A Bad Break - Page 2
Finally, a local out checking his mailbox heard me. "I thought you were a cat in heat," he chuckled, while calling 9-1-1. EMTs arrived, strapped me to a gurney, and headed down-canyon toward the hospital. While the ambulance cornered the first of countless tight curves, my body shifted into violent shivers. That is, until one EMT gave me a painkiller cocktail. Sweet Jesus, bottoms up.
I went into surgery right after the doctors reviewed the x-rays. It took a plate, a screw and three pins to set my fractured fibula. The crew also sutured my ruptured ligaments into place. "You'll be better than new," the surgeon reassured me, as I popped Vicodin like breath mints.
Two weeks later, I lie on the couch with my bare foot elevated. It looks like Frankenstein's forehead, with 20 staple scars down both sides. My 14-month-old son walks by, pointing at my crutches. "Those are Dada's extra legs," I tell him. He just started walking a week ago—and I am anchored.
Beyond a large window in the living room, I trace an evergreen-lined ridge up a mountain, a singletrack trail just visible near the top. I've been up there; it's Nirvana. This is pure torture, hobbled while looking at it, like visiting the Coors Brewery after leaving rehab. I can't have alcohol with these painkillers, either.
I check my voicemail one morning, finding a message from a dear trail-running friend who knows about my injury. She launches into a blow-by-blow of her "glorious 20-miler" that morning. I punch "7" on my phone's keypad and delete her message before hearing the rest.
At the local gym, I make sure to wear old race T-shirts—Wasatch Front 100, Spring Desert Ultra, Mountain Masochist 50—as a reminder of my goals beyond recovery and physical therapy.
But right now those goals seem as implausible as me building a time machine and returning to the fateful day of the injury. How can I plan to run 100 miles, over multiple mountain passes, when it's a battle to get across the tile floor to the toilet?
Then I recall a quote from a legend of our sport, Ann Trason. After one of her epic wins in the late 1980s, a TV broadcaster posed the obvious question, "How do you run 100 miles?"
Ann shrugged. "I just run from tree to tree."
"Could it be that easy?" I wonder quietly, three weeks after the break, as I limp forward on a morning walk. My dog runs to sniff an oak sapling 10 feet ahead.
Garett Graubins is former senior editor of Trail Runner. He'd gladly trade a temporary handicapped parking permit for a race bib later this summer.