Category Archives: Throwback Thursdays

Flashbacks: Throwback Thursdays Edition

Happy Sunday, Internet friends! I hope everyone had a great weekend. I did. I spent Friday night through Saturday morning running the Chase the Moon endurance relay with four awesome blogger friends (full recap later this week, but you can check out Amy’s post for a team preview), so I spent Saturday relaxing and sleeping. Today, I bought a new computer! Windows 8.1 is going to take some getting used to, but I’m beyond excited to upgrade from the eight-year-old Toshiba I’d been fighting with.

Anyway,  I’m again hopping in with Arman at The Big Man’s World for Spill It, Sundays. Like last week, the theme is Flashbacks. This week, I’m flashing back to throwbacks (because that’s not confusing). Not too long after I started blogging,  I started a Throwback Thursdays series. Keeping up with it has been sporadic at best, but here are three posts that tell you a bit about me. Enjoy!

The Big Man's World

Why I’m Still Kinda Scared of Lifting Heavy Things: This was the post that made me decide to do a series. Team Cereal Killers was just talking about this the other night, so I figured the full story needed a revisit!

That Time I Learned that GPS Is a Necessity: I’m an idiot sometimes. Here’s a story that demonstrates.
map

That Time I Won a Marathon: Because I like to brag.
Oh, I've used this picture before? Right. Credit still goes to the Estes Park Trail Gazette.

If you missed those the first time, I hope you enjoy them!

What was the best part of your weekend? Anybody race?

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Throwback Thursday: My First Marathon

It’s been quite a while since I wrote a Throwback Thursday post. I made that realization as I was finally categorizing past posts today. Note to bloggers: Categorize as you go. That was a huge pain. 

Anyway, I also realized that I’ve never written about my first marathon, Rock ‘n Roll Seattle in 2010 — the one that infected me with this desire to keep running them. So here’s the story. Enjoy!

I shuffle around the start line in the predawn light, shaking out my legs, straightening my bib, and exchanging nervous smiles and small talk with the other runners. Eighteen weeks of training have gotten me here– eighteen weeks of hard runs and ice baths, of early bedtimes and even earlier alarm clocks, of avoiding refined sugars and alcohol. Eighteen weeks, and it all comes down to this moment. In just a few minutes, the anthem will play and the gun will go off, and I’ll have 26.2 miles to test my training, to see if I have the endurance – mental and physical –for this task.

I don’t have much time to stress, thankfully. Before I know it, the gun has fired and I’m shuffling forward, anxious for the pack to thin so I can find my stride.  The first few miles pass quickly, and soon the sun is high and the spectators are out, ringing cowbells, playing music, and cheering enthusiastically as we run by. I bypass several aid stations, thinking I’ll avoid the crowds and catch a drink at the next one – a mistake, I realize just before mile 10. I’m lightheaded and dizzy, and I have to slow to a walk. At the aid station, I grab and gulp several cups of water; by the time I’m done, I feel like a new woman. I run the next few miles with a silly grin on my face, exchanging high-fives with spectators and jokes with fellow racers.

seattle rnr marathon1

After mile 20, though, I hit the metaphorical wall I’d read about on all the training websites– the wall I’d hoped to avoid. My legs throb, my lungs burn, and I look down to make sure my feet are still attached. I keep pushing, praying that I’ll break through that wall and feel fresh again. Along with not hydrating, I haven’t taken in any nutrition. I promise myself that I’ll avoid that rookie mistake IF I ever run another marathon… which is not looking likely at this point.

If I had known a polar bear was beating me, I would have been even more demoralized.
If I had known a polar bear was beating me, I would have been even more demoralized.

Eventually, I feel a little better, but some sadist of a course-planner threw in a hill at mile 25. My legs refuse to carry me up. Defeated, I slow to a walk. Another runner pulls up alongside me just as I slow. “Don’t walk now!” he urges. “Just top this hill, and you’ll hear the crowd. They’ll carry you to the finish line.” Encouraged, I start running again. Every step hurts and I want to quit, but I can’t stop now. My new friend runs with me for perhaps a quarter mile, adding valuable seconds to his own time to ensure that I’ll make it. I thank him between gasps and urge him to go on. He smiles, wishes me good luck, and disappears over the top of the hill.

