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Go Towards the Light

I wrote recently about how things can change, and how there’s often a reason for everything.  I never really know the reasons, but I am one who can appreciate things like humor in sadness and thick, slathered-on irony.

For those who may be out of the loop, here’s the Twitter-esqe version of what’s been going on in my life:

Ramping up for Ironman Louisville.  Has bike crash.  Suspected torn hip labrum.  My grandmother passes away. Decide to pull out of Ironman Lou – I mean, I could hardly walk. missed so much training. But I start physical therapy. I keep moving. I get back on the bike.

That’s pretty  much the summary to catch up to this weekend.

So I rode 20 miles on Friday. Then 50 miles on Saturday. Then I rode 30 on Sunday.

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That was the evidence I needed to put my mind back in a good place.  The Expert and I were going to Louisville anyway.  I rode with my friends, Karen and Lynn, and it was a cold, but lovely ride. We headed to breakfast to get coffee and warm up (surprisingly cold ride!).

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Before going into the restaurant, I put Lucy the Bike inside the car—instead of just locking her on the bike rack.

It was strange to me that I took the extra time to clear out the backseat, move some boxes, and put her inside. I never do that. I just lock her up and go. But this time, especially, I wanted her to be safe and sound.

After we ate, I stood in the parking lot with Karen, and I told her that I was going to do Ironman Louisville.

I was putting my hat back in the ring. I had signed up for it.  I worked hard up to Lake Placid.  I had some fitness left in me.  Nothing is ever perfect, but I wanted to give it my all.

Nothing worse in the world than regret.

Sure, I said, I knew that it would be a tough day, but knowing a tough day ahead of time… and mentally preparing for it, I would get through it. My hip was fine riding.  Running? Well, I’m was not sure about that yet… Either way.  A solid swim, a solid bike… and possible for a finish.

(Of course, I had already discussed this with my PT and my coach, before making the decision.)

So anyway… I felt amazing. Excited. I knew I had a really hard month of work ahead of me to “make up” what I had missed. To really rehab the hip, and make it happen. But I felt something I hadn’t felt in what seemed to be a long while.

Hope.

The weather was perfect. My mood was great.  A wonderful day with friends.  I was literally giddy, high on gratitude and happy.

But as I was driving, I received a message from Coach Brett’s wife that he was in a bike accident. I talked to her, and learned that he was pretty broken up and definitely broken collarbone and elbow. But it could have been worse, she said. He was “very lucky.” And just like that, he was out of his “A” race…

…and just as I decided I was “in.”

What in the hell…  I was so upset. He’s my coach, yes, but also my friend. I knew how hard he had worked for this. I mean, crap, I just saw him Saturday after his 18 mile run (at some ungodly 8:00 mile pace, too).

So unfair. Such BS.    

I pulled up to a stoplight and waited to turn left. (For my Atlanta area people – it was the 75S off-ramp turning left onto 92 in Acworth.)

The light turned green, and I pressed the gas pedal. Right as I went forward, I was able to see past the guardrail, and then I saw the car.  A white flash flying towards me.

I had maybe 1… 2… seconds…

Thoughts in my head:  BMW.  My kids.  Slow down…

The car did not slow down, and I viciously turned the wheel to the right, away from the rocket-speed car.

A terrifyingly loud sound. And then another.

The next thing, I remember was smelling smoke. And feeling my right ring finger, hurting. Then my pinkie finger. And there were so many white sheets around me.

My right arm was shaking and I smelled really bad.  Is that from the bike ride or is that this sheet? 

About 30 seconds later, I figured it all out.

Accident.
Sheets = Airbags (everywhere!).
I am alive.
Why do my fingers hurt?

I opened the door, parted the airbags, and stepped out of the car.

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A guy came out of nowhere from behind me, Are you okay?

Yes.  Did you see what happened?

Yes, he said. That was not your fault. That came out of nowhere.

Okay, I said. I thought so.

Where did the white car go?  I looked across the street.  Across four lanes of traffic, and there was the white car.

I then realized that the guy was the third driver. And Driver Three hit me when the white car hit me.

That was the second boom.

We need to move this car out of the road. I’ll put it in neutral. Help me push, I said.

Driver Three and I pushed.  It moved not. The entire front axle was bent.

Slowly things made sense, and police came and wreckers, and ambulances and cute firemen. I texted my cute fireman, the Expert, and finally got him, and he was en route with the kiddos.

Snow White–also known as the driver of the white car–walked over to me. I was surprised she was walking after that. [I was surprised I was walking.]

She said to me and Driver Three, “I need your names and numbers.”

And that was all she said.  How about an apology, I muttered under my breath.  Snow White walked off.

[I mean can you imagine running a red light going 40-50 MPH and not even freaking apologizing for the mayhem you caused. Accidents happen, sure. But so should apologies. For the love, Snow White. Manners?]

