Monday Memories, part one

I suppose “memories” is a misnomer. My accident defined a big part of my life, and yet I don’t actually remember it.

The first part of this story is easy to tell. I’ve told it before. I don’t remember any of this – I know this story because others have told me about it. I’ve read the police report and the hospital chart. I have amnesia. Not the “made-for-tv-movie” kind, where I remember nothing from before the accident and everything from after. The memories closest to the accident – most of my adolescence – are gone, although I remember my childhood well enough. The weeks after the accident are gone too, and the months after are fuzzy. It’s easy to tell this story, because it might as well have happened to someone else.

But it didn’t happen to someone else. It happened to me.

I was 17 years old and a senior in high school. My life was pretty close to perfect. I grew up in Independence, MO, a large suburban community outside Kansas City, Missouri. High school was almost over. I was smart, and I was among a group of about a dozen students (out of 400- plus in my class) competing for valedictorian. I had already been accepted to my “safety-safety school” (the school I would go to if I didn’t get accepted to my safety school), plus they’d offered me a significant scholarship. I wasn’t really concerned about getting accepted to the school of my choice, since I had fantastic grades and test scores.

On the evening of Wednesday, November 8, I drove to another nearby town to visit friends. Late that evening, I pulled onto an interstate to drive home. The weather was poor that night. The first ice storm of the year would ultimately cover the area with a half-inch of ice.

At 10:30 pm, according to the police report, I hit a patch of black ice and lost control. My car plowed into the 18-wheel semi ahead of me.

My torso was thrown forward. I was wearing my seat belt, thankfully – otherwise I surely would have been thrown through the windshield and onto the interstate. My head hit the steering wheel and possibly also the windshield. I fell unconscious, probably as soon as my head hit the steering wheel, although it’s possible that I remained conscious for a few minutes afterward. At some point I quit breathing.

Someone called 911. The police and fire departments, as well as an ambulance, responded. The police wound up closing down the interstate entirely due to the treacherous conditions. My car was crumpled around me, and the fire department had to use the hydraulic rescue tool known as the “Jaws of Life” to extricate me. When they were through, the car was reduced to scrap metal.

It took thirty minutes to extricate me. My condition got worse. I went from “unconscious but a little bit responsive” to “unconscious and unresponsive”. When I was removed from the car, I was placed on a backboard and in a cervical collar, with an ambu-bag forcing air into my lungs. The EMTs strongly recommended that I be transported to the hospital via air ambulance, but the weather had continued to worsen, and the helicopter pilots felt it would be unsafe for them to take off. I was transported to Truman Medical Center via ground ambulance.

stay tuned for more…

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weekend wrap-up, 9-14-14

This week has been (somewhat surprisingly) great.

This is my first “official” week in the workout plan that I put together for September. I know I need to get into the best shape possible before R4TW on October 4, and I knew that the only way this could happen would be if I moved my workouts to the morning.

I am not, by nature, a morning person. By extension, I’m not a morning exerciser. For most of my running career, I’ve been a midday runner, and since I already work odd hours, it worked for me. But right now, just with everything else going on in my life, I knew I would have to get over myself, roll out of bed, and exercise.

photo (15)Monday began well. I rolled out of bed, dressed, forced a bit of cheerfulness, and headed out.







photo (16)On that day, I ran through a park adjacent to an elementary school near my house. I was greeted by Chocolate the Beanie Baby Moose sitting on the sidewalk…




photo (17)…and a souvenir Barry Bonds baseball in the grass. I took both items to the front office of the elementary school and gave them to a secretary to put in the lost and found. I’m sure someone is missing them.

I ran 3.1 miles in 48:54. Pretty slow, but a nice way to work out my legs.


On Tuesday, I cross-trained for 30 minutes. I used an app called Sworkit, which led me through several body-weight strengthening moves. I’m currently working on a full review of this app, but suffice it to say, I am very pleased with it.

On Wednesday, when I first opened the door, it was COLD! Not frigid, but the temperature had very suddenly dropped down into the upper 40s and 50s, and I was definitely surprised. There was enough drizzle and rain that I decided to leave my iPhone at home, and I ran without any music. I’m guessing I ran about two miles.

photo (18)On Thursday, the rain had left but it was still pretty chilly. I was extra-grumpy when I rolled out of bed, and really did NOT feel like running! I seriously considered staying home. I got dressed and forced myself out the door for a run – and I’m glad I did! Yes, it was cool and overcast, but I ran 3.6 miles at a 14:48 pace, which was pleasantly surprising!