Eventually I top the hill, too, and see that he was right. The road to the finish is lined with screaming spectators three-deep, and I can hear the finish-line band blaring. I pass the mile-26 sign, and then the finish line is in sight. The clock says 3:29:13– I’m seconds away from my goal time. My legs scream, but from somewhere deep inside me comes one final kick. I push hard, hearing Jordan’s shouted, “THAT’S MY WIFE!” as I glimpse his grinning face from the corner of my eye.

seattle rnr marathon2

 

I cross the finish line as the clock flashes 3:30:07. I made it! I slow to a walk—a shuffle, really– and gratefully accept water from a smiling volunteer. Another volunteer slides a medal over my head, and a third directs me to the end of the chute, where my grinning husband envelopes my aching, sweat-soaked body in his arms and tells me how proud he is.

seattle rnr marathon3

I missed the volunteer with space blankets, but I have to sit down. I sink onto the fender of a semi, gulping Cytomax and loosening my shoes, while Jordan stands beside me, swinging my medal and beaming. I’m exhausted, I stink, and every inch of me hurts, but I’m also proud of myself like I have never been before.

I look up at Jordan and grin. “When can I run another?”

 

Tell me about your first race!

Throwback Thursday: The Time It Wasn’t Carbon Monoxide

When I caught the stomach flu last week, I was reminded of a funny story, so that’s what you’re getting tonight. If the fact that the stomach flu brought this story to mind concerns you, don’t worry. I won’t describe anything in gory detail.

When J and I first got married, we lived in this house:

Living Room 3

We were trying to take a picture of the couch by standing against the opposite wall. Clearly that worked well.
Living Room 2
This is the living room/laundry room/hallway to the bathroom.

It was cute, it was clean, and it was cheap, but it was miniscule. When our landlords remodeled the slightly larger house next door and offered it to us at a great price, we jumped at the chance. (I can’t find pictures of said larger house, but trust me, it was bigger.)

A couple of months after we moved in, we were chilling in the living room, grading papers per usual, when the carbon monoxide detectors started doing their stupid “our batteries are dying!” beeps. After much struggle, we got them to stop beeping, got their batteries changed, and went on with our lives, thinking nothing of it.
(It wasn’t 4 a.m.. … for once).

Until the next morning, when Jordan started violently vomiting. In the shower.

Naturally, we were concerned. What if, we thought, that hadn’t been the battery beep, and we were being poisoned each moment? What if I was fine because I’d left for a while that morning to work out? We didn’t really think it was carbon monoxide, especially since we’d just moved in and knew the house had passed inspection, but we figured we were better safe than sorry. As Jordan tried to finish his shower, I called the emergency number for carbon monoxide (not 911, just to clarify), explained what was going on, and asked what we should do.

Did you know that if you even suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, they send police, fire trucks, and an ambulance, all with lights flashing and sirens blaring? We didn’t, either, but we learned it within minutes of that phone call.

The cops banged on the door and hustled us out the door, clearly irritated that Jordan felt the need to dry off and put clothes on. We went out and sat in the ambulance, where they checked Jordan’s vitals and asked if he wanted to be tested for carbon monoxide poisoning (a test that, they explained, was quite pricey). We declined, choosing to wait and see if the firemen actually detected any carbon monoxide in our house.

They did not. Turns out, Jordan just coincidentally caught the stomach flu the morning after the carbon monoxide detector’s batteries went out and the thing beeped at us. That was good news, obviously, but we were more than a little embarrassed.

And that’s how we woke up the neighborhood over a stomach bug.

I don’t even know what reader question to ask. Tell me something related to this. 

Throwback Thursday: Eventually, I Married Him

I always like hearing stories about how people got together with their spouses — how they met, what the first date was like, etc. So I thought that maybe you’d like to hear the beginnings of my and J’s love story, too. If you don’t…welp, see ya later.

Jordan and I met in an education class at Colorado State. He wasn’t really on my radar at first… in fact, I thought he was a little annoying. You know that one guy in class who always has something to say? Yeah, that was Jordan. The first words he ever said to me didn’t help the situation, either. As in all education classes, we had to do get-to-know-you crap at the start of the semester. Jordan mentioned that he worked at a place that made area rugs. Our instructor asked him to bring one in, so the next day, he did.

