Run 449: Tree root: 1, me: 0

Run 449
Average pace: 5:43/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Distance: 10:09 km
Time: 57:52
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 27ºC
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 158
Stride: n/a
Weight: 159.6 pounds
Total distance to date: 3590 km
Device used: Apple Watch and iPhone 6

I was concerned about two things today: my right leg and the temperature. As forecast, it turned out to be very warm so I was glad to head out in the morning. Even then it was already 27ºC but fortunately it stayed there for the length of the run.

The right leg started out fine, which surprised me. I could eventually feel it but not until I was more than 6 km in and it was much milder than on Wednesday. I’d say it was of almost no consequence.

Expecting to detour along the sun-drenched Freeway trail, I opted to run clockwise, to get the extra-hot part out of the way first. As it turned out, the detour wasn’t in effect today so I was able to run the usual route. The excavator that trundles loads of dirt or gravel from a location off the Freeway trail and to the Southshore trail once again had a near-close encounter with me as it came off a feeder trail directly toward me. I was faster so ducked by but I swear that thing has a GPS lock on me. It is always right there no matter when I show up.

Despite the heat and much sweating I felt decent as I continued on, never straining or struggling. I encountered a curiously still snake that didn’t move as I approached it. Maybe it was zonked out from the sun? I hopped over and continued on. Around the 8K mark I dragged my left foot once, which is an indication I’m getting a bit tired. This is bad on a trail with many bumps and uneven surfaces (thank you park workers for helping make the trail smoother, safer and sexier), so I made an effort to pick up my feet. This turned out to be an omen of sorts.

As I entered the Conifer Loop I checked the distance and saw I was at 9.18 km, right about what I expected. I continued down the trail, heading toward the Spruce Loop and the final stretch. I was about 500m from finishing (roughly 2-3 minutes) when it happened.

The tree root.

The Conifer and Spruce Loops are side trails and while some work has been done on them (a foot bridge on Spruce was recently rebuilt as part of the current construction/resurfacing), the trails are in fairly rough shape, with lots of ruts, some loose gravel and tree roots poking through.

I have tripped up on tree roots before, my foot just catching enough to cause me to stagger before righting myself and continuing on.

That did not happen today.

Instead, my left foot firmly wedged against a root, causing my entire body to twist to the left. This made regaining my balance impossible. I was going to fall. And I did. The whole thing happened in less than a second. I remember hearing myself let out an “Oof!” and having enough time, somehow, to stick out my left hand to absorb the impact and prevent my face from hitting the gravel. My cap and glasses popped off. I skidded to a stop and laid there on my right side, looking over to the cap and glasses.

I picked up the glasses and they seemed undamaged, so I popped them back on, did the same with the cap, stood up, then without even bothering to dust off, I resumed the run because I was not going to let a spill at the 9.5K mark end my run early, especially if, as it seemed, I was just bruised and a bit battered.

I finished with a pace of 5:43/km, almost identical to Wednesday, and with a lower BPM of 158. Considering the heat and the fall, that’s pretty decent. My slowest km was actually at the 5K mark.

When I hit 10K (and those few minutes getting there seemed to stretch on unto forever because I really wanted to check out what exactly I’d done to myself) I walked over the dam to the snazzy new fountain and used the bottle-filling part to wash off the affected parts: my right leg, my right arm and left hand. I walked home at a brisker pace than normal, had a warm bath (avoiding using the usual Epsom salts and thus also avoiding screaming) then finally inspected my body in detail.

The right leg looks like a bear raked it with its claws, a set of nasty-looking scrapes along the upper half of the calf.

The right elbow and part of the forearm are nicely banged up.

The top of the right shoulder (covered by my t-shirt) sustained some abrasions, though it doesn’t look like the skin broke.

There’s a sore spot on the right hip that will bruise but again, no broken skin because it was under my shorts (the shorts came through fine, just a little dusty).

The left hand has five puncture wounds where the gravel hit. Three are small, though one still had some gravel embedded, the fourth was more sizable and the last is big enough to be kind of grossbuckets.

There’s probably more I’m missing. The bruises tomorrow should look great and sleeping tonight will probably be fun.

I have applied copious amounts of Polysporin to everything.

Overall, I consider myself pretty fortunate. I didn’t sprain or break any bones, I didn’t hit my head, none of my stuff was damaged and on top of all that, I still finished with a decent pace.

I’m planning on my usual run on Monday and admit I’ll be feeling a little paranoid every time I see a tree root peeking above the trail surface. This is the first time in nearly 450 runs spread over the course of nine years that I’ve actually gone down (not counting that stupid dog) so hopefully this was just a rare convergence of circumstances that is unlikely to ever repeat.

I’ll know in three days!

I’ve put three images of “what happens when my body hits gravel at high speed” in the spoiler tag below. They’re not super gruesome but you may not want to look at them while eating your Cheerios.

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