I spent the last four minutes of the Shamrock Half Marathon telling myself not to cry. I’d done the math. I knew I’d made it, knew I was about to set a new personal record and so, when we turned right at the Atlantic Ocean, hit the boardwalk and pushed toward the finish line, my chest tightened, my eyes watered and I felt a lot of things.
The last time I went to New York with some lady friends, my dog gave me a black eye right before I left home. Incidentally, that was not the first black eye I got from one my dogs.
I run 3-5 times a week, all without falling over. And it’s not like I’m new to this running thing. I’ve been running with regularity for about five years, all without falling. As graceless as I am, as much as I trip while walking, as many times as I bruise and smash parts of my body into sharp or hard objects, it’s sort of amazing how little my clumsiness has affected my running.
Sure, I’ve smashed into things on obstacle races. I’ve never once left a Spartan or a Warrior Dash without a few bruises, scratches and scrapes. But that’s different. In five years I hadn’t once fallen while running. Until I did.
It was a perfect morning for a run. The humidity was low, it was colder than it had been in weeks and I could not have asked for a better morning to run 10 miles.
Until I fell over.
I was just over two miles in. I was moving quicker than I had on my previous training runs, largely due to the better weather, and I was deep into my podcast. There was another runner crossing the street I was headed toward and then my foot caught a piece of uneven sidewalk and I flew.
That’s what I remember anyway. It was a brief flight, but I definitely caught a fuckton of air and flew until I slammed into the pavement, landing on my left hand, the water bottle in my right hand and my right leg.
The lid on my water bottle popped off when I slammed into the ground, so I picked that up and hopped up to assess the damage. The runner I’d seen in the distance ran toward me and looked at me with a thumbs up and a skeptical look, asking in runner terms if I was ok. I shrugged and gave a half-hearted thumbs up, so he kept running.
(In retrospect, fuck that dude, because if someone slams into the ground and has blood on them, you stop, because THAT’S CALLED BEING A DECENT PERSON.)
I put the lid back on my water bottle, said a bunch of curse words because most of my water was gone and then I looked at my leg. It was scraped. A lot. Most of the skin on my shin had been eaten by the pavement of the Boulevard and my knee was sporting three super impressive, already-swelling scrapes. And there was blood. Not a ton, but enough to make a nice little trickle right into my neon socks.
And then I looked at my hand. The pad by my thumb was, in one word, pulpy. And I couldn’t entirely spread out the fingers on my hand.
Still, my leg didn’t hurt. It didn’t feel like I was legitimately injured in a way that would keep me from running. It was beautiful out. I really needed to run ten miles. So, I started running again. I thought about turning around and going home, but it was so fucking nice out. I just couldn’t waste the day on a short run when I knew my schedule was about to get crazy busy with work and, with a half marathon at the end of August, I needed to get those ten miles in.
So I ran another half mile or so to the Starbucks and washed my still-bleeding leg and my pulpy hand and refilled my water bottle. And then I ran. And ran. And ran some more.
I made it all the way to ten miles, and it was a good ten miles. I haven’t hit double digits in a long time and this half will my first in about three years. Injury kept me from running in 2015, the deployment kept me away in 2016 and I missed my favorite spring half marathons this year because I was gallivanting around Italy. So this race feels important and logging 10 good miles, fall and all, felt significant.
I’ll be honest. I felt sort of like a badass running with my road-rashed leg still bleeding, blood still dripping into my socks. That’s not why I kept running. I kept running because I wasn’t hurt enough to stop. But I definitely felt like it was a long overdue rite of running passage, this falling thing.
I got home, stretched, posted an insta story about my poor, wounded leg and wrist, and then the adrenaline started to subside and I realized that – FUCK – my hand hurt a lot.
So I showered. Which was terrible. Hot water is a devil monster with stinging powers. And then I put peroxide on my wounds which was worse than the devil monster shower and I wish I had a recording of my curse words because it was brilliant and it would have made sailors and truck drivers blush, because, fuck you, it hurt so bad.
Then I went the doctor. I got an x-ray. They bandaged my leg. Nothing was broken. So I went to Target, bought some stuff and things, and then came home and hit the bourbon because, seriously, I deserved it.
More than two weeks later, my final scabs just fell off my poor little leg and I still can’t put pressure on my left hand which means no push-ups for me, which is dumb, because push-ups are my favorite.
So, if I could recommend anything to anyone it would be to not fall over while running. Sure, the flying part was pretty neat and definitely a unique experience, but the slamming into the ground thing? Not cute. Not cute at all.