As I’ve worked my way toward the end of Project 200, a strange tension has emerged, the small kernel of an idea, an anxiety, at the back of my mind, slowly working its way forward. What if I hurt myself?
Numbers mean nothing, and most goals are arbitrary. Succeeding or failing at a project like this doesn’t mean much about me as a person. If I fail, I try again. That’s what means something. No. A project is a motivational construct. That’s all.
And then I fell.
My body is tired. And when your body is tired it gets sloppy. Your form falls apart. Your feet drag a little. They catch sticks and stones, with proverbial consequences.
I wish I knew the exact mileage where I tripped. It was somewhere between 180 and 190, and I hit the ground hard. Normally, I fall well. I roll. I credit a lifetime of playing soccer, and so a lot of practice at hitting the turf, but no, sometimes you really eat shit. My left toe caught a rock, and I was sprawling before I knew what was going on. My knee took the worst of it, but my whole body radiated with impact.
Again, normally I pop right up. Roll. Pop. Keep running.
This time I got up on all fours and took stock. I swore. I got to my feet and stood and flexed my parts and surveyed for damage. My bad shoulder hurt, and I let the arm pendulum to make sure I hadn’t rebroken my collarbone. I dusted myself off a bit, but the dirt clung to my arms and shins, bound by sweat. I swore again.
And then I started running, not because I’m a tough guy, but because I’ve fallen down in the woods before, and what you realize after doing the basic math is that even though you fell down and might be in pain, you’re still in the middle of the woods. The only way is forward. Left, then right, then left again, on repeat until you’re home, and in the shower and everything stings and aches.
There is some great metaphor here about running away from your failures, putting them behind you as quickly as possible. I find that after I fall my head is a mess. I’m over anxious about doing it again. I’m asking all the questions. Why did that happen? Was I not concentrating? Was it because I didn’t sleep well? Was I just distracted? Or do you sometimes just fall down?
Sometimes you just fall down.
By the late afternoon my knee was swollen and didn’t want to bend. I felt whole body tired. I felt discouraged. But there are fewer than 10 miles to go in Project 200, and I have days to get it done, and I’m going to.
My knee worked better after a night’s sleep. I stretched and did some mobility work, walked a little. A rest day helps most things. And the only way is still, forward.