Left turn toe – a dislocated story

It’s April 5th, 2014, 7 AM, myself and a handful of others, 25 runners in all, start the Cottontail 6 & 12 Hour run in Seattle’s Carkeek Park. The single track trail course has two loop options, one loop is 1.93 miles and the other loop is shorter at .84 miles. The “gotcha!” on this run is elevation gain, from the race web site “Each loop contains 436′ of vertical gain (or 170′ for the short loop).” Yeah, and a lot of that vert is steep, wooden train trestle stairs. So without any specific hill or stair training the past couple months, I went into this race expecting last place and maybe a marathon distance. I got neither. I signed up for the 6 hour run with the thinking I would upgrade to the 12 hour depending on if I was making my marathon distance goal or not and if I just ‘felt it’ to run all day. And I did feel good, wasn’t in last place and was fully intending to run the whole 12 hours. That was until the 5th hour. I was missing my distance goal but not too worried about that. I started a new loop and was heading up the trail again. Runners were trying to avoid the stairs by climbing up the side of the trail where there was a very narrow space. So I’m working the side, not using the stairs and whack my left foot up against the stair. I don’t trip and that was a good thing but the foot feels ‘off’. Sure enough, I look down and see the little toe is not happy. I pull off the sock and dang if my toe isn’t fully dislocated, the other toes nicely inline with the foot and the left toe seems to have decided to take a left turn. This looks terrible but to my surprise, doesn’t hurt. You see on TV where the hero will grab the dislocated limb, give it a yank and presto, everything is back into place. This doesn’t work in the real world. I tried. No matter how I pulled or massaged, the toe insisted on pointing off to the left. Crap. So I have to continue on but I take the short trail option for the first time this day (side note, I should have been alternating loops from the beginning. This really would have helped me get more miles in without as much climbing). Back at the start/finish/aid station I grab some tape and wrap the pinky toe back in to the rest to straighten it out. I still had 40 minutes left to the 6 hour race, but I decided the 12 hour option was now closed to me. I continued on and did two more short loops to finish the 6 hour run. Luckily the toe didn’t hurt but I was concerned that if I continued on, I would damage it further and blow my entire race season. I was already very concerned about that as it was. I mean I have seven registered races and a dozen more that I was thinking about doing! Being out for an injury would really, really suck! I finished in 10th place from 16 runners who did the 6 hour run which was a pleasant surprise but didn’t make my marathon distance goal coming up just short of 22 miles total distance for the run. Dang those verts! Now the hard part. How to tell my wife? She does not like injuries, especially on me! She’ll hurt herself and never mention it but I if do something dumb (and I do quite often) she will let me know I effed up! Sure she cares for me, treats me, but she gets mad at me too! I really don’t understand women. Anyhow, I get home and tell her I dislocated my pinky toe. I’m dreading pulling off the tape and showing her the left turn toe. So I remove the tape, and what’s this? The pinky toe has decided to rejoin it’s friends. It is back in place, inline with the rest of the toes. I figure taping it up and running a couple more miles pushed it back in. Now wife is mad at me for scaring with my ‘story’ of dislocated toes! Yes, it’s bruised and swollen, but she doesn’t buy that it was pointed off in some direction other than what is normal. Oh well. I’m just happy to be healthy, still good to run and looking forward to my next race.


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