It’s just above freezing this morning as I head out for my walk. My weather app assures me there will be no rain for at least the next 120 minutes. So, it should be a good day for the walk/run. As I look at out the sidewalks and roads, I see they are wet, but I trust my app. No rain. It’s above freezing. I should be OK. It’s a pretty nice day for January, so I think I’ll start out running. As I take those first steps down my driveway, suddenly the world falls out from underneath me. If you’ve never had the experience of slipping on ice on a slick driveway, let me tell you, it’s disorienting at the very least. My driveway is on about a 45º slope and it’s asphalt. There are times when it’s wet that you have to be careful walking down it. In the winter, there are times when you literally cannot stand on certain parts of it. Today it just looks wet, but it’s not water- it’s black ice.
This morning I had read an article refuting the notion that our brains are simply sophisticated computers. I still marvel at my body. I don’t know what process happened when I fell. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced it about three or four times now in this driveway. I somehow manage to get my hands back. When I fall, it’s not conscious thought that does this, but my body just reacts the way it knows it has to. As I fall, before I can have a conscious thought, my reflexes kick in. My hands go back to catch myself. My head goes forward, trying (unsuccessfully) to keep from hitting the ground. I sense all of this, but I have no control of it. I find myself on my back, facing the sky. I do a quick damage assessment. My phone is still in my left hand (Wow, I can’t believe I hung onto it). It’s not shattered. The heel of my left palm is a bit scratched. My right palm is sore. My head has bounced off of the asphalt, but I’m conscious. I reach back and feel for blood. There’s none.
My thoughts go to the former NFL player who slipped and fell and died recently while on vacation. He was only 39. Am I still alive? Is this what took me out. Nope. Here I am still stuck in this body. It’s still cold. Gravity is still dragging me down. I make my way to my feet. I’m not too dizzy. I wonder if I should head back into the house and call it a day. Nah…. I’ll just take it easy. I start walking, gingerly. The sidewalk is pretty slick, but as long as I’m on level ground, It’s OK. The problem is my walk of five miles is the equivalent of climbing (my app doesn’t track going down stairs) almost 40 flights of stairs. There are very few flat spots. Going up is slow business, as every step I take, the push off of the foot slips back just a bit. Going down is treacherous as I have to work to keep my weight from shifting too far back causing another fall. But, soon, I’m jogging again and now I’m racing myself to try to finish up at my normal pace.
As I reach the halfway point of the walk, I see the elderly lady I see most mornings out with her dogs, going to meet her friends. I can’t tell if she is coming in or going out. My plan was to warn her about the ice if I saw her going out. It turns out she is going out. She stops me and asks me if it’s slick. I don’t tell her about the fall in the driveway, but I tell her “Yes. It’s bad. Really bad.” But, by this time, the temperature has risen and the sun is out a little bit. There are still some patches of ice, but most of it has turned to water by now.
I make my way back home. I finished with a slightly slower than normal pace, but pretty good considering the time I spent lying on my back in the driveway and being slowed down by the ice on the first half of the walk.