Monday, August 11, 2008

ASYMCA 8K Mud Run, 09 Aug 08

The ASYMCA Mud Run is an 8K that combines lots of sand, water obstacles and running. A fun event that I had run last year and already had registered for quite a while ago. I had some reservations of running it because I had just come off rehabbing a stubborn right shin problem for the last three months. After running the Memorial 5K about 10 days earlier, my shin was still tender and after a couple more training runs they didn't seem to be getting any better. I gave them three days of rest from running and on the morning of the race decided to go ahead and run it but to take it easy and run it for fun. Besides I had convinced other people to run it and a few of my gym mates were running it too.

The race is held on and near the beach of Little Creek Amphibious base in Norfolk and in run in waves starting with the young up to the age of 40 and ending with various two people and five people teams. I got to the event in plenty of time and got my chip and hung out a while waiting for my gym ladies but couldn't find them in the 2000+ runners and non-runners. It was a beautiful sunny morning with the temps in the low 70's and a nice little breeze. I did my mile warm up running the last half mile from the finish on the mostly sand covered hardtop road. My shin was still tender but usually after a couple of miles of racing it loosens up a bit. I again looked for the gym ladies and and had a chance to talk with fellow blogger Steve and Ally before the second wave was called to the starting group...and I also found one of the gym ladies and was able to greet her before heading to the line.

The horn sounds and we are off running in the loose sand headed to the packed sand on the ocean beach. We race down the beach dodging waves and tree roots for the first mile or so. We head back across the loose sand and some solid ground before fording a small stream that comes up about mid thigh felt cool and refreshing. We weave through a wooded area dodging overhanging branches, tree roots and small stumps. I'm feeling pretty good and start passing the slower people in front as the opportunity presents itself on the narrow trail. We run through some more loose sand and areas where dunes have been piled up for us to go up and over. After a little over a mile we finally reach the parking lot of the start finish area and I think for a moment that I should stop because my shin is still painful but continue on thinking that the next mile is the easiest part because it's mostly on blacktop roads and I'm already almost half way done anyway. We come off the solid ground back into the sand and climb over a wall chest high wall. I'm careful jumping down the other side and we are then going through the first mud pit...but actually just dirty, sandy water. We come to an area with rope stretched low over the course causing us to low crawl out the other side. Back to running in the loose sand and now the unsure footing in the sand is making my shin hurt even more so I slow it down and make sure that I step solidly on the sand. We go up and down some more dunes on the winding hilly trail and finally get to the blacktopped road that leads to the finish. I think we are home free and step up the pace for a good finishing kick but soon are directed off the road to another mud pit with some rope to ensure the runners get down and muddy going through the obstacle. We go up and down a final dune and back onto the blacktopped road to the finish. I speed up again and the finish line with crowds of people on both sides is in sight. I pick up my pace some more and hear a big thud and pain in my right leg. I'm thinking that someone that I am passing has kicked me and I ran another step and another big thud and I fall to the ground with my right foot in a weird angle. As I look at my foot, I realize that I have broken my leg. The people are trying to encourage me to get up and run to the finish which is so very near but I can't and the pain starts.

There are some guys from a rescue/ambulance unit near the finish and they rush over to me and I tell them that my leg is fractured. One goes off to get a splint and stretcher while another cuts the laces on my shoe to get it off. They also notice the chip on my leg and give it to someone and tell them to run it in for me...what a nice gesture! They get the splint on my leg and get me into the stretcher and as I'm wheeled to the ambulance I get to see the concerned but familiar face of Steve as he offers his help. They get me in the ambulance and as they are getting all the vital information from me, they try to clean up the mud, sand and sweat so they can start an IV but have trouble getting a vein. After four tries in my left arm one of them finally get the line started in my right arm. They give me my first shot of morphine for the pain but it doesn't seem to help and tell me they will give me more every five minutes. My first ambulance ride takes me from the race site slowly weaving through the crowds and off the base to the hospital. I'm still in pain and they give me the second shot of morphine but it still doesn't seem to have any effect on the pain and I joke with them that it's probably a bad batch. During the ride to the hospital we keep it light and lively and they keep injecting me every five minutes with the morphine until my max dose of 10 mg is reached but by then I am being wheeled into the emergency room.

I am seen by various nurses and doctors and each one asks what happened and I tell my story over and over again. They seem skeptical that my fracture is that severe and I'm also beginning to feel that maybe I didn't break anything. They order some X-rays and the technician seems to have no idea how to handle a suspected fracture trying to move my leg into various positions. I keep telling him to be careful and the need to support the area that he is moving around. At one point he lets go of my heel while still holding my calf and my foot flops sideways cause a wave of pain and a very surprised look on the tech's face. I tell him to get some one to help him support and move my leg. They take the first films and are a lot more careful after seeing the results. Both bones of the lower leg a few inches above the ankle...tibia and fibula...have complete breaks with the fibula broken in two places. I see it on the screen as they wheel me out of X-ray and back to the ER. The doctor gives me two options. One...they cut an incision just below the knee so that a titanium nail can be driven down through the fracture in the tibia to secure it. The second is that they can try to align the breaks and cast it hoping that the bones will keep their alignment and if they don't they would go to option number one. I don't like the idea of them cutting anywhere near my knee and opt to try the second option first. They give me some more IV pain killers and I am wheeled into orthopedics where they pull, push and twist for quite some time before everything looks aligned...Yes, the procedure hurt a lot! They are afraid of swelling and compartment syndrome so they cast me but cut the cast in half with a lower half and upper half and tape them together. This will give them easy access in case of swelling. I am admitted for 24 hours so they can check for swelling. They put compression leggings on my other leg and give me shots in the stomach to prevent blood clots. Every hour or so one, two sometimes more nurses, doctors come in to check for swelling and wiggle my toes, so I don't get any sleep. All goes well and I am released late the next day with a pair of crutches and box of more injections to prevent blood clots and some pain meds. I am to follow up next Monday so they can check to see if the bones are still in place.