Little by little, things clicked into place.  My left hand started hurting.  The airbag burns.  The aches. The neck.  My poor car.  My trusty 2007 Honda Pilot with 140,000 miles on it… my no-car-payment car.  Pretty little thing all broken and bent, getting pulled up onto the wrecker.

The Expert drove me to urgent care. X-rays. Suspected fracture in the left hand (follow-up with ortho for confirmation). Doctor thought from me punching the window on impact—shoulder and left arm hitting the side of the door before the side-curtain airbags dropped.  Burns on the arm from the airbags. Lots of impact bruising.

The funny thing?  My hip doesn’t hurt at all now. Maybe because everything else hurts more. Not sure.

Today, I am trying to figure out how in the world to make Ironman Louisville happen.

What? You are crazy, Meredith.   Well, maybe. But look, Sunday, I decided to do the race. Then Snow White runs me down in her freaking non-stop carriage… Why does she get to decide to stomp on my hope?

Now, I am sure some of you are shaking your heads and saying, “Take a sign, Swim Bike Mom!”

I’m sure many of you are thinking, “How many signs do you need? You should NOT race!”

And maybe you are right.  Maybe you aren’t.

In many, many years and moments of my life, I have–in moments of trouble or fear or pain–gone straight to the darkness.  To the “F it all” zone.  To my cave.  When things are perfect, I retreat and hole up—and eat and drink and mope and decide that life isn’t fair to me.

Immediately after this accident, I could only think how immeasurably blessed I was to walk away from this type of accident with minor, albeit painful, injuries.

In my mind I began to make a list of things that were good:

  • My children were not with me
  • I turned the wheel at the last minute, to avoid a full t-bone by Snow White
  • I was in the bigger car
  • That Driver Three was there to absorb the impact and keep my car from flying in the opposite direction of Snow White’s car
  • That I had insurance.
  • That Snow White had insurance.

Lists and lists of “good things,” was all I could think.

As I stood in the median of Highway 92, waiting for the wrecker to arrive, Ironman Louisville definitely crossed my mind. Afterall, I had just decided I would throw my hat back in the ring.  I had just decided to race, like only thirty minutes before.

Well, Mere… you can’t be thinking of the race.  These must be signs.  These must be reasons why you shouldn’t race. First Coach Brett, then this…

But in that very second, I remembered Lucy (my bike).

Lucy, Lucy, Lucy… in all her precious glory.  As I looked at the wreck of the car, I smiled, thinking of my kids safe with the Expert.  And then I thought of Lucy, tucked away in the back of the Pilot.

Safe and sound. 

I don’t know what I am going to do.  I see the ortho tomorrow. I have some substantial whiplash, but my hand feels better… maybe it’s not broken? Maybe it can be worked around. I have 4 weeks.

Maybe…

Today?  Well, today, I hurt. I feel like I was in a car wreck.  But I know it won’t hurt forever.

And I had this present in the mail today:

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A Fellow Flowers t-shirt from SBMAT member… the back, which reads: “…strong, sassy. Rule breaker and resilient spirit. Dances like she crosses the finish line – with her hands up! Why yes, I am a force to be reckoned with.”

Well, in that case.

I believe that the “signs” we see–are all about the signs we choose to see.

When I came home from the wreck, I found the Expert like this:

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When I asked him, “What are you doing with my bike?”

He said, “I’m putting it on the trainer for you. You aren’t done yet.”

Another sign.

I think about Coach Brett.  How he would give anything to race, if he could. And maybe, just maybe, I will be able to show up on race day and give it my all.

All I know is that right now–instead of heading towards the darkness, towards the negative, I am focusing on the light.

I am choosing what signs to see. Right now, I see signs of hope, determination and blessings. I see signs of a tough road ahead, sure.  But I see signs of hope.

I am walking towards the light, and we will see where that takes me. #justkeepmovingforward

Thank you all for your thoughts, messages, prayers and love.  It make take a village to raise a child… but it takes an Army to raise a Swim Bike Klutz.

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29 Comments

  • Andrea W

    September 14, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Love, love, love this…

    ‘When I asked him, “What are you doing with my bike?”

    He said, “I’m putting it on the trainer for you. You aren’t done yet.”’

    I am working IM Lou bike check Saturday 2-6PM & will be cheering all day Sunday. Hope to see you & cheer you on!

    Reply
  • Catalina

    September 14, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    There is hope. I was t-boned 48 hours before a half marathon. Like you, there was a third car to take some of the impact. I went to the ER and got muscle relaxants. I told myself that as long as I was off the mess 24 hours before the gun went off , I world run. I has a great race. I did joke with my Dr that by running the race, I was ruining any hopes of recovering for pain and suffering….

    So all of that to say-there is hope!

    Reply
  • Laura

    September 14, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    i love “choosing the signs to see”. I think too often we see “signs” that lead us toward safe and familiar. It’s great to remember how lucky we are and that we get to do amazing things even if it may not be as fast or that we are not in as good as shape as we were hoping / expecting to be. Thanks for sharing this Meredith.

