Sunday, September 21, 2008


"Bummer" only because I don't want to swear on my blog.

Tim, Glenn, Allison and I went for a nice 5 mile run this morning on the coastline in Athens.

It felt great to be up and running, and I felt like I was getting over the jet lag. On the way back, however, I was running along on the sidewalk and for one second I looked out to the sea and BAM! my foot landed on a ridge and my ankle rolled over...all the way over. I'm talking like 90 degrees over. I screamed out and swore and could not put my foot down because of the pain. Several witnesses on the beach came over and Tim and some man helped me over to a bench where I proceded to break down into tears.

I have sprained my ankle 10 million times. I have had surgery and 2 years of rehab on it. I have sprained it several times since then. But I have never - even when I ruptured the ligaments at Western States 2005 - had so much pain from rolling it. Another good soul gave Tim and I a ride back to the hotel. I knew I did some serious damage as it immediately swelled to a balloon over where the ligament was anchored during surgery. I was - and am - devastated.

As stubborn as I am, I went to the ER. I needed an X-ray. My whole crew insisted on coming with me, and they stayed with me the entire time. Gosh, I am so lucky to have such awesome friends!

This was my first-hand introduction to socialized medicine. In brief, I was very impressed. The process was quick and efficient. There were no thrills, no expensive fees, no paperwork to fill out, no defensive medicine, no discrimination among patients. I wasn't even asked if I had insurance in the ER. I took a number. The lines were short and quick.

I was very lucky that Dr. Yiannis Nickolopoulos, an orthopedic surgeon, evaluated me. He was kind, efficient, thorough, compassionate. I was so afraid of what my bill was going to be. Tim came back to me after delivering the X-ray paperwork and said that he had to pay for the X-ray in advance. Oh my God, I thought, it's going to be so expensive. "What's the damage?" I asked. He smiled, "3 Euro." "300 Euro?" "No, 3 Euro." That's like $4.50!

I read the X-ray myself. No fracture that I could see. Dr. Nickolopoulos read the X-ray more carefully. "There's no sign of fracture," he said (Yes, he spoke English). He examined the ankle, even examined for a high ankle sprain, which is often overlooked. I was impressed. Then he said he recommended a cast and no weight-bearing for 2 weeks. My superficial cheeriness was quickly shrouded in despair. "I'm supposed to run the Spartathlon," I said. "You? The Spartathlon?" Yes. "When is it?" he asked. "5 days," I cried. "No, I'm sorry, you cannot run the Spartathlon," he replied compassionately.

I refused the cast. He warned me gently that I was refusing "proper treatment." I understand, I said. He offered an air cast, reminding me for the fourth time that I was refusing proper treatment. I jumped at the air cast; I knew I needed it. I asked for a crutch but they didn't have any. I would have to see if I could purchase one at the pharmacy tomorrow. Glenn and Tim helped me to another room filled with stretchers. It was a "private room" that Dr. Nickolopoulos said we could wait in for delivery of the air cast. "Can you wait 45 minutes for the cast? That's the soonest we can get it here." Of course. I waited with my crew and we told stories and laughed, but I think everyone understand my underlying deep despair.

The air cast was delivered and I paid 115 Euro for that. A private company. "Why so expensive?" I asked the air cast rep. "It's a good cast; not made in China," he assured me. We left the ER and drove back to the hotel. The rest of our day was spent pool-side instead of sight-seeing and shopping. My crew, free to go on their own at my insistence, spent the day with me.

Now, it's bed-time. My foot is up in the air cast. I am icing it constantly, taking ibuprofen and tylenol. Despite no crutches, I have not put weight on the foot. Don't tell the good doctor Nickolopoulos but I will test the weight-bearing tomorrow. I expect the worse, wish for the best. We've come a long way. I have trained very hard. My heart and mind and soul are wrapped around this race. I am devastated but tomorrow I will decide if there is yet a glimmer of hope.


King Arthur said...

I was tearing up by the time I finished reading your post. I hope you heal up fast. Five days seems like a long time and anything can happen. Maybe Scott has some advice on running right after a sprained ankle. Good luck!

marathanna said...

Oh Lisa, I'm practically in tears here myself after reading this. What a disappointment, but at least you are in a fun and beautiful place with wonderful people who are taking good care of you.

I will be thinking of you and wishing you the best.


Blog My said...

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!! crap well since you won't curse Lisa and this surely warrants a huge f-bomb...i won't curse either.

