How to DNF and Cost Yourself a Few Thousand Sheckles in the Process
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve been in here. The latest and greatest is that I spectacularly crashed and burned at my “come back” run at the Grizzly Peak Trail Marathon in Berkeley on April 7. What started out as a great trip with my husband, my stomach full of anticipatory butterflies, ended about 6.5 miles/less than two hours into the race with me stumbling, falling, and dislocating the middle finger on my right hand and spending three hours in the emergency room getting it x-rayed and put back into place, and making this the most expensive race I’ve ever run/never finished.
Some may ask, now why didn’t you just pull it back into place yourself? Good question. (A) I’ve never seen a broken bone let alone a dislocated joint, and I had no idea if it was broken, (B) I couldn’t have pulled it back into place myself without passing out or throwing up, and (C) I make a living with my digits (i.e., typing). I can’t afford to screw those puppies up.
After I fell (on the most benign portion of the trail at that point), I looked around for help, but there were no other runners in sight. However, just a few steps around a curve in the road, there were Larry and Joyce, a couple who were just out enjoying the day and doing some power hiking. I had no idea who these people were, but I walked up to them, said, “I need some help,” and stuck my hand out.
Larry, bless his heart, took one look at my finger and said, “You need to go to the hospital.” (The finger was bulging on the underside at the middle knuckle, pointing quite elegantly to the right, and bleeding from where a few layers of skin had been torn off the end.) He took off running back to the aid station (they’d just walked through there) and Joyce proceeded to walk with me. Along the way, I found out these folks were in their 70s (Joyce is 72), and in the last couple of years they’d climbed Machu Pichu and Mt. Everest (Mt. Everest? Is that right? One of those HUGE mountains). I couldn’t believe it. I can only hope I’m able to accomplish such feats at that age.
Larry and Joyce, if you’re by chance reading this, you’re wonderful!! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to help me.
We encountered a few people on our journey back to the aid station, and with each one I’d stick my hand out and ask, “Do you know how to put back a dislocated finger?” Unfortunately - or maybe fortunately? - there were no takers. One of the race volunteers, Marissa, picked me up from the aid station and, because I had no idea where Shorty was, took me back to our hotel room so I could get my cell phone, then dropped me off at the ER.
While Marissa was running me all over hither and yon, I told her I didn’t expect Shorty to get back to the start/finish until around 2:00 or so as I had anticipated it would take me about 6.5 hours to finish. As it turns out, when Marissa and I were at the start/finish where I showed Wendell the RD my finger and he told me to go to the hospital (he’s also an EMT), Shorty was there, either in the bathroom or walking back to the start/finish and we missed each other by only moments. Unbeknownst to me, he had planned on taking pics as I came through on the first loop. His cell phone wasn’t getting any coverage there, so none of my calls (15) were getting through to him. It wasn’t until I was out of the ER and called Marissa and told her I hadn’t been able to get in touch with him that she started yelling for him. So there he sat, right at the start/finish, for over four hours, waiting for me and worrying that something had gone wrong. Well, yeah, it had gone spectacularly wrong, but not the kind of wrong he thought.
The folks at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center ER were wonderful. From the doctor down to the security guard at the front door, the people were great. My experience was such a positive one, I wrote a letter to the department head. Besides having to be there in the first place, the worst part of the visit was when Dr. Khan stuck needles in my finger to deaden it before he pulled it back into place. YEE-OW! CHA CHA CHA!! But it was dead in an instant and voila! My finger was straight - - well, somewhat straight. He also super glued the flap of skin that was hanging off the tip of my finger back into place. Nice!
After a week, the swelling is starting to go down and the bruising is starting to subside. It still hurts like the dickens if I bump it or something, but I have a finger brace on the top side holding it in place and also allowing me to still type.
Grizzly Peak was my third marathon. The first was Bizz Johnson which sucked because (a) I was unprepared for how cold it was for more than half the race and (b) I had really bad hip flexor issues that caused my left hip to seize up about 4 miles from the finish, causing me to do a lot of painful walking. I finished, but it wasn’t pretty.
The second was the Big Sur Trail Marathon which sucked because (a) the heat was horrendous that day. By 11:00 a.m., it was well into the 80s and only got worse, and there was very little shade on the course, and (b) by the time I got to the finish (and there were people behind me), the only water available was a small bottle one of the EMTs had, and they were able to come up with about half a sandwich baggy of ice to put on the back of my neck to help cool me down. I wasn’t the only person overheated and hurting as it sort of looked like a triage unit with about 5 or 6 bodies lying about in various stages of heat exhaustion (I will never run this race again).
And now my third - Grizzly Peak - which did not end well. I’m beginning to think marathons are not my thing and I should just stick with ultras.
Oh, and on top of all this, I chipped a tooth on an almond from the 2nd aid station and will more than likely have to have it crowned. sigh