Less than 10 Miles

That’s how far I got into Rocky Raccoon 100-miler this weekend. I’m still on pain meds, so the thought process is not 100 percent, but I wanted to get the bare bones of what happened written down.

My friend trail-running Stephanie and I were partners, driving down and rooming together, and we showed up at the start, ready to go. It was cold (24 degrees) but the roads were clear and the ground was clear. As we’d driven in on race morning, we had noticed a light dusting of snow and ice on the many boardwalks that take the trail over swampy areas in the park. We started out in the dark together, everyone going cautiously.
I felt really great and was pumped to get the day started. As I said to Stephanie at the start, it was just another long run and I was looking forward to spending all day among the beautiful trees and along the lake in Huntsville. Because the race was so big, there were quite a few people to run with at the start, and I quickly found myself in a little pack.

We’ breezed through the first aid station (Nature Center) and the light had come up enough that I turned off my headlamp. Approximately midway to the Dam aid station, there was a short, relatively tall boardwalk over a creek-y looking area. From the footprints I could see ahead of me, the middle of the boardwalk had been run on and looked clear, and I chose to slow but keep runing as I crossed it.

As we came down the other side, I hit an icy patch. I felt my left foot bend beneath me, heard (or felt? It’s that interior kind of hearing, where you wonder if it really made a sound outside your body) a snap, and went down hard. I think several other people slipped, too. The whole group came to a halt as I rolled on the ground, yelling “ow, ow, ow.” I knew something was broken; I couldn’t move or really even feel my left foot.

Two men moved me to the side of the path where I laid on the ground. I couldn’t get up, couldn’t even begin to think of putting weight on my foot. I told them all to go on and get help. One woman stayed; she told me her name was Sherry, I saw her bib was #149, and she said she was going to stay with me until help came. She put her jacket under me and held me as I cried and writhed on the ground. She did all kinds of wonderful things to keep me warm and comforted. One man, #18, ran back with a plastic poncho that he tenderly tucked around me. People are good, aren’t they?

Fred and Mike, who were working the Dam aid station, arrived to get me…and quickly assertained that I could not provide any help in moving me. They made a chair with their arms and carried me. It was the first time I actually looked at my leg, as I’d been afraid of what I might see. It looked okay but hanging my foot down was agonizing and I was completely traumatized at the possibility that they might slip and drop me on it.

Slowly and without incident, they carried me up the trail and to their Suburban. The jolting ride down park roads to the highway was excruciating. Fortunately, race doc Shannon Mitchell, who is also a friend, met us there. She apprised my condition, gave me some Vicodin, and told them to take me to Huntsville Memorial, just a few minutes down the road.

About an hour and a half after falling, I was in the emergency room, getting X-rayed. Yes, my leg was broken but according to the ER doc, it was a good break requiring no setting (a spiral fracture of the fibula). I got a shot of morphine for the casting and spent the next hour or so enjoying hot blankets and a narcotics-induced haze.

Poor Stephanie had an unfortunate day of her own; I’ll let her tell her story. But even when things go wrong, they work out right for us. She wound up picking me up from the hospital and driving me back to Austin. I was so glad to have her company and support, and I hope I was able to give back just a little of the comfort she gave me.

Next on the agenda:  seeing my doctor today and narrowing down an orthopedic specialist to meet with. Eight weeks recovery ahead. Right now, just working on pain management and dealing with swelling and so forth.

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5 thoughts on “Less than 10 Miles

  1. So unfair

    Oh Leah, I was so sad to read your post. I know how ready you were for this race. But the universe had other plans for you. I love how you remember the race numbers of those who helped you, and I love how well they took care of you. It must have been so cold! I hope the pain meds are giving you relief. This won’t keep you down for long! If there’s anything I can do, please tell me, ok?

  2. agghh!!!!

    OMG. BROKE YOUR LEG??!! Now,that is HARD CORE. Girl, I am so sorry to hear this news. I will be in touch. Holler (not from pain), if you need anything!!
    Leslie

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