    Reply
  • Nancy

    September 14, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    I, for one, am glad to see you moving forward in THIS direction. “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” – Marianne Williamson

    God bless you and yours. Again.

    Reply
  • Jessica

    September 14, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Cried about 4 times during this. So glad your kids weren’t in the car, and so glad Lucy was ok. Sending tons of good wishes for a quick recovery. You’re unstoppable!

    Reply
  • Margi

    September 14, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Tears, tears and more tears. Love this post sooooo much!!! As someone who had an equally crazy year leading up to my first Ironman (three surgeries and four hospitalizations) I rejoice to hear the fight in you. I had the best race of my life at IMAZ after that crazy year and I have faith the if you get clearance to get to the starting line at IMLOU it will be a day you will cherish for the rest of your life. Love you Mere!!!

    Reply
  • Liz

    September 14, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    So glad you’re okay! Hoping for good news about IM Lou! As to Snow White, it might have been a crummy thing to do, but lawyers will tell you if you’ve been in an accident, not to admit fault or apologize for any reason, because it could be used against you in case of a lawsuit.

    Reply
  • Christine

    September 15, 2015 at 6:51 am

    I’m with you on the HOPE side! When circumstances that are out of my control come my way, I try not to let them steal my joy. SBM, YOU ARE A ROCK STAR!

    Reply
  • Laura

    September 15, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Thank god you are okay, thank god your kids weren’t in the car with you ~ AND the expert? What an awesome guy for the support. He has your back with whatever decision you make! Snow White sucks……..

    Reply
  • David

    September 15, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Wow you are indeed blessed that is for sure!! So glad you walked away from that one!! I say if you can do the Iron Man then go for it!! Sending you positive thoughts and prayers that you can get over your injuries quickly!! Keep moving forward!!

    Reply
  • Kristin

    September 15, 2015 at 9:31 am

    This may be the toughest mental battle yet and you’re doing a phenomenal job! Love that James said you’re not done yet!

    Yes, this SBM Trifecta Army has your back and will continue to raise you (even though your klutziness had nothing to do with this accident!!

    Reply
  • Angie Z

    September 15, 2015 at 10:47 am

    You should do what every you need to take care of you. Just make sure you take care of you. I hope that unlike the season you got me through, you actually get to do your race. Hugs and love.

    Reply
  • elizabeth Molina Campos

    September 15, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    So Sorry Mer, but love your positive attitude, not retreating into “why me?” and “hand me the pint of ice cream, all is lost” (Oh, wait that is me, not you, sorry).

    Stay positive, I’ll keep you in my prayers and thoughts

    P

    Reply
  • Amy

    September 15, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    this hit really close to home for me. My husband was also in a bike accident, the same day as Brett (bad weekend for Tri peeps). My hubs has a broken neck with a metal plate and has been bound and determined to compete IMLOU with me (our 2nd-first together). I have been encouraging, until now. Now, I don’t want him to race. I can’t bear the pain he is in-I have already once faced the possibility of his paralysis or limited movement-I am not strong enough to face something happening to him should he have another crash. We have had lots of “signs” pointing to a DNS for him, while my signs have been full speed ahead. Is that fair? Is it selfish? Is it selfish for him to race when the potential for injury is so high and we have an active 3 year old that needs an active daddy? I am really struggling and while I admire your determination-I wonder for us-at what cost?

    Reply
  • Alisha

    September 15, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    I have some ridiculously challenging things going on in my life right now. And when I read your book several months ago, it struck me that it couldn’t have come at a better time. And now, things are still pretty tough but that “f it dark place” hasn’t been my comfort at all!! Finding time to work out and “reward myself” with fitness and strength has been my comfort! Thank you for the laughs and for continuing to inspire us!
    xoxo – a fellow clutz 😉

    Reply
  • Kelly P

    September 15, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Oh Meredith!! I am sooo glad and thankful you are ok! I have been following you for years, since before your first 1/2 ironman. I have never met anyone quite like you with your injuries! LOL! You seem to get banged up in some odd way(s) every year! I love how you power through and keep moving forward, it’s extremely inspirational! I am going to say that with everything you have been through and everything you have concurred in the last few years this sign isn’t something else you need to get through, you have been there-done that multiple times! This sign tells me maybe you should think about slowing down just a little. With you AND your coach getting into accidents like you did, this one just tells me it’s ok to let this race slide. Just an outside perspective from a dedicated admirer of yours! I am not in any way trying to be negative even though it may come across that way. Just looking out for you! 🙂 I hope you heal soon!!!

    Reply
  • Lorie

    September 15, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Well you made me cry AGAIN!!!! I am so thankful you are safe. Your SBM army is behind you and will be cheering loudly for you. Praying for Coach Brett also!

    Reply

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