October 30, 2010

A Bad Break

SO, while googling the web for a photo that resembled my own x-ray from a few days ago I came across this blog posting from Reid Coolsaet. Reid is one of Canada's top distance runners, having just laid down a 2h11m marathon in Toronto a few weeks back. I remember he dealt with a serious injury a few years ago but I didn't realize until just now that it was a broken foot. A 'Jones Fracture' of the 5th metatarsal to be precise...on his right foot...at the beginning of November. His story is revealing as to what I'm dealing with and has hammered home just how long this is going to affect my running. I have had a brief email exchange with him and he did relay that the foot is stronger than ever. I guess this will be a life lesson in patience.
So how did it happen?

Max King tripped me as I attempted to pass him and followed that up by throwing rocks at me until he succeeded in breaking a bone in my foot. The whole time he was just screaming at the top of his lungs,


He is nowhere near as nice and funny as everyone seems to believe he is. Max is a ruthless competitor and he simply has to be stopped sooner or later. Geoff Roes barely escaped with his life under similar circumstances just minutes later! (sorry Max, I had to do it)

OK, Max is actually a really cool guy and had absolutely nothing to do with my own inability to navigate a few fresh centimeters of snow covered rocks.

Max, Geoff Roes, and myself headed out for a quick trail run of about an hour. We were all in Sunriver Oregon as part of the Montrail - Mountain Hardwear fall sales conference. All I will say about what I've seen here this week is that the technologies this company is about to roll out over the next few months are going to completely revolutionize the outdoor industry, period! It is an amazing and exciting time for this brand and everyone involved knows that we're sitting on something huge right now. I can't wait to see this stuff hit the market and to start talking about it in more detail.

The Run. It was completely insignificant, an easy hour on trails, an out and back route, and on the least technical terrain you could possibly imagine. I had run the same route solo the day prior. We had a light dusting of snow overnight and as we began our run I obviously let Max and Geoff lead the way. About 1km into our proposed 11km return run I believe my exact words were,

"There's literally four rocks on this entire trail"

Not three hundred meters later my right foot slid off the side of one of those four, now snow covered rocks, and the full weight of my body crumpled my forefoot onto itself. I was pretty sure I felt a snap in there yet for some reason I never made a peep. Had I been out on my own I surely would have screamed, thrown my water bottle at a tree, and taken a few minutes to process what had just occurred. Instead I now found myself a few strides behind Max and Geoff and in complete denial at what I'd just managed to do to my foot. I sped back up and simply told myself I'd run it off.

The conversation was consistent from the start but I now grew silent as I was internalizing the pain and trying to will my injury away. Every step hurt more than the last and the stabbing sensation radiated up the side of my leg as high as my knee. About one step every ten would hurt just slightly less than the rest and I focused on these strides and told myself that I was succeeding in running it off.

I was able to do this for about three kilometers before we stopped at our turnaround point of Benam Falls.

Max to us,

"You guys wanna go a bit further before turning back?"

Me to Max and Geoff,

"Uhhh. Uhhh, no I think I may have messed up my foot. I think I'll just start back out now and you guys can catch up with me shortly."

Max and Geoff kinda looked at each other and both commented that they didn't hear a noise from me at any point to suggest that I'd hurt myself. I was sure they were both thinking I was looking for a way out of the run for some reason but they simply smiled, asked if I was alright, and headed off down the trail again.

I started walking out while holding tight to the ever fading belief that I would still be able to will the pain away. My shoe was growing tighter around my foot by the minute and after walking about a kilometer of trail I found myself in a parking area. I had at least admitted to myself by this point that I wasn't going to make it much further under my own steam, so I finally removed my shoe and stuck my swollen purple foot into a pile of snow.

Max and Geoff showed up a few minutes later and we all agreed they'd run back to the car and swing around to grab me. We had a fun backcountry rally car style drive back to the main hotel and I promptly put my foot on ice.

A few hours later I was amazed by how good my foot felt so I decided it was in fact not broken and I went about our normal business for the evening. There was an athlete presentation in front of the entire conference of a few hundred people and I was lucky enough to be one of those chosen to speak on stage. I limped out, thankfully was able to get a few laughs, and limped back. We then enjoyed dinner and drinks before calling it a night.

When the alarm sounded at 7am the next morning all of my tightly guarded self-told lies came crashing down around me all at once. I physically could not get out of my bed. No matter how hard I tried to contort my body the stabbing pain in my foot would inevitably set me prone and grasping my pillow like a child. After a half a dozen attempts I finally I succeeded in swinging my legs over the side. I was then forced to ask Geoff to fill an ice bucket for me so I could numb my foot in order to make it to the bathroom before time expired on my bladder.

I was off to the hospital to confirm the inevitable. A 'Jones Fracture' of my fifth metatarsal, with surgery potentially being the best option for a full recovery. I have an appointment this coming Tuesday to review the x-rays with a surgeon back in Canada to determine our next step...while I struggle to come to terms with the reality that my next step, with my right foot, is still a few months away.



Devon said...

Dang buddy! So sorry to hear about this. Good luck with surgery and recover well.

Sue said...

Wow what a picture of your foot! Really tough break Gary (sorry no pun intended). You had better get Roxy a dog walker and a hobby for yourself :) Hang in there before you know it you'll be back running better than ever...all the best.

Scott McMurtrey said...


Derrick said...

Sorry to hear Gary. Crutch running it not all it's cracked up to be. Hit the pool and start counting down the days.

Heal fast!

Sibylle said...

Oh no, Gary. Sucks, but it'll be just a matter of time before you are back running! Call it a winter break - oops, pun not intended...

Moogy said...

Damn dude. Sending a sh*t load of positive vibes.

don said...

Oh noes. That's terrible news Gary.

Thomas said...

That really sucks! Sorry to hear that. Just don't try and come back too early.

Deanna Stoppler said...

You'll be back stronger than ever in no time.


From experience:
a. It will heal and you will be able to run again
b. I had a big tibia and fibula fracture with plates/screws- the whole thing. AFTER this I ran my FIRST 50 Km ...and 3 more after that. So it is possible from a mere mortal as myself. And you are more than a mere mortal!!
c. I used my time off as a 'sign' to slow down and reflect/goal set in my life. It was well worth it. Only look for the positive in this..as I'm sure you will!


I reccomend you do ask about this- I have seen many an athlete wear it to speed healing, but I can not recite the current literature on its effectiveness:

BONE STIMULATION. A pain-free external device is used to speed the healing of some fractures. Bone stimulation, most commonly used for Jones fractures, may be used as part of the treatment or following an inadequate response to immobilization.

Aaron said...

Somebody has to say it - looks like a career ender... you could always take up parcheesi.

Boris T said...

Wow that is bad, sorry to hear about your foot. Hope everything heals up quick.

Kristie said...

In the immortal words of several friends CRAP@#%%#@

That foot looks - amazingly painful

Figured out how to move you around and get Roxie her exercise - Roxie can be a mush dog and pull you around in a wagon. Just watch out for the squirrels


garobbins said...

Thanks for the kinds words, words of advice, and a few laughs...HEIDT, if you didn't have a wife and two kids I'd hunt you down for that one...though I might just take up parcheesi and challenge you to that instead!