I have a mountain to race up. I have a broken toe. This year my challenge was going to be doing this half marathon with a 2,000 foot climb in my Vibram five fingers (KSOs). Three weeks before the race, the challenge got a bit more intense. I would now run up the mountain in Vibrams for the first time…with a broken toe.
A challenge is a good thing. Yet I must say that in the weeks leading up to the race, I really didn’t know how I would do. My toe and foot hurt too bad to really run much. I had completed a 16 mile training run on the course the weekend before the accident, in my KSOs. It felt great, except that my feet were a bit sore from the trail that had newly laid out gravel. After 16 miles, the pads of my feet were sore. I was ready to go home and rest.
Then the accident happened. The pinky toe wasn’t severed, but it was broken. The doctor said it was fine to run the race with the broken toe. The damage was done, it was now a matter of pain tolerance. The days leading up to the race were cold and rainy. The day of the race: a warm 75 degrees. The hottest day of the year.
I was lined up with about 2500 other racers, only a few who had noticed my Vibrams and said anything. I was nervous about my toe, about the heat, about the gravel on the course, and the snow, ice, and mud that was on the backside of the mountain. Yet this was my sixth year doing this race, and I wasn’t going to back down from the challenge. Ready or not mountain, broken toe and all, here I come.
The first 3 miles of the course were uphill on asphalt. It was just the time to battle the crowd and find your own place. I was pleased to find that the dirt trail that started at mile 4 had been graded, so the gravel wasn’t so intense. That’s good for the two runners (myself and an older man) who were running in our Vibrams. By mile 5, the 75 degree heat was setting in. People were starting to pass out. One girl couldn’t even tell the medics her name as they loaded her on a medical cart. My feet were feeling great, but the heat was taking its toll. I needed to slow down on my trek up the mountain. Not from pain, but from my body overheating.
I made it to the top and was instantly worried about the downhill. Safety personnel were yelling to the runners to be careful – snow and ice was ahead. They weren’t kidding! Within seconds my KSOs and my toe socks were soaked, as I basically ran through a creek. The whole trail down the mountain was running water covered with snow and ice. It was April and 75 degrees out, but just last week it was winter.
KSOs have not been kind to me in the past in mud, so I slowed the pace. I also wasn’t sure how my broken toe would handle the downhill. However, I think the cold water that soaked through my Vibrams actually helped! My feet became numb and I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and navigating the mud and ice as easily and lightly as I could. I saw one guy in front of me biff it – his entire backside was covered in mud as he struggled to his feet. That was my biggest fear – falling down and getting covered in mud and having to face the crowd at the end. I slowed down even more.
After about two miles downhill (after the gruelling 9 miles uphill), the mud and water dissipated and the trail became compact. It was time for me to fly! I love my Vibrams! Broken toe or not, I was so glad I ran this race. In the end, my time was slow: 23 minutes slower than last year. Yet given the factors: broken toe, Vibrams, and super hot weather, I’ll take it.
I was sore after the race, but not too bad. I mostly dreaded the bus ride down the mountain. And sure enough, the lemons didn’t help this year. I ended up puking twice in front of everyone after getting off of the bus. At least I didn’t blow chunks on the bus!
My awesome boyfriend helped me get home and capture evidence of my day’s adventure. Here is the good, the bad, the ugly and the muddy of my “Broketoe Mountain” race of 2010.