Friday, September 04, 2009

Squirrels like Watermelon

This is kind of a funky week as I am on call all weekend starting today so I wanted to get a nice long run in on Thursday instead of having to carry my pager and my phone with me on Saturday morning for 3+ hours. Since I'm on call on Labor Day, I took my holiday yesterday. And since I was off all day and long runs should be mini-special occasions, I decided to head out to beautiful Huntsville State Park for a little trail running. The plan was to do ~15 miles.

I found the course for the Hog's Hunt 25K on and downloaded it to my Garmin. So, no chance of getting lost unless our satellite system all of a sudden was taken over by aliens. I let a lot of friends and family know where I was going in case I came up missing. I packed my amphipod with 4 x 8 oz. bottles of water and plenty Gu. So, I feel like I planned pretty well but there's always a risk going out into the forest by yourself.

I warmed up the road from the parking lot down by the beach (about a mile) and got a good drink of water at the Nature Center. While I was running up there, I felt a little twinge on the top of my left foot but I counted it up to "just warming up". I hit the trailhead and headed south on Chinqapin Trail. Man it was just beautiful out there and the trails are in such excellent condition. Although it was cooler than it has been, I still worked up a pretty good sweat. I love trails because you don't have to worry about pace or mile markers or all the regular "routine" road stuff. You just gotta keep from falling down. I did a really good job at that, at first. :)

I got to the jeep trail and headed east back towards I-45. The trail is nicely overgrown and shaded and it was just beautiful listening to the sounds of the woods, running and walking up and over the very gentle hills. At about 5 miles, I really started to take notice of that left foot. It wasn't excruciating pain but something just did not feel right. The out an back on the jeep trail brought me back to the Chinquapin Trail cutoff and I was faced with a decision. Straight ahead was the HOPE that the pain in the foot would not get any worse as well as some serious water rationing as I was already into my 3rd 8 oz. bottle. To the right was a mile and a half of trail and a mile down the road to the car. I did NOT want to get a couple miles around the lake and have the pain in my foot worsen and be stuck out there, limping 7 or 8 miles back to the car. I could have made the water last I think. I was doing ok on hydration and felt fine, not thirsty at all yet. I decided as I always do to be on safe side and headed back to base.

It wasn't too long before the pain in the foot got even worse and I became very happy that I opted for the safer route. I was walking at this point, briskly walking but walking nonetheless. I grabbed a water bottle and as soon as my head went back to take a swig and I took my eyes off the trail, I stepped on SOMETHING, twisted my ankle, and went down. For a big guy, I landed pretty soft and came to my feet smiling, feeling somewhat proud of myself for falling. You know, like a REAL trail runner. The ankle really did not hurt at all but the foot got worse. I got up to the road and ended up walking the last mile very gingerly down to the car. I decided to take my shoes off about halfway there and strangely, it felt better. By the time I go to the car, I was glad it was over.

When I got home, the ankle was swollen but did not hurt much. The top of my foot was very painful though. Today it feels better but I'm going to take some time off.

Oh, I almost forgot. When I got down to the car, I sort of camped out down there out of the back of my car and just enjoyed the cool morning. A squirrel decided to check me out so I threw him a chunk of watermelon. He really loved that. So, I didn't have any company with me for my run but at least I was able to share some morning fruit with Mr. Squirrel.