That morning started out rough for me… it was a 7:40 class, which was bad enough, and right before class, I’d managed to drop the key to my bike lock down the sink in the bathroom. So I was now transportationless for the rest of the day and not happy about the situation. As I walked into class, the first thing I heard was some guy shout from across the room, “HEY! Wipe your feet! I brought a rug.” My feet were not muddy. I was not impressed. This is pretty much the look I gave my future husband:

This poor girl will be famous for that face forever.

A few weeks later, though, Jordan’s practicum placement classroom was right next door to mine. We started chatting. Soon, I found myself intentionally arriving a few minutes early just to talk to him. (I found out later that he was doing the same thing, and getting anywhere early is not Jordan’s strong suit. Yeah. He liked me.)

After practicum, I always went to work for a couple of hours. I checked my e-mail there, and I had a note from Jordan. It said that he hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to me after class, but he and some friends were going to a corn maze the next night and I was invited. Hmmm. I had planned to stay in all weekend, as I had several massive papers due the next week. But…Jordan was cute. I was 20. I had priorities.

So I called the number he left in the e-mail, made fun of his voicemail greeting (I’m a jerk. Why did he want to hang out with me?), and said I was up for it. The next night, he picked me up, and we met a few of his friends and headed out to the corn maze. (He ran a red light on the way. Somebody was nervous about a certain redhead sitting in the passenger seat.) At this point, neither of us thought this was a date, as there were other people with us, but we were doing a bit of flirting.  The maze was incredibly muddy, which made me slip several times. I had to hold his arm to keep from falling. He claims I did this on purpose. He is correct.

After we made our way through the corn maze, Jordan invited me and the friends we were with to come over to watch a movie. They said they would come, so he dropped them off at their cars and we went back to his place to wait for them. But then they called a few minutes later and said they weren’t coming. Suspicious? Maybe. Convenient? Definitely. 

We put in The Italian Job but didn’t really watch it. Not because of that, you pervs. We were talking. And laughing. Lots of laughing. By the end of the night, I had decided that I actually really liked this formerly annoying boy from my ed class. I’m pretty sure he felt the same way. 

At 3 a.m. or so, I finally decided that I should probably go home, so he dropped me off and I collapsed into bed. A few hours later, I woke up to stumble into the bathroom, where my roommate was getting ready for work.

“Dude,” I mumbled, still mostly sleeping. “I think I went on a date last night.”

“Wait, what? You think you went on a date?”

“Yeah. We held hands.”

“Well,” she said, straight-faced, “I hope you used a glove!”

And then I went back to sleep. I didn’t get her pun until I woke up for real a few hours later.

Fast-forward eight years, and now I’m married to that cute boy from ED350. All because of a rug and a corn maze.

 

How did you and your significant other meet?

What was your best first date?

Throwback ThFriday: That Time I Learned that GPS is a Necessity

I am really bad at keeping up with series that I invent. I fully intended to write this yesterday, to keep going with the Throwback Thursday bit, but I ran out of time. But today, we woke up to that glorious automated message telling us that school had been cancelled due to snow, so it’s bloggin’ time! And how better to spend that time than to tell you an embarrassing story of my stupidity.

image (5)
This bird says he doesn’t like snow days as much as I do.

When I went off to college at the ripe old age of 18, I was not exactly world-wise. Included in my naivety was a lack of any sense of direction. This was not really a problem as a freshman, as I didn’t have a car and depended on my friends and brother for rides, so I didn’t really have to know where anything was.

As a sophomore, my teaching practicums started, so I needed a car to get from home to college to practicums. By that time, I knew my way around Fort Collins just fine, but hadn’t really ventured into any of the other front range towns.

By this time, I had also made some friends who taught me to country swing dance. I liked dancing… cute cowboys and good music? Okay! (This was pre-Jordan, obviously.) The trouble was, since I was only 19, there weren’t very many places I could go to dance. But there was a country bar in nearby Greeley that had an 18-and-up night, and my friends had been there several times. Being the responsible(ish) student that I was, I hadn’t gone, as kids-at-the-bar night was a weeknight.

Finally, one week I had a lighter homework load, so I decided to head up with my friends. This would not have been a problem, except that the friends I planned to ride with had a previous engagement on the other side of Greeley, so we decided to just meet there. Which meant I had to drive. Alone. But I was a big girl, right? I could totally handle this. My friend gave me directions that sounded simple enough. They ended with “You’ll see a bright green sign that says ‘Cactus Canyon.’ You can’t miss it.” Famous last words.

