It was a dark and cold Tuesday morning. My body felt unusually tired and my feet floppy as I ran past the homes of my sleeping neighbors. I was just about to summit the only significant hill along the five-mile route when my foot caught a crack in the sidewalk. My feet left the Earth as my body hurtled through the air. I involuntarily shouted, “DAMMIT!” into the silent night as my headlamp marked my downward descent like a lighthouse tipping into the sea. I landed hard on my right side and slid across the pavement.
Slowly, I removed the glove from my right hand, which broke my fall. I was prepared for the sight of gore. Fortunately, I was covered in a durable layer of technical fabric. My palms and knees were perfectly intact and my gear showed no signs of damage! I brushed the dirt and debris from my jacket, gathered my dignity and was on my way.
Running is supposed to be a non-contact sport. This has never been the case for me. Perhaps it’s because I’m built like a baby giraffe. Or, perhaps it’s because I run nearly every day, outside, all year long. I run in the morning, at night, over ice, through rain and snow, on trails and city sidewalks. This allows plenty of opportunity to find myself lying in the prone position on the pavement.
The most horrific incident occurred a few summers ago. I was running early one morning before work. I took about four steps before tripping over some invisible entity in the middle of the sidewalk. The fall wasn’t so bad, but I was headed slightly downhill, so I slid. All of the bony surfaces on the right side of my body were scraped clean. (Fortunately, I managed to keep my face out of it.) These wounds kept me off my bike and out of lakes for the entire month of July.
As soon as I was able to grasp objects once again, I managed to throw myself over the handlebars of my bike, skinning my left palm and knee clean. I dramatically wailed, “NOT AGAIN!” while lying in the middle of the busy bike trail. Luke patiently collected my battered body from the ground and wiped the blood from my bike once we got home.
Everyone who saw me that summer assumed I had been hit by a car. Little did they know I was the victim of my own inability to remain upright and in-motion at the same time.
Now that prime tripping season is nearly upon us, I expect the battle between gravity and self-propulsion to rage on.