When people ask me how I got into running, I tell them that I was too uncoordinated to play sports with sticks, balls or worse -- both. Running doesn't take coordination, I say. Except for that it does. Even on a flat solo run, there are sidewalk cracks, cyclists, hot dog vendors and my own feet to contend with. In a race, depending on how well it's organized there are at the very least two of those obstacles to try to avoid. I'm currently recovering from wounds received at my last 5K. It wasn't European Cross Country or anything, just a road race in the Bronx where the last thing I was worried about was road rash. It got me thinking about some notable tumbles and on this rainy Saturday, the evening before a race where I may very well add another fall to the list, I thought I'd chronicle the greatest hits so to speak.
Winter 2002 -- You don't fall off a treadmill:
You fall onto a treadmill. I trained through a lot of snowstorms during my time as a member of the SUNY Oswego Track and Cross Country teams. It must have been a particularly bad storm for me to be running on the treadmill in the gym of Laker Hall. I was running with one of those CD players that wasn't supposed to skip as one did in 2002. This was before I got my Rio, but I digress. I don't remember what song it was, perhaps something by JaRule or maybe Incubus, but I didn't want to hear it. In my attempt to change the track, I drifted to the side of the treadmill and lost my footing. I landed on the belt which shot me into a pile of wrestling mats. For years after this incident, I never ran on a treadmill without using that little clip you attach to yourself so the treadmill will stop if you go down.
|This is from May of 2008. The circumstances of the fall are not memorable, so thus it did not make this list.|
Late Summer 2008 (Exact date unknown as this was pre-online training log days) - Crowders Mountain Crash:
I had just moved to Charlotte and picked up running again. I was still running in cotton T-shirts and had definitely never run 20 miles before let alone run 20 miles on a mountain. Still, I agreed to go along with two friends who were planning to do just that on Crowders Mountain in Gaston County, North Carolina. Other than my complete ignorance of how to properly hydrate and fuel for a 20 mile run in the middle of the summer (What the hell is Gu?), the running was going smoothly. Toward the end, I was leading the pack when I caught my foot on a tree root. I belly-flopped into the ground so hard a cloud of dust went up in the air. I was able to finish the run, but I bruised a whole bunch of ribs making laughing, coughing or breathing in general very difficult for the next few weeks.
August 24, 2010 -- Pre-trip Trash Bag Trip:
I was cooling down with Jordan after a pretty intense track workout during which I had managed to stay on my feet the entire time. The workout was tough enough that this cooldown was really slow. We were jogging in a suburban area of Charlotte complete with even sidewalks. I saw that we were approaching a pile of trash bags filled with leaves, but for reasons that even four years later I cannot comprehend, I tripped over them in dramatic fashion. I hit the ground with at least four areas of my body. By the time I got home, the shirt I was wearing was covered in blood and it looked like I had been in some sort of knife fight and/or jumped through a glass window. What makes this fall especially bad is that three days later, Lauren and I were going to the Bahamas. Prior to this trip, I had only heard the expression "it's like rubbing salt in a wound." Now, I know that unless someone is actually doing that, the comparison really isn't accurate.
|Patching the wounds from the trash bag fall was a work of art. Lauren did a great job!|
According to my log from this day, I logged 16.7 miles at Rockefeller State Park in Westchester County. It's safe to say that 16.5 of those miles were on the trails within the park. That's not where I fell. I lost my footing running to the bathrooms in the parking lot. This was one of those falls where the palms take the brunt of the impact.
August 7, 2011 -- Brooklyn Bridge Falling Down:
There are two falls on this list I contend were 100% not my fault. This is one of them. I had lived in New York City for two months and had yet to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. I saw there was a 5K that ran over it from Manhattan and back so I signed up. What I did not know was 1) the pedestrian path was not closed off for this race and 2) there is a lot of foot traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. I was in first place from the start of the race. On the way out, it was early enough that other than the occasional cyclist, the path was pretty clear. On the way back, I was having to dodge in and out of people still making their way to the turnaround in Brooklyn. For the most part, they stayed to their own side, but in a split second that gave me no time to react, a young child literally hopped into my path. Down I went. The kid went down too. This fall caused no wounds and it didn't cost me the victory, but it's a great first memory of running on the Brooklyn Bridge. Come to think of it, I wonder what ever happened to that kid.
December 14, 2013 -- Lap Traffic Tumble:
I think I got cocky. I had gone a solid two years without falling and was feeling pretty stable. Despite a lack of fitness and a blizzard, I was having a really good 15K in Central Park. At mile 9, I had been battling with two other runners -- good runners -- for the entire race and it was clear it was going to be a kick. As we neared the final turn toward the finish, we came up on the back of the field heading into their second loop. There was one spot in between the barrier at which you could merge and head toward the finish chute. As the runner on the outside of the pack, I missed it. Desperately searching for another opportunity, I darted in at what I thought was the next opening. A woman walking never saw me coming and tripped me. I was able to brace myself, but I hit my side pretty hard and of all the falls on this list, this is the only time I hit my head. I was able to get up and sprint to the finish, but never caught the other guys.
May 3, 2014 -- Violence in the Bronx:
And that brings us to my current wounds. I picked a small 5K at Bronx Community College as a good place to do a hard tempo workout and maybe even pick up a win. Based on past years' results, this was quite possible. Before the start of the race, I scanned the crowd and determined it was appropriate for me to be standing in the front. I was planning to go out at a 5:15 pace which would get me plowed over in some big NYC races, but not here. Or, so I thought. As soon as the starting command was given, a much larger gentleman behind me shoved me out of the way -- shoved me hard. He was one of those guys that you see at every 5K. They sprint out to the front of the race like they are racing Usain Bolt in the Olympics. You generally see them walking by mile 2. This guy was not an exception to that rule. With no warning and therefore no time to brace myself, I went down harder than I have ever fallen before. Before I could even assess the damage came the terrifying sight of a couple of hundred sets of legs coming straight for my head. Based on the aggressiveness of the guy who pushed me, this was not a crowd I trusted with my life. A few people hurdled me, but I got up quickly. I jogged over to the side of the road bleeding badly and in a lot of pain. I was going to call it a day until I realized how mad I was. The bandaids would have to wait until I finished. I ran the race grimacing the entire way and only managed to pull off a second place finish. Anyhow, about those bandaids. Yeah, they didn't really have any. They didn't have any ice either. A very nice, but ill-prepared gentleman taped up my arm with packing tape -- yes, packing tape -- and sent me on my way back to Manhattan. On the hour-long subway ride home I tried not to bleed all over the train (although, I guess people have done worse things on the trains involving bodily fluids) by resting my elbow on my shorts. My hip was already bleeding through them anyway, so what the hell? I'd like to thank the gentleman on the B train who approached me and handed me a handful of bandaids and Neosporin packets without saying a word. Karma will be kind to you sir.
|Packing tape on a grapefruit elbow|
|I'm livid about what happened at this race, but I understand that this photo is as hilarious as it is terrifying.|