked for a full minute to assess and considered turning for home, resting, and trying again on Sunday, but chose to continue

THE UGLY:

About ten minutes in, I was feeling comfortable. The ankle was solid (though a little painful the next day). Had a little Queen playing on the ipod and I was almost to another trailhead/drinking fountain/bathroom when the Running Gods insisted that the trail must savagely reach up and pull me down.

Okay, I tripped on a rock.

As I was falling I thought, “no big deal, I’m falling, relax and it will all be over soon.” BAM! Well, that wasn’t so bad. My head/face never hit the dirt. I didn’t feel any immediate pain. It’s all good.

Then I got to my feet. My knee and elbow were attempting to report some sort of injury, but I could not hear them over the noise from my right big toe, the one that slammed into the rock jutting out of the trail. It was SCREAMING! And it went something like this:

“OW…OW! Ouch! OW! Dammit…ow…stop! Just! Please! Stop!”

My first thought was that I had broken the toe. My second thought was that I had broken the toe. My third was very similar to the first two. Then it occurred to me that I should probably turn around, head home, peel off my shoes and socks, and see just how bad the toe looked.

Instead I kept running.

My knee was bleeding, but seemed otherwise intact. Ditto the elbow.

The toe was cranky at first, but the pain quickly dulled to a manageable level. Steep downhills were much more painful, but I found that if I did a sort of modified heelstrike the pain was considerably less.

So I kept running.

Good idea? Probably not.

Bad idea? Debateable.

I basically decided that, since pain is generally unavoidable when running for over five hours and is almost always manageable with the right frame of mind, I could muscle through. Four weeks from the starting line of a 50 miler did not seem like the time to be conservative. Either this toe injury was going to prevent me from racing or it wasn’t. If I could make it through a five hour training run, I would probably make it to the start of the 50 miler. If I could NOT make it through this training run, I was probably too injured to do a 50 miler in four weeks anyway.

Logical reasoning? I’m not sure, but it was 5:15am on a gorgeous morning and I’d been waiting for this run all week.

So I kept running.

And my toe hurt the entire way. Sometimes just a little nagging babble and sometimes a loud whimpering cry.

When I made it home and mustered the courage to remove my sock, I saw a swollen right big toe that was slightly larger than my left big toe. There was a purplish tinge to it as well. A few hours later the toe was noticeably larger, more purple, and slightly yellowish in spots.

My wife suggested that I jammed it. My eldest son said it was probably sprained. My youngest son diagnosed the injury as a dislocated toe. After a brief Internet search, I decided it could be any one of these. Or possibly all three.

But I am a stubborn, and I am a runner, and so I will run. I will ice, I will elevate, I will compress, but will I rest? No, can’t do it. Four weeks until race day is all-or-nothing territory. Either I continue to train and prepare as planned, or I pull out of the race because of injury.

No middle ground.

And so I run.

Run on, Sisters and Brothers!

@rundemtrails
rundemtrails@gmail.com

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