After climbing rocks, descending on gravel, running through sand, and climbing under and over trees, the only painful part of my body after running 20 miles at the Cumberland Plateau Stage Race was where I got stung.
The pain of the sting/bite completely stopped me in my tracks out there on the trails. I screamed and yelled bad words. After the race packet suggested learning to identify poisonous and non-poisonous snakes and their bites, I looked around for snakes and checked to see if I had been stabbed by a stick or something, that is how painful it was.
The next day, the back of my calf was red, stiff, hot to the touch, and starting to swell. During our 4 mile shakeout run, I could feel sharp pains right where it happened with every muscle contraction. Right before I left, I slathered my leg in a mix of hydrocortisone and Benadryl cream. (in the photos of the pre-race pep talk before stage 3 runners started, you can see me icing my calf with my handheld water bottle)
At this point, I was still convinced it was a horse fly, maybe because everyone was talking about how bad the horse flies were. On my way out of the stables Sunday, I stopped to admire some beautiful horses. I complimented the riders and they asked if I knew where people were running today. I offered up the trail map on my phone, while they were checking it out I asked if the riders had any advice for how to treat a horse fly bite. Mine was hurting with every muscle contraction in my calf. They said with no hesitation that this was no horsefly, but definitely a yellow jacket or hornet since the redness and pain was spread out and not contained to a small circle.
The swelling got worse, not better as time went on no matter how much I was icing/elevating and applying ointment. On Tuesday it was spilling over my socks and shoes. How strange it is to look down at a part of your body when it is distorted and looks nothing like how you expect it to. It was cankle central. The swelling even went up past my knee at one point. I will spare you these photos because they are gross.
Tuesday night, I had 15 miles to run. I am proud of myself for stopping at mile six. The swelling was throwing off my biomechanics, but it was the pain at the site that made me jump off the treadmill.
The next day, Wednesday, as soon as I got Lainee Lou Hou situated at the vet, I headed over to Vanderbilt's walk in clinic.
The doctor told me he thought it was a SNAKE BITE. YES. A SNAKE BITE.
The HORROR!! You should have seen my face!
The doctor said he didn't think it was a bug bite or sting because it happened through tall socks while I was in motion. It was hard to believe that a yellow jacket or hornet could have gotten their stingers through my long compression socks. And there may have been two distinct puncture sites on my calf.
As much as this horrified me, I have to say, that I have gotten stung a few times at our old place and whatever got me on the trails was WAY different. There were quite a few wasp nests nestled in those townhouses. Once I got stung on my foot and just last summer, I got stung on my hand. First of all, I did not yelp or scream in pain when it happened either time. Second of all, it might have been tender on that spot for a little bit, but I never had any swelling several appendages away, and there were no giant stiff red blue/purple circles on the sting sites.
They sent me over to have an ultrasound to rule out blood clots, to see if there was fluid build up that needed draining, and to investigate any potential muscle/tissue damage.
The ultrasound showed swelling and damage to the muscle and soft tissue around the site. I could have confirmed both things, but was happy to be sent on my way!
There is still minor swelling and and lots of itching. Anytime I stand up for long periods of time or run, I end up with a giant blue/purple circle on the back of my calf and want to itch for hours.
Who knows whether it was a hornet or yellow jacket sting or a snake bite. Don't you think I would have seen the snake?? I'll never know exactly what it was. I'm not 100% convinced it was a snake, because that's just crazy, but who knows if most of that is because I just hope it wasn't, I mean HOW FREAKY IS THAT?
I'm going to make it though. And I still want to run trails and I still hope to participate in the Cumberland Plateau Stage Race next year!
Have you ever been bitten by a snake, hornet, or yellow jacket?? What about while running and then through a sock?? I really want to hear about your experience! Leave me a comment below!!