About four miles along, on a stony uneven patch, I stumbled and, bringing my left knee forward at speed, hit a tree root with full force. It was shockingly painful initially, and I rocked with it for a while, fighting back the tears, before getting to my feet and carrying on, half hobbling, half slow-jogging, the next two miles or so. There were plenty of sympathetic runners who stopped to ask if I was OK, whether I needed a first-aider, and to let me know they too had suffered a fall in the past and fully identified!
When I finally handed over to my team member I sat down and pulled up my capri leg to look at the bruise, and was surprised to see a deep cut below the knee-cap, which rather surprisingly had hardly bled at all. I was first-aided at the race end, and later in the day visited both Crowborough Memorial Hospital (clean, bright, friendly, calming, no queue, and a lovely big mug of tea) and A&E at Pembury (soul-less, unsmiling reception, depressing large-screen ads on a loop, nothing to read, grubby loos) where I waited three hours for a doctor to tell me that Crowborough had done a good job cleaning the wound, squirt some glue in it, and send me on my way at 10.30pm with a pack of anti-biotics.
I could have felt a bit sorry for myself at that point, but life sent me a reminder of my great good fortune in generally having very sound health: I spotted a friend in A&E who was there for a bad case of cellulitis. He is a stoic, who has had a large part of his tongue and gums removed because of mouth cancer, yet remains singularly lacking in self-pity.
Someone once said that if you enjoy good health, you could say to yourself every day that you have genuinely won the lottery. I write 'good health' on my gratitude list most nights, but even so can take it for granted. I had a few early brushes with the Grim Reaper but was fortunate to survive them (eg when I was two, my mother called out a young locum doctor in the middle of the night. I was screaming, and couldn't be calmed. Our regular family GP had told her on several occasions over previous weeks that I was just after attention by crying incessantly. The locum told Mum to get me to hospital immediately, where an emergency appendectomy took place. They told Mum that with a few hours' delay I would have died of a burst appendix).
It was scary having a wound, even if relatively minor. I avoided taking the anti-biotics (I'd rather save them for true need) and instead cared for myself with salted boiled water, calendula, herbal salves, and arnica. I felt at times quite fearful about hurting the knee again.
It's healing well, I'm thankful, and hopefully I'll soon be back running - but even surfaces from now on!