Yesterday I returned to Fountainhead Regional Park in Virginia for the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club’s Women’s Half Marathon. Last year it was my first real trail race, and it took me by surprise. I had run some easier trails before, but this one really opened my eyes!
Of course since then, I’ve run on some much harder terrain. And this time, I knew what to expect.
I made sure to take it easy in those early miles and walk the hills as needed. Last year I was nearly wiped out after only three miles! I was taking it slow yesterday, but I felt good.
It was warm and very humid, like much of this summer has been. I had my Hydrapak and I was good. Aid stations were well stocked with treats — water, Gatorade, soda, M&Ms, trail mix, jelly beans, Pringles, etc. I was settling into a groove and enjoying the trails when all of a sudden, splat! I was on the ground.
Worse than the dirt, it was a short concrete footbridge. It wasn’t one of those slow-motion falls where you take a few steps and can either catch yourself or prepare to fall. I went down fast, and my chin hit the ground.
I got up, touched my chin with the back of my hand, and saw I was bleeding. One woman threw me her towel (thank you!), and I applied some pressure as I walked for a minute. Another woman stopped to help me clean it a bit and bandage it. I’m usually not quite so prepared, but I had tissues and band-aids in my pack. The woman helping me (thank you!) said it wasn’t bleeding much, but was a pretty big gash. Yikes. Well, I did what I had to do — stick on a band-aid and keep moving!
I had to keep pressing it back on since I was pretty sweaty, but otherwise I felt OK. I took it easy enough, and stopped for assistance at the next aid station. Only they didn’t have much that’d work any better on my sweaty face. We tried some gauze and tape but it wouldn’t stick, either. I ended up having them help me wash it a bit better with an alcohol wipe, add some ointment, and apply a fresh band-aid. With a wiped-off face, it actually stayed put better for the rest of the race.
Despite the setbacks, I was doing OK. I plodded along trying to enjoy my day, and I think I was. I got a comment about my smile from one of the photographers — I think I was probably laughing about what a mess I was! But, I was having fun out there regardless. The last couple of miles were mostly uphill (and mostly walking), but I felt good the whole race. (And I even did an easy two-mile warm-up on the road pre-race).
And then I was done. Only four minutes slower than last year, and I think I was in less pain. Well, except for the whole chin thing.
Before heading home, though, I needed to get my chin looked at. I changed into some clean clothes and called the walk-in clinic by my house and was able to make an appointment in a little over an hour — about the time it would take me to get home. I still had a bit of a wait (apparently they had a lot of lacerations to treat!), but they took good care of me.
Six stitches later, I’m good as new. Well, there’s a little pain. And a permanent reminder of my time in the woods. But it won’t keep me away!
I’ll spare you a stitches shot. It’s pretty nasty.
But I’ll leave you with my “after” outfit. This is what happens to white shirts when you fall in the woods.
I’ll be back again next year!