The morning of my first marathon the 2009 San Diego Rock’N’Roll Marathon was thrilling I had used my plan for 6 months and had exceeded my expectations all the while, and was now ready to start. I was expecting a 4:30 time and knew that was well within my reach.
The sound of the starting gun was like a shot of adrenalin in my arm and I was off with about 12,000 other runners. We came across our first band about ¼ mile from the start and about halfway to the first turn. By the time we made the first turn I was just exuberant with the thrill of passing so many people and was sure I’d hit or exceed my time threshold.
By the time I hit the first mile I was running near the edge of the road to get through the crowd faster as it was more sparse there. I was looking ahead and planning my route through the crowd and enjoying the ambience and the spectators when suddenly I felt a sharp pain on the side of my ankle as I tripped over a raised piece of asphalt. Trying to collect myself and not lose stride the pain was overwhelming, and one of the spectators said, “People been tripping on that all morning”. As I headed to a bus bench I could only hop on one leg.
Sitting there only for a moment or two I could hear all my friends and colleagues laughing at me as I would tell of my one-mile marathon. I decided to try to at least walk a couple of miles to avoid complete shame and off I was hobbling down the road.
After a hundred or so yards the pain started to subside and I thought I’d try and jog, maybe I could get 5 or maybe 10 miles before I started to breakdown too much. In about 5 minutes I started to move a bit more swiftly and was keeping up with the 5-hour crowd, I started feeling more confident and who now knew how far I’d get.
I decided to stop at an aid station and get my ankle wrapped so help stabilize it a bit.
With the only major uphill part of the run ahead I took it on as climbing has always been my strength. I soon caught up with the 4:30 pace group and moved right past them with ease all the while trying to favor that left ankle a little.
The downhill side started beating my ankle a bit now and I was just keeping the pace of the crowd around me but I was still moving well. We made the turn off the freeway and was now on the flat for about 7 miles and only one small overpass ahead then it was pure flat till the end I was feeling confident now and was sure my 4:30 plans were a reality.
At about the 15 mile mark I found I’d have to stop for short walks to give the ankle a break but it wasn’t too bad till I got to mile 19 where I had to stop at an aid station for Tylenol as the pain started getting real. After that it was on and off running /walking for the last 4-5 miles and the walking started getting tough and all the compensating on the other leg started taking its toll. The 5:00 group had gone by and I was just trying to get to the end. The Turn onto the Marine Corps Recruit Depot was the final short stretch and the end was now in sight. I gathered my fortitude and started to run once again. The pain was now excruciating but I was going to run across the finish line and a few seconds I ran through it staggered to a stop with a 5:34 time and almost toppled over. Barely able to walk I limped over got my medal and sports drink and made my way to the photo booth. I got my picture taken with a big smile on my face and found a place to sit next to a chain link fence so I’d be able to pull myself up, and thought about what I’d done, and what a helluva story I just made.
6 weeks later I was standing on the summit of Mt Whitney the highest peak in the lower 48 states. The Dr had put me in a cast for a week and said the sprain wasn’t bad but there was a lot inflammation. He couldn’t believe I ran the vast majority of a marathon with a sprained ankle, and was planning a 22 mile climb in such a short time.