On Friday, I cross-trained for 30 min with the Sworkit app. Again, I was very pleased with it. It’s not running, but I worked up a good sweat and stretched my muscles.

photo (20)Saturday is the one day of the week that I can manage an afternoon run. After a light lunch, I ran 6.3 miles. This run was really quite glorious. The sun was shining. There was very little breeze. The temperature had warmed up, just a bit, to 60 degrees Fahrenheit – perfect running weather!





photo (19)I saw this woolly bear caterpillar while I was out, crawling along a decorative retaining wall. He’s thick and dark-colored. According to the old wives’ tale, this means a bad winter. Boo.






As I always do when I’m running long, I tried to hold myself back in the first few miles. I didn’t want to run too fast and burn out. Around the halfway point, I realized that my pace was a bit faster than I anticipated, and the thought occurred to me that I just might be able to push my pace a little bit on the last half of this run. Still, I didn’t want to push too hard and burn out. I was one mile from home when I realized I could reach a sub-15:30 pace if I pushed this last mile. I was exhausted, but I did it anyway, and I am SO SO pleased that I clocked in at 15:23!

Finally, today is Sunday, and that means REST DAY! I’m writing, relaxing, and getting myself ready for what I hope will be another great week. What about you?

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September training

Perhaps I’m overly ambitious. Or a glutton for punishment. Or maybe I’m just plain crazy.

Probably some combination of all three.

Since I am going to be expected to run one hour, as far as I can, on October 4, I put together this workout plan to whip me into shape.

Today I ran 3.1 miles in 48:54. Off to a good start…

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fear, frozen, freedom

Let’s get real, y’all.

Several months ago, one of my cousins moved to the Kansas City area with his family (wife and three kids) to work with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Operation Mobilisation. He coordinates international Christian sports missions between the two organizations. It’s a bit of an adjustment for us, in a mostly-good way. My parents moved to Missouri, alone, before my sister and I were born, and we’ve never before had any extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents) living nearby.

It’s neat that he is working with sports, but at the same time, it’s forcing me to confront some of my paranoias. By my nature, I am a solo runner. I’ve never run with a training group or with a friend. The only times I’ve ever run “with” others have been at races – but I don’t know anyone else, and I don’t WANT to know anyone else there!

I have a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, I’m slow. I know I’m slow. I celebrate that I’m slow, because there are plenty of reasons why I *shouldn’t* be able to run at all, but at the same time I’m embarrassed that I’m slow. I had a couple of PE teachers and, later, some therapists after my accident who were incredibly negative about my slowness and worked their hardest to convince me that I was not and never could be a runner. It’s hard to shake those old voices sometimes.

More importantly, running is my therapy. I say this half in jest, because running is not and never will be the same as therapy. For me, running has allowed me to cope with some emotions that probably would otherwise require therapy.

There’s some dark stuff in my past. There was a time when I made many poor choices, when people who I thought were my friends really only had their own best interests in mind, when I fell victim to abuse and sank to a black, hopeless place. I don’t share those experiences with many people. Even my own family does not know how bad it was. On the few occasions I’ve shared even a part of those experiences with someone outside my immediate family, those people have reacted in an inappropriate and very negative way. Running allows me to work out my emotions in a way that is healthy and productive.

When I run, it’s like I remove the filter between myself, my emotions, and my past, but I’m strong enough to face those emotions. Running gives me the strength to cope. Without that filter, the side effect is that I become overly willing to talk about… anything and everything. Including the things that I would ordinarily NOT share with other people. When I run races, it’s quite common that people running at the same pace will chat with each other and get to know each other during the race. More than once, I’ve caught myself starting to share the things I don’t want to share!

My solution has been to run alone. It’s an imperfect solution, but it’s worked. Until now.

My cousin invited my whole family to take part in a “Run 4 The World” event that his organization is sponsoring. It’s basically a fun run, but instead of running a set distance, each runner will run (or walk) for one hour. The organization is sponsoring runners and events around the world. Each person will log the distance they run, with the goal of running a combined distance of 40,000 km, or the circumference of the globe. Plus, of course, they are raising money to build schools and provide medical care in the third world.

