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Taking A Tumble

Too fat. Not in good enough shape. No business being out here in the first place.

It had rained the last couple of days, covering the Paint Branch Trail near the University of Maryland with mud and puddles.

At the 5-mile point of my 8-mile run, water blocked the main route. There was room to get by to the left on a sloppy path, although it was blanketed by a downed plastic orange fence — the type that might block off a construction area or be used as an inexpensive little league home run fence.

There was someone coming in the other direction so I decided to speed up just a touch. I lost my balance when my left foot slid under a ring in the fence. Just as I thought I would be able to steady myself, I skidded on a patch of mud and tumbled. I extended my left arm to brace myself and then rolled on to my shoulder. I heard a pop and I knew something was broken.

A trip to the emergency room. Passing out from dehydration during x-rays. Finding out that codine makes me feel like I am having a heart attack. A half dozen doctor visits. Six weeks in a sling. Two months of physical therapy. Six months to full recovery.

The person going in the other direction – a guy perhaps a little bit older than me – stopped and asked if I was alright. I knew I wasn’t, but, of course, I said I would be fine. He helped me as I struggled to get back on my feet.

Two college-aged girls came upon the scene. “Are you OK?” one asked. “I think I so,” I said.

And then one of them chuckled. Perhaps it was innocent. Perhaps it was just a nervous reaction. But I took it as her way of saying “what a silly fool for being out here in the first place.”

There is always that lingering “not good enough” feeling… especially when I line up with people faster and in much better shape than myself. Some are friendly and treat you as comrades. Others have an elitist attitude that comes out in off-hand comments or ingenuous encouragement.

I would be lying if those situations don’t get me down on occasion. But I always pick myself up. I would like to be skinnier and in better shape, but sitting around and fretting about it only makes it worse. Not good enough to be out there? Who are they to judge?