I think about a lot of things in the morning when I’m getting ready to head out on a run. I hope my GPS watch works. I start planning what I’ll eat after the run, because there’s no way I’m going to waste brain space afterwards thinking about what to eat; I just want to eat, and eat quickly. I hope my legs feel good, and that my iPod is charged up, and that song I downloaded the previous night will be just as rockin’ today as it was the day before.
The one thing I don’t think about is whether or not I’ll get hit by a car.
It’s always the things you don’t think about that end up happening, right?
Yesterday, I set out on my 5-mile run, as part of my Hartford 1/2 Marathon training. (You can read about that decision and my training progression on my other blog, Girl V Food.) The first part of the run was uneventful, although I think I listened to the new Lady GaGa song about 49348 times. Also, it occurred to me during my run that when I got to a narrow street, I should hop on the sidewalk in order to avoid the cars; I live in a very residential area and sometimes the line between the car lane and pedestrian is incredibly thin.
I got to a crosswalk and saw a brown minivan headed my way. We both stopped, then at the same time, we both urged each other to go ahead. I think my best friend summed it up perfectly: “It’s like you encountered some professional football player and went through one of those awkward ‘each going the same direction while trying to sidestep the other’ routine. Only…with a car.”
That’s exactly wha happened. We misread each other’s signals, and I attempted to cross while he went ahead. I realized what was happening before my legs could stop, and he realized before he could stop his car.
In slowmotion, I managed to twist myself mid-stride so that the front of the car merely tagged me in the left thigh, but the force of that caused me to throw my hands down on the car itself, and then stagger back. Because I turned into the car rather than away from it, I pushed myself away so I didn’t get run over. I think I was on autopilot at that point although the phrase “DON’T GET RUN OVER” screamed in my head a few times. I am pretty grateful to yoga at the moment, as my body instantly relaxed and just let gravity take over. I’m not exactly sure how I got a huge scrape on my elbow (I think that’s from the car) but I did fall to my knees in the middle of the street, getting a big cut on my left knee in the process.
My heart was racing. My iPod skittered to the side of the road, much to my chagrin. I made an immediate assessment and realized I was fine aside from the scratches and a bruised leg. Out of shock, I immediately started laughing as the guy who hit me scrambled out of his car and asked if I was all right. Over and over again, laughing, I told him I was fine, and that if I wasn’t fine he would know it. We had a discussion about how dangerous these roads are even for the most careful of drivers (at one point the road he was driving out of had been covered by trees, making it even more invisible to incoming drivers or pedestrians) and as he drove away I yelled after him “Don’t spend your day worrying, please! I’m fine!”
I was still laughing as I made my way to my iPod and turned it back on. It still worked, which pleased me.
As I stood on the side of the road flicking through my gym mix, trying to figure out what song to continue my run to, I noticed blood pouring from the cuts on my knee. The car marks on my leg. The pain in my arm.
The enormity of what had just happened-what I had just narrowly avoided-finally hit me.
I will not say I burst into tears on the side of the road. But I will say that suddenly the contents of my iPod seemed a hell of a lot more emotional than they had been a few minutes prior. Who knew Kanye West could make me blubber like that?
I quickly sucked in the rest of my tears, turned on “Jesus Walks” and kept running. Because I’m a loser. And crazy. (Note: At this point, aside from the cuts, I was in zero pain in my legs. If I had felt any amount of pain I would have stopped running)
I ran into my Mom on her own run on the way back to the house and relayed her my story, although slightly less dramatic than the actual events (“I had to avoid a car, and I fell down…and maybe got hit a little bit.”) Her advice? Take Advil, and put some heat on it.
I came home, showered, ate breakfast, and went to work. There was no way I would miss out on a paycheck when all that happened was that I got hit by a car. Come on. That’s no way to be.
It still hasn’t really hit me that I got hit by a car yesterday. I see it on the gigantic bruise on my arm, the slight twinge in my ankle, the soreness in my back. However, these things are incredibly minor when I think about the people in my life over the past year who have been in car accidents. I’ve seen people in braces, people who aren’t allowed to do any physical exercise until they’re at 80% mobility. It’s staggering that I just got away with a little poke in the leg.
I’d like to say I had a revelation on the side of the road, or that my life flashed before my eyes, or something profound like that. But really, these were the thoughts going through my head before, during, and after the accident:
Is he gonna go? Oh, he’s waving me to go. I’ll go.
Why isn’t he stopping?
Why aren’t I stopping?!
HOLY SHIT I’M GETTING HIT BY A CAR.
HOLY SHIT I JUST GOT HIT BY A CAR.
Okay, am I okay? Is anything broken? No? Okay, when can I start running again?
Crap, my iPod is probably broken.
Ooh, i’m bleeding. I hope it doesn’t get to my sock.
Cool, I have marks from the car on my leg. I really do look like I got run over.
This guy looks so terrified. Just keep laughing. I feel like Dane Cook in that skit, playing off that I just got hit by a car. “Has anyone seen my shoes? I kicked them off in a fit of joy. I’m gonna go puke shards of my own pelvis into this bush.”
Yay, iPod works.
Wow. I just got hit by a car.
I wonder how I can word this to make it witty in subsequent retellings.
That previous thought might mean I’m going to hell. At least I’ll be a witty damned soul.
I just got hit by a car. Oh my God. I want my Mom.
You get 5 minutes to cry about this. 5. And then you are going to keep on running because you are alive.
Of course she would tell me to take frickin’ Advil.
The moral of my story?
I compare it to when my Dad hit me in the leg with a softball, or that time I got run over by a fat woman on a boogie board at Narragansett Beach, or that time I fell out of a high speed golf cart, or that time I was playing pickup with my brother and sprained my ankle so badly Rosemary Ragle had to carry me off the court, or that time I got shin splints so badly Rosie had to wrap my legs like a Kentucky Derby horse and told me I was thisclose to getting stress fractures, or that time I almost passed out in a restaurant, or that time I puked Halloween candy all over my parents’ bathroom (the Munsons of Munson Chocolates lived on our street. Do the math.), or that time I fell down a flight of stairs during a performance and almost broke my tailbone. Damn…I think the only thing I hadn’t done was get hit by a car. My body’s been through the ringer.
My point is?
When life kicks you in the crotch, you get back up.
Life is short. Play hard.
But not too hard. Kick ass responsibility.
PS. I’m grateful to yoga for strengthening my legs to the point where a few hours after my accident, I didn’t hurt at all and still had my flexibility. I feel more sorry for the car. Strong like bull.