Call it a love - hate relationship. I really enjoy running a trail south of Bozeman. South Cottonwood trail is a rolling single track trail that crosses the stream numerous times by a series of wooden bridges as you progress up the valley. I have had dozens of high quality training runs while running this trail. To say I love this trail is appropriate. Except for a day in late June 2011. My training was progressing well. I had just raced a week earlier – and was entering a maturation phase of a competition cycle. There were a number of races I had set on my race calendar. Read past tense. The crash I took while running that day brought my plans to a screeching halt.
Starting over is not a fun activity. Never planned – never good timing. I was an hour into my run – 2.5 miles to go – and was running near race pace. I was in a zone and feeling really good. My training was paying off. Until – on a downhill section my right toe caught a rock – and I launched myself into orbit – hyper-extending my left leg before hitting the trail so hard I dislodged a large rock on the edge of the trail. The only outlet for the pain emitting from my torn hamstring (grade 2) was to lay along the side of the trail in agony – and scream/yell. Wasn’t real pretty. Glad I was solo. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone to hear me! Pain has a way of commanding your attention. I slowly collected myself, found my hat, tried to brush off the dirt, viewed the trail rash along my chest, elbows, knees, and then used the bushes next to the trail to assist me to an upright (sort of) position. I glanced back up the hill – looking for the semi truck that had just delivered the head on collision. In all of the trail miles I have logged I have never fallen so hard and produced so much damage. This was not fun.
At this time I knew something was terribly wrong – and realized my only option was to hobble to the trailhead where I had two daughters waiting for me. You don’t have to teach an athlete the reach around the leg and grab the backside of the hurt hamstring. Comes naturally. Hope they weren’t in a hurry. A few hours later I found my way to the couch – and with plenty of ice application began the treatment phase of a 4 step process outlined by my PT. Recovery, rehab, training, competition – per John Zombro PT in Bozeman. He told me “forget about your fitness. Kick back, enjoy life, find a go fishing, etc. because you are looking at 8 – 10 weeks of time off”. Ouch. Looking back – I was off a full 5 weeks of no running. The return process has been slow. Jack Daniels – the exercise physiologist –says injuries are “a runners best friend”. I think I understand why but wish I could agree with him. Maybe someday but right now the return to full strength and speed is not happening at a pace that I would expect. But hey – the fishing for cutthroat trout in the high mountain lake yesterday was very productive and a lot of fun. Much to be thankful for. So maybe Mr. Daniels is right. Sure makes you appreciate the gifts God has for us each day.
Next time – What a Day! Until then – enjoy the run!