It’s odd how for a couple of weeks now I have been debating returning to my blog. Well it looks like that time has come, not quite for the reasons I would have hoped, but nonetheless.
Since the Ironman I’ve been taking it much easier then when I was training for the event (and the scale sure does show it, sigh). I’ve enjoyed the lack of pressure though to follow a schedule. I have learned though that I do much better when there is a plan to follow. I’ve run two marathons since the big day…. The Steamtown Marathon on in my current residence (Scranton, PA) and the Atlanta Marathon (took advantage of being in Atlanta for work and stayed the weekend). I definitely had some challenges during both races but really just tried to enjoy the day and not care about my time. Both times ended up being fair given the challenges that the day held. I was just happy to finished my 12th and 13th marathons and add another medal to the collection!
This past week I decided I really wanted to start getting back in it and knock off a few of these pounds I had put on. Monday I hit the treadmill at the gym for a few miles (which I never do) but it was late after work by the time I got back and I also wanted to do some lifting at the gym. Tuesday morning I woke up early to hit the streets of Buckhead (part of Atlanta) near my hotel. It was still dark out but there was a ton of other runners and cyclists out on Peachtree Road. I caught an awesome sunrise at the end of my run as well! That same day after work, I hit up a local Planet Fitness to spend some time on the Arc Trainer. I also did some weights after as well as some ab work (even though you would never know lol). Wednesday morning I had to be at work early so a morning workout was just not in the cards. I thought I would force myself to workout when I got back after work, but I just couldn’t help but passing out in my bed. I was so exhausted. I went to bed at 6pm that night and pretty much slept until my alarm went off the next morning. Knowing that I hadn’t gotten a work out in the day before, I had my alarm set for 5am.
At about 5:30 am I threw on my running clothes and laced up my sneakers. I was wearing a pair of black Lululemon shorts and had on my bright yellow race shirt from the Steamtown Marathon which was designed to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon. I LOVED that shirt, one of my all time fav run shirts. I left my hotel room and started to head to the elevator. I got half way down the hall and realized I still had my engagement ring on and debated whether or not to go put it back in the room. Although I was in a relatively safe part of town, I still thought I shouldn’t risk it. I went back to my room and put it in the room safe. Ok, I was ready now. I took the elevator down to the lobby and walked outside. It was obviously still dark, which I expected, but what I hadn’t expected was the ground was wet. It clearly had rained over night and was still misting a little. I debated to myself going back up to the hotel gym and running on the treadmill. I remembered how much that sucked on Monday and told myself I was already outside and to toughen up and go. So once that pep talk was complete, I turned on my Garmin and waited for the satellites to acquire.
At 5:43 I hit the start button on my Garmin and headed down Lenox Road towards Peachtree. That entire stretch is uphill and enough to get your heart pumping. I reached the top and made the left had turn onto Peachtree Road in front of the Lenox Mall. I then approached the intersection. The intersection where my worst nightmare would come true. I was about .65 miles into my run and my guess is about ~6 minutes. It all happened SO fast but I will share what I do remember. It was a long intersection in front of the W hotel. The intersection had a crosswalk and a sign to indicate when it was the pedestrians turn to walk (this is a heavy pedestrian area). I looked up and saw I had the white walk sign, I also glanced both ways in the intersection and there was no sign of any vehicles. I entered the intersection and I’m pretty sure I made it at least half way through the intersection before BOOM! I honestly had no idea what had just happened. I felt a huge thud, and heard one too. I soon realized what was happening and that I had been hit. I smashed my head and then rolled off the car onto the road.
