When I woke up yesterday morning I had every intention of going to boxing, but instead I went for a 5 mile run because honestly, I had a lot to process from the weekend.
I ran the Roots N Blues half marathon on Saturday. Some races go well. Some races not so much. And there are those days where you crash and burn and the whole event seemingly goes down in a fiery ball of flames and devastation. Which in turn leaves you feeling like a wasted pile of ash and debris. Saturday was one of those days. The Blues part was certainly appropriate.
The race itself wasn’t too bad actually, but here’s how the weekend went. Friday after work I grabbed my kiddos from school and made the 90 minute trip West on 70 to CoMo (Columbia, MO for non-Missouri natives). We got to my friend Phebe’s house just in time for dinner. Phebe and I have known each other since we went to camp together as kids, and as fate would have it, we reconnected a few years ago, right around the time I moved to MO. Coincidentally, she got married the very same day that my marriage officially bit the dust. Kind of like my race day this weekend.
Phebe was supposed to run this weekend too, but she had some difficulties training in the heat of the summer, so she decided to postpone her half-marathon debut. Back in June, while my Ragnar team was piled in the van on the return trip from Chicago, Wes’s son John, who goes to Mizzou, mentioned the Roots N Blues half marathon and several of us put it on the calendar. So, although Phebe was unable to be at the start line with me on Saturday morning, I had several others there. Wes, Shane and Kristen also ran the half, while Mark and John both opted for the 10k. At 6:30ish, I met up with my crew to get my bib and timing chip from Shane who had picked up my packet for me the day before. We were hanging near the start, doing race prep, and another familiar face showed up. Amy, a fellow Fleet Feet-er and student at Mizzou, was ready to rock her first half marathon. She talked me through the course a bit, since she knew it better than I did. It sounded like it might be tougher than I was planning on. But, I figured I would just go with it. I was hoping for a PR, but not really sure what to expect due to some recent knee pain.
The race got underway and I separated from my compadres as soon as we crossed the start line. We’re all there to support each other, but we all have to run our own race. It was a pretty course. Great scenery. But hilly and challenging. Ultimately not my best race, but still not bad. The good news is my knee felt fine, probably thanks to the vast amount of time I spent on the foam roller the previous day.
The route was beautiful. The first mile or so was hilly as we left the downtown area and ran through the Mizzou campus. Eventually we came to the MKT trail which is where the bulk of the course landed us. It’s not as difficult to run on as true trail, but it’s not quite as fast as a pavement either. The views were spectacular. We ran along a path that lead us into this tree covered trail. At one point we came upon a misty field, the sky was blue and the moon was still hovering. Gorgeous. We ran across several wooden bridges over the creek bed, which bounced slightly, making it feel like running on a trampoline. It was hard to take in the view from both directions, but I tried. Again, gorgeous. We ran around a little lake with the sun reflecting its radiance. In the middle of the race, the moments of beauty were frequent.
At about mile 8, some guy started pushing into me and I couldn’t figure out why he was crowding me off the path. Until I looked over and saw Shane. I couldn’t have been happier to see him. I wasn’t feeling particularly stellar. He asked, “How are you feeling, Runner Girl?” I responded, “Eh, ok, not great.” He said, “Well, you look great, so let’s start with that.” I smiled. We were only together for a minute or so and he started to pull away. I let him. He gave me the encouragement I needed, but, like I said, we all have to run our own race.
Then I started to get mad that he was pulling away, so I told myself, “Linds, if you don’t want to get left behind, go catch up!” I tried to stay with him. I would start to gain on him, then back off a little, and then I’d get close again. I never did catch him. But I tried to keep him in my sights the whole time. I was mostly successful. The last couple miles were some pretty tough hills. Even the girl who loves hills was cursing the steep grade at that point. With a half mile to go I noticed John standing on the sidewalk waiting for Wes. I couldn’t talk but I got John’s attention and we fist bumped, or something that vaguely resembled a fist bump anyway. Ultimately, I finished about a minute and a half behind Shane. He was waiting at the finish for me. I wasn’t exactly sure of my official time. I knew it wasn’t the PR I had hoped for. I had held back somewhat due to that sketchy knee pain I experienced on my Thursday run at Babler. I had been worried about pushing too hard and blowing things for Chicago in a few weeks. But I was still hopeful that my chip time would put me just under an hour and 50 minutes. It did. Just barely. 1:49:53. 14th female ages 30-39. I’ll take that.
