Ouch, my toe.

For those of you following my running adventures: by the end of last summer, I had gotten up to running 5K in one go. Which is a rather significant distance, if you don’t mind my saying so. I was entered in my first race as a runner, the Zoo Run 5K in September, and I was looking forward to it. But something happened: when my wife and I were coming back from vacation, I was walking down the hall after having dropped the luggage off in the spare room, and I didn’t pay attention to the cat scratching pole in the hallway. I banged my left little toe on it – and I broke my toe. Oh, fuck. No September running for me.

I went to the doctor, who confirmed that yes, the sucker was broken. He said it would get better in four weeks. I began to panic. How will I keep my cardio fitness without being able to run for four weeks? Do I have to start over? What, basically, the fuck do I do now?

I hit on the answer: stationary bicycling. I couldn’t ride a regular bicycle – I couldn’t mount or dismount – but I could ride. So, three times a week, I rode. I went to the local gym, changed into bicycling shorts, put on my punk rock playlist, and bicycled diligently for 35 minutes at a stretch (35 minutes being the length of time that it took me to run 5K). By the way, I particularly recommend “Jesus Built My Hot Rod” by Ministry as an incentive to get your RPMs up.

In the meantime, my wife was running in the Zoo Run, so I hid my disappointment as best I could (which wasn’t all that well – I’m not gifted with a poker face) and went to cheer her on. I like cheering her on, so that was okay – it was the parts when I was on my own and not cheering in which I felt sad. That wasn’t the most fun day of my life. Life is not always fair, of course, and if the worst problem I am having is that I can’t run a 5K race when I want to, I am fortunate indeed. But I digress.

The good news is that my plan worked. Exactly four weeks after the injury, I gingerly put my shoes back on and headed out to the Belt Line Trail to see if I could run without pain. Naturally, I was extremely worried. But the doctor called it perfectly – I was able to run. I finished 5K without problems, and was only a couple of minutes slower than my usual time. And I got those back over the next couple of weeks. (My left little toe still feels a little weird after the break, even now, but it’s functional, and that’s the important thing.) My wife helped me get over my sadness about not being able to run my First Big Race by signing me up for a 5K race in November. “You’ll be able to do that one,” she said. Pessimistically, I wasn’t sure. But she was right: by November, I was ready to go.

(By the way: I now wear hard-toed shoes around the house, as I don’t want to break another toe. I think they’ve saved me at least one serious stubbing or breaking since then. Age and clumsiness do not go well together, people.)

Next up: my first actual race! Whee!

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