Race Results:
There were 27 runners in the Male 50-54 age group and 1753 total finishers
Overall place was 445 of 1753
Age group place was 11 of 27
Time: 57:24 for an overall pace of 11:32 per mile

Of course I really didn't finish the race but some kind sole did run my chip over the finish line and the above results were recorded and since it will be my last race for a very long time, I feel compelled to list them.

Next race...probably none for long time...but there will be a next.

Happy running you all!


Steph Bachman said...

Oh no, Charlie! I'm so sorry. Do you think that maybe your shin has been a stress fracture this whole time?

It sounded like a really fun race until the broken leg part. I hope that you are hope with some good drugs now. Best wishes to you for a speedy recovery. We will be thinking about you - I hope you'll blog your progress.

LetsRoll said...


I've found great inspiration in your accounts of personal dedication and strength in your description of your training and your races. I am confident that your recovery will be a journey filled with as much courage and determination as all the events that got you here.

I had just posted my previous comment when I read Steve's account of your injury. That was horrible news. Besides the physical pain, you've got to be the most bummed out person in the world right now.

Your challenge now is to find new ways to maintain your incredible level of fitness; much as I have had to do over the years (though I do not claim to have achieved anything close to your level of physical accomplishment). Do not be constrained by conventional wisdom or the limitations that others would impose on you. You CAN remain fit WITH an injury. It just requires a lot of reasoning and a lot of adaptation.

I tell people that life after an injury is like walking from the sunlight into a dark room. At first it seems foreboding and absent of all those things you once saw so clearly. With time, your eyes adjust and the dark room becomes more visible and it is only a different place, not a worse one. It's important not to get stuck in the twilight of despair.

I have a challenge for you, Charlie. While that leg is mending, keep up your race schedule: Join me at the MCM on a handbike. The NYC is a great race for a handbike. Many of your other planned races are too.

And keep those blog posts coming. They are too valuable of an inspiration to others like me. Remember the words of Coach V.: "Don't give up, don't ever give up."


2008 Miles Of Hope

cymrusteve said...

Oh Charlie. I feel so, so bad for you . I still can't get my head around what happened, but I do know you're one of the most positive, upbeat people I've met.

Thanks for sharing your story, and please continue to blog your recovery process - I'm sure it will be a big inspiration to others and maybe help you on the road back too.

Love the way you ended your post "Next race...probably none for long time...but there will be a next." - that's the spirit I'm talking about....

If you need anything, just let us know ok?

All the best!


runner-grrl said...

That is one of the most amazing stories! Ouch, ouch, ouch! And you told it so calmly...

--Alex (; run350 @ twitter)

Nat said...

Holy Crap Charlie!!! I am just now seeing this. I am so sorry. I hope you are not in too much pain. That just sounds terrible.

But the funny part is that I am sitting here thinking "what can Charlie do to keep streaking while his leg mends?"
Can you swim or are you in a cast?
Weights but that is BORING . . .
I'll keep thinking.
How long are you out? Dr say anything?

Also, don't forget to email the NYC RD for defferement.

Stoph said...

Charlie- I am sorry to hear about your injury. Nat pointed it out to me today, just after I posted about my own, now completely insignificant by comparison, stumbling blocks.

I wish you the best for a speedy and full recovery.

All the best! -Chris

Charlie said...

Thank you so much everyone for your encouragements and best wishes.

Right now I'm just trying to find out how to do things that we all just take for granted...except you Paul :). It's just challenging to get around and do simple things.

I'll try to keep you all posted.

Thank you again!

Matt said...

Hi Charlie,
I just read about you on Paul's blog. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. I know you'll figure out a way to get the streak going again.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
-- Confucius

Charlie said...

Thanks Matt! I need to be patient and let this heal and will back to my training in some form or another as soon as the Doctors say I can.


Dani said...

So sorry to hear about the break. I think everyone who reads your story feels your pain.
Heal well
Take care


Charlie said...

Hi Dani and thank you!

Can't believe it's been three weeks now but 9 more weeks still seems a long long time before I can start being patient...that only thing I can do at the time.

Thanks for your visit!

Nat said...

Charlie! Happy belated birthday! I sure hope you had some fun.

BTW, I don't know if you know this, but it is okay to blog about other stuff than running and races. Just saying. . .

An update would cool . . .

Take care and heal fast!

Charlie said...

Thank you Ms Natalie! Hope Ryan had a good birthday too!

I know I should put some updates on the blog and will soon...I just haven't been motivated. I will update it after my surgery on Thursday...which is tomorrow. They are going to put the rod down my shin and screws to help give it support and heal better.

Update to follow...I promise!

cymrusteve said...

Hope the surgery goes well tomorrow Charlie. I'm sure you'll be happy to have the full cast removed...

All the best!


Nat said...

Oh, I had the rods and screws when I broke my pelvis. Are they doing the halo thingy? I definitely healed quickly and well.

Good luck! I hope this sends you on the mend faster.

Charlie said...

Thanks Steve and Natalie for your well wishes!

No halo...Nothing on the outside. They will make an incision just above the knee for the rod, an incision near the fracture site to help align the tibia for the rod. The screws go through the bone and rod in about three different places to keep the rod in place and to keep it from rotating. Then after surgery a lower shell of a cast from just below the knee to foot to splint it. Everything will stay in place except for some external sutures at the incisions.

Thanks again,

Stoph said...

Charlie- Hope all went well with the surgery. Cheers to a speedy healing and recovery. -Chris