January 22, 2023
Good morning my friends. I hope you are doing well and enjoying life. I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but the first weekend of December, I was in Florida running a trail race. I got hooked on these Ragnar team relay races after I retired. I especially enjoy the trail runs. There’s nothing better than being outside in nature and having fun. The added bonus of getting exercise, while camping with fabulous friends just enhances the entire experience. We arrived in the sunshine state a couple days before the race, so we could check out the area and race course. Alafia River State Park, was the site for the weekend event. The park is located south east of Tampa. It appeared to be a beautiful location at first glance. We drove around the venue, in a grassy meadow, surrounded by trees and jungle like vegetation. We parked, so we could hike around the trails, which had already been marked for race day. There were signs posted, advising to not disturb the local turtle population. They are a protected species. As we continued along the trail we discovered a huge moss-covered pond. There was a sign posted warning of possible alligators, so of course we had to take a closer look. The pond was below us, about ten or fifteen feet, so we felt safe standing near the edge, waiting to see any moment in the murky water. After waiting a couple of minutes, I saw the surface water break next to a small island. What I witnessed was even more astonishing, massive turtles. What were depicted as cute little turtles, in the warning sign, were actually giant creatures. They looked nearly as frightening as an alligator, which may be difficult to believe. We didn’t see any of the dinosaur type critters, other than a plentiful number of extra-large turtles. Life is good when you’re “protected.”
As we left the park that day, I hit the brakes next to a large eastern diamondback rattlesnake, as it slithered across the road. It was fat, three feet I length and not fearful; as it continued its journey into the brush. We looked at each other in amazement, hoping not to see this creature again that weekend. We returned to the race site on Thursday afternoon, to set up camp with our eight-person team. The race began Friday morning. Everything was going as planned and we were having fun. My second loop (a little over 6 miles), was at night, along a mostly single-track trail through what looked like the jungle. A little over two miles into my run I can around a bend only to see a man standing on the edge of the trail yelling to go behind him. In front of him in the low brush, I could hear the rattles of a snake. I went behind him slowly, glancing to see a large rattle snake coiled in the bushes across from him. I grabbed my cell and called camp to for assistance, as crowd of runners gathered behind me. I continued on my way, only to hop over a thin eight-inch coral colored snake crossing the path beneath me. I was thinking, “Geez, what next!” That’s when I hit a tree root and rolled my right ankle out to the side. It happened so quickly I couldn’t stop it before it went a bit too far. I heard a pop and immediately knew wasn’t good. I could hear the brush rustling behind me and voices, so I kept moving until I reached a water station to call for aid. I found out later an alligator had to be cleared from the trial behind me (along with the large diamondback). Fun times!
When I returned home, I visited my doctor, to have my ankle evaluated. An exam and x-ray determined I fractured my fibula, where it connects to my ankle. It’s known as a “Weber A” fracture. The doctor advised me it should heal nicely in three months. The first six weeks would be spent in a hard case walking boot. This was better than a cast, as I could remove it for showers and sleeping. The bad part were the six weeks sequestered at home, with limited mobility and not fun. The first three weeks were hell…lol. Not literally, but pretty close. My ankle hurt, I couldn’t do anything, and being alone, locked up inside was making me crazy. I love being outside, running, being in nature and traveling. If being in a “boot” wasn’t bad enough, the weather got a bit cold and ugly too. This just compounded being stuck indoors. I knew my daughter was coming to visit for Christmas, so that provided a ray of sunshine. It also tossed a “monkey wrench” into the coming holidays. It still hurt to walk and get around, so I wasn’t sure how much I could actually to entertain her. It was great having my daughter home for several days and the cold temperatures kept us in the house anyway. The Holidays were fun and then she headed home. Alone with my “boot” sent me back to the “dark” place for another three weeks. I will admit, I’m probably not the best at sitting still for very long. When I’m injured or sick, it’s even more difficult allowing myself to recover as needed. I’d compare it to being like a caged animal, just clawing at the bars trying to break free. My description may sound a bit extreme, especially after the months long lock down during the covid lunacy of 2020. Even with many businesses and restaurants close, nature was always “open” and available. I was outside nearly every day; running, hiking or just walking for better health and exercise. The beach and mountain trails provided solace and fresh air. The ability to enjoy the outdoors, not only improved my mental health, but my physical and spiritual health as well.
My follow-up doctor visit, at the six-week mark, showed healing was occurring nicely. The doctor told me I could remove the boot, but limited my movements for the next six weeks. He provided options, so I could return to the gym, for upper body and stationary bike work. No jumping, running or foolishness is allowed until the bone it completely healed. Having these extra simple freedoms are a huge improvement to being totally confined to home. I’m walking with some minor discomfort, so I’m not venturing too far. I continue to improve each day. I’m grateful for each new sunrise and all the opportunities the days bring. I’ve been trying to slow my life and be more mindful. When God and the universe conspire to give you a sign, don’t wait for them to slap you in the face. Recognize the signs before they pass you by. Even though the time was forced on me, and it wasn’t immediately welcomed, I eventually realigned my perspective and changed my attitude. The time spent comfortably at home, is giving me the opportunity to re-evaluate my life and where I want to take it in the future. I’m never too old to learn, grow or seek new adventures (and neither are you). I’ll return to running in March and back to the trail races in a few months. I’m grateful, happy and always positive each day. Life is a magical gift, so enjoy every precious moment. That’s my new mantra, then… Follow your dreams. They know the way.
Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more! The puzzle of life is always changing. Change can lead to amazing opportunities. Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually!
Thanks for your love and support! Embrace Life! Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!