Cliff diving in Hawaii – 7/15/13 – Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii

005So I usually reserve TDBS for race reports, but since this incident will definitely put a wrench in my race plans for the next two months, I figured it was worth a post.

Mary and I celebrate our 15th anniversary this month, and we always said we’d go to Hawaii for a “second honeymoon”  since we were dirt poor and a week before starting med school in 1998 when we got married. We had planned for the big trip to be for our 10th, but our oversized Nordic bundle of joy (aka Drew) arrived the day before our anniversary in 2008, and the romantic getaway turned into Mr Friendly’s to go at Baptist Hospital.

Fast forward five years and Mary planned out an awesome 8 days in Kauai, Hawaii’s northernmost island. Kauai looked awesome as there was all the scenery and activities of the other islands with a lot less people. We were booked at the Marriott resort on Kalapaki beach, which was amazing, and we had all kinds of things planned for our week.

We got there on Thursday and basically ate dinner , checked out the beach and went to bed, since the time difference is 6 hours behind. the east coast. Between getting up at 4 am EST and 2 mai tais, I was done. Friday we spent all day in Waimea Canyon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waimea_Canyon), called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and hiked a couple of miles up on the trails there. Saturday we did the helicopter tour of the island, which was incredible, except I wanted to puke most of the ride. Damn that motion sickness. Sunday we went to the North shore, site of countless pro surfing competitions and a really bad 80’s movie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Shore_(film)) . Seriously I think they showed it daily on HBO in 1988.  We hiked 2 miles from Ke’e Beach to a remote beach called Hannakap’ai which is tucked in between the cliffs of the Napali coast. Pictures of this place do not do it justice. Basically a ridiculous over-the-top caricature of paradise, except its real. Sea caves, dramatic lush green valleys, turqouise-clear water, white sand.  Mary was a trooper for finishing the 5 mile out and back route, because it was no joke. Lots of elevation gains, rocks and quite a few sheer drop offs. On the ride home I was devastated because I couldnt find my iphone with all the pics of Hannakap’ai. Mary ended up calling it when we pulled over. I was relieved when I heard it buzz then about had a stroke when I opened the door and saw it precariously balanced on the EDGE OF THE ROOF. Somehow it had survived about 3 miles of backing up, stopping/starting and going over about 4 one lane bridges. I must be one lucky guy, right?

The next morning we had plans of catching the Hawaiian sunrise. I had run a route to the lighthouse at the entrance to our cove the day before and had found a good spot for us to go about a half mile north of our hotel by the golf course. Here you could see the sun coming up with the waves crashing against the shore, which was all jet-black lava rocks. Unfortunately we got up at 5:40 am, which is already late by Hawaiian sunrises. Mary and I basically rolled out of bed and headed out the door. By the time we got to the place I had scouted on my run, it was already pretty light. We had a nice vantage point on the dirt path before the shore but then I saw a green patch in between the rocks below. Mary was a little nervous about going down the steep path in her flip flops, so I decided to check it out to see if she could make it. I took 2 steps and…

Fell suddenly on my butt, and in a moment of sheer terror, felt the momentum carry me straight over the edge. I have one memory of looking at the lava rocks from about 2 stories up, then the next sitting on them in a lot of pain. I could hear Mary yelling to me, but I just kept wondering what the hell happened???. I could feel blood all over my face and hands, and I was sure my left foot was broken. Mary finally made it down to me and asked me for my phone (since she didn’t bring hers in the rush to leave). I searched my pocket and there it was…without a scratch. Mary called 911 and tracked down a runner on the trails above, who in turn got security out to our location. Somehow, between two large, brave dudes (who risked falling themselves) and my sheer adrenaline, I hopped up the cliff path on one leg, and EMS luckily showed up right in time. They strapped me in a cervical collar and a headboard and whisked me away to the only real hospital on the island. Wilcox Medical.  Apparently the paramedics found it unbelievable that a guy with his face bashed in is complaining primarily about his toe. Hey, a runner has his priorities. My face wasn’t that pretty to begin with. At this point I wasnt quite sure what was more incredible – that I my vacation just got thrown in the crapper in 2 seconds, that I almost died, that somehow I was fully alert despite head butting a lava rock at 20 mph or that my iphone is apparently immortal.