WHat a bummer, so very sorry ... I am sending healing vibes your way.

on a side note --wow what about the hospital visit expense, $4.50 for an x-ray , geesh... ummm OK look for a house for me I am moving, well i can always live in two places right?!!

ICE UP & HEAL UP & Keep us posted please on your progress!!

~!@#$%^&* ~!@#$%^&* ~!@#$%^&

Sarah said...

Oh, Lisa, I'm SO sorry - I can't even imagine what you are feeling right now. I mean, after all your training and travel and hopes and dreams and planning and fun - that sucks!!

Please know that so, so many of us are thinking of you and sending our best healing vibes your way.

Typing with my fingers crossed,

Sarah Spelt

milliron said...

Best wishes on a fast recovery. you have encouraged so many thru thick and thin I know encouragement for you will be payback by the thousands.
Take care and get back on 2 feet soon!
Robin K.

Cassie said...

Lisa - I am so sorry to hear about your injury. Keep the faith! You must not chance ruining an ankle for a race. Wishing you a speedy recovery!


Mark Swanson said...

I'll be praying for a swift recovery. I can't imagine how frustrating this must be to you. This kind of untimely accident is one of our worst nightmares. And it's also a reminder that every run is a Gift.

Jose Vargas said...

Lisa, we met post race poolside in Lone Pine last year. Hope to get into Badwater after finishing 3 unfinished '07 100s this year. Anyway this is my dream race as yours. Know you'll take this head on.

If so happens, I know you'll return. All the best and a super-fast recovery.

Jose Vargas

Barefoot Ted said...

Breeding in the temple, nectar, baby...

Next year.


XO-1.ORG said...

Lisa: I am so insanely bummed for you! These things happen, unfortunately. There's nobody to blame; it's just random chance. Please don't try to be a hero. We want you kicking butt and looking fabulous at many other races, a long way into the future! Just go support the race and your friends in it; soak up the experience and learn even more about the race to prepare you for next year! - Chris

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

Lisa...I just sent you an email so won't repeat myself..but just know you are loved and so supported.
If we can do anything just say the word.
Love to you
Lisa and Jay

anil said...

Truly disappointing to read this, but there is always hope and you never knw things may turn better.
keep up your spirits!


Jon said...

I am wishing you the best healing vibes EVAR!!! EVAR I SAID!!! You got one really dedicated crew there to help you out. Don't be shy to ask them for help, especially now!

And 3 Euros? Makes one wonder how much a Starbucks costs out there?

Danni said...

I'm so so so sorry!!! The bright side is that you're in GREECE! I hope you're able to salvage a nice trip and that you heal up quickly.

christian said...

I have no idea what to say. What does a newbie say to a vet that adds any value at all?

How about - I respect you, learn from you, follow your runs/races, look forward to your list posts, and read each with open mind and absorb like a sponge.

So, 'cause of all that hubbub above, naturally, I feel badly when someone like you hits a proverbial snag in the road.

Here's a sincere wish that you heal soon and continue to inspire the ultrarunning community as you do.

Much respect.


Anonymous said...

Hey Lisa, so sorry this happened to you. My thoughts are with you.

Christine Crawford
Whitewater, WI

Journey to a Centum said...

I suppose running on just one leg is out of the question. Do they have a "Special Spartathlon" that would allow one of those little carts you put your knee on? You could really fly on the downhill!

Bummer is probably the best descriptive. I know you will roll with the punches and make the best of a bad situation. Enjoy your time with Tim, Glenn, and Allison. Oh, and listen to Dr. Yiannis Nickolopoulos advice, "No, I'm sorry, you cannot run the Spartathlon". You have many years of running before you, don't risk losing them for one race. Even if it is the Spartathlon.

Lisa B said...

I just got internet access again. Thank you soooooooooooooo much everybody! You bring me much peace and hope. Thank you thank you thank you!

I will post again soon but keep losing connection and wanted to get a brief update here. I have been VERY actively RESTING the ankle. Icing frequently, elevating, and sending good healing thoughts its way. All your thoughts are helping too. It is better today. I can weight-bear. I have been to every pharmacy in Athens and now have a concoction of materials, including a brace to wear during the run. As of now, I don't know if I can run, but I am continuing to plan for the run so that I don't nix the start line if things do get better. There is hope! I will not injure it permanently; it's just a race. But I will do everything I can to make that glimmer of hope a reality. More later...


Rajeev said...


You will be fine! Go and start the race - that's what you've set your sights on for a long time. If the ankle acts up, decided THEN to quit if you must. Until then you are officially on! :)

Good luck. Now go get 'em girl.


Michael said...