Different night, same time period, same friend. Holy cow, we were young.
Different night, same time period, same friend. Holy cow, we were young. Ans yes, that’s a case of CDs on the counter. Those used to play music, kids.

I intentionally left my apartment late, to make sure that my friends would arrive before I did. I followed the giant signs that said “Greeley” and took the right exit. So far, so good. I drove. And drove. And drove. To the edge of Greeley. I had not yet seen this alleged bright green Cactus Canyon sign, and was now faced with a fork in the road and different giant green sign, this one giving me the options of “Denver” or “Cheyenne.” “But I don’t want to go to Denver OR Cheyenne!” I cried.

map

I took an exit and pulled into the nearest gas station. This was the days before smartphones, which would have made my life MUCH easier, but I whipped out my flip phone and desperately called my friend. No answer. I tried again. Voicemail. I went into the gas station and asked the attendant if he knew where the Cactus Canyon was. He looked at me like I had three heads, and I walked back out to my car, trying not to cry and spoil my make-up (on the chance that I actually made it to the bar and meet some cute cowboys).

Finally, I just decided to head back to Fort Collins and make up an excuse to tell my friends later. As I drove back the exact same way I came, I saw it: the giant, glowing Cactus Canyon sign. (In my defense, it was obscured by trees from the other direction). Sighing with relief, I exited, parked, and danced my little heart out.

A few hours later, as we were leaving, I thought I’d be smart and follow my friend back to Fort Collins. Wrong again. He had to take his other friend back home. On the other side of Greeley. When I realized what was happening, I thought I could subtly turn around, head back the right direction, and go home. Nope. He totally caught me, called me, and asked me what the heck I was doing. Oops.

And that’s how my nonexistent sense of direction became a college-career-long joke.  And how I learned to never go anywhere new without a GPS.

How’s your sense of direction?

Tell me an embarrassing getting lost story. 

Throwback Thursday: That Time I Won a Marathon

After I wrote this post and this post, I started to wonder if my readers (both of you) would think that I’m a bit of an idiot. And while that may be true, that’s not the impression that I generally try  to give off, so I decided to change it up and write about something I did that wasn’t stupid. (And, full disclosure here, I wrote this story as an example of a personal narrative for my freshmen last year. It required minimal work to go from “freshman example” to “blog post,” and I’m tired tonight). Don’t worry, I plan to tell you another stupid story next week.

All the photos in this post are from the Estes Park Marathon’s website

Marathon training takes at least eighteen weeks — eighteen weeks of hard workouts, conscientious nutrition, and careful scheduling.The spring of 2012 was the fourth time I had gone through this training cycle, but this time was different. This time, I wasn’t gunning for a personal best or even an age group placement. This time, though I didn’t admit it to anyone but myself, I wanted to win. I had checked the results of 2011’s Estes Park Marathon, and the winning woman had run a 3:30 –seventeen minutes slower than my personal best. I knew that Estes ran ten to twenty minutes longer than the average marathon, so  I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could win.

Training for the June marathon started in February. I despise training in the early spring. I hate the wind, I hate the cold, and I really hate the short days that force me onto the treadmill for long training runs. All that treadmill time had an advantage, though: If I didn’t have access to a treadmill in flat Fort Morgan, preparing for the six-mile climb that starts the Estes Park Marathon, as well as all the smaller-but-steeper hills later in the race, would be close to impossible.

It looks friendlier than it is.

So I trained on the treadmill, and I trained through the bad weather. When I lined up on race day, butterflies fluttered in my stomach, but I hoped I was prepared for victory.

The starting line crowd at Estes was tiny, compared to most other marathons. Not wanting to be too cocky, I eased up near the front of the crowd but avoided toeing the line. As we anxiously waited for race to start, I made small talk with some of the runners around me, bounced up and down, and easily stretched a few times to stay loose.

I am not in this picture, but this is how the starting line looked.

Finally, the gun went off. Every race, no matter how small, starts in a bit of a cluster, but by the time I made it down the first tiny incline and started that six-mile climb, I had managed to find my groove and stick with it. A long string of runners stretched ahead of me, but I didn’t worry yet. I still had 26 miles to make my move. As I climbed that first big hill, I noticed a young woman on a bike ahead of me.  I thought little of it until right around mile three, when a spectator shouted, “You’re the first woman! First woman!”

