“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.”
~ Zig Ziglar
~ Zig Ziglar
It was a quick and painless flight and after landing we grabbed a rental car and began the trek to Corning. It had been raining in the area on and off for a few days and, unfortunately, it was looking like it might be crappy on race day, too. As we drove, the sky got dark and ominous and within thirty minutes or so it began to pour. Perhaps I should have taken this as a sign right then and there.
Fortunately, we both conked out and slept for a solid hour or so. Around 4:00 we got up, showered (I'm not religious, but I might have prayed a little at this point), and headed over to Horseheads (yes, that's the name of the town) where we were meeting up with Beth and Mary Beth, two of our Oiselle teammates, for dinner. Beth had picked Louie's, a quaint little Italian restaurant that was perfect for our pre-race carb loading needs. Kirsten and I put on our game faces in an attempt to forget about how we were feeling and had a really nice time meeting and chatting with Mary Beth and Beth as well as Beth's friend and daughter who also joined us. It was a good dinner and as we got up to leave I was feeling cautiously optimistic about the next day.
We grabbed a quick photo on our way out and then bundled up to brave the rain which was still coming down heavily. And then, in so many words, the shit hit the fan. In our mad rush to get out, one of us threw the door open and all of us ran like hell to get to our cars. Somehow, as I took a step down and out, my heel got caught on the underside of the door frame, which was metal, and as it got pulled back, it took a piece of my foot with it. It happened so fast and the scene was so crazy (dark, rainy, lots of people) that despite the fact that I screamed, no one even knew something had gone wrong. I stopped and grabbed my foot, and yelled to Kirsten that I needed to go back inside. Confused, she turned around with me while trying to figure out what the deal was. And then she saw it. I asked the wait staff if they had a medical kit. I looked down and blood was starting to gush out of the wound. It was bad. The owner came out and asked me what happened. I was in a state of shock and attempted to explain as he handed me a towel to apply pressure. The scene was kind of in slow motion as it unfolded. Kirsten and I didn't really know the severity of the situation, the wait staff didn't really understand what was going on, and the owner couldn't believe that his door had done this to my foot. Then Kirsten, bless her, snapped into deal mode as I could no longer make any decisions and the tears started to flow. She said something to the effect of, "Ok. We're going to get into the car and take a better look. Then we'll head over to Rite-Aid and grab some steri-strips and bandaids and try to patch it back together. Does that sound good?" Yes, I nodded. Just tell me what to do. Back out we went, the restaurant staff still in disbelief and likely relieved to get us out of there. We sat down and turned the lights on in the car. It was so much worse than we thought. Kirsten, now completely in control, thank the Lord, made the decision to call our friend from home who is a doctor and who's husband is a surgeon to get their opinion before we started Micky Mousing the wound back together ourselves. Britt, who was at her kids' swim meet at the time, got on the phone with us and made her way outside so she could hear us. We gave her the story and then showed her the cut (what did we do before FaceTime???). She and her husband, who'd come out to join her, took a look at the wound and told us we needed to get to the ER pronto, that it was too deep to deal with ourselves and would likely need stitches. This is the first moment where I realized that I was probably not going to be racing the next day. To our good fortune our hotel was right next door to a hospital, the Arnot Medical Center, which oddly enough, was the main sponsor of our marathon. A bit ironic, no? So, much to my dismay, we spent the rest of our evening at the Emergency Room with a wide and very interesting cast of characters. I won't give you the play by play but I'll share some of the conversations I had with various people we met throughout the night.
With the reception nurse:
Her: So, what happened?
Me: I scraped a piece of my heel off on a metal door. I'm supposed to be doing the Wineglass Marathon tomorrow, but....
Her: Oooh. That's rough. Are you gonna run?
---> I perked back up at this point
Me: You think I can?Her: I don't know. You seem pretty tough.
Me: Think it's okay to do with stitches?
Her: Where there's a will there's a way. Okay, now the doctor who's on call is about 190 years old, but he's really good. Don't panic when you see him. Despite how he looks, he does know what he's doing. Have a seat and we'll call you when he's ready.
Ummmm....what???!!! I was not feeling good about the situation at this point. I sat back down and Kirsten looked at me dead on and said, "Rebecca, you know you're not doing this marathon, right?" I nodded. Yes, I knew. And then I called my husband to tell him what happened. I let him know that I wouldn't be racing. And that was it. After about an hour, we headed back to see the doctor. I laid down on the bed and waited. A few minutes later we heard a shuffling sound. First we saw his shoes, which were brown leather sandals that he was wearing with wool socks. As the nurse informed us, he was, indeed, very old. He was also quiet, slow and severely arthritic. I wasn't judging any of this, mind you. But, I was wondering how the hell this guy was going to sew my foot up. Then we chatted.