Of course, the whole idea makes me anxious. I support building schools and providing medical care in the third world, but running around people who know me? Eek. No thank you.


Confession: I really like Frozen.

I know, I know, it’s a kids’ movie and it’s all over the place. As an adult, I’m supposed to roll my eyes and laugh at “those silly children”.

Yet I connect with that movie on so many levels. Of course, as a younger sister, I totally understand how Anna feels when her sister shuts her out. I adore my older sister. I know exactly how it feels to be the awkward little sister.

But when Elsa sings “Let it Go“…the triumph of that moment…

I get goosebumps every time.

I get tears in my eyes every time.

The courage displayed in that moment is overwhelming.

What the movie doesn’t capture, and can’t really capture, are the weeks and months following Elsa’s “let it go” moment. Life does all that it can to foil our desire to live freely. No matter how resolute she was, in the days that follow, she will question herself. She will wonder if she made the right choice. She will wonder if her power is really enough. For just a moment, she will forget that she is incredible.

Then one day, she’ll watch a Disney movie and find herself crying inexplicably at the heroine’s song.

Then she will remember.

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. ~Deuteronomy 31:6

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improving runs and things seen while running

Today’s run was good – very good. Which is good. Duh.

I went for a run last Tuesday, and it was bad. It’s hard enough to push myself back into shape. On Tuesday, it was 92 and humid – and my run was BAD. My times were slow, I felt lousy – it was just incredibly discouraging.

photo (11)So I’m really pleased, maybe even relieved, that today’s run went well. The weather was MUCH better, more like 80 and only moderately humid. I pushed my distance a bit – 3.64 miles, which is longer than the 2.5 mile runs I’ve been doing the past couple of weeks. Better yet, my pace was improved. I was around 15:30 pace, which is not fast and not even my fastest pace, but a huge improvement on my recent 18:00 paces. And most importantly, it FELT GOOD. Strong. That’s exactly what I’ve been seeking.



photo (12)

I saw a surprising amount of oddities on today’s run. On the first half of the run, I passed this driveway. Anyone want a print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night and some really crummy furniture?




photo (13)

Then on the way back, I saw this recliner sitting at the end of the driveway. I won’t lie: I was getting a little tired and the thought crossed my mind that I could sit down right here and rest. :-) I decided that the chair’s owner wouldn’t appreciate it if I left a puddle of sweat in their chair. (Incidentally, I WAS sweating a lot today!)



Since I already use the Nike+ app on my iPhone, I’m seriously considering using their coaching feature. I’m hoping that will help push me and improve my fitness. The feature is made to coach you toward a 5k, 1/2 marathon, or marathon race, and I’m not planning any of those races right now, but I figure that the training would still be worthwhile, even if I’m not actually doing the race. Who knows – maybe I’ll do a “virtual” race, running outside my front door.

I read the most recent issue of Runner’s World tonight, and I’m pretty excited about a couple of the training ideas that I picked up from it. Though I have to admit, it’s pretty easy for me to get excited about possibilities in the evening or at night. It’s a lot harder to follow through the next day!


Two days ago, I found this new running outfit created by Lululemon. It’s called a “runsie”. It’s a… it’s a one piece… yes, it is a running onesie. I can’t decide if it’s ridiculous or brilliant. I love the open back – I don’t have the nerve to run with only a sportsbra, but when I’m sweating as much as I was today, it’d be nice to shed some layers of clothes. But on the other hand… it’s a $98 onesie. Which is just a little too much for me, in more ways than one!



And that is my life. Tomorrow I will probably be going to a friend’s wedding, and next week I will be taking my mother to a surgery center to get her cataracts removed. Busy, perhaps, but it leaves enough time to run. The rest is just details. :-)

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canine visitors and visiting family

What a month! I am thrilled (and just a little bit sad) to report that I am finished with my travels for the summer. It’s been a LOT of fun, and I’m a sorry that it’s over, but at the same time it is good to get back into a routine.

