I fell on my face

Falling on my face was not the intention I left home with at quarter to six in the morning. The plan was only to run a modest ten kilometres.

Despite such intentions, suddenly I was face down with my lips on the pavement wondering if my nose was broken.

Pushing myself up and swinging my legs in front of me, I came to a seated position near the side of the road in the middle of a zebra crossing. I then pushed my butt back and up onto the sidewalk and waved along an approaching car that had slowed down. For the moment there was no need to recruit any Good Samaritans.

Seeing my bloodied right knee I opened my water bottle and gave the wound a quick rinse. My bloodied right elbow got the same treatment, followed by my bloodied nose. As there was no blood running out of my nose, and there was no excruciating pain, I concluded that it wasn’t broken, and decided that it was time to try standing up.

No sensations of sharp pain arose, just the sting of the abrasions and soreness at the points of impact. Being four kilometres from home, the initial thought was to abort the run and jump on a bus for the homeward journey. A superb idea until I realised that my bus card was back at home and I had no cash to pay the fare.

That left two options, to run or to walk. Things seemed ok after walking for about two hundred metres, so I began a slow jog. That lasted only a few seconds as my left knee protested profusely, an odd development as that knee had no abrasions!

Walking on the other hand was not a problem, even at a brisk pace, so I stuck with that, except for a second attempt to jog at a very slow pace, which only lasted for one hundred metres. That attempt convinced me that my left knee had taken the brunt of the impact.

On my way home two questions occupied my thoughts; what did I trip over and how did my running cap survive the fall? It remained in place and showed no signs of being crushed or in any way damaged.

Before those mysteries were solved there was other business to attend to. The first being a shower, the second being the application of anti-bacterial gel to the wounds. This was followed by icing down the left knee, and of course, saving the run to Strava. The rest of the day was spent reading and enjoying podcasts (on the bright side, I had the day off) then limping out for dinner in the evening.

From experience, I knew that the true extent of stiffness and soreness would first arrive the following day, so that evening, with a good dose of Panamol (essentially the same as Tylenol) I turned in on my back with both legs slightly elevated on a pillow.

The day after the fall began as I expected, while pleased to have slept for eight hours straight, sure enough, my left knee was swollen and stiff. A new development was soreness in my triceps, as they surely contracted vigorously to absorb the impact of the fall.

The running gear that was washed and hung to dry the day before was ready to be put away. Something about my cap caught my eye; a smudge on the underside of the visor (which I just learned is the ‘undervisor’ – thanks to Phuoc Huynh). Initially, it looked like residual bird droppings, an occasional consequence of hanging clothes outside, but I soon realised it was skin. My skin. From my nose!

It became clear that the visor hit the road before my face. On impact, it folded downward towards my chin, coming between the road and my nose, but scraping off a bit of skin in the process. The edge of the visor hit my upper lip, causing a small internal bruise, leaving my bare exposed lips to kiss the pavement, fortunately without the same degree of impact as my other limbs.

The mystery of what I tripped over was solved in the afternoon of the fall when I did take the bus and returned to the scene of the mishap. As I approached the spot there were no obvious protrusions, but closer inspection revealed a misalignment between a tiled footpath and the border of a cobblestone sidewalk. Even though the height of the protrusion is less than two centimetres, as my focus at that point turned to potential oncoming traffic while my pace slowed, that misalignment was enough to catch the toe of my shoe and send me to the pavement like a tree falling in the forest, alas, without the luxury of the soft, leaf-covered forest floor.

My takeaways from all this: always bring along a bus card and phone, because one never knows when accidents will happen. My RoadID alone, while a great aid for first responders when serious accidents happen, won’t help much with the bus fare. I think I’ll also check surfaces more closely before diverting attention to traffic – all in good time to ensure safe road crossings. And yeah, perhaps I’ll lift my feet a bit higher as well.

For now, it’s all about adequate recovery before lacing up for the next run.

Not my favourite crossing. Changi Village, Singapore

Published by Thomas Timlen

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