I hit the ER and the staff is super nice. The doc (Scamahorn) does a once over and then sends me to the radiology suite to have every last bit of my anatomy scanned. He tried to give me opiates, but I was scared to take them – my mom vomits like the exorcist on them and I had never had anything stronger than tylenol. So I turned him down. After all the imaging, the results came back. Three orbital and one frontal skull fracture, but miraculously no brain bleeds ,  trapping of eye muscle or notable outside deformity. Melon head is good for something, I guess. My left 4th metacarpal of my hand is broken,  a lot of soft tissue swelling in my left knee but no break, and a wickedly dislocated left toe (but again no break). My toe must look pretty gruesome because all I can see are the faces of people looking at it, and “disgust” would about sum them up. Dr. Scamahorn comes back and shoves a needle in my toe so he can try to reduce (i.e. pop it back in place) it. Feels like he stabbed a steak knife into my foot followed by trying to yank the thing off with all his might. Definitely secnd guessing the opiate decision now, but too late for that. No luck on popping the toe back. Ortho comes in a few minutes later and does some Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo move with my toe and all of a sudden I can move it again. Success!! He then says its unstable and wraps it up in a cast, saying I’d have to be off my feet for 4 weeks. BUMMER. My left hand gets the same treatment. Having a hand and a foot out of commission relegates me to a “platform walker” which makes you look even more feeble than a regular one, if thats possible. Before PT can come to get me my walker, Dr Scamahorn comes back with the unenviable job of putting my face back together. I saw my face a few times in reflection in the radiology suite , and it looks like I got in a bar fight with Anderson Silva. Every color of the rainbow is represented on the right side of my forehead and eye area. And lets not forget my left lower lip, which got cut by my teeth completely through. Three or four lidocaine shots that feel like an icepick to the eye, 25 sutures, and about 45 minutes of painstaking work and I’m all patched up. After all of this I finally relent on the opiate front and take some IV morphine, which is ” a hell of a drug”. No nausea luckily and needless to say I felt a lot better. They were possibly going to discharge me, but one look at my pathetic self in the platform walker with PT and Scamahorn decides to push surgery to admit me overnight for observation. This was a good thing, since they tried to transition me to oral Percocets at some point, and I felt nauseated while experiencing a color and light show when I closed my eyes that Jerry Garcia would be proud of. Turns out just plain low-dose oral morphine and toradol did the trick. I got discharged the next day and had the depressing experience of being at a beachside resort without being able to enjoy any part of it. Also, total stareapalooza everytime I left the hotel room, not that I blame them. The stares only increased when I started the long, painful journey back home. USAir did try to get people to change seats, but no one was willing to give the gimp a break for the seats with more room. Luckily Mary and I got seated together, though all the way in the back of both flights. People did seem a little uneasy about the beast in the back with the towel head, black eye and dark sunglasses though.

So, no races for a while, but given that I’m alive with no brain or spinal injuries, I have nothing to complain about. Hopefully I ‘ll use this time to rest up and come back stronger. Still hoping for Savannah, but I may need to step back to the half. I have some follow up appointments this week that will hopefully give me a better idea on my timeline for recovery. Thanks to everyone who has sent me a kind word or checked up on me since the accident – I’ve been overwhelmed by the support!

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Born in the USA 4 miler and 2×2 mile relay – Columbia, SC – 7/4/13

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The Born in the USA 4 miler and relay is an anuual event on Independence Day put on by Strictly Running. Run on a modified Cold Winters Day course, the race typically draws a pretty competitive field, though it varies considerably with it being held on a holiday. SR decided to ramp up the elite factor for this race this year by offering “time bounties” of $1000 for a sub 19 and $400 for a sub 20 (21 and 22 minutes for women).

Although I was clearly tempted by the cash for a sub five minute pace 4 miler, I opted for the 2×2 relay instead. Relays have always been phenomenal trophy hunts. Not only is this the undercard of the event, but the impression of most people is that the 2×2 in this race is for people incapable of managing the epically long distance of 4 miles. But they offer 50 bucks for the winner, and I have no shame mowing down soccer moms, beer bellied dads, same day race shirt wearers and kids for the opportunity at glory.

