The Pre-Race Injury

The week or two leading up to a race can cause anxiety, not just because you wonder if you’ve trained enough, or trained correctly enough, but because little things that go wrong can ruin it all. Things like your car being diagnosed as being unsafe to drive from Salt Lake City to Boise, meaning you have a few days to engage in expensive repairs or buy a new car (false alarm, apparently, although the real test will be whether we’re alive after driving there and back). Then there is the much-feared injury that could either hamper your race or take you out of it entirely. It doesn’t take much–a stubbed toe, a twisted ankle, a sore knee–any of these could make that $300+ in non-refundable entry fees worthless, not to mention missing out on the culmination of those 10-20 hours per week of training.

In my case, it’s doubtful the injury I sustained last night will keep me from doing the Boise half-Ironman, but it does have the potential to slow me down.

Last night, we had some family over for dinner. My two-year old daughter gets pretty excited when the cousins are over, and she was in her normal bubbly, giggly, silly mood. It’s cute as all get-out, and so we indulge her screaming and yelling and running around with the digital camera…wait, we should probably get that digital camera from her or she’s going to break it or hurt someone with it as she swings it around. I asked her to give the digital camera to me, and while sometimes she’s obedient, ofttimes it becomes a game of keep-away with her running, and me chasing. Of course I can catch her, but she has her last resort in this game, which is to throw whatever it is that she’s trying to keep me from getting. Our digital camera is one of the clunkier, older types, and there were smaller children around (although an adult could easily be seriously injured by a blow to the head from this camera), so I rushed to get it before she could chuck it in a random direction that might be in line with someone’s nose or eye.

As I reached for the camera, she wound up to throw it, and I just missed getting a firm grip on it. I knocked it out of her hand just as she had it over her head. It fell, striking a glancing blow to my daughter’s head, but not hard enough to make her cry or even pause in her laughter, and then the camera fell on the top of my bare foot. Of course, rather than the flat side of the camera hitting the flat top of my foot, the camera impacted on my foot with all its weight on one corner, driving it into the top of my right foot towards the front and outside.

If this happened a month ago, or a month from now, I wouldn’t be writing about it. But given that I’ve got an important race in three days, what would otherwise be a very minor foot injury is now causing me some slight worry. It doesn’t hurt that much, but it did leave a pretty good little bruise, and it does still hurt 12 hours later. And it feels like it could hurt even more after a long bike ride. I can definitely see myself six miles into the half-marathon and having to walk or drop out if it flares up. Then again, I could see the pain fading away in the next three days and being completely unnoticeable by race morning. I’ve never injured the top of my foot like this, so I don’t really know. All I know is that at the moment it hurts when I move it, and it hurts enough that it seems like it could get worse with use.

So what’s the point of me writing about all this? Just to show that while everyone thinks those who do Ironman races are determined, steely, tough individuals, in reality we’re turned into total wimps who can’t sustain the smallest injury without it turning our worlds upside down.