Monday, 4 April 2016

That time I kind of got hit by a car

I reckon that in the 7-ish years that I’ve been a regular runner I’ve run somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 miles. And yesterday, for the first time in all those miles, I was hit by a car.

I’ll let that thought linger before I explain.

It gets a lot less dramatic from here. To be honest, it would be more accurate to say that a car was hit by me.

I was on a very slow recovery jog – early Sunday morning around the Tan Track in central Melbourne – unsuccessfully attempting to shake out some of the muscle and joint pain from my 16 miler the day before. The Tan is an almost uninterrupted trail that measures just over 5k from our front door, all the way round and back home again. I do it all the time.

To get to the Tan I need to cross two roads, both of which have traffic lights and pedestrian signals at convenient spots. So it’s probably no surprise that this isn’t where a car got hit by me.

I was on the home stretch having just left the Tan to run down a very quiet residential street, picking up a bit of speed on a downhill. I’m running on a narrow pavement – a bit unusual as this road is so dead that often enough I just run in the road itself. It would have been a better idea to do that on this occasion.

The nose of a car pulls out of a concealed lane. There’s an imperceptibly small dip in the pavement, no lines painted on the road, no visibility for pedestrians or drivers. The bonnet appears and then a door and then I’m thinking “Well, this is happening.”

The driver sees me and slams on the brakes at the point at which my chest and arms splay out melodramatically across his car’s bonnet. The car comes to a stop as my right knee connects with the wing, which buckles slightly under the impact. I’ve more or less tripped over his car and broken my fall with my entire self. I stay there a fraction of a second to check whether I’m dead.

I’m not dead, but I am immensely surprised.

In fact I’m not even winded – my arm is a little uncomfortable as I landed heavily on it, but as I take a step away from the car and lean back on a convenient tree, trying to catch my breath, I remark that I really am totally fine. I’m remarking this to the driver as he lowers his window and we both look at each other, wondering who is going to shout at who.

In fact neither of us shouts. He wants to check I’m OK because that’s a good place to start and I want to apologise because I am British.

Luckily I really am OK. Perhaps a little shocked but nothing more than that. He drives off, I wave and jog the rest of the way home. Carefully.

I’d like to thank my brain, which realised early enough that my legs weren’t going to stop in time to avoid a collision, so worked out that spreading the impact as much as possible was the best alternative. For a fraction of a fraction of a second it considered swerving me out in front of the nose of the car – but if the driver hadn’t stopped then I would surely have broken a leg or hit the pavement, maybe catching an ankle or something under a front bumper and leaving myself with a large medical bill and a severe disinclination to boogie.

So what have I learned from this little escapade? Well, not much. I learned that this particular laneway is there, and that visibility is appalling, so it’s worth slowing down for a spot of green-cross-coding. I also learned what I have long-suspected: that being run over – or indeed running into cars – is literally no fun at all. More importantly, as I trotted the rest of the way home, heartrate at 30 or 40 thousand bpm, I resolved to generally be more careful. In an abstract sense, I’d like to get to 10,000 miles, or 20,000 miles, or none at all if the mood doesn’t take me, but I’d ideally like to get there on my own two feet.

Happy running, be safe out there,

(5 weeks, 6 days to 26.2)

2016 to date: km's 442, parkruns: 6, races: 1