The first time I did the relay was in 2010 with Trophy, with our team aptly named “Trophy Hunting“. I had no idea what to expect and was surprised to see a fairly small crowd at the relay point 2 miles in. I waited for Trophy, who came in way slower than he said he would, but then I  realized I was the first person to leave the zone.  With sheer lust for the overall win, I about donated breakfast at the finish line but was able to hold the lead. No matter that we were slower than 8 other individuals, we took our 50 bucks and our watermelon prizes with great pride to the accolades of like 5 people who stayed around all the way to the end of the award ceremony. It was beautiful.

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Have you ever seen someone so maniacally happy over a check and a watermelon??

I guess other, actually fast, people took note of our ridiculous win, because since then the relay has grown significantly. We were nowhere close in 2011 and I skipped the event last year since I was in Folly Beach.

But “Trophy Hunting” part  III was back in action this year. Or maybe not… Trophy had been laying low the last couple of weeks when I text him (Trophy doesnt believe in verbal phone communication) and he’s saying something about a hurt calf. Mind you, this is 48 hours before the race. Before I can decide whether “hurt calf” is really “beach weekend with the girlfriend” or “its too hot“, Trophy gets the Code to sub in for him. Code is a freak about relays. Hand him a relay oppourtunity and he’s as giddy as a schoolgirl. A pale, hairy schoolgirl with a big lump on her ankle,  but you get the idea.  Trophy Hunting was back in business.

I gave Code the second leg, because historically he’s been faster. Its pretty close right now. We were both going to shoot for under 12 minutes. Leg 1 is kind of brutal though, since you pretty much climb a very long hill right off the bat and then face another nasty incline just after the mile mark. The last .75 of the 3 miles is pretty flat to downhill though.

Code and I carpooled to the race and got there about an hour early. Most of the Columbia scene was there, which tends to be the case for the Strictly races. I had already stalked the registered relay teams and started to get a little excited that we could pull off the upset win. I saw David He (i.e. 17:59 at Jailbreak) had a team, and my suspicions were confirmed that Angel was his teammate when I got to the race.  Doh! I could feel my trophy slipping away.  Brian Clyburn and Joel Pierstorff  (Road Testes) and Ken/Kenneth Vowles (Team AEIOU) were our other known competition.  Being the leg 1 guy, I had no idea what the other teams looked like, since everyone starts together with the 4 milers. I was hoping to try and keep Angel in sight.

We started in the decrepit parking lot behind Coplon’s that looks like a war zone. Big pot holes and puddles. I had started in the 2nd row, so I was trying not to go plowing through all the water while avoiding getting trampled from behind too. Just after the mini steeple chase portion is the brutal Trenholm Rd hill. Its not steep but it lasts forever. Its tough for me to cover at 2 mile pace. I actually have no idea what 2 mile pace is, since I tend to run 5ks like a headless chicken anyway, but I figure its 5:50ish. I am definitely not doing 5:50ish on the hill, plus my lungs are trying to find their way out of my chest. Why am I doing leg 1 again??? Fortunately there’s a long decline after you scale Mt . Trenholm with the mile marker pretty much in a valley. They have clocks at each marker and its just over 6 minutes when I get there (actually a 6:08 by Garmin). The wind suckage has subsided slightly. I’m still getting Yergered, which is bothering me since he’s doing the 4 mile. He did say he was aiming for 6 minute pace though. Angel, who crushed me on the hill, is not too far ahead now.  Just when I want to pick up the pace to try and blast out the second half, they throw in that aforementioned nasty incline, which starts the gasping again. Long downhill after this. Near the bottom I draw even with Rob and realize I have a half mile to go. We’re both wearing the Team Utopia South singlets so I try to focus on our Monday night 800 meter sufferfests at USC track.

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I surge head of the Yerg just in time for a photo op, and then really try to drop the hammer. I’m catching up with Angel, but of course he’s starting to kick it in too. Suddenly I round the corner and the exchange is right there. The clock registers 12 minutes just a step or two before I cross, and Code blasts off like a beast.