I don’t think I lost consciousness but a lot of things are still pretty fuzzy. A guy jumped out of the car and started yelling. I was already in tears and just trying to process what had happened. I remember standing there with my phone in my hand (which I always try to run with just in case) and trying to unlock it and call 911. The guy kept saying it’s ok, it’s ok, you are ok. I clearly knew I was not and kept trying to dial 911. He kept trying to touch me and I kept pulling away. I was definitely hysterical and he tried to calm me down but I had zero interest. I think I now know why I wasn’t able to unlock my phone, i kept dialing 911 as my unlock passcode rather than the actual passcode. It never phased me to hit the emergency button, clearly I was shaken up and not really thinking logically. I remember the guy kept telling me to get into his car and wait. I was at least smart enough to know that wasn’t a good idea. He kept asking and asking and I kept yelling no. I wasn’t about to get in a car of a guy that just hit me so he could drive my body away and dump me in a ditch somewhere (my thoughts at the moment). In true endurance athlete fashion, I remember then reaching down to stop my Garmin from recording my run (because obviously my time mattered, lol).
I was thankful then that a couple of cyclists riding by stopped. I believe they are the ones that finally called 911. The one cyclist brought me off the road over to the sidewalk to sit and wait. He really tried to calm me down, which was no easy task. Especially as I looked down and saw my shirt covered in blood. I then touched my head and it was completely soaked in blood. It was then that I realized I was severely bleeding from my head. My hand, wrist, and arm were pretty scraped up too from where I finally hit the road. The kind biker told me to stop touching because it was only getting me more worked up. A few other runners had stopped too by now and were standing there looking at me. Eventually someone went to the hotel and got me some towels to wrap around myself to try and keep warm. I was really starting to stiffen up and the pain was really becoming unbearable. While we sat there waiting, the cyclist asked me if there was anyone I wanted him to call. I said Jason and dialed my phone for him. He told Jason I had been hit by a cab while running (I definitely don’t remember it being a cab, in fact I couldn’t even begin to tell you what the vehicle looked like, other than it was a car). Jason remained very calm when he handed me the phone and he asked if I was ok. He told me to stay calm and follow what they told me to do. I think this is when the ambulance arrived. (I never got a chance to thank the cyclists for all they did for me, I’m hoping that when I get the police report eventually I can figure out who they are so I can thank them myself).
The paramedic asked me my name and age and then moved me into the ambulance to look at me. After just a couple of minutes, he told me we needed to go to the Emergency Room and asked me if I had a preference. I asked him to use his own judgement since clearly I didn’t know any differently. I remember asking about a police report, but he told me the police hadn’t arrived yet. I asked if we could wait, but he informed me that I was heavily bleeding from my head and there was no time to wait. He said the police would eventually meet me in the ER with additional information. On the way to the ER I called my parents house to let them know where I was headed. My dad answered and I told him what happened, clearly they were still sleeping. Eventually he put my mom on who was very worried (by nature). I tried to calm her down. I even had the paramedic in the back of the ambulance talk to her to tell her I was going to be ok. I told them I would keep them posted as I knew more.
Eventually we arrived at the Atlanta Medical Center Emergency Room. I was wheeled into the hospital and suddenly surrounded by numerous cops with guns. Hmm, ok. I guess this is “normal” protocol in their ER. Please. Get. Me. Out. ASAP. I was wheeled into a room and a doctor came in to talk to me. He already knew what happened and starting to examine me. He pressed on all different parts of my body and I was in so much pain. He laughed and told me, if you think this is bad just wait until tomorrow. Awesome. He then started to move my hair around to look at my head. He responded with oh man. You got it pretty good (gee, thanks buddy). He was like we may need staples. Staples? in my head? Are you friggin kidding me? He said ok, well I can’t get to your head like this, so i’m going to get someone to shave some of your hair. Oh great, this keeps getting better.
In the meantime, a police officer came into the room and wanted to update me on the scene and provide me the case number. She was super nice. She told me that they had already reviewed the video camera footage on the scene to confirm that the driver of the car was at fault. It was nice to hear this confirmation, even though I was confident that I had the walk and there were no cars in sight when I looked. Now that I look back, I don’t even remember ever seeing any headlights coming or even hearing the car. Which is super weird since the streets were pretty calm given the time and I wasn’t listening to any music or anything. So weird. He must have really approached fast.