Holy crap, I thought. That’s the escort cyclist! Not wanting to get over-confident, I smiled at the spectator and said, “There’s still a lot of race to run!”  — as much to remind myself of that as her. But I determined then that no woman would pass me over the next 23 miles.

As we topped that first hill, a hard, hot wind blasted me. I didn’t know it yet, but that wind – sometimes gusting up to 30 miles per hour – would be my constant companion for the rest of the race. I thanked my lucky stars that it was a headwind now, when six miles of downhill stretched ahead of me, so I wasn’t fighting wind and running uphill. The next few miles passed uneventfully. I held my pace steady, enjoyed the stunning scenery, and occasionally chatted with the escort cyclist, smiling to myself every mile when I heard her report on her radio: “Lead female, mile 8.”

Just after the halfway point, as I ran around blissfully flat Lake Estes, I spotted my parents and husband. Jordan brings a cowbell and a poster to every race, but my parents had never spectated before, so their signs surprised me. My dad’s, a bright-colored iteration of an old inside joke (“Use your head!”), made me smile. My mom’s  sign, a joke about porta-potties, made me roll my eyes, as my miniature bladder has long been the butt of family jokes.

As it turned  away from the lake, the course started another substantial climb. By this time, the sun was bearing down, and that hot wind still gusted. At every water stop, I gulped water and dumped a cup or two on my head. Unfortunately, my listening skills started failing around mile 15, and though the volunteer clearly shouted, “Gatorade!,” I grabbed her cup and dumped in on my head. Now exhausted, thirsty, and sticky– but at least slightly cooler– I chugged up the hill.

Oh, I've used this picture before? Right. Credit still goes to the Estes Park Trail Gazette.
Oh, I’ve used this picture before? Right. Credit still goes to the Estes Park Trail Gazette.

By the time I topped that last big hill, my legs constantly screamed at me, and the heat started making me lightheaded. I learned early in the race that I couldn’t stomach gels in the heat, and I’m sure the lack of fuel wasn’t helping anything. I glanced over my shoulder several times to see if another woman was bearing down on me, but the winding mountain roads made seeing far impossible.

I kept plugging away. I feared leading  for 20 miles and then ending up second – or lower.  Despite my determination, though, my pace continued to slow. The hills and heat were taking their toll, and the wind only blew harder. I continued drinking at every aid station, filling my bottle so I could drink between, and dumping water (definitely water) on my head. I started setting little goals for myself – just run to that tree, just back down to the lake.

Finally, I spotted Estes Park High School in the distance, and I knew that the finish line was near. As I approached the school, I wondered how the small incline I ran down at the start of the race had grown into a substantial mountain. As my aching legs stumbled up the incline, I glimpsed the lights of the football field, where the finish line waited.

“How….much….farther?” I gasped to a volunteer, my legs stumbling and begging to walk.

“Just around this corner, then half a lap!” she shouted.

As we turned onto the track, the escort cyclist pulled over. “You’re there! Just finish this lap! Great job!” she screamed. I spotted my family, screaming, jumping, cheering, and I dug deep for a kick, albeit a paltry one on wasted legs.  As I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer shout, “Women’s marathon winner!” (I also heard him shout, “You gotta run across the mat so I know your name!”)

Entirely spent but grinning, I stumbled over to the grass and collapsed. My husband brought me some Gatorade (I drank it this time), and my family surrounded me, repeatedly congratulating me. I sat there in shock: I had just won a marathon.

In the weeks and months following the race, my husband loved to brag about my win, and I always blushed and blew it off. “It was a really, really small race,” I said, over and over. And it’s true – Estes Park is the smallest marathon I’ve ever run. But then, I decided to stop blowing it off. I trained hard. I fought hard. And I won.  Although Estes was small, and although I’ll never win a major marathon, I did win this one. And there’s nothing wrong with being proud of it.

What’s an accomplishment you’re proud of?

Do you ever have trouble owning your successes?

Would you run this race? You should. It’s amazing.

Throwback Thursday: That Time I Passed Out in Aspen

After I wrote the post about dropping a weight on my foot, I thought, “Hmm. I have a lot of ridiculous stories about how I’m dumb. I should blog more of them.” And then the holidays came, and I got even more sporadic about posting, and I kind of forgot about that idea. But tonight, I remembered. So I’m starting  a series. I’m calling it “Throwback Thursday” because I’m not creative and the cool kids on Instagram have Throwback Thursday.

