The Weakest Link

My sister just completed a half marathon. Ever since she was a little girl it has been obvious to all that she is the runner of our family. Dad often tells the story of how seven-year-old Jacqui would run along beside him chatting away happily for kilometre after kilometre as he struggled to complete his regular running ritual.

She just finds it so easy.

I, on the other hand, would rather chew nails than participate in any kind of long distance running. Unless I am on a hockey field, running is just not my thing. Obviously this factor somehow slipped my mind as I headed up to Mt Coot-tha for a ‘Staff Wellbeing’ walk/run one afternoon a few weeks back after school. Desperate for some exercise and fresh air, I decided that I would go, but planned to join in with the walking group. I maintain a decent enough level of fitness thanks to a couple of games of hockey each weekend, but running for the sake of running? No thanks.

Let’s face it, it hurts and it’s boring. It does, however, get you places faster.

As the runners began to disappear from view, I felt that old familiar ‘itch’ to keep up; or at least attempt to keep up anyway. The competitive side of me kicked in and I loathed the prospect of being ‘the weakest link’ in the group.

It was a rare moment of self-imposed peer pressure, and I folded like a Japanese origami.

I decided to kick it up a gear or two.

Along with two colleagues, I walked up some of the steeper parts of the incline, but ran the rest. Those at the front graciously waited at the top so the rest of the group could catch up. The company and sense of satisfaction I was feeling overtook the discomfort in my legs. Before too long, I felt a surge of endorphins kick in as I hit my stride: there is no better feeling than an exercise high.

We continued to jog across the top of the mountain, another 2-3km along, with those at the front again waiting for the rest of the group to begin our descent together down the mountain.

Passing the Channel Nine studio, I recognised the Powerful Owl trail and knew that the worst of the run was over.

It was about 200 metres after this thought that my foot failed to navigate its way over a rock, causing me to trip and fall. While the trip itself was not an overly heavy one, as I went to get up, I found myself looking directly at the bone of my kneecap, through a ghastly, bloody tear in my tights.

It was neat, straight and deep.

I remember looking at it and cursing myself. How could one rock result in such a catastrophic cut? The timing was terrible. Hockey finals were literally the following week. I realised immediately that I was not going to be walking out of the Mt Coot-tha trails that day.

I grabbed the gaping edges of the sliced skin and pinched it back together, fearful that the blood would start pouring out of it. Looking up, I saw some of the others coming towards me.

I think it was shock, as it really didn’t hurt at all.

Not until later when water was poured directly into the wound did it begin to throb. By then, however, I had my delightful friend the Green Whistle to take the edge off the pain. Another colleague had kindly taken over holding my knee together as I struggled to sit comfortably on the rocky ground in the same position for so long.

Making my way by Ambulance to the hospital, I could not believe how I could have ended up with the most significant sporting injury I have ever had, simply by tripping on a rock.

Surgery, three days in hospital, fourteen stitches, and a gnarly scar later, and I’ve resolved that I truly will leave the running to my sister in future.

Unless it is running for a hockey ball or running for my life, this duck is officially out.

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