I was feeling really good when I set out for a Friday morning run, which, based on previous experience, should have been the first clue something was about to go wrong.

Did I mention I’m training for a marathon? Yes, I know, very impressive. Me and about a million other people suffering midlife crises. I’m a third of the way through training, thanks for asking, and have settled into a challenging but rewarding training cadence. Or at least I had until Friday.

I was about a mile into my run when I reached one of the city’s busiest intersections, on a major north-to-south road. When the walk signal flashed and I was permitted to cross east to west, a long line of cars, four lanes wide, was stopped at the red lights on both sides. And every single driver in those cars watched as I began to run and, after about 10 feet, my foot landed in a pothole. Before I could process what had happened, I was splayed horizontally on the asphalt.

The only pain I felt when I got back up was the searing burn of the many eyes watching me hobble across the rest of the intersection.

It wasn’t until I reached the other side, after I yelled “I’m fine!” to concerned onlookers, that I finally glanced at the damage and saw blood streaming down my leg and pooling in my shoe. Which was not an ideal condition for running the remaining five miles of my route.

So I called my emergency responder (my husband, who was still asleep) and requested delivery of some Band-Aids and a fresh pair of socks. When he arrived and assessed my condition, he asked, “Are you sure you don’t just want me to drive you home?” to which I should have responded, “Yes. Please take me home.” But because I’ve been infected with Runner Brain — a condition that leads otherwise rational people to think things like “If Michael Jordan could play in the finals with the flu, I can finish this run” — I told him no, a Band-Aid and fresh socks should do the trick.

“Are you sure?” he asked with raised eyebrows.

“I am,” I said, even though I knew I probably wasn’t, and waved goodbye.

I made it another mile before I looked down again and saw that actually the Band-Aid and new socks had not done the trick. And that what I had dismissed as a scrape was actually a gaping wound.

I don’t like being wrong, so I didn’t want to call my husband for a second time and admit that he was right and I did just need to go home. Unsure of my next move, I looked over at the strip mall at the other side of the street and spotted an InstaCare. So I ran over. At this point, there was blood not just on my leg, but pretty much all over my body after my failed attempts to clean the wound with my water bottle. So I walked in looking like I had just strolled through a combat zone, and explained that no, I did not have an insurance card, no, I did not have my ID, and no, I did not have payment. Somehow, I was still admitted.

A few minutes later, I was explaining the incident to the InstaCare doctor as she fished gravel out of my wounds and stitched up one particularly large gash. “How did this happen?” she asked. “I tripped,” I said, and she was nice enough to stifle a laugh. But I was still humiliated.

This, however, was only the second most embarrassing incident in my career as a below-average runner.

Marathon training season is here again, and I’m even more annoying than last year

The most embarrassing incident happened on a treadmill in a crowded gym. I was, once again, feeling particularly good, which I now know is an omen. I was feeling so good that I thought I could increase my speed. So I took it from a six to a seven. And I still felt good. So I took it from a seven to an eight. Then an eight to a nine. I was in a full-on sprint, which was drawing attention from some of the other Gold’s Gym patrons. But it wasn’t until two seconds later that every head in the building turned in my direction upon hearing the sound of impact after my foot clipped the side of the machine and sent me flying off and onto the floor.

The bottom half of me was on the concrete floor and the top half of me was on the still-moving treadmill. To this day, I do not know why I didn’t just stand up and turn off the machine. Maybe it was embarrassment brain fog. In my humiliated state, I decided the best move would be to try and step back on the treadmill that was still running at sprint speed.

It did not work. In the very same second I tried, I was back on the ground. And every head in the gym turned in my direction, for the second time.

There was not a third try. With a crimson face and eyes glued to the floor, I stood up, turned off the machine, pulled my sweatshirt up to my nose, my hood over my hair, grabbed my water bottle and my keys, and walked out the building. I would have run, but I was afraid I would fall again.

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The whole drive home, and for weeks afterwards, I winced a lot. Not from the pain of the marks left on my torso and arms, but from the humiliation I felt every time I replayed those 10 terrible seconds in my head.

I’ve been in a pattern of constant wincing again since Friday, not from the pain of the stitches in my leg, but from the humiliation of replaying the public pothole folly. My husband saw one wince and asked, “Does it hurt?”

“It does,” I responded. But I wasn’t talking about my leg.

I’m fine now. Just a little sore, and should be back to normal in a week. But if I start feeling too good, I’ll know to step extra carefully. And avoid treadmills.

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