After catching my breath, I try my best to guide the Diesel home, but he catches a bad case of the walksies on one of the hills on this “flat and fast” course, so I drop him on my cooldown.  If only I hadnt given Trophy the camera at the start. Later I  find his son Brady, who’s having a rough day but still battles to the finish. I keep telling him to man up and not be a wuss like his dad. OK, not really.

When I get to the finish , I find the Code ran almost exactly the same split with a total time of 23:59, just breaking the 6 minute barrier. I thought this put us in second, but later we realize there were actually two teams of younger guys even faster than the David/Angel combo, knocking us down to fourth. Damn meddling kids. Its all a moot point anway, because in the relay its winner take all. Brian and Joel’s wives Jennifer and Amanda (aka the awesomely named ” Ovaryachievers”) end up winning the female relay, while the coed division is won by a father/daughter team slower than the Ovaries. Any ladies up for a trophy hunt next year??

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/results/13BUSA.txt

https://www.facebook.com/alex.mcdonald.3139/media_set?set=a.10151719556035419.1073741855.777475418&type=1

4 miler race results from the CRC newsletter, because I’m lazy, and hey I wrote it anyway:

Taking home first place and 450 bucks was the appropriately namedMichael Banks from Charleston. Banks blasted a 19:14 , crushing the course record in 4:49 pace. USC Upstate alumnus Gilbert Kemboi battled Banks most of the way but fell just short in 19:24 for second. USC grad and Pal-metto runner Robert Razick took 3rd in 20:46. On the women’s side, Heather Hunt took overall honors in blazing 5:52 pace at age 38. Heather Costello and Samantha Hughes finished together just under 25 minutes to round out the top 3.

Age group honor roll:Brady Ward managed to endure a Blue Shoed monkey on his back in the second half to claim 2nd in the 2-10. Parker Roof cruised to 2nd in the 11-13 while the Golbus twins dominated the 14-16.“Trackstar” Eddie Vergara had to settle for third in one of the most brutal 20-24 age groups ever, running a 5:43 pace. Even more rough was the 25-29, with Tim Jeffreys taking 2nd behind Kemboi in 21:07. Ridunkulous. Jen-nifer Lybrand ran a strong race and took 3rd on the female side. In the 30-34, Jessica Workman, Amber Todd and Tricia Roland cleaned house, while Team Utopia South coach Justin Bishop made the pace hot by winning the male division. Ja-son Dimery placed second. In the 35-39, Rob Yerger missed his goal time but had his 1st in AG to console him. Ken Cobb thankfully left his pink speedo at home and placed third. Naomi Rabon returned to her runner girl roots and placed 2nd on the female side. In the 40-44, Shannon Iriel continued her tear through the racing season, crushing the competi-tion by almost 6 minutes. The 45-49 had lots of familiar fac-es, with Paul Reardon, Jeff Brandenburg and Greg Howell sweeping the category. Sherry Fadel took 2nd on the female side. Birgit Spann obliterated the 50-54 by exactly eight minutes, while Billy Tisdale and Howie Phan took top honors among the males. In the 55-59, Larry Bates continues to dominate, while Mike Compton picked up third. Lorikay Keinzle was the class of the women’s field, with Carol Wallace finishing second. Lynn Grimes took an easy first in the 60-64, while Fred “Squirrel” Mullen and Alex Ponamarev finished 2nd and 3rd among the men. Del Soule and Ken Lowden battled it out for first and second on the 65-59. Nancee Sneed took top honors among the women. All the top 70+ elites were on hand for this race, with John Sneed winning first over Arnold Floyd and Henry Holt.

But don’t forget us relayers. Two miles all out on this course is no joke. Taking first in 21:11 was the men’s team “RV Champs 2x”, while the decidedly cooler named “Ovarychievers” of Jennifer Clyburn and Amanda Pierstorff took the women’s title in 28:44. First coed team was “Juice Box” in 29:01. Other teams competing included Angel Manuel and David He’s “Run like the Wind”, my Trophy Hunting (with Code subbing in for Trophy last minute), Team AEIOU with Ken and Kenneth Vowles, Road Tes-tes with Brian Clyburn and Joel Pierstorff and Team Weber with Rob Weber and his daughter Katie. Taking 13th overall and first in the costume contest was the middle school beast team “Freedom Foxes run Fourth” of Marie Demetriades and Bri Hartley.