I stood, panting in the light of the setting sun, checking my watch to clock my heart rate and oxygen stats. It was getting dark quickly now, the last of the afternoon being smothered by the dripping night. Breath coming easier now, I began to trek back down the mountain, taking it much slower than my frantic run up.
I came to a juddering, hopping stop almost immediately, hissing in pain as the muscles in my feet rebelled against my steps. I half-collapsed, steadying myself against a convenient boulder and grasping my foot through the shoe.
My doctor had been recommending that I see a foot specialist near the Cheltenham area for over six months now, every time I came in for a sore throat or a medical certificate. ‘That’s going to grab you one day,’ he’d say sternly, nodding down at my foot.
He’d given me a rudimentary diagnosis, some sort of deep-muscle issue in the foot’s architecture that needed correcting, but he didn’t have the foot expertise to fully treat it.
‘I’ll get to it,’ I’d said to him, an accidental lie, but a lie nonetheless. I was just so busy, constantly moving around, meeting with clients and going for my runs.
‘So this is how I die,’ I grunted to myself, looking up for the now-gone sun. ‘Stranded on a mountain I was able to run up, but can’t even crawl down.’
Stupid. It probably would have only taken a custom orthotics fitting – how long could that have been? An hour? And now my foot wasn’t working, strong lances of pain shooting up my leg as soon as I put any pressure on it.
A low rumbling sounded from the bushes to my right, and I twisted to peer into the darkness – my tight running clothes suddenly leaving me feeling incredibly exposed.
Not like jeans would have helped you if you’re getting mauled by a bear.
I decided that I did not, in fact, want to die, and snapped off a big chunk of bush to use as my walking stick. Slowly, slowly…
I began to make my way down the mountain.