The Fall

My fall on Sunday was a slap in the face. Almost literally. Three miles in on a long slow run and I crashed to the ground. Splat!
Now, if this sounds familiar, yes, I did the same thing and, in almost the same place two weeks prior. Not such a coincidence, though, when we’re talking about the same disintegrating pathway from Skerries to Balbriggan.
The funny part was, that in that millisecond before I embraced the pavement, I noted a cool sports car coming down the road.  So, as I made my grand descent, it wasn’t my life I saw flashing before me. No, it was a low slung, sleek, silver, motor and one very alarmed male driver.
Yep, he  saw everything: total smackdown. I felt like a right eedjit altogether, and, even though it was so tempting just to lay there and reflect on my injures, I knew couldn’t bear to be fussed over.
So I jumped up like a hare. A wobbly, old hare, it has to be said.
“Are you okay?”  Yep, Mr Cool Sportscar had pulled over, was out of his car and walking towards me.
But I was in full-blown denial mode.
“Oh, I’m fine” I said, smiling and suppressing the need to keel over in mortal agony.
He hesitated but I smiled again, waved my least sore, least bloodied palm and watched as he he drove off. Then,grateful for an adjacent low wall, I hobbled over to assess the damage.
Luckily, my capri leggings were doing a great job in staunching both knee wounds, and I addressed the bloody palms with some nearby leaves.  But my left elbow was in a bad way. The pain from reach down along through my fingers.  And I couldn’t be sure if the lump at the end of  it was a permanent feature, a recently bestowed gift from  Mother Nature from her over supplied ageing department, or a protesting bone trying to peek out.  My head was throbbing. I was glad of the wall.
I glanced down the road again and there was Mr Cool. Oh God. He thinks I am a little old lady and I am going to die here on the side of the road. Can’t he see I am twenty two?
I waved and smiled. See, I am fine? He waved and drove off again. Such a nice man.
But now he was gone and I was all alone.
A three mile run is one thing. A three mile hobble back into town was another.
I was freezing. My head hurt and my elbow was probably broken and blood was trickling down my fingers. Maybe I would die, after all.
It was all a question of how. Maybe a fragment of bone would seep out, lodge in my brain and kill me. Or maybe that blow to the head would lead to a haemorrage. Or shock could set in and that could be fatal too, couldn’t it?
Then I thought about how much I did not want to go to A&E. A&E, Accident and Emergency to us here in Ireland, Emergency Room to you. But, honestly, that’s where the comparison ends.
A&E, Any Hospital, Ireland is a hole of a place, full of drunks, junkies, puking people, bawling babies and the broken ones. The bawling babies get seen to first. Thank goodness. After that, the triage system would probably mean oh, a mere four hours to be seen and then another few of hours to be shuttled S L O W L Y through the system.
Eventually, they’d slap a cast on, and, as a precaution, and given the potential head injury, I’d be kept in for observation overnight. Between that upheaval and brandishing a plaster cast, my life as I knew it, would be turned upside down for at least a couple of months. Oh God.
I decided my elbow COULD NOT be broken. Sure it’d be grand in a couple of days. Nevertheless, I could only walk with elbow attenuated, as if it were in an invisible sling.
My head was another matter. Luckily, the band on my beanie had cushioned some of the fall. But still it hurt. It scared me more than the elbow injury as I was afraid of fainting or worse on that lonely road. Haemorrage, stroke, concussion. Who knows?
I cursed my stupidity at letting Mr Cool get away.
All of it made me feel fragile. To go from utterly enjoying the scene, my run, the gift of being able to trot along for ten miles, to suddenly feeling frail, alone and vulnerable was shocking.
My lack of preparation for such an event was shocking too. No phone. No extra clothing. No drink. Nothing on board, except a stubborn nature which refused help when offered.
I got some strange looks as I limped back towards Skerries. While clothing screamed runner, my gait said frail little old lady. Mud encrusted my top and my capris were torn at one knee.
As for letting Mr Cool. Knowing my luck the guy was probably an orthopaedic surgeon. Or a physical therapist. Or a masseuse. More likely, knowing my propensity to let a good man get away, he was probably all three.
The return three miles took a lot longer than the run out, of course. A reminder, whether I needed it or not, as to why I prefer running to going for a walk. Eventually, though, I caught sight of my car. Never was I so glad to see it as it glinted a fine welcome in the afternoon light.
Home brought a welcome shower, a change of clothes and a chance to assess the damage. Which really was another exercise in convincing myself that I did not want to take the trip to A&E.
A few days down the track, and luckily for me, I am on the mend.
Sure, that head blow probably killed off some much needed grey matter but otherwise it’s fine. The bruise even had the decency to centre itself behind my hair line.
The surprise blow was to my feet. Whatever jolt I took, or maybe it was on the hobble home, the chronic tendonitis issue has resurfaced again. After a one mile test run on Thursday, I headed for home. I need this to recover and running on it won’t help.
It’s a minor sacrifice for a lot of lessons.
One lesson is to be Stop Whinging and Be Glad. I am damned glad that I can run need to appreciate every second of that. Because one day it will be gone forever. Pffffft! Snuffed out like a candle.
Oh, and there’s a lesson for the people in Fingal County Council too: Fix That Footpath. It’s a bloody dangerous mess.  I won’t go running there again because, despite what they say, I do believe, it would not be a case of third time lucky.
But, of course, the most important lesson is this: no matter what the circumstances, no matter how you feel, no matter what the reason, Never Let A Good Man Get Away.

Autumn Glory

Outward Bound

Heading out onto the Irish Sea at Skerries Harbour

I snatched a piece of glory for myself on a long, slow, Sunday run by the coast. It was one of those very bright October mornings with the moon a finger-painted smudge in clear blue skies over the bobbing boats of Skerries harbour.

returning

Skerries Harbour

White sails dazzled in the clear, calm waters, as the members of Skerries Sailing Club busied themselves with their yachts.

And there were plenty of land lubbers about delighting in the crisp clear air or, like myself, taking pictures of the pretty scene…

Long shadow..

…and silly shadow selfies…

Oh, I could feel my old enemy, Procrastination, setting in. It was time to go.

The Skerries-Balbriggan route is very popular with runners and walkers. No doubt, it’s spectacular views have a lot to do with that. And of course, hugging the sea as it does, it is entirely flat. Always a plus for a plodder like me.

The downside though is that the footpath is very narrow, and its surface is dangerously rough. Three miles in, loose gravel got the better of me. I stumble. Almost saved myself. Then, horror of horrors, slam onto the ground.

It’s the classic little-kid fall, featuring two grazed knees, two skint hands and lost pride. I hobble to a nearby gateway to assess the damage and recover my composure. And, apart from a hole in my leggings (damn, my last good pair) I am good to go.

As it turned out, this wasn’t the worst of my pathway woes…

I had to step off it several times to let pedestrians by, always, of course, with an eye out for a car careening round a bend. And, worse still, there is a patch just outside Skerries where the path runs out entirely.  Possibly to encourage runners to up their tempo a tad.

It had that effect on me, anyway.

It would be really good to see this pathway widened and resurfaced. A lot of people enjoy it and, with a truckload of health problems festering in our overfed and depressed population, this investment would do the world of good for both Skerries, Balbriggan and their visitors.

But otherwise, the mild autumn temperatures and sea air made for perfect running conditions. And, even though I love to listen to talk radio during these long slow runs, I took frequent earphone breaks just to enjoy the sound of the sea and its accompanying birdlife.

Here and there I’d catch a glimpse of redshank, oystercatcher or snipe, while the gulls, announced their abundance with raucous cries.

Soon, I was heading into Balbriggan. A solitary red bricked chimney declared it’s industrial heritage. This was the ancient chimney of Smyths’ textile factory.

The town was built on tights, balbriggan being a term used to describe a fine knit textile which was once manufactured in that town and turned into hosiery and underwear.

Lighthouse

Balbriggan Harbour

 

Balbriggan hides its glories well.  One of the joys of running, of course, is that it tends to sniff out these charms, and so brighten even the most tedious of trots with sparkling gems.

The harbour glistened in the morning light. After the hideous railway perimeter and ugly jumble of buildings, it seems all the more surprising. And, a little further along there is a Martello tower, yes, another one to match the ones I’d seen in Dalkey,Sandymount, Donabate, Portrane, Loughshinney and in Skerries itself.

Winding back through the town, there is the interesting court house building, and a beautiful Carnegie library opposite.  But little else to delight the eye.

I was homeward bound at this point, however, looping back to Skerries and already looking forward to the return journey, trotting along between the railway line and the sea, and enjoying ever second of it.

I met more friendly runners on that route than any other I had encountered. I figured that was because they were as happy as I was, enjoying the scenery and the glorious autumn day.

Ten miles done. I barely felt them. Not, I hasten to add, because I am super fit, or even fit.

But, because some runs just are sheer joy.