"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Monday, July 7, 2008


The last post was from the waiting room of the ER and I was pretty sure I was going to be put in some sort of cast, brace or harness. I wasn't. So the cast signing party won't happen. Turns out that was the least of it.

When I went down at Afton (Wayne's got a nice picture of me at race end with dirt all over me), I went down HARD. I looked at what was obviously a career-ending injury and wondered how long it would be for the next runner to come by so I could tell him to get me emergency help at the next aid station. It seemed like forever. I'm going to be intentionally vague here, but I clawed my way to a tree which I used as leverage to try to put things back where they belonged. Then I stood. Then I took a step.

15 minutes later, I made it the quarter mile to the aid station, pulled off my number and said I was done. I debated whether I should say what happened. I declined the ATV ride back to the start because I knew I'd never run again if I sat just then. I started back up the hill (Back 40), went a few yards, sat down and cried. Didn't realize that I'd been followed, but the guy who was watching over me gave me a hand up and said the shortest route was back along the course. I started that way for a while, irritated at the guy being helpful (and asking me questions and trying to get me to accept the ride) and decided: screw it - if this is my last race, I'm going to finish it. I had a little less than 5 1/2 hours to go 14 miles. I asked for my number back.

I pictured Joe Theisman with his compound fracture getting back in the game (didn't happen, if you don't follow football). I also pictured a guy left for dead on Mt. Everest - twice - who survived, less his fingers, toes and nose.

Thanks to all who asked if I was okay the next hour. I wanted to punch all of you. I thought the "how's the ankle?" was annoying, but this was infuriating. My mood lightened as I went and I tried to be pleasant as I saw everyone I knew go by.

I ended up running by the end. Did the last mile hard enough to pass 6 people.

The medical staff at Afton were more than concerned. One wouldn't let me go until I promised him I was going to the emergency room, then followed me to my car, then watched to make sure I could drive.

When you go to the ER with a sports injury, you don't expect you're going to be admitted. You also don't expect to see a cardiologist or get a psych consult. Both happened. Turns out my first aid was done exactly right, though they couldn't imagine anyone doing it. Running afterward was, well, "mentally altered." It's not like on TV shows - no one says to the patient that they're getting a psych consult; if it happens and you recognize it, you're probably okay.

When you spend a day in the ER, there's nothing to do. I noticed the brand names of all the supplies and thought I should re-invest in 3M stock. I learned the code to get in the break room from watching everyone go in. I learned that people are watching when you don't think they are; my room got a "code red" call when I'd been alone for an hour.

I also learned that a detailed medical history is important, but can be misleading, as I come from a large family of long-lived people. There's a history of everything, but nothing until age 80.

It's been two days and I've seen (I think) 7 doctors. I'm out of the hospital.

But I'm not out of the woods.

And I hope to get back into the woods. Soon.
I'm not going to say what happened, but the only people who think I'll be racing again are in sportsmedicine. I will say that, among the surprises, was chronic dehydration from my trying to train in the heat the past couple of weeks. Add overtraining, over-racing, lack of sleep, a ton of caffeine, a hot and hilly course and a fast start and you have a recipe for disaster.


keith said...

Feel better soon. I can't believe you finished the race with an injury that sent you to the hospital.

Here's to gettin' some rest and coming back stronger!

Andrew said...

Wow, hopefully one of the 7 Doc's will know what to do with ya.

Here's to a speedy and complete recovery.

WynnMan said...

Steve, you are one sick son of a bitch and I love it. I don't know what I appreciate more, your gutting out a finish on a broken foot or the fact that you memorized the password code to one of the hospital rooms. Have you thought of trying out for the next James Bond role? Ian Flemming would have been impressed by you.

Anyways, good work and I hope you're on the trails soon. Is there a diagnosis to what is wrong with the foot? Sprain.. strain.. broke?

Londell said...


Might not realize this but there are many who are concerned and wish you well. You take care...

phillip said...

I may not know why they brought in a Cardiologist, but I sure think I can figure out why the Psych guy showed :)

Kel said...

...What Londell and Phillip said...

J-ManRunner said...

Steve, get better soon! Your one tough runner!


was there anything good in the break room?

Jean said...

Steve, you are amazingly tough. I wish you well in your recovery, and I hope you will be out of the woods and back into the woods soon!

johnmaas said...

I hope you get back to "normal" real soon.
It was nice meeting you at Afton.
I remember being one of those people who asked you if you were OK, but it was about 0.5 mile from the Start/Finish - end of loop 1. You had a big dirt mark on your left shoulder and back.
I saw you again after you crossed the finish - you had this crazed look in your eyes. I had no idea you were hurt so bad.
Get better soon!