This week, I’m keeping with another theme that we saw in the weight-dropping story: blacking out. Oh yes, this is a trend of mine.

The summer after my sophomore year of college, I stayed in Fort Collins and worked, and one of my good friends got a job on a ranch in Aspen. It was a pretty sweet gig: he had a fully furnished apartment-type cabin and an easy-going boss. And it was in Aspen.

Things to do when taking a Colorado summer vacation in Aspen at the Ritz Carlton Residence Club in Aspen Highlands, Colorado.
Yep, that Aspen.  (photo source, because I only take photos this good in imaginationland.)

The only trouble with my friend’s sweet gig was the three-hour drive between him and the rest of us. To make up for the lack of hanging out we were doing, he invited me and a couple of other friends up for the Fourth of July. Naturally, this mountain-loving girl jumped at the chance to spend a couple of days in Aspen.

I drove up after work on July 3 and met my friend and the other two people at his apartment. He lived out in the boondocks, so we took it easy that night — he made us dinner, and we watched the original Saw movie. (Side note: Why were those movies ever made? They are horrible. Horrible.)

My friend’s apartment was little, but the bed was a massive California king-size. The couch, on the other hand, was tiny and lumpy, and floor space was essentially nonexistent. So we did what any group of four college kids would do: all four of us crammed into that giant bed, promised not to fart, and went to sleep. (I’m pretty sure that present-day, old-lady Cassie would not be nearly as satisfied with this arrangement.)

The next morning, after consuming several gallons of coffee (mistake #1), we decided to see the sights, beginning with the famous Maroon Bells (pictured above). We weren’t doing any hiking,  just photo-opping, so I didn’t bring any water (mistake #2). We goofed around at the base of the mountains for a bit, then headed into town, arriving just in time to stand in the hot mountain sun (mistake #3) and watch the Fourth of July parade.

By the time the parade was over, I was both desperately thirsty and desperately in need of a bathroom. The other girl in our little group and I found a small, crowded restaurant and used the bathroom, then stood in the long line and waited to buy a few bottles of water.

The next thing I remember is staring up at a circle of concerned faces and realizing that I was flat on my back on the floor. Well, this is awkward, I thought. After chugging several glasses of water and assuring the numerous onlookers that I was okay, my friend and I left the restaurant and went to find the boys (and, I hoped, never see any of those restaurant patrons ever again). But the instant we stepped out of the restaurant, I was accosted by an over-eager EMT who refused to let me return to my activities until he took my pulse and asked me a billion questions…all while that same crowd looked on. Finally, we got away, found our friends, and continued on our merry way.

The rest of the day went by without incident (aside from a prodigious amount of teasing from my friends), but I certainly learned my lesson: Drink water. Especially at high elevations. Or, simplified, don’t be stupid.

 

Tell me a story about when something embarrassing happened to you. Bonus points if it was entirely your own fault, like my incident. 

Why I’m Still Kinda Scared of Lifting Heavy Things

I lifted weights tonight. Heavy ones. (Note: “heavy” in this instance means simply “heavier than the 10-pound dumbbells in my basement.”) I even did squats (in the Smith machine! Whose name I just learned Sunday!) and leg presses. Rachel would be so proud.  I did not, however, take weight room selfies. I felt awkward enough already. Give it some time, folks.

Now, I know this is surprising, but tonight was not the first time I’ve done the leg press. It was, however, the first time I’ve done the leg press in the last six years. You see, I used to leg press all the time; it was one of the few machines in college that wasn’t too deep in Meathead Land, so I boldly used it every week. I kept up that tradition when I moved here and started working out at the Body Firm… for about a month. (Side note: There are no pictures of my own to accompany the following tale, because this was in the days before prolific smartphones. Be old-fashioned and use your imagination.)

When we first moved here, Jordan lived just up the alley from the gym. It was super convenient: I’d go work out right after work, then walk to his house, run through the shower there, and eat dinner with him. It was a nice system that worked well until that fateful September night.

