Word of running injuries spreads fast in Wellesley. A lot faster than most of my crew runs these days.
And so it was that I heard about Wellesley resident and Babson College Prof. Rick Cleary‘s ill-fated run near Morses Pond, while I was on a run of my own shortly thereafter.
“Yes, 47 years, 83 marathons and about 80,000 miles of lording my indestructibility over my oft-injured friends was over in a matter or seconds,” wrote Cleary to me.
This message came after he wrote to a group of his running friends to break the news of his injury:
“Hello boot camp buddies and other Babson running pals:
I was supposed to be running a 10 mile race in Manchester, NH this morning with many of you, but my right quadriceps tendon had different ideas. Last night about 6:30 it blew out completely while I was doing a two mile run with Tommy on the Pickle Point trail along Morse’s Pond in Wellesley, a narrow woods path just off a wide aqueduct trail. I stumbled a little and fell, not a hard fall but I knew immediately that something was seriously wrong. I knew this because the space between my quad muscles and my knee cap on my right leg featured a divot about four inches deep and around. It was pretty ugly, and really quite painful. I couldn’t move my lower leg at all. After a few minutes it felt a little better and I tried to stand up. People who live on the perimeter of Morse’s Pond will be talking for years about the howls of the ghost of Pickle Point. It really hurt. ”
Hope you weren’t eating dinner while you read that.
Cleary’s wife, Ann Trenk, was out of town, and their son Eddie Trenk was at a Wellesley High cross country team pre-season camp, but as it would turn out, Rick still had a strong support system.
Hatching a plan
Fortunately, 13-year-old Tommy Trenk was on hand, and hatched a plan with his Dad to get help.
Rick says Tommy was fresh off the town’s Fire Rescuers camp program, and thanks Wellesley Youth Commission’s Maura Renzella and the Wellesley Fire Department for instilling some handy skills in his son.
“Step 1: Run home. (We were about a mile away from home on a rarely used path, though the busier aqueduct path was only perhaps 100 yards away.)
Step 2: Turn off oven. (We had a very good pasta casserole cooking.)
Step 3: Call 911 and tell them your Dad is stuck.
Step 3a: And when you come back bring both of our phones so we can make plans.”
Rick spent the next 20 minutes swatting mosquitoes (fortunately, Wellesley is at a low-risk level for EEE), and tried to stay otherwise still. Until he didn’t.
“Eventually I got bored with that and realized that I could sit up and scoot backwards with my right leg dragging along. It took me about five minutes to go about 50 yards, but it felt good to be able to move on my own. About half way back to the main aqueduct trail, I heard Tommy coming with two police officers and two EMTs; the policemen had picked him up at our house so he could lead them on the trail. The officers were very complimentary of Tommy’s mature approach to leading them to me. The EMT who was driving enjoys off-road trucking as a hobby and really liked getting to back the ambulance way down the aqueduct trail.” (Cleary notes he was sure to mention to the officers that he runs in the Wellesley Police Department’s Officer Savage memorial race each year.)
Tommy called family friends to pick him up, while Rick headed to Newton-Wellesley Hospital’s emergency room. Tests confirmed the original diagnosis, and showed there were no broken bones. Rick made it home just before his wife did, and the casserole tasted great. Nothing to see here…
Though those of you who cross Cleary’s path will see he’s wearing a knee immobilizer and will be sporting crutches. Surgery to re-attach the tendon is slated for this week. “It’s a serious injury but the surgery and recovery are straightforward,” assures a friend of Cleary’s who’s had it done twice.
Cleary concludes that “I’m glad that when I finally got injured it was a no-doubt-about-it doozy. I’d have felt bad saying, ‘My knee is a little sore, I guess I’m finally hurt.’
He now turns his attention to teaching, where he acknowledges his style will be cramped. “It usually involves a lot of movement around the classroom.”