Fighting the remnants of a cold, I decided that my long run for the weekend would be an easy one.
After a week of heavy rains, I expected the trail run to be wet and muddy – perfect for my new Gore-Tex gloves and Gore-Tex Montrail shoes. I bought the shoes at the insistence of a podiatrist, who recommended shoes with a stiff ankle box to go along with my orthotics. Even though I kept insisting that the orthotics, while comfortable, were raising my center of gravity too much (even a few millimeters matters while running on the trails) and were making me prone to ankle rolling, he asked me to give them a try with the new shoes. His theory being that with a stiffer shoe, we would neutralize movement between the shoe, the orthotic, and the foot, and thus get them to act in unison with greater overall stability.
An hour into my run, as is common to many long-distance, trail runners, I needed to take care of business (number 2 type). I found my way to a remote section of the trail, dug my hole, and took care of business. Following trail etiquette, I proceeded to cover my business with rocks and sticks. Needing some leaves to finish the camouflage, I began moving a nice mound of leaves, which was within arm’s reach, only to uncover someone else’s business. So much for my new gloves.
My second hour was fairly uneventful (other than cold hands), and I began to gain confidence with my new shoes. Then, it happened. I must have stepped on a stone just perfectly wrongly, popping the ball at the end of the tibia bone out of the ankle socket, and sending me to the ground with excruciating pain. I looked at my right foot, which was at a 45-degree angle from its "usual" place, and, being in the middle of the woods, I knew I was in trouble. Instinctively, I grabbed my foot with both hands and with a single stroke and divine precision, popped back into place. The noise of the bone popping back into its socket almost made me faint and want to throw up.
Thank God for my cell phone, which I not always carry. I called my wife, told her I was ok but that I needed her to meet me at an entrance to the trail, pronto – I didn’t sound good, and she knew not to waste time asking me questions. While thinking about the impact of this injury on my training for Western States and the possibility of not even being able to run the race itself, I managed to hobble for about a mile across the woods until I finally reached the entrance point where my wife and son were awaiting me with ice, towels, and love.
X-rays at the ER showed no bone fragments or fractures. I was very lucky but should have known better than to listen to my podiatrist! As I write this, the day after, my ankle is the size of a grapefruit. So much for my easy run.