After our road trip to visit my sister, my parents and I came home for a little over a week. A dear friend of ours was scheduled to deliver a baby, and we had the opportunity to puppy-sit for her and her husband while she was in the hospital.

photo (4)

Sadie, the puppy, was such a lady. She is an incredibly well-behaved dog. She’s house-trained, and she never attacks the house or furniture. She’s always excited when we get home. She adores us. Her biggest “fault” is that she will bark at the mailman or at any animals (usually birds or squirrels) on our porch.





photo (5)

I happened to unbox a brand-new pair of shoes while Sadie was here. These are Catapult Conquers. Pretty colors, no? Cost me $20 at Kmart. I’m pretty sure these are the cheapest running shoes I’ve ever purchased! I didn’t buy them for the colors, though – these just happened to be the pair on the shelf that felt best.


photo (6)

Sadie is not a large dog (only eleven pounds) so while I took her for a walk every day, and while we did run a little bit, I was cautious not to too far or too fast. Though I adore her, she is not MY dog, and I don’t want to make her sick.



photo (7) photo (8) photo (9)

We went to a park near Bass Pro Shop in Independence. It’s the first time this season that I’ve been to that park, and WOW, they had a bumper crop of rabbits! Even in the middle of the day, I’d see at least two dozen, many of which were clearly juvenile. They were nearly impossible to photograph, but lots of fun to see!


I also saw this, which I *think* is a Great Blue Heron.





Sadie’s “mom” gave birth to a perfect little boy, and Sadie went home after a week.




photo (10)

Last week, my parents and I drove to Colorado to check up on my 93-year-old grandfather (my mother’s father) and his 91-year-old wife. They still live in a house (the same one that my grandpa and my late grandma bought when my mother was a teenager), but we visit every year to help make repairs around the house and just to check on them.


I had the best of intentions, planning to work and run, but I wound up accomplishing neither. I was designated to make technology repairs and upgrades to my grandfather’s PC, iPad, and Kindle. I didn’t have access to the internet (except on my cell phone) for the first three days while I updated his new router and figured out the wireless security key. Add in the time it took to figure out his issues with the iPad and Kindle, plus to write detailed instructions telling him how to use his devices, and by the time I had any “down time”, it was time to go home!

I have to admit, my desire to run while I was in Colorado was not entirely selfless. I love my step-grandmother – she has taken care of my grandfather, and I’ll always be thankful for that. She has had one knee replaced and has arthritis in her second knee, totally understandable for a 91-year-old. Every summer, she begs me to quit running because she is convinced that I am ruining my knees.

I understand her perspective, and I know she only wants the best for me. I also know that there’s no way she can understand all the ways that running has benefited me, and I’m not just talking about physically. Yes, I’ve lost some weight and gained some cardiovascular strength. Much more importantly, I’ve gained confidence. Running has given me a joy that I’ve never found in anything else. Maybe it will ruin my knees – but it’s worth it!

The weather since I returned has been just incredible. Sunny, mild temperatures – absolutely ideal. It has been perfect weather for running, and even though I’m still a bit out of shape, it has been wonderful!

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out of town, out of shape

Ahhh, home sweet home…

I just got home last Friday after a three-week whirlwind road trip to visit my sister, who lives outside Boston. We’ve flown to Boston before, but my parents and I discovered that we really love driving and visiting all the awesome places between here and there. On the way out, we went to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan; a short stop in Mount Clemons, Michigan to visit one of my mother’s childhood homes (she was an Air Force kid); and Kinderhook, New York to visit the home of Martin Van Buren, the 8th president.

On the way home, we went to Hyde Park, New York to visit the homes of Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick William Vanderbilt; Cleveland, Ohio to visit the home of James Garfield, the 20th president; the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio; Huffman Prairie Flying Field and National Historic Site in Dayton, Ohio; and the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site in St. Louis, Missouri.

And, oh yea, we helped my sister clean up her new house in Wakefield, Massachusetts, for a week. :) We did find time to visit her “second” home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (she lives in Boston but works in Portsmouth.) It rained, so we couldn’t go to the beach (boo!), but we did spend plenty of time enjoying the city.

Whew! Yes, it was busy and crazy and I loved every minute!

Over the weekend, I got out for my first run in much too long – a month, perhaps?

I am soooo out of shape. Seriously. For the first time in months – years, maybe! – it was HARD.

Admittedly, it was hot (92 degrees Fahrenheit) and humid. Still, I was really surprised by how much I struggled! It didn’t feel good at all.

