A little over a week ago, the morning after a long day in the car following two weeks at the lake, I chose to go for a run. The July weather was unseasonably perfect for a run with low temps and no humidity. Running was not advised as I’m battling plantar fasciitis, but I was tempted and I gave in. Reasoning that it would be better for my foot (and less painful) to run on a soft surface rather than roads, I headed directly for my beloved trails.
Lush with recent rainfall and filled with the music of birds, the wooded path offered me the peace and shade I craved. Reaching the halfway point, I turned onto the path for my route home. I passed a woman walking four dogs, the first person I’d seen that morning. I stumbled over a rock on the path and caught myself. I wondered if the woman saw me and then I wondered why I’m so self-conscious. A mile later, picking up speed on a flat area of the path, I stumbled again, but didn’t catch myself. I went sprawling. A young couple emerged from the curve on the path as I picked myself up.
“Are you okay?” said the young man.
“Yeah, I think so,” I said, looking over my scrapes.
“Here, take some water to wash them out.” He handed me his water bottle.
I squirted water over my elbow and knee.
“That’s how we wake up out here, right?” the young woman said, grinning. “Take a tumble, wake right up.”
The trails where I run are studded with rocks so the surprise is not that I fell and scraped myself up; the surprise is that I’ve never fallen. I’ve stumbled plenty, but I’ve always caught myself. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I took some pride in my quick reflexes. Now I felt oddly…betrayed. Not by the lovely trail, but by my body.
“I’m so old,” I complained when I arrived home dripping blood from my elbow and my knee. “I’m not as nimble as I was.”
“You’re reading too much into this,” my husband said. “You just fell. It happens.”
A friend and fellow trail runner said the same when I ran into her – my elbow bandaged up – at a favorite coffee shop a few days later.
“Oh, I fall all the time,” she said cheerfully
“She does,” her husband agreed.
I reasoned that my friend falls while running because she’s a super-fast runner whereas I simply fell because I’m clumsy. I do this a lot. I reason away someone else’s similar mishap and view my own mishap as a personal failing of some sort. It’s an oddly egocentric approach, like I’m holding myself to a higher standard than I hold for others.
Yesterday I returned to the scene of the crime while walking with my dog. The particular part of the path where I fell is no different from any other part of the path where I was running. Dirt and rocks bordered by ferns and trees. Lovely as always. There’s no reason for me to have fallen in that spot versus any other. Just as there’s no reason for countless things that happen – good and bad – to me and those around me. Things happen. Not because we are good or bad. They just happen. Friends get cancer. Family members die. Our kids face challenges. We fall down. We get back up.
My cuts and scrapes are pretty much healed now and I’m hoping this plantar fasciitis resolves soon so I can get back out there. And if I fall, I’ll simply get back up.