I woke up Friday morning and started my workday from home. On my break, I ran errands for the running club and picked up a to-go lunch. Once I was finished with the rest of my workday, I figured I’d try to squeeze in a couple miles before a 6 p.m. yoga class that I planned to do from home. I was hoping to run a 40-mile week, and I figured this little bit would help me get closer to that goal.
I couldn’t find my AfterShokz right away, so I grabbed the headphones that came with my phone and my Noxgear light-up vest, since it was dark, and headed out. I knew I would be running a little faster than usual to get home before 6, so I blasted some music. I most often listen to podcasts when I’m listening to something while running, but I ran a fast-for-me two-miler the previous day at lunch, listening to some songs that had been stuck in my head from TikTok, along with other upbeat music, so I opted for music again.
By the time I was nearing my house, I saw it was 6:02. Crap. I had to get home. Coming from Mt. Hermon Road, I cut through the parking lot of the old Board of Education building to save a tiny bit of time and prepared to cross Long Avenue. I always thought I looked both ways when I crossed streets, but I guess I may not have looked well enough this time.
I remember seeing the grill of an SUV to my right, but by then, it was too late to do anything. I don’t remember actually being hit, but I fell and ended up sitting on the curb. I was completely alert. I didn’t feel that bad, but being hit obviously scared me, and it was alarming to see blood. I said early on to the first responders that I didn’t want them to charge the driver with anything (I was told the police would figure that out, and they did determine I was at fault, probably because in my state of shock, I said I was).
I could tell the driver was distraught, and when I visited her Sunday, I could see how greatly this had affected her. I hope it helped her to see that I was OK. I have certainly learned a lesson, but the worst part for me is that someone else had to be involved and to think about the effect it had on her mentally.
From what I heard, she hit me on the passenger side, so she swerved to avoid me. Her quick thinking and reaction may have saved my life, or at least prevented me from having more detrimental injuries.
My biggest worry at the time had to do with an example from a CPR class I took a few years ago. I can’t recall the specifics, but a driver was in a car crash (not a pedestrian), seemed fine, and died about 30 minutes later. I felt pretty OK, but I didn’t want something like that to happen to me. I tried to get reassurance that it would not get worse.
Police and EMTs came seemingly right away, and a neighbor was able to get my boyfriend, Mike. I explained what had happened, including that I’d been rushing. While in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, I asked the EMT if she thought I would be able to run again soon, because I’ve been training for the Algonquin 50K.
I was brought to TidalHealth Peninsula Regional’s emergency room and received great care. I was pretty freaked out, but everyone seemed friendly, but very calm, which I think helped. I asked some dumb questions and they were all answered.
When I asked if a numbing shot in my head would affect my brain, I explained I didn’t have any medical knowledge and the physician’s assistant asked what I did do for a job (you can all be thankful that I have never treated a patient). I also asked the people doing the CT scan if they would be able to do anything if I had internal injuries (and the answer was something along the lines of “of course”).
While at the hospital, I texted a couple friends to let them know I couldn’t make it to our planned run for Saturday and learned the crash was on the Eastern Shore Undercover Facebook page. I commented on the post to let people know that I was at the hospital but OK, and then the comments and texts started flooding in. Apparently, plenty of people were notified that I’d commented on this post. It’s certainly nice to know that so many people care about me, and that even people I didn’t know were praying for me and thinking of me.
It turned out that I hadn’t broken any bones or suffered any internal injuries. I had some scrapes, bruises and soreness, and I got some staples on the top of my head. Nobody wants to get staples, but they don’t hurt, and I am mostly just happy I didn’t have a concussion or any permanent injuries.
Somehow I forgot to mention initially that Mike was there and brought me a bag of things I may need (clothes, comfy shoes, glasses, ID, insurance card, etc.), which was great! I tried to talk his ear off, but he said I didn’t need to talk so much.
I’m also thinking I must have a high pain tolerance. I have not needed any pain medicine as a result of this crash — and I found out during the CT scan that I had a couple fractured ribs that have now healed. I had bad pain in my rib area in December, and it especially hurt to cough or sneeze — that sharp occasional pain was worse than the pain I had from the car accident. I did actually take some pain medicine for that, and I went to the chiropractor a few times, which helped. However, the CT scan said I had “old healed fracture injury changes” to two ribs. And I kept running during that time!
I have an appointment to get my staples out Friday, and I plan to take off two weeks from running, but I will definitely ask when it’s OK to run again. Even though I will have missed my last two long-long runs, I would still like to run the Algonquin 50K on Feb. 13, even though I will alter my training.
I had and still have many thoughts about this incident. Why did I think I needed to cram in two miles when I already had a yoga class planned? Why didn’t I look both ways better when I crossed? Why did I grab that pair of headphones? Why did I even need to bring headphones for a two-mile run? Would it have been different if I’d worn the AfterShokz instead? How did I not see the car? Why do I have to learn multiple lessons with incidents that result in me going to the hospital? I consider myself to be careful and smart, so how do I make so many mistakes?
People I love have recommended I do not focus on these things, and I will try to move forward, though it’s tough to not second-guess.
I will plan to be more careful and alert when I run, and I am not planning to do any more runs in the dark with headphones. I probably will avoid headphones for a while, but I do like doing my longer runs with the AfterShokz, so I will plan to be extra vigilant if listening to something, and be sure I can hear my surroundings.
I consider myself extremely lucky and I am hoping that this situation can be used to remind other runners that they always need to be alert. This is always important, but probably even more so when running at night. Don’t let yourself get into a zone that leads you to forget that you are sharing the road with cars. Don’t blast music. Don’t run into the street without ensuring there aren’t cars there. Make sure you are visible to drivers.
If there is a crosswalk, I would recommend using that. Some of them, like the one by Salisbury University across Dogwood Drive, have flashing lights. However, there is no crosswalk near where I crossed Friday.
I am thinking about the best way to advocate for pedestrian safety and plan to reach out to the Salisbury City Council and/or the Wicomico County Council. The crash happened right by the multi-way intersection of Long Avenue, Truitt Street, Mt. Hermon Road, East Main Street and William Street. I normally don’t like crossing at this intersection because it’s hard to tell whose turn it is. There are NO crosswalks at this intersection.
There are also no crosswalks on Long Avenue — alongside Wicomico High School — until a very faded crosswalk at the intersection with Glen Avenue, which is about a quarter-mile away from the multi-way intersection I just mentioned. That intersection is already not a great one because only the traffic coming from three of the four directions has to stop.
I have seen students crossing Route 50 (not recently, because of COVID, but in general), which does have crosswalks. There is no way for them to cross Mt. Hermon Road to get to Wi-Hi at a crosswalk unless they were to go all the way to Civic Avenue, which is about a half-mile away from the multi-way intersection.
I’ve never really thought so much about crosswalks, but I certainly will going forward.
Almost a year ago, I wrote a story for RunWashington about a fellow runner who was hit by a car on a run, Roberta Stewart (read the story here). She also never considered stopping the hobby she so much enjoys.
I think I should have taken the advice that I quoted her on below. Of course, I would not have run across the street if I had seen a car coming. However, I was rushing — trying to cram too many things into my day, per usual — and I let that cloud my alertness. I think this incident is also a good opportunity for me to slow down in life a little bit.
“It is absolutely worth it to wait those 30 seconds,” Stewart said in our interview. “It’s not worth it to say I’m in a hurry. Because that car is going to win against your body every time.”
Edited 1/24/21 and 1/28/21: I have revised the post a little and taken out references to being at fault after having some time to reflect. It is impossible to say with certainty why this happened. I can be hard on myself.