I recently wrote that a bad knee kept me from running for a week.

My first day back "running," I dragged, hobbled and limped 12 miles.

The painful knee was irrelevant. Everything hurt.

The following Wednesday I slept in and missed my buddies.

Sure, I wouldn't see anyone, so I wore my rattiest running clothes. Took off for the Back Bay, looking frumpy, and ran right into Lisa and Mark with their new dog.

Petting "Lolly," the Labradoodle, I told my friends of an alarming tick warning taped on a telephone pole at Irvine Avenue and Santiago Drive.

According to the writer, tick bites from a bay hike resulted in hospitalization.

Bidding friends goodbye, I turned on University Drive and trotted across the horse bridge.

Enjoying the bridge vista, my toe caught the slightest ripple in the asphalt, and I went down. Splat!

Men tuck 'n roll, falling gracefully. I avoided a face plant by landing on hands and knees. However, this time I popped right up, before anybody could ask, "You all right?"

I hate falling, but I love falling when I dodge serious injury. A skinned knee is nothing, but fractures are something.

Still, my leg hurt. I wanted to walk it off on soft dirt. Conflict! The dirt trail skirts brush where a tick might smell my skinned-knee blood. Hard asphalt or cushion of dirt? Risking ticks, I picked dirt, sidestepping grasses.

Recovered, I ran over the Jamboree Road bridge and down Back Bay Drive.

Curious about ticks, I flagged down a Fish and Game truck.

I asked, "Heard anything about Back Bay tick infestation?"

Driver answered, "Ticks aren't fish or game ... so, no ... but you have way too much extra time if you're out here running the bay. Sign right here to volunteer."

Small world, the driver recruiting me was the husband of a much-loved school secretary from the last school where I worked. Why didn't I wear my Lucy running outfit?

No sooner had I left my new friends at Fish and Game than a Vector Control truck appeared. I waved.

"Know anything about ticks around here?"

Young driver, spraying for mosquito larva said, "I'm in the brush all the time and never picked up a tick."

Left him and ran, past the Hyatt Newporter, the Dunes Resort, over the PCH bridge and up Dover Drive. Near home, a friend on a bike ride with her young son spotted me.

"What'd you do?" she demanded.

Her son's face, a mixture of horror and delight, focused on my leg. I Iooked down to see a tracery of blood splatter worthy of a crime scene. Nothing a shower wouldn't take care of, but enough gore to fascinate an 8-year-old.

I'd landed on the bad knee when I fell, yet felt no pain. Should've worn better running clothes, but I'd completed 12 happy miles, full of interesting ticks and people.

I am back running.

Newport Beach resident CARRIE LUGER SLAYBACK is training to run the Los Angeles Marathon at age 70.