Embrace the Suck

Saturday morning, August 20, 2016: I am stoked. I’ve done a decent job estimating my route. I should hit the speed limit sign on Deerfield almost exactly at mile nine, leaving me one mile, mostly down hill, to home and completing my ten mile training run.

My day is packed. I’ve left no room for error. That was the first mistake. The placed call to my daughter at 9:45 and the deleted photos I found on my phone (the following day) are stamped 9:46 so my accident must have occurred shortly before that. How long? I’ll never know. I have two snippets of memory, the first being more dream like than the second. I am falling or maybe floating? I am confused and trying to assess the situation. I do nothing to prevent or minimize my landing. My next memory is raising my head off the ground. The grass where my head landed is all blood red. I stick my fingers in my mouth and begin counting teeth. Blood is pouring from my face and I can’t find the source. In looking back six days post fall, I am amazed and disturbed by how hard I had to concentrate in order to make logical decisions. Everything hurts. I can’t pin point the location of pain, but I somehow have the wherewithal not to move for fear that something might be broken. No one helps me. I begin making a head to toe assessment before rolling over and sitting up. The blood continues to pour from what I’ve discovered must be a cut on my chin. There is a lady a yard away. I try to yell, but she has earbuds in as she weeds her flowers. So I wait until she turns and I wave her down. She comes over hesitantly while I’m trying to free my phone from my fuel belt. “Can you call my daughter for me?” She replies with, “Why don’t you call your daughter and I’ll get paper towels.” “But I don’t know where I am?” She spits out the name of the street over her shoulder as she heads back to her house. I call Kyndall, but there is no sound. My earbuds! They’re still synced to my phone. I search the ground. The first thing I hear is “Are you alright?”…”No.” She is in her car. I give her the street name, but I’m already questioning whether I remembered the name correctly. “Run” something Run. Orchard Run? Maybe. I don’t know.

The lady returns with a roll of paper towels and a handful that are wet. She is keeping her distance from me. I think she’s afraid. Maybe she just doesn’t have the stomach for blood. There is so much blood. I mop myself off and stand. Still no Kyndall. I pack the wet towels hard against my chin and begin walking. I call Kyndall again. She is aimlessly searching every cul-de-sac in the neighborhood. I did, indeed, give her the wrong street name.

I sat on a baby blanket she spread over her carseat and told her to take me home. I needed to shower and then go to my grandson’s first haircut. She wanted to take me to the ER. What? I just need a shower and some bandaids. We pull in the driveway and I get out of the car. The blanket is bloodied. I’m dripping everywhere. I walk inside and head to a mirror. Horrifying – just like the look on my youngest’s face when she saw me. Okay, so maybe I do need to go to the ER.

Upon arrival, I promptly bloody their waiting room, and the bed so much so that they have to change the sheets before continuing to put me back together. There is immediate talk of consent for a blood transfusion. Woah, hang on there. I clearly am minimizing my situation. Just thirty minutes ago I thought I needed a shower and bandaids. However, by the end of the day I am released. A stitched up chin, a cut cornea, hyper extended wrists and fingers, abrasions and contusions on all extremities, oh, and a busted Garmin. BUT!… No broken bones.

In these days of healing I’ve thought a lot about running. These thoughts can be summed up into two categories:

  1. I’ve been running for seventeen years. This was my first fall. That’s a decent track record. I’m not scared to run. What does scare me is how hard I had to focus on next steps. I fell so hard. It’s likely the impact knocked me out. I didn’t know how to use my phone. I tried to take pictures of my face to see where the blood was coming from but I couldn’t figure it out. In my deleted photos were pictures of me from the eyes up and pictures of the ground. I was running in town, around people, and still got next to no help. I asked that lady to call my daughter with my phone in my outstretched hand, but she wouldn’t take it. My Road ID has been shipped. Once it arrives, I will never run without it.
  2. Runners liken running to life. Just plug in a search on Pinterest. We love to believe that running teaches us about and helps us through life. We have time to think through our problems during the run. When the run gets tough we are reminded that life is tough, but we are tougher and to take it one step at a time. We run when we don’t feel like it because that is the only way our future runs will feel better. We run in the rain, snow, heat and wind all while telling ourselves this builds tenacity. We will persevere. We relish in the moment when the wind is at our back and we feel we could go on forever because we know this too shall pass, we embrace the good. Here’s the other thing, though. Maybe the most important lesson running has taught me (also synonymous with life) is to Embrace the Suck. It’s the suck that makes us better, stronger, more equipped, and pretty badass.

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