Monday, July 30, 2012


Angsty posts are better than no posts, right?

After the awesome high of Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay the weekend before last (which of course, I haven't posted about) there was last Saturday, which was the Wildwood Trail Half Marathon in Forest Park.

Gorgeous day. Gorgeous course. Felt well-hydrated and energetic, ready to run.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, nothing at first. The initial 2 miles or so were hard, as they were pretty much all uphill, which I knew was going to be the case when I signed up. So that was difficult, aerobically challenging and a bit frustrating, simply because my hill training is pretty much non-existent.

Then, enter mile about 4, trudging a bit but keeping on pretty well, where I tripped on some hidden rock, root or lick of air....and down I went. Ugh. It was one of those falls where I stumbled long enough for the fully-formed acknowledgement that I was going to hit the dirt go through my head. The damage - not too bad. Banged my left knee, fell on both hands, but not hard enough to scrape the palms - just enough to make them sting and bruise a bit. Tore my bib at one corner so that it hung lopsided on only one bib clip on my water belt. Took a few minutes to regain my composure and went on.

I hit the turnaround - drank up, filled my waterbottles, grabbed a handful of graham crackers, and got some wind back, happy with the knowledge that all the hills were done and for the most part, it was all flat and downhill back to the finish.

So I just hummed right along until about mile 10, where, you guessed it: my second dirt snack of the day. This time, it was a quick and completely unexpected slam into the ground. I never even figured out what it was I stumbled on, but as it was on a slightly downhill slope, once my left hand hit the ground, the rest of me just sort of kept going, and wrenched my wrist into a very un-natural angle. Really hard. Again my left knee got the impact as well, this time there was missing skin but amazingly enough, it wasn't bleeding.

I was so stunned all I could do was sit there in the dirt, cradling my wrist and hand which was an explosion of pain, and swear up a blue streak. A very nice middle-aged man with a little dust-mop of a dog came along on the trail about 15 seconds after I fell, and asked if I was ok. I wasn't quite in tears at that point but almost; even so I managed to convince the guy I was ok. He refused to leave until I got up off the ground.

Dejectedly, covered with dirt and trying to hold my left hand in an elevated position, I continued down the trail, knowing full well that all running was done for the day, not looking forward to having 3 more miles to deal with before I could get any sort of attention. Holding my hand up seemed to help a bit, but it really, REALLY hurt. A couple of times I nearly burst into tears, but I managed to keep myself glued together enough to concentrate on just getting back down the hill in one piece.

One of the women I had passed about a mile before I fell caught up to me...a very nice person named Raven. God bless her....she stayed with me for the rest of the race, and she kept me talking enough to keep my mind off my throbbing wrist. She is one of those people who you can instantly fall in with and just start gabbing away about most anything, and we did - she was my "trail angel" and I am so grateful she was kind enough to stick with me and make sure I made it to the finish line.

I crossed the timing mats not even really caring that I was finishing except for the fact that now I could start dealing with the problem "at hand" - pun intended. We sat in the shade and drank a bunch of fluids and had some watermelon, and then Raven walked me to my car. She made me promise I was going to go get x-rays, but I had already figured out that was going to be necessary. Driving home was interesting, as my little sedan has a standard transmission, but I managed okay, steering with my left thumb when necessary (which was the only digit I could move at that point without sharp pain shooting up my arm).

About 4 hours in the ER with x-rays and an exam revealed no fractures but a "severe soft-tissue injury" which landed me in a snug wrist/hand brace contraption and the admonition for ibuprofen and ice. Lovely.

So, at least now my hand is already feeling much better, as I can attest to as I manage to type out this post halfway decently. But the thought of going out and running right now just bums me out, especially the idea of getting back on the trail. And clearly, until the trauma to the tissues in my hand has healed significantly, much of the Crossfit training is going to be on hold. Not only that, but I banged my knee up a bit more than I initally thought; it is slowly developing a nice bruise and is still tender and a bit swollen. My hand, I am calling the "Stay Puft Marshmallow Hand" - the knuckle bones of my pinky and ring finger are completely indistinguishable but I am able to flex and move the fingers without too much pain, which I consider a good thing. Still, I think I am looking at a fairly long period to full recovery.

Right now my attitude is not the best, but I recongnize a few things:

* Had it been a knee or an ankle with as bad a sprain as my hand suffered, I would have not made it down the hill without some serious help. That would have been....inconvenient at best, and horribly embarassing at worst.

* My new friend forever Raven came along right at the point when I was just about to fall apart. Funny how that happens. I love it when God smiles on me when I most need it.

* I can tell that my body is working hard to heal the injuries. I am grateful that I didn't actually break any bones, and I think I can give a lot of credit to the running, which has been proven in several studies to help keep the bones of middle-aged and older women nice and dense like they should be.

* I finished the race. Unfortunately, there was no bling for this one and the t-shirt is too small...but I did. not. DNF. And I did it in under four hours, which, all things considered, really wasn't too bad. I wasn't last.

And there you have it.