Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why I Run
Reason #8 - To Dissociate and Appreciate

Disclaimer: The contents of this post might be considered gruesome and disturbing for new runners and those not familiar with the practice of our sport. Reading discretion is advised.

I have always believed that I have a high tolerance for disdain.. Maybe as the result of years spent running and training in a busy and congested metropolis, I’ve pretty much grown accustomed to the runner hate I see being expressed all around the city on my daily runs. I’ve been sideswiped by bikes, ran over by baby carriages, and hit on the back of the head by misdirected flying objects on more than a few occasions while running through Central Park. Although I’ve received quite a number of bumps and bruises from these unfortunate encounters over the years, I’ve always brushed these injuries off as part of doing business in the city. Through it all, I had never considered running as a dangerous, high-contact sport. That all changed last week, in the outskirts of a small city in Nevada no less.

I had woken up early after a fitful sleep in a foreign bed, sharing a room with three other guys who were too tired to care what I was doing. We had stayed up ‘til 3AM the previous night drinking, laughing, and playing cards, so even waking up at 9AM was not easy.

Yet, because it was my first day in a new town that I’d never been in before, I sucked it up, got dressed, and got out for my run. There were already quite a few pedestrians on the main road that traverses the town so I decided to pick a quieter side street to begin my trek. I had picked out a nice circumferential route for my run the night before, so I was ready and excited to start running.

I was barely a quarter mile into my run when I ran by a bus picking up some passengers from a bus stop. Because there was no sidewalk and the road abruptly narrows right after the bus stop, I skirted a bit to the left to continue my running. Suddenly, right at the moment that I passed by the bus, the bus pulls out of the stop, accelerates, and bumps me on my left side as I’m running. As soon as I made contact with the bus, I freaked, and dove headfirst to the side of the road. I landed on some dirt and gravel on my right side and slid a few inches. After regaining my senses, and realizing that I had somehow survived a collision with a bus, I stood up to assess my injuries. I had scratched up my right arm pretty bad and it was bleeding bright red blood. My right shoulder was also a bit achy, but otherwise, I was not that badly hurt. As I removed the ground debris off my arm and used my bandana to apply pressure to the fresh wounds, I realized that the bus had already driven away. What a jerk! It had not even bothered to stop to check on me. I was bitter and angry and sent a few four-letter words in the general direction of the bus.

After cleaning my wounds and dusting off, I had a decision to make. I could scratch the run and walk back to the hotel, or I could continue to run despite the bleeding and the pain. I don’t know what possessed me at that moment, but I decided to pressed on with my 8 miler like I had planned. I think this was a turning point for me because despite the aches, the pains, the bleeding and the emotions, I ran strong and finished the scheduled run without any problems.

The most amazing thing was that although I started the run after the accident full of anger and spite for the bus that ran me over and didn’t bother to stop, I finished it with a sense of happiness and fulfillment, as if I succeeded despite the obstacle. Something beautiful happened in the eight miles I spent on the road that day. I witnessed the transformation from an irrational, vengeful, and mad me to an accomplished, successful, and happy me. Somehow, in some spiritual way, I was able to dissociate my being from my negative thoughts and replace the feelings of victimization and anger with sentiments of appreciation and euphoria. The change in attitude was so drastic and apparent to me, that even as I walked back to the hotel after my run with my blood-tinged bandana wrapped around my right, I was more thinking of a good story to tell the guys than feeling sorry for myself.

Yeah, running does strange things to people and makes them think strange thoughts...but that's exactly why I run.


KimsRunning said...

From the mother in me.....I cannot believe the bus kept going! You can't tell me no one saw you get hit!! You should have reported that driver. He should have at least gotten a massive ticket.

From the runner in me....Bravo to you for reaching inside yourself and finishing what you set out to do. The fact that you felt so good after your run is proof of how important running is for your mental heath. Having been unable to run for 6 weeks now is effecting my sleep and concentration. Friday morning is my trial run, I'm hoping for the best!!!

Nitmos said...

Was the bus simply trying to give you a little push to help you along? No? Just trying to spin it positively here. Looks like you did a good job of that on your own. Way to recover. This is probably your Bus Accident PR, eh?

Frayed Laces said...

I can't get over the image of a rabid baby trying to run you down.

But with the bus thing---if you remember what time it was you can totally report that shiz. Maybe you can get some $$ out of it?

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Oh man, glad you are okay and you made a good run out of it. I find thinking about the stories I will tell helps, as you said!

Irish Cream said...

And I thought NYC bus drivers were nasty . . . what a jerk! But kudos to you for contuing on despite your loss of blood. I agree that you should totally try to bust that driver! Think of it this way . . . what if he/she goes on to run over a kid and doesn't stop?

Non-Runner Nancy said...

You are probably the only one that is going to get my Dilantin joke on my latest post so I may as well drop by