This weekend I went back to my old running group. Damn, it felt good. I am a very social creature, and to be honest, I like to make people laugh.
This has been coming on like a storm on a summer’s evening. I really have been discerning what is working and not working in my life as of late. If it feels good for the soul, keep doing it. That Ragnar relay brought back my love for the Galloway method of running. And, I really haven’t looked back yet.
Plus, heck, I miss my running group friends. I got hugs all around and giggles to boot.
I was reminded this weekend of “my” story. Charlotte the group leader was speaking to a new member about the Marine Corp Marathon. And, she turned to me and said, you want to hear a marathon story, listen to hers. Being somewhat bashful, I kind of brushed it away.
But, I am reminded that I do have a story to tell.
My Marathon story began one fateful morning on October 7, 2014. I was attending the National Catholic Development Conference in Chicago. The first morning of the conference, I awoke before dawn to head out to the lakefront trail to get my morning run done.
I quite vividly remember taking this photo on my way to the lakefront trail that morning.
I began my run and continued along my charted course. When out of the blue from behind, I was hit by a bicyclist. You see the Lakefront Trail is a multi-use trail with cyclists sometimes going at high rates of speed, along with walkers, joggers, and runners.
And, I was knocked unconscious. When I came to, I literally did not know what hit me. But, I knew that something had. I immediately began apologizing to the bicyclist who did. I was disoriented and he said he would get me a cab. I had no clue what I looked like, but ended up taking a selfie. Paul sometimes cannot answer his phone during the day, so I texted him a photo to let him know that something terrible had just happened.
This is what stared back at me:
The cab driver wanted to take me to the hospital, but I didn’t have any identification. So, I told him to take me back to my hotel. When I got to the front desk, I knew that something was terribly wrong. I told the hotel staff to go to my room and retrieve my purse and to call an ambulance.
The ambulance soon arrived and took me to Northwestern Hospital. There I was taken right to a room and was visited by the police and some head trauma specialists.
Come to find out, my skull had a fracture and air was seeping into my brain. And, I had a severe head concussion.
I was frightened to be all alone trying to cope with all of this.
Finally after leaving the hospital, I stayed two more days in a hotel room all by myself, trying the best to take care of myself, frightened that I may never wake up again.
Then I flew home, taking flight precautions due to pressure cabin.
I was laid up for three months. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t drive, and mostly importantly, I couldn’t think. Cognitively, I was toast. It was like my brain was short circuiting. I was sensitive to light. I couldn’t use my computer. And, my own computer couldn’t put a sentance together. I was scared out of my wits spending most days behind a mask over my eyes to keep out stimulation and hoping that the circuits in my brain would heal.
In bed at home (I really wished Paul had cut his beard :))
My brain is my work. So, I sunk into a depression of sorts.
After a few months, I was able to get up and walk around and began to take slow (very slow) walks around the park. Then, my recovery began to progress. I never thought in a million years that I would run again.
About six months later as spring appeared, I began exercising more. And, then in April, I was told about this group with this run/walk/run method. So, I decided to check them out. I began slowly and soon progressed. And, then progressed even more. I set my sights on entering and running the Chicago marathon in October.
I still had cognitive delays oftentimes pausing to think my thoughts through before saying and I couldn’t smell the lilacs. Yes, I had lost my sense of smell and had a deviated septum.
Plus, I had a boss who was using my “brain injury” as a way to get leverage to get me out. She began picking on my writing and my grammar. I struggled to make sense of that all. It plain made me feel stupid and victimized.
I became a running fool. Entering a race a weekend for the summer. Doing back to back Half-Marathons on most.
October rolled around and I was at my peak. Almost one year to the date of my accident and one weekend before the Chicago marathon. I had lost 25 pounds and was running an 9:00 pace. I had the run of my life around Newfound Lake in Bristol, NH. Almost a year later, I look like the picture of health and happy as can be.
And, then the Standard Times wrote about my story:
Here I am one week later at the Chicago Marathon. I did it, at the year anniversary of my accident. And, I did it under five hours. Here I am with my Galloway gals.
I went on to run so many races that year, I couldn’t keep the medals around my neck. I proved to myself that I could do anything. Even become a “Comeback Kid!”
One year later in 2016, I did it again! I ran the Chicago Marathon for a second time.
And, with such a consistent and even pace.
It was an even better year. I was ready for it. And, you can see it in my smile.
Here I am at the start line the day before the race:
And, thank God Paul shaved. 🙂 I am thin, but not so thin as the year before. Thank God.
Catching some important nutrition:
Mile 23 – STILL all SMILES!
My very even, even splits – for 26 miles that is amazing to keep a consistent pace for the entire race. As you can see this is a LOT of time on one’s feet and you would think I would have skewed the pace at bit, but not I!
And, the finish! 26.2
In the finisher’s chute getting rehydrated.
And, a German meal at the Bergnhoff to end the day! My kind of refuel.
My yearly one glass of red, red wine – Hey I am Portuguese what can I say:
And, then two weeks later, I did it all over again at the Marine Corp Marathon!
And, then this is me headed to the medic tent for dehydration, but I still managed to smile about it.
What is possible this year – ANYTHING of this I know. Chicago is on the calendar. And, so are many more smaller races. Maybe Newfound Lake again.
But one thing is for certain, I am doing what I LOVE and that is what counts the most.
Look at the joy! And, yes, of course, I am well known for putting on my lipstick at the finish line for the photos. I have it in my right hand 🙂 And, probably the only person I have ever seen run in a dress, yep!
And, that my friends is a very good night’s story.
I kicked my accident in the ass and never looked back – only ahead….
I just wished my grandmother and brother were around to see all this stuff – heck, I am blessed my grandfather did!