Faceplanting and plant planting

I am discovering a love for gardening. It is inspired by a young friend of mine Raël who has her own gardening business and is generally a very lush person if you’re looking for garden type assistance or just a chat. She’s awesome for a chat. Raël took a chance on me when I was given the heave ho (or hoe?) and has employed me to do some garden work with her over the last couple of months. Now I am not noted for my green fingers. No, not at all.

Lynn could regale you with tales of my weeding and pruning perfectly healthy and still growing plants and trees. I think nowadays, as a changed man/gardener there is something in there for me about making order out of chaos. And it is relatively stress free, and outside. If you combine digging, weeding and newt and nest rescue with coffee and great chats and company and the chance to use a hose it’s a winner.

So what has this to do with running? Well not a lot really but I am all for widening my appeal and I had to get the bit in about plants to fit in with face planting. We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Please? Face planting not gardening.

The thing is Lynn and me had negotiated Swirral and Striding Edge, and Sharp Edge the day before. It was sunny and I was blissed out with the company, the weather, the space, time outside and I was piecing together nicely how I could run some training sessions on ridge running/ walking/ climbing. Lynn went all Trail Runner photo shoot. And she didn’t bring her shopping trolley, just her Aldi zippy boots.

Like letting a puppy off the lead, Lynn said the magic words. “You can run from here if you want”.

We’d just crossed Striding Edge and witnessed a shirtless man crawling on all fours over the ridge, bless him. We’d seen a wee girl cry about the exposure on Swirral and when I said to Lynn, “Ah man the rocks lovely isn’t it?” another voice replied forcefully, “No it isn’t!” We we’re buzzing with the exposure and the weather and being out together but that was to end temporarily.

Off I went. Oh the joy! It was mostly downhill and I was relishing the chance to get my legs bouncing before this weekends exertions. Crunch! That was probably the sound. The weird thing was that as I hit the rock with my right toe, and knew I was falling head first, I had time to register my brain going, “don’t injure yourself for the 160!” Plenty of gravel and protruding rocks to land on.

Hands and right knee took the brunt of the fall. No-one saw (check). Nothing broken (check). You can still run the 160 (mostly check). Is it bleeding (check). If you get up fast you can almost pretend it didn’t happen. What would Joss Naylor do? He would just run on. Be like Joss. I ran on and then decided to run over the pathless fells down to Glenridding aiming to pick up the path just before the Youth Hostel. That was great. By now my hand was dripping with blood and I had two trickles running down my leg to my sock line. I passed a number of people while still high up. He’s harder than Joss they were probably thinking.

And then it happened. My own pride before fall number two. Three people had stopped at the path and were looking up onto the fell as I ran down it. An audience! They were having a chat, two on one as it turned out but it’s nice to be nice my old mam used to say, so I looked up at the one to say “Hi” and my right foot (again) hit another rock and face plant number two is executed perfectly. Hurty pain in right knee as the original wound hits the ground, grass and gravel embed in my right hand second time around as I land almost at his feet. I think of Rik Mayal as Lord Flashheart or whoever he was in Blackadder, when he would suddenly leap up and go “ah ha!”. I was up in an instant. “Are you ok?” he kindly enquired.

Like a knob I said, “Occupational hazard!” And then realising that sounded foolish and a bit full of myself I cushioned it with, “well it is today anyway” and I let it show that it hurt quite a bit. I ran down into Glenridding with no further ado and licked (well, wet wiped) my wounds. A few people grimaced on my behalf and I made Lynn a sandwich for her return. Now is the time when I say, I loved it. But you know, I did. I bloody (sorry) love running off road and over fells and I realised that I don’t fall that often.

And now it’s tenuous link time. Something grew in my garden of life from my two face plants in one day. One was a sense that I could have had a tumble in any number of more exposed bits of ridge that weekend with more disastrous consequences. A little sense that even though I had taken a tumble, I was still being looked out for somewhere.

The other was that it is ok to fall. That is to say it has been for me. I have had people around who have picked me up, offered me work, tended my wounds and although there are reminders of the fall every day, things heal and for me my dreams don’t have to suffer.

This next dream is completing the Hardmoors 160 this weekend with a scabby knee, and face plants allowing, I will see you on the other side.

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