As I put my medal around my neck, grabbed a bottle of water and tried to catch my breath, I ran into my friend Ali, who I met when she came into FLEET FEET one day a couple years ago, all the way from Quincy. Ali and I bonded instantly, since we not only have the Quincy connection, we were both going through a divorce at the same time and we both lost our dad’s way too early in life. Ali introduced me to her running partner, who is also her new husband, and then she said something about how much she appreciated my last blog post about Friday the 13th. I said, “Thanks. Oh, and, this is Shane. Wes should be through the finish any minute.” The timing of her statement was pretty funny since she got to meet one of the stars of my last post.
Mark, who had been done for a while joined us. And a minute or so later, Kristen crossed the finish. And a few minutes later Wes and John completed our group. We hung out, took pictures, teased Wes for being sweaty enough that no one wanted to be near him, and got our free drinks and BBQ sandwiches. Eventually, the group started to peel off for naps and showers and such.
I hopped into my Pathfinder, thinking I had a pretty good idea of how to get back to Phebe’s. I was hoping the kids hadn’t given her too much trouble while I had been gone all morning. I started on my way, but somewhere I made a wrong turn. I finally realized I was way off course. And I was trying to figure out how to get back.
I was cruising along, not speeding, but driving a back road with a speed limit of about 45 miles. I was trying to figure out where I was going. I was messing with the radio. I wasn’t paying close enough attention. And then I looked up to see a car stopping in front of me. I stepped on the breaks as hard as I could, but I braced because I knew what was coming. I was breaking too late. And then it happened. I crashed into the back of the black Mitsubishi in front of me.
I took a deep breath. Made sure I wasn’t hurt. Put the car in park. Took a quick look around at my mess of a car. Turned off the engine. Unbuckled my seatbelt. And opened the door. Everything was in slow motion.
As I stepped out onto the pavement, I could see the other driver unbuckling her seatbelt. I looked over and saw a few witnesses walking toward us. Even though I couldn’t hear their voices, I could tell they were asking if we were ok. I nodded. The other driver got out of her car, visibly shaken. I felt absolutely horrendous. She was a teenager, and was clearly very scared. I knew her fear, I felt it too. I asked if she was ok. She nodded. I said, “Are you sure?” She nodded and said, “I think so”. I suggested that we move the cars off the main road since they both seemed drivable. We turned right onto the side street and got out of the cars again. I asked her if she wanted to call the police or if she wanted me to. She said she wanted to call her mom, so I called 911. Then I called Phebe, so she would know why I was taking so long to get back. I was glad to know my kids were in good hands. Then I called Wes. It went right to voicemail. I knew he was probably sleeping. I’m sure the voicemail he got from me later made little to no sense at all. I remember thinking I was rambling (not surprising, I’m kind of known for that). Then I called Shane. I was so glad he answered. I was in complete shock, but could feel my tears burning my eyes and I could hear my voice shaking when I told him what was happening. He asked if I wanted him to come to where I was. “Yeah, I need moral support”. I felt my throat tighten when I heard him say to Mark, “I’ll be back, I’m going to help Lindsey.”
I started looking for my Driver’s License and insurance info. I didn’t have my current card, so I called Allstate as I unpinned my bib that I still hadn’t removed. The officer walked up and I handed him my phone to verify that I was up to date with my insurance. Then he handed me a form to fill out. I located a pen and started to write. My hand was shaking. Shane walked up about 5 seconds later. I couldn’t look at him, because I knew if I did the tears would start. I held it together while the cop talked to me. And when he brought me and the other driver together to exchange info. He didn’t give me a ticket. I still felt horrible. I knew I deserved one. I knew it was 100% my fault. That is the worst feeling in the world, knowing that something that was totally avoidable was your own fault. The cop suggested we take pictures of each other’s vehicles just in case. Shane took pictures for me.