It started as any other night at the gym: I ran on the treadmill, then went into the weight room for some quick strength work. As usual, I grabbed a 45-pound plate weight and placed it on one side of the leg press, then started lifting another weight to the other side. I missed. I don’t know how I missed, because this hole:

 and this bar:

are the same size. This should not be hard.

But still, I missed. And that 45-pound weight landed directly on my big toe.

I stood and stared at the weight for a minute, and some nice man picked it up and loaded it on the machine for me. Well, now I couldn’t just not do the exercise after he was so nice. So I lay down on the sled, squared up my feet, and did a set.

And watched blood start seeping through my shoe.

“Huh,” I thought. “Maybe this is bad.” So I stood up. And made this face:

I gimped slowly away from the leg press and thought about what I should do. (I promise that’s the only time ever that I did not rerack my weights). I didn’t have my phone with me, because I never brought it to the gym (less than a block from Jordan’s, remember?). I could have borrowed the gym’s phone, but I honestly did not think I was that badly hurt. I could walk that 100 yards or so, surely.

So I got my jacket and keys and hobbled out the door and into the alley. I made it about 100 feet, got incredibly lightheaded, and sat down. I waited for my vision to clear and thought about what to do, kicking myself for not bringing my phone. Jordan wasn’t expecting me for another 45 minutes; by the time I was late enough for him to worry and come looking, it would be dark and cold. An alley behind 7-11 is not a place that I want to be when it is dark and cold. So I got up and started walking again.

I don’t remember much of what happened next. I do remember suddenly regaining consciousness, still walking, as I ran into a shed. No idea how that happened. I remember falling over the treacherous line of stumps that separated Jordan’s yard from the empty house next door. And I distinctly remember stumbling into Jordan’s kitchen, sinking to the floor, and shouting, “Please come here. I need you NOW!”

Now, put yourself in Jordan’s shoes for a minute. You’re just sitting the living room, grading papers, when you hear your fiance come home and shout those words. So you hustle into the kitchen, where you see her collapsing to the floor, completely filthy, with blood dripping down her face. (I didn’t even know about that face-blood part yet.) Yeah. File that under “How to scare your loved one to death.”

Jordan took one look at me and said, “We’re going to the ER.” Because I am both stupid and stubborn, I argued. I said that I was fine, and if he could just help me get my shoe off, I’d be okay. I did not win that argument, but I did realize that my jacket, keys, and water bottle were missing. I clearly had dropped them in the alley, and I insisted that Jordan find them. That is probably the fastest my dearly beloved has run before or since; he was back with my missing items in a flash. He scooped me up (again, as I protested), plopped me in the car, and took me to the hospital.

In the ER, the nurses cleaned my up and put band-aids on the little wounds on my hands and knees (souvenirs from a few blacked-out tumbles on the way home). Then, the doctor came in and told me he was going to put in a few stitches above my eye. Bewildered, I said, “My eye? But my foot is hurt.”

Now it was the doctor’s turn to look confused. “I know,” he said, “but your eye is cut pretty deep. It’s bleeding everywhere.” Huh. I must have cut it on the chain link fence in the alley when I fell. I sure didn’t remember it, though.

Five stitches, a boot for my broken big toe and smashed foot ligaments, and a prescription for Vicodin later, I was back at Jordan’s house, where I spent the night so he could take care of me. I insisted on showering, because I was still sweaty from the gym and filthy from the quality time with the alley. Then, I took some Vicodin and went to bed. 

That was the first (and only) time I’d taken Vicodin. That stuff is c-r-a-z-y. It left me loopy and tired, even into the next morning. Jordan tried to convince me to stay home from work, but it was September of my first year of teaching. I couldn’t let myself take a sick day. So I went to work. And tried to teach Langston Hughes while still a little high on Vicodin. It went about as well as you’re picturing it. I’m sure my students learned a lot that day…but not about poetry.

The worst part about the whole incident was that I couldn’t run for eight weeks. Apparently running on broken big toes and smashed ligaments is bad. As most of you know, eight weeks in Runnerland is a very long time. The recumbent bike and I got to know each other well, and eventually, I was back to health and my usual routine.

And I did not take another Vicodin. Ever.

So that’s why, for the last six years, I’ve been terrified of the leg press machine. But tonight, I conquered it. And used 25-pound weights.

 

Have you ever hurt yourself in a dumb way at the gym?

Are you super-stubborn about admitting when you’re actually sick/hurt?