And it was a happy place I revisited later, when I was running in the dark and trying to convince myself I could keep running.
My last leg, at 7.9 miles, was my longest. But it was mostly all downhill. But my protective numbness buffer had melted away; my stiff and swollen ankle hurt. But I had teammates who were counting on me to finish my legs so they could run theirs (the ones they'd trained for). But would I make the injury worse? But I had a wrap, I'd be fine. But would the wrapped foot even fit in my shoe?
And then, at the exchange just before my turn to run, I got out to find the porta potty—and I found another medical tent! Right there on the mountain. And the people were so much nicer than the first medical person. They complimented my courage in finishing my second leg on such a fat ankle. They put fresh Neo and bandaids on my bloody knees. And get this: they had tape! They taped my ankle up perfectly. (Trust me: I have lots of sprained-ankle stories and I know a good tape job when I see one.) It was stiff enough to support me but with just enough give to allow for some flex.
So when Shane got to the exchange and slapped the bracelet on me, when I started running, I had a conversation with my ankle. An out loud conversation. (Well. I suppose it isn't a conversation if no one talks back, but...) I told it that it just needed to last a little longer—only another hour. And I said, come on, be strong, you've got this. And then—this sounds silly, but here it is: I said, I love you. We've done this before, you and I. Continued on even while you hurt. You can do this, I know, because you've done it before.