A Break in the System—or Ankle

Hillary, one of my new BRF's I made just minutes before.

“Spokane run. Met Hillary. Dramatic finish.”

That’s what I wrote on Strava for my May 1 run. What I didn’t reveal: I fractured my right ankle in two places at the end of the workout.

It was an idiotic, completely avoidable accident at the end of a delightful run. Before I get to the make-me-sob details, let me dwell on the positive points of the run first: Jonna (part of Team AMR and a guest on our most recent podcast) and I were in Spokane, Washington, to work a race expo and scout the city as the base for our fall AMR Retreat.

Also a friend, but not of the BRF kind.

We set out for a long run along the lovely Centennial Trail that hugs the banks of the Spokane River. It was an ideal day for a run: The sun was shining brightly but the air held a slight crispness. We stopped often to snap photos to be used later to entice mother runners (like you!) to our next Retreat. Silly photos, like the duo of marmots we encountered on the riverside, and scenic ones of us on one of the several pedestrian bridges across the tranquil river.


Perusing a mounted trail map near mile 3, we gave directions to a woman runner sporting a sassy “Suck it up, Buttercup” tank top. By the time Strava announced Jonna and I had run four miles, “Buttercup” was about 25 yards ahead of us. She turned around, and we fell into stride as she told us she was doing half-mile repeats at 8:35 pace. Despite having told Jonna we’d be going at a 10:00-ish pace, I eagerly told her we’d pace with her.

Turns out Buttercup is a mom of three from Missoula, Montana named Hillary who is training for her first half-marathon after the birth of her nearly one-year-old youngest son. We fell into easy conversation: Hillary had read Run Like a Mother, and she also admires the non-profit work of Christy Turlington Burns.

Rumor has it, if you kiss a moose in Spokane, you can run a sub 4-hour marathon.

The photo opps continued, including when we approached a massive (read: two stories tall) red wagon with a metal slide dropping down from it. Sprinklers shot streams of water on the grass area and the slide. Jonna exuberantly suggested I go down the slide for a photo, and I eagerly trotted up the ladder at the back of the wagon.

Almost immediately, I realized I was going way, way, WAY too fast down the slide. With no railing to grip to slow or stop by descent, I heard warning alarms go off in my brain, telling me to not hit my butt, back, or head. I kept my feet out in front of me and prepared myself to propel forward upon impact.

My plan proceeded exactly as planned….except for the loud “snap” I heard with my ears and within my body. As I was throwing my body forward toward the ground, I shrieked, “I broke my ankle!”

This is the part where I get nauseated replaying the scene in my head, so I’m going to freezeframe with me sprawled on the wet ground, thinking, “NO! NO! NO! THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!”

Now truly a BRF, Hillary waits with me before I head to the ER.

But it was, and it did. At the emergency room, as I tried to stop shivering from anxiety, fright, and regret, the physician assistant informed me I have a fracture on either side of my right ankle. He told me I’d need surgery, but that fractures like this usually heal fairly fast. I’ll know more after I meet with a surgeon here in Portland (which I’m doing after I type this post).

Here’s a shocker: I cry a lot when I talk about this incident and its aftermath. The inconvenience to my husband and children. The inability to drive, cook, head to the basement to do laundry (or fill AMR store orders), and othe daily tasks. The costs not covered by our insurance. The idea I might not be able to take my kids to my aging parents’ house for a visit in June as planned. The fact I can’t join Dimity on our Midwest book tour events.

And, perhaps most of all: the fact I can’t run. With Molly. Outdoors. My 9-year-old son, John, summed it all up yesterday. I had started to cry a little bit (a frequent occurrence these past few days), and John’s twin asked why I was crying. He said, “Mom’s sad because she can’t play outside.”


We’ll give you an update when I have it. Hoping for surgery this week. For now, I’m staying off social media, including a lot of email, because it only makes me cry. Thanks for your support and understanding.  

96 responses to “A Break in the System—or Ankle

  1. I just read this post after google pulled it up. I’m a runner & mom of 3 (one of which is a hyper toddler). My dramatic story is: I stepped the wrong way in a rut. LOL Ok, not too dramatic. But I am on day 8 of the broken ankle journey. I just wanted to comment about you crying. I’m crying! I have found the emotional aspects of it all FAR outweigh any physical pain! Thank you for writing this post. I needed to know that crying about it is normal! 🙂

  2. I am so sorry Sarah!!! We had a no screen week last week so I am catching up. I hope your recovery is going well and I am thinking of you!!!

  3. So sorry to read this! It’s so hard when wrenches get thrown into our plans. I think I would feel the same way that you’re feeling… feeling bad about how my injury would be affecting others. Hang in there!

  4. Just catching up and read the post. I am so sorry, hang in there! When I broke my pinky finger from a fall while running and had to have 2 surgeries, my first response after picking myself up was happiness that I hadn’t injured any parts used in running, such a runner response:) I held it together for days until I was reduced to a blubbering mess when I realized I couldn’t hang up clothes without help, such a mom response 🙂 Best wishes for a fast recovery and a speedy return to running!

  5. I am so sorry to read this, Sarah. I guess by now you’ve had surgery… sending you positive thoughts you will heal strong and come back even better than ever. Hugs to you!

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