The cop left. The girl and her mom left. I immediately collapsed into a sobbing mess in Shane’s arms. The word’s My fault, My fault, My fault, kept playing in my head. It was undeniable. Even though my prideful human nature has crept in and tried to rationalize things like, she stopped suddenly and for no reason at an intersection where we didn’t have a stop sign and she may have had a break light out. The fact of the matter is I was distracted and I caused this accident. I will own the fact that I did this, even though it really, really, really sucks. It’s not the first time I’ve messed up. And it very likely won’t be the last.
Shane let me cry. He said all the right things. At least no one was hurt. At least my kids weren’t with me. At least both cars are still drivable. At least the sun is shining. It could be so much worse.
But he still let me cry.
I finally made my way back to Phebe’s house. She said all the same things as she made me coffee and peeled oranges for the kids. I cried some more. Wes found my message when he woke up and called me back. He said all the same things too.
I was exhausted. Between the adrenaline of a race, the euphoria of finishing the race, a subsequent adrenaline spike from the accident and then the array of emotions that followed, I had been all over the place and my energy level was paying the price.
I spent the rest of the weekend trying to recover from all of it. Periodically throughout the next 36 hours, I would randomly start crying. I slept hard Saturday night. I worked Sunday after church and spent Sunday evening on the couch. And then came my run yesterday morning. I was thinking about the events of the weekend. I was thinking about my friend Caleigh. Friday morning she was so excited to spend the weekend celebrating her 30th birthday but then she unexpectedly got some devastating news. How weird that we find ourselves struggling and celebrating at the same time. The bad doesn’t see that we’re busy enjoying the good and just decide to turn around and come back another time. Sometimes we have to deal with the good and the bad, all at the same time.
I got 2.5 miles out yesterday and it was considerably hotter than I thought it would be. When I turned around I was instantly met with the relief of a cool breeze which simultaneously caused the resistance of the wind, which made things more challenging but also more comfortable. So, something that was making me work harder and causing me to struggle, was actually good for me at the same time.
Sometimes bad things happen. Like bad news or car accidents. But just like Shane told me, “It’s over, don’t dwell on it. All you can do now is learn from it.” So I will take the bad situation, and I’ll own it. I will try to remember that when I get off course, instead of getting distracted, I’ll stop, get my bearings and try to get back on the right track. Sometimes things happen that make us work harder, and even though they make us struggle, they ultimately make us better, stronger, refocused.
Here’s the other thing I was thinking about during that run. In a few weeks, I’m going to take to the streets of Chicago to run the same marathon that I’ve run 4 times already. Ever since Vancouver in May, I’ve been so excited to get there and lay it on the line in an effort to earn the sub 4 hour time I know I deserve on that course. I missed it last year because I was injured, the year before that because it was obscenely hot, the time before that I was injured AND it was hot. I have been as close as 4 hours and 2 seconds. Yep, that’s right, 3 seconds away from my goal time. A lot could happen in the next three weeks, but I’ve decided to run the race I won’t regret.
My best friend in the entire world will be standing next to me at the start line in Chicago on October 13, to embark on her first attempt at 26.2. This is a girl who has stood by me through many years of “My fault, my fault, my fault”, and no matter what happened, never once did she ever consider leaving my side. I still remember the phone call on the day of Phebe’s wedding, as my marriage crumbled, when Britta said to me, “I’m with you in this. I’m not going anywhere.” So the only race I know for sure that I won’t regret in Chicago, is to stay with her, step for step, if she wants me to. Her race, is my race. Sometimes it takes bad things happening to point us in the right direction again. To refocus us on what matters. A sub 4 in Chicago? That can wait. When I toe the line next to B for the Bank of America 2013 Chicago Marathon, my words to her will be, “I’m with you in this. I’m not going anywhere.”