As I sat on the dusty log on the side of the trail, fists clenched on my calf and teeth gritted from the throbbing pain of my left ankle, I heard my uncle’s voice from the night before, “You should really invest in hiking gear.” At 24 years old, I still do not heed the advice of my elders. I am terribly obstinate. But more so, terribly young and therefore impervious to caution. I acknowledged my uncle’s words with a glance over my shoulder as I walked out the front door of my grandparents house–not even giving them a full moment’s pause to register.
In a lot of ways, I am still a teenager.
This was a teenager moment.
The Invincible Idealism. The To-Hell-With-Safety attitude. The Do-First-Think-After protocol.
That is how I found myself nursing a sprained ankle on a rocky hillside with nothing but a half empty water bottle in my backpack. A combination of luck and youth has been enough to keep me unscathed through most of my risky escapades. But the moment I heard my ankle crack as it rolled under the full weight of my body, I realized the full extent of my actions–running full speed on a decline on loose rocks and dirt in Nike Free Runs–revealed that I was far worse than a teenager. I was a stupid teenager.
After ten minutes to allow the initial shock of the pain to subside, I pulled myself up and limped the rest of the 1 mile down to the bottom of the trail. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope that the pain and swelling would go away and that I’d be left with a sore ankle. For a couple hours it didn’t seem like a big deal. I went to my grandparent’s house. I helped my grandma clean by sweeping and mopping the floors. By 3:30 PM, however, the pain that had slowly dulled in the early afternoon was back and I couldn’t walk without limping.
When I got home at 4:30 PM and finally took off my shoes and socks, my ankle was an unnatural blue and purple.
To say I was not stoked would be an understatement. I have a half marathon in 3 months that requires me to train. I have a job that requires me to be constantly on my feet for many hours. I have a goal to do a sunrise hike each month that I would like to accomplish.
No. I am not stoked at all.
The only silver lining I can see to getting an ankle sprain is that I really don’t have an excuse not to practice my writing this month. If I am going to be benched for the next few weeks, may it be with a laptop/journal in hand!