Runner: Full Stop

Steal out of work at 5 grab travel bag run for elevator, down 23 floors anxious, hustling, married to train schedule, just don’t miss the bugger.  Hit the street running, crowded sidewalk moveoff it passing the slow moving cars now, mile to the train no time to spare.

Same people every night I know I look insane, probably have the big one some night die right here on the street just trying to get home from work at a decent hour. I remember the night I got to the platform and stepped onto the wrong train, sensed it right away but the train was already moving, no, not tonight I headed to the door and jumped off the moving train!

I don’t know what made me think that I could pull it off, watched too many movies I guess. “Only in the movies.” I hit the ground hard, rolled over, got up and stunned I nonchalantly walked across the platform got on MY train and sat down to assess the damage.

Then I laughed at myself, I must be mad, funniest thing that nobody even seemed to notice probably because we all had seen so much crazy shit on the streets of Boston over the years that my leap from a moving train, truly desperate times for me, was barely worth a shoulder shrug from my fellow citizens.

I very rarely got onto the wrong train or stayed on the train beyond my stop but I remember those few times over 20 plus years of commuting, very well. One night, a Friday, I was reading Sometimes A Great Notion by Ken Kesey. I was absorbed and went past my stop. There really is some brilliance in those pages, but anyway I got off next stop Shirley MA train stop middle of nowhere, 20 degrees, wind howling, need to take a piss go off behind a tree, piss all over self, oh well at least the wind will dry…

So, this was my life post running/racing professional such as that was. 

In the early 1990’s I was still running about 60 miles a week and competing pretty well closing in on big 40. Residual fitness kept me competitive for a while and I even won regional marathons in Huntsville AL and Burlington VT.

In July 1993, I did my usual nightly routine leaving work and when I got to the train station hustled to get back home to Clinton and pick up our daughter Lily at daycare. From the train station in S. Acton I like to take back roads and this particular night I switched my route slightly, a pretty drive but anxious one trying to be on time. In the middle of a hair pin turn where you can only go 20 mile an hour, I slammed head on into another driver coming the opposite way and entirely missing the turn, continuing straight to meet me head on.

I looked down at my right leg where my knee had slammed into the dashboard and was now oddly on the side of my leg. In shock I got out of the car, realized I could not go anywhere and lay down upon the ground watching the clouds roll by overhead.

Some guy was speaking over me I started to try and explain and heard him say about the other driver, “she’s DWO” I said “DWO?” “yeah, driving while oriental.” I know, not very nice.

It turned out the other driver had been smoking and dropped a lit cigarette into her lap just before arriving at the hairpin turn and not turning. 

Runner full stop.

I was in the hospital for a week, I think. My knee required surgery for ruptured patella tendon. Lots of painful rehab followed. I was in a cast, got to stay home from work for 13 weeks so I guess there was a silver lining, ha-ha.

It was very tough going from very active to lying around so once I got home I just started going for long walks on the crutches but I was sometimes in a lot of pain from cracked ribs to the throbbing of my leg.

That was 25 years ago, so far I have lived happily ever after. I now ride my bicycle to work, when I can even though people like to tell me it is dangerous, ha-ha not like jumping off a moving train though.

Surgeon said running would give me arthritis which I considered the least of my worries. After 4-5 months not running and then working my way from long walks with short bouts of running to running a mile on the track to actual runs I was able to continue to do the physical exercise I had always enjoyed and was such a big part of my life.

Lucky me.