After some more time went by, a nurse walked in that had gorgeous long brunette hair. I was thankful to see that she would be shaving my hair because I knew she would understand the impact and be cautious, or so I hoped. I heard the buzzing sound of the razor for at least three minutes. If I told you I was FREAKING out, that would be an understatement. When she was done she showed me a handful of hair and told me she tried to take off the least amount possible. i thanked her.
Later the Dr came back in to close the wound. Once the hair was removed, he was able to determine that the cut was longer rather than deeper. Because of this he decided against the staples (he said they would be more uncomfortable) and was going to stitch my head instead. Next thing I knew though, I heard him cutting. I instantly knew he was cutting more of my hair! I was like umm, hello? He said he needed to cut more because the cut went down further than what got shaved. He said the cut was pretty decent and just over two inches long. He kept telling me what a nice “goose egg” I had got. I should probably mention here that I have never gotten stitches before and this was about to be the first. Sigh.
He told me he was going to numb my head and I would feel a little pain. Well apparently my definition of a little and his are VERY different. After a few minutes he said ok, done. I was like done? That’s it? It’s over? He was like oh no and laughed. He then told me he was done numbing it and not stitching it. He hadn’t even started that yet! Ugh! So the stitching was awful and feeling the “string” going through my head as he pulled it tight was the weirdest feeling in the world, of and very painful. I swear it took forever. Then to make things even better, he was like, I will be right back, I ran out of string. WTH! Oh good, I will just hang out here since clearly i’m not going anywhere! So a few more minutes go by and then he starts back up again. Then another doctor came in and asked if he needed help. He said he was almost done. She then said, oh, I wasn’t trying to rush you. And I responded with, oh don’t worry, I am! Let’s get this over with! FINALLY he said he was done! I’m not sure how long it actually took but it felt like an eternity. Did I mention pain is not my thing? Nor needles? Yuck!
Since I mentioned I was going to fly home that day (my flight was already planned and at this point home was the ONLY place I wanted to be) the doctor said I needed to get a CT scan (this would also be my first). In addition, I got a tetanus shot as well. I again was sitting there waiting to be taken to the scan. At one point I lifted my head off the bed and looked backed. OMG…. there was blood everywhere that I was laying in. I nearly passed out. I started yelling for one of the nurses to come get rid of all of the towels and sheets. I must have yelled for five minutes. NO ONE responded. Mind you, I was the first room across from the nurse’s station. Finally this guy walks in and was like can I help you? I asked him to help me and then learned he was actually going to be the one wheeling me for the scans. He was so nice and helpful. I was so grateful.
Once we got to the CT room, I learned I would need to move from the bed onto the platform. WOW. I could barely move. I was so stiff and so sore. I suddenly understood the phrase “I feel like I got hit by a truck,” and yet it was only a car 😉 The CT was pretty fast. He told me it would be up to an hour before the radiologist would read the results. He took me back to my room and gave me the remote for the TV. He was truly a blessing.
It wasn’t too long before the Dr came back and told me that the results from the CT were fine and that I could go home. He again told me how much worse the pain would be the next day and to take it very easy. He instructed me that I should get the stitches taken out in a week. I asked a number of follow up questions but he confirmed it was ok for me to fly home. I got up (very slowly) and took my bloody shirt with me and asked if I could take the blanket with me (oh and my bag of earrings that I had to take out for the scan). He said yes. I also asked if he could call a cab for me to take me back to my hotel. (I’m thankful I didn’t really know I had been hit by a cab because I probably would have been more hesitant to get in a cab again). The Dr brought me two numbers to call and I called for a cab. I was then off to fill out the release paperwork.
This was an interesting process. I didn’t have my license. I didn’t have my insurance card. I mean, I have to imagine that happens, but it was like the end of the world here. Finally I was on my way and when I was done the cab was already waiting. When I stood up I nearly feel over. I was so lightheaded. I did not feel well at all. However, the only thing I could think about was getting home.
