They say running is an easy sport to pick up. Just put one foot in front of the other. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
It’s not that easy. Sometimes the feet end up higher than the hips.
I don’t trail run often but I’m no amateur either. With a recent break in the August heat, I ducked into the woods when I would’ve normally been running laps around the office campus. As I neared the end of the trail, I experienced a brief moment of distraction which ended with my foot catching… something, and the rest of me continuing with the momentum of my run.
I never thought myself a fast runner but that little trip had me rushing at the ground pretty darn fast. Not so fast that several thoughts couldn’t race through my mind as I fell.
Pick up your feet for fuck’s sake.
You got this.
No, you don’t.
Ground to knee. Ouch.
Shoulder’s gonna hurt if we don’t do something.
Tuck and roll.
Gotta try. Pulled shoulder in, tucked chin to chest.
Roll. Yes. Got this.
Then I’m sitting on the edge of a bed of ferns, my legs splayed out in front of me, my water bottle gone, and I’m looking around like I expect to discover I’ve fallen down the Rabbit Hole. There was no caterpillar and no grinning cat. Just the trees, the sky, and a lot of dirt.
Okay, no biggie. It’s over.
Am I hurt?
(pause) Nothing feels hurt.
I glance down the length of my body, somehow amused that my legs are splayed out straight in front of me since the last thing I remember is hoping I don’t jar my shoulder.
Everything seems okay.
My gaze falls on my Gamin. Time’s moving. Gonna mess up my timing.
I was on my feet, brushing dirt and pine needles off my arm as quick as I hit the ground. I paused to check my knee. Blood. Dirt. Lifted my foot. Everything still worked and time was ticking.
I’ve heard it from mountain bikers. Rub dirt in it and get your ass back on the bike. Okay. I look around for clean dirt. Yes, I did. Go ahead and laugh. There are a lot of geese on campus and I wasn’t going to rub goose crap in my wound. I scooped my fingers across the ground and then rubbed dirt over the blood on the side of my calf. I decided there was enough on my knee, and turned toward the trailhead. I was two hundred meters from the end, but I wasn’t letting that trail win. I stepped off the trail and then circled around to do that loop again.
I managed to keep my feet on the ground on the second loop. One foot in front of the other. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Easy…er.