Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Sunday, June 28, 2009

North to Damascus- Hooray!

I kind of feel like I'm back from the dead! Nice, enjoyable long (but not too long) run today with very little rib pain!

To review, exactly 2 weeks ago, I fell & cracked a rib on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. I continued running 71 miles over the next 3 days. When I got home, it got worse. Exactly 1 week ago, I was in the Emergency Room & thought there was an outside chance I would die from a blood clot, which the Urgent Care doctor told me I had before rushing me to the ER. After injecting me with morphine, doing more blood tests & giving me a CT Scan, they ruled out the blood clot but said my lung was crushed a little in the fall & fluid was seeping in where it shouldn't. They gave me ibuprofen, which I'd already been taking, but for some reason, I feel remarkably better the next day. Coincidence. I ran 7 miles 2 days after the hospital which hurt & got in a couple more 7-9 milers with mild pain. I had to walk a couple of times two of the days.

Hannah was supposed to run with me this weekend, but I haven't been in contact with her much between her Outward Bound trip to New Zealand and working at a camp. I found out on my way up to the mountains I'd be going alone due to another committment she had. It's just as well anyway. She's so much faster than me when I'm 100%. With busted ribs, who knows how much I'd hold her back?

The section of Appalachian Trail from 421 near Shady Valley, TN to Damascus, VA is 15.0 miles- about 15.5 from where I stopped and looks easy on paper. The elevation starts at around 3300', goes up to about 3950' and does some gradual ups & downs, but dumps you out in Damascus at 1950'. Sue Norwood's report of this section says not only is the elevation easy- the trail surface is very runnable too. Still, every time I think I'm in for an easy day on the AT, it always turns out harder than I thought. "How in the world could they fit any more rocks on this stupid trail?!" I've been known to say late in a run. Or, "Do we have to go up every single mountain from here to Maine?!" I've been on several "easy" downhills that are just covered with jagged rocks or strewn with huge boulders you have to use your hands to climb down.

I was pleasantly surprised today though! The section was by far the easiest section of AT I've ever done. The hardest climbs were only 300-500', there weren't many of them & they were gradual. No need for switchbacks- just long stretches of straight runnable trail. I could've run 100% of this section, but not knowing it, I left some in the tank. I still ran maybe 93%. Told Jennifer it would take me 4-5 hours to run the 15.5 miles. Turns out, I finished in 3:07. No need for water fill-ups. Took a couple of pictures, but besides that, no stops. The trail went along ridgelines for the most part, so if there were no leaves on the trees, you'd probably have nice views to the left & right almost the whole way.

Best of all, I experienced almost NO pain! Having a huge bruise on my arm from the IV last weekend is a reminder of what I could've been facing. There for a little bit, I thought at best, I was looking at 2-3 days in the hospital, blood thinning medication, no activity for 3 weeks... something like that. Or is a blood clot something they operate for? I didn't know. Knowing that I'm back & able to do what I want to do is unbelievably encouraging. Now, I know, running mostly downhill isn't too hard. :) But still, I was out there over 3 hours with almost no pain.

Is this a good idea with the lung problem? I dunno. I think it's OK. The ER doctor has done triathlons & was a little evasive when I asked her about running. She said I could run as long as it felt OK. I'm going for a follow-up visit in a few days.

Grinning from ear to ear that I'm back to running!


Cool Down Runner said...

Looks like you bounce back quick. Good to see that there is no lasting effects from the fall.

Mark. said...

You da man, Coach! I'm glad you're able to get back doing what you love.

Jason said...

Nice recovery! You must be pumped after all that you have been through. So what is your total mileage completed on the AT so far?

Anonymous said...

Easy or not, 3 hours is 3 hours. And then a 2 hour run the next day. Congrats!