The anatomy of a fall

It was one of those mornings.

I woke up in the California hotel room I had checked into as the sun shined through the east facing balcony  and I thought, “I couldn’t ask for more!”.

It had been colder than what I had expected the previous two days. It was mid-May. I had not packed a jacket and it was proving to be a mistake. But that morning, the golden sun warmed up the room and excitement filled in me as I tied my shoe laces. The weather was indeed gorgeous as I stepped out; gardens full of flowers, trail green and roads with few early morning commuters interspersed with eco-friendly bicycle riders in suits with laptop backpacks. The Silicon valley!

I ran for a mile taking it all in. And then. I tripped. And I fell. Yes. Again. Embarrassing.

I pulled myself up and examined the damage. A cut in the knee and a scrape in my palm. Both looked deep and the knee was bleeding. I dusted off and started walking back to the hotel telling myself, “I will be back on this pavement in three days”. Three weeks later, I am back home with a stitched up knee waiting for it to heal.

From that moment I have tried hard to recall what exactly made me fall. I can vividly recall going down. Arms flailing trying to break the fall. My mind thinking “My phone. My phone. I don’t want it to break” and moving my hands in such an angle so that I could save it. I recall how much it hurt and slowly trudging back wondering if I should hitch a lift back to the hotel. (My phone had no coverage in the US; I was using it for GPS).

But I cannot recall that particular second when my foot somehow failed to make the connection and sent me flying instead.

I have had people ask me, “How did you fall?” or a discreet “The roads in the US are much smoother than India, no?” and the more direct, “Were you not watching the road while you were running”. I have no idea.

Falling while running is just a matter of Math. Probability. It is bound to happen. For every fall, I am sure I have had numerous close saves. And many times it is just about balance. You need to hit the ground with one foot before you lift the other. If you miss that even by a millimeter, it can result in a fall. (Or so I tell myself).

As I looked up online trying to find kinship in fellow runner-fallers, I found one person willing to admit she fell “for no reason” and another who bluntly concluded one was not paying enough attention. Because, admit it, falling down as an adult while running for not major reason is plain embarrassing. It is a fall for the ego.

Yet, I spent wasteful hours trying to recollect what exactly went wrong. If there was something I could correct and hence prevent this from happening again, I  was desperate to learn that.

Rewind – The weather was gorgeous. The ambiance energizing. I was running at a comfortable speed I was happy with.  The pavement was indeed smoother than Indian roads. Maybe, just maybe, it was a little cracked in that particular spot.

Just like we do in other aspects of life – trying to piece together everything in hindsight.

The recovery has taken longer than I had expected and it frustrating. I dream of running. And while I do I probably look like Gandalf, my cat, kicking his feet in his sleep. But I am enormously grateful for all the love and care that has poured my way, from family, friends and colleagues – carrying my bags, bringing stuff over, most of all, letting me sit around with my feet up.

Ganfdalf, the Gray. Just sleeping. Not running.

Again, like in other aspects of life, it is about the recovery than the fall. Because there are falls you can’t get to the bottom of.


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