It kind of reminds me of when I first started running, over four years ago. Only that was different. When I first started running, I knew I was bad. I knew I would be slow, and it would be hard. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I was filled with the enthusiasm and determination to try. That was what carried me through the hard days, until it got easier.

Now, it’s definitely different. For one thing, I’ve done it. I’ve run many thousands of miles since I began. I don’t question whether I can do it again. Oddly, that also removes some of the challenge.

I also don’t have the naive enthusiasm of a beginner. I’ve often thought that the best race I’ve ever run was my first – a little 4-miler at the local zoo. I love running, but I know I’ll never be able to replicate the exhilaration of that first race.

Getting myself back into shape this time requires a different type of enthusiasm and determination. This time, it’s like I’m reclaiming something. Some of my favorite runs have been my long (and unscheduled) Saturday runs. Not races, not runs with other people – just me on a Saturday afternoon, jogging through my city and enjoying every minute of it. I want that again. I want to run six miles, eight miles, ten miles, feel the air running over my skin and the sun on my shoulders, and love every moment of it. I want to wonder how fast I can run down a hill, then run down it even faster.

Whoa. Started to get all poetic there. Sorry ’bout that!

I got out for another run today. It was still hard, but definitely better. The weather was better (83 degrees!), and it just felt better. There were even a few moments when I caught myself settling into the run – those moments when my mind is empty and it’s just my feet and the road.

I’m sore, by the way. Oddly enough, it feels great. :)

I have one more business trip/vacation later this summer – to Colorado, of all places. That will probably challenge me because of the elevation, but I’m determined to run while I’m there. (I could probably write a whole post on my reasons, but I’ll save that for another day!)

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World Cup running!

The world is converging on Brazil right now for the World Cup. In addition to kicking and heading the ball while playing soccer/football/futbol, here’s an amazing statistic for you:

Those guys run an average of 7 miles per game!

That’s over 10k, sometimes up to 15k, PER GAME! Wow!


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busy summers

I don’t know why I always think my life is going to slow down during the summer. Ever since I graduated college, summer has been insanely busy, and this summer is no exception.

The broken laptop computer I referenced a few weeks ago has been part of my challenge. The computer works, but the display is broken. Right now that means I have to “borrow” the monitor off of one of our desktop computers every time I want to use the computer. It’s a bit of a hassle and I find myself needing to schedule my time on the computer very carefully. Because of that, it’s much more difficult for me to break away for a midday run, and my exercise schedule has been suffering. Later this summer, I will probably be able to get an extra monitor from my sister, but until then I have to make do.

(Yes, I am planning to buy a new laptop. Eventually. I rarely buy computers without excessive amounts of research.)

I got out for a run on Saturday. 3.66 miles. My pace wasn’t super fast, around 16:15, but given how little I’ve been running lately, it was definitely faster than I expected!

It’s hot, humid, windy, and I really don’t know what the rest of this summer will hold. I’m running less, but I *am* writing more, so who knows? Maybe I’ll have a publishing cred before the season is over…

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frustratingly busy

Ugh. When it comes to running, May has just not been a good month.

It’s a poor excuse, but my life has really been crazy this month. Just last night, I finished the Citizens’ Police Academy at my local police station, which was WAY COOL, but took up a fair amount of time. My computer broke – thankfully it was a repair I could make, but it took time. Ironically I also had a higher-than-usual amount of computer-based freelance work – a variety of computer tasks that I do for private clients. I had several days this month when I was already committed to volunteering through my church. We traveled to a family reunion in Nebraska over Memorial Day weekend. Add in all the regular work I do, the stuff that pays the bills, and running didn’t even make it to the priority list.

I attempted to get outside yesterday for a run, and I was really frustrated and disappointed by how much fitness it seems I have lost. It was pretty warm – mid 80s Fahrenheit – and very humid. I could barely finish two miles before my legs refused to go on, and those first two miles were pretty miserable. My body was just not into it at all. It didn’t feel free or flowing, like the runs I have really loved. I’m sure part of it is mental, too – I know I’ve always struggled with the mental game.

I guess I’m “back to square one”, at least for now. This weekend will be crazy – we have family visiting us – but hopefully next week I can get out for a couple of real easy runs, Gallo-run style. It’s annoying to struggle, but it’s worth it to get back to running free and flowing. Because that is a feeling I just cannot replicate any other way!

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