With the doctor:
Dr: So, what happened here:
Me: I was leaving a restaurant and I scraped a piece of my heel off on a metal door when it got pulled open.
Dr: Mmmm. Was the door old?
--->I'm confused. So, Kirsten chimes in.
K: The restaurant was recently renovated so it was probably new.
Dr: Mmmm. Okay, we'll have to clean it out. But you should probably get a tetanus shot just in case.
Dr: Okay, let's take a look. Now, where did the nurses put the gloves. They seemed to have rearranged the room on me. I'll be right back.
Me: (to K) Oh my.
Dr: (after shuffling back in) So, you are here to run a marathon?
Me: Yes. Is there any chance I can still run? (Fine, I'll admit I was still holding on to a very thin slice of hope)
Dr: Well, I don't think that's such a hot idea.
Me: So, that's a no?
Dr: The wound isn't going to heal correctly if it's sliding around and under stress for a few hours. I don't see you running again for about 12-14 days. No activity, really. You need to let it grow back together. Now turn around and let's get started.
Two hours, eleven stitches and a tetanus shot later, we finally left the hospital. I had accepted my fate. There would be no marathon for me. Instead, I would be cheering for Kirsten from the sidelines. When we get back to the hotel room, Kirsten gave me a big hug and told me how sorry she was. I let her know how grateful I was that she was with me. That I would have been 100% screwed if I had been on my own. And that I was truly excited to watch her race the next day, which I was. We are a team. We train together. We race together. And we support each other in everything we do, even if that means one of us is racing and the other is not. It's why we are as close as we are and one of the main reasons I continue to do marathons each year.
The next morning we got up at 5:30am. We grabbed coffee and bagels at Dunkin' Donuts and made our way back to Corning so Kirsten could catch the bus out to the start. I was super pumped for her. And I was really sad at the same time. Both of us were totally exhausted from the night we'd had and from our colds, which were still hanging on. The fact that she was even doing this was kind of mind-blowing. I wished her good luck and sent her off with a hug. Then I headed back to the hotel as I was in desperate need of a nap before I had to meet her at the finish. Around 10:30, I grabbed myself a second cup of coffee and drove to Corning (again) to wait for Kirsten.
It turned out to be a really nice day. A little warm, but, thankfully, cloudy and dry. Great race conditions. And great spectating weather. I stood by the finish and watched all the runners come in. I'm not going to lie, it was hard for me. But, I did my best to embrace the situation and cheered for all the runners who I knew had worked equally as hard as I had to get to this point; some smiling, some grimacing, some sprinting, some hunched over in pain, many waving, some crying. I got it. I'd been in all of those situations before. I was genuinely happy for them. And I knew I'd be there again relatively soon. And that carried me through the day. That and watching Kirsten float by me on her way to finishing her 8th marathon, which she did with flying colors.
It was, hands down, one of the most bizarre, stressful, disappointing, even humorous weekends I've ever lived through. I won't speak for Kirsten, but I do think she would agree with me. And yet, somehow, we managed to get through it. Me in one piece. Her with another marathon under her belt. Both of us ridiculously happy to have it behind us and ready to move on. On our flight home, I found myself breaking it down into the good and the bad.
~ I trained like a beast for four months for a marathon that I didn't get to run.
~ I spent $400 for my flight and hotel only to end up in the ER in upstate NY. Who knows what my hospital bill will end up being after insurance.
~ I can't do anything physical for 12 days.
~ I didn't tear the tendon which would have been a thousand times worse.
~ I didn't need plastic surgery which, no disrespect to my elderly doctor, I'm not sure I would have trusted him to do.
~ I got to support my friend and teammate as she ran and successfully completed her 8th marathon.
~ I am beyond fired up for my next race, whatever that might be.
Today, Tuesday, I'm on the road to recovery and already looking ahead. My friends, my family and my teammates from near and far have been unbelieveably supportive and I can't thank them enough for being there for me. From a mental standpoint, I have never needed a run more than I do right now. But that's not happening. And it's okay. Worse things have happened. I will get through this. And I know I will come out stronger. And the next time I line up on race day? Look out. There will be flames. I guarantee you that.
Listen to this:
Future Looks Good - One Republic