Running (Mostly) at Castle Crags

When the school makes a rare call to home during the day, they always start by saying, "Niko's fine," so your parental imagination doesn't go racing toward crazy dire thoughts. Along those lines, I'll say right at the top here, "I'm fine." Yes, I had a fall on the trail today, running at Castle Crags, where I'd pulled off I-5 for a break on my long drive from Portland to Berkeley.

Like everyone always says, it unfolded in slow motion. Or maybe that's just how we view these things in hindsight, how we process the drama and the trauma. I had let my mind wander and it's natural and not incorrect to blame the fall on that, except I always let my mind wander while I run—that's why I run. Next thing you know, I'm horizontal to the ground, just about to hit. That's the moment that's etched into the memory. It's then that I realized there was no saving this one. I was going down. Hard. It feels like I pondered this thought, gave it full and rational consideration, but again, maybe that's just how it seems in the looking back. I also remember thinking: I hope nobody sees this pratfall.

Right after hitting came the attempt to assess the damage—not to understand all that had been scraped, jammed, shredded or sprained; no at this point it was simply a question of, "Have I seriously fucked myself up this time?" (Mabye.) "Am I going to be able to make it out of here?" (Yeah, think so.) "Not on a helicopter?" (On my own two feet.)

Once that adrenaline-fed routine was completed, the injuries felt free to announce their presence. Left knee shouted "Yo!" It was bleeding a little but I was more worried about possible structural damage that might interrupt my training. (Nope; the ache wore off within minutes.) Then the tip of my right pinky sang out and invited inspection. That nail might not survive but it's a pinky, so what. Then came the chest, so patient and yet so painful! There was blood showing through my white shirt on my right side. I seemed to have landed with the initial and greatest force just to the right of my nipple. There's bruising and scrapes and when I take a deep breath and fill up my lungs it hurts.

Ah, hell, I'll be all right. I fell on a trail. I ran four more miles afterward. I'll be fine. As Dan and Kate both said when I arrived at their house later, "Good thing you didn't hit your head." Yep.

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