I got in the cab and told him he would have to wait for me to get my credit card once we arrived at the hotel. Again, he was less than pleased. Can’t a girl get a break? I felt like crap the entire drive back which took FOREVER because of the AWFUL Atlanta traffic. When we got there, I had an odd exchange with the valet guy, I learned more about this later. I slowly made my way to my room to get my credit card. Once I made it back downstairs and handed him my card, I was about to fall over. I told him I needed to go sit down. He told me to wait and I said I couldn’t. He then walked over and handed my card back. I was so frustrated with how un-accomodating some people were. Ugh. I sat there for a few minutes to pull myself together before I tried to make it back up to my room. I was in rough shape and I knew it.
I got back to my room and had about 90 minutes before I would need to head to the airport if I was going to make my flight. Given how I just felt, I had zero idea how I would ever make it through an airport. That is a lot of movement. I forced myself to drink some water and eat grapes thinking maybe I was dehydrated. I laid down for a bit but was hesitant about falling asleep while i was alone given the head injury I had. Before I knew it, it was time to pack my stuff if I was going to go. I sat up and really didn’t feel much better. I was so torn. I knew I was weak and wasn’t sure I could make it but I REALLY just wanted to be home with Jason. I decided I would try. It took me about 40 minutes to pack what should have taken 10 minutes. I also had to figure out what to do with my rental car. I will spare you the details on that one, what a mess, again, some people are just not helpful and accommodating.
I eventually made it to the lobby all packed up and hopped in a cab to head to the airport. I laid down in the cab because all of the bouncing around was just killing me. I quickly became exhausted while navigating through the airport, but nonetheless I made it. I had some help with my luggage since I had zero strength. I still can’t lift anything to this day. I was thankful for my first class upgrade that day. I was told by the Dr to ensure I told the flight attendant about my accident and where to find my emergency contact info in case something was to happen. Of course I then had to to tell her what had happened. She was so kind and brought me 6 pillows to stick everywhere. She was so kind. I was fortunate to have a nice guy sitting next to me that talked to em most of the flight to ensure I stayed awake. I eventually made my connection in Philly and was on my final flight home. I was glad to see a few familiar faces on that flight too which made me feel better just in case something was to happen.
When I got to the airport at home, Jason was outside waiting for me. I was sooooo glad to see him. As much as it hurt for him to hug me, there was nowhere else in the world I wanted to be in that moment. Seeing him made me grateful that not only had I made it home, but grateful for so much more. I was grateful that I was alive. I was grateful that I didn’t break any body parts. Although I was in so much pain and the pressure in my head was unbearable, I knew I was lucky. As my mom said, an angel was watching over me 🙂
Well, the Dr wasn’t kidding and Friday was very painful. I had a rough night and constantly kept waking up from the pain. My neck, shoulders, and back were in so much pain that no matter how I lied there, it still hurt so bad. I tried to get up and move around throughout the day but that proved to be a challenge. I was overwhelmed with so much love and support from family, friends, and coworkers. My support system is truly the best and I am so grateful. My phone was full of messages all day long, notes on Facebook, edible arrangements delivered from family and friends, and even flowers from work. That all really helped to put a smile on m face during some challenging moments. Every time that I wanted to complain about the pain, or cry when I found more hair that had been cut/shaved off, I thought about all of the kind gestures and couldn’t help but try to smile.
So why did I blog about this? Was it for sympathy? Absolutely Not. My goal was awareness. Awareness that every time we enter the road rather it be by foot or by bike, this is a real risk. It’s every runner and triathletes worst nightmare. But it happens. Unfortunately. It doesn’t make it right, but it sure makes it real. Do I wish I hadn’t gone for that run Thursday morning? Absolutely not. I was out doing something I love. Out trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Out to inspire others to chase their dreams while also being inspired by so many other athletes that I follow. I will not let that man that wasn’t paying attention that morning rob me of my dreams. He’s already taken enough, I refuse to give him more.
Love you all! XOXOX ~Jackie