It was a beautiful day for a run and I had just finished work with a client in Ann Arbor so we drove over to Gallup Park. We were about three miles into our nine miler when I spied an opening to a trail off into the woods. Being a long time mountain biker and not wanting to pass up an opportunity for some off road footwork, I scooted to the right and was engulfed by the cool shade of the trees.
We had been running a comfortable pace of about 8:45 which was fine for the asphalt path. It was NOT the right speed for an unfamiliar trail in the woods. The trail was sloped down and was liberally strewn with rocks and tree roots. About 20 feet in my left big toe caught a rock or root and I was thrown out of balance and was heading to a very painful encounter with a tree, the ground or both. I was in panic mode using every skill, muscle and prayer to gain control of my body as momentum tried to do me in.
After what seemed like an eternity but was probably just 10 seconds I was able to prevent a catastrophe and maintain my vertical position and continued running. That was when the intense pain in my left toe became so apparent. The terror of crashing head long into a tree at 6 miles an hour kept my focus on living. Now that I had past that challenge my toe wanted to be heard. It screamed a terrible cry. The pain was so intense that I began to moan. Of course I've been known to moan during long hard runs so this was not something entirely new. What was new was the pain that caused the moaning. My toe felt like it had been laid open by something sharp. I was certain that blood was now filling my shoe.
I did what any self respecting runner would do - I kept running.
Hey, I had 6 more miles to go so what was the point of stopping just to check on a toe, and I could still run on it so how bad could it be? In the end it turned out to be a really bad bruise. I ran on it the next day and it felt fine. Not sure yet if I'll loose the nail ;)