An almost-full moon plays peek-a-boo behind mackerel-sky clouds at 0515 when I set off from home. An hour later I pull onto the side of the road near Weverton Cliffs to await Kate Abbott's arrival. We leave her car there and I drive us to Zittlestown. At 7am our journey commences, past the Old South Mountain Inn onto the gravel path to the Appalachian Trail. At the Taj Mahal of latrines we pause, then run and walk happily and uneventfully along the JFK 50 Miler course. Today's "area fam" exercise is my contribution to Kate's first ultramarathon—as if I need an excuse to go trail running with a nice friend! We get lost only once, for ~20 minutes, when we prematurely turn off the narrow, steeply climbing road to Lambs Knoll and the FAA/antenna facilities. I mistakenly lead Kate up a rugged track to a deer-hunter's blind at a dead end in the woods. We retrace our steps and are soon back on course. No harm done!
Less than 2 hours after starting we begin to hear traffic noises and know Gathland Gap is near. We meet a pair of runners from the Frederick Steeplechasers who are just commencing their own JFK prep session and who invite us to join them on future group runs. We descend into the Gap, where a cheerful road crew is setting up traffic cones. Both soda machines reject my money (one condescends to eat a quarter) but at least the water tap and restrooms here are functional. Onward we go, sucking down energy gels, walking the hills and rocky zones, chatting, greeting a few hikers out this late-season weekday morning, and simply enjoying the day.
After a dozen splendidly uneventful miles, a near-disaster: I come a cropper and break my left arm. Oopsies! Cool-headed Kate keeps an eye on me down the 14 switchbacks of Weverton Cliffs and we reach her car a mile later without further mishap. Our overall time-on-trail is a bit under 4 hours including all stops. My shoulder only twinges when I move it.
I phone my health-care provider, Kaiser Permanente, and as usual the people there are extraordinarily helpful. Soon my arm is in a protective sling and I'm resting comfortably at home. The orthopedist confirms two days later that I've got a fractured humerus, more broken-up than I could see on the x-rays—shattered bits on the outside, the inside, and the "surgical neck" of the bone. It's not too bad, no surgery needed—but no typing with my left hand, no driving, etc. I must keep the arm in the sling and do the gentle exercises the doctor showed me to maintain range of motion, then return in 2 weeks to gauge the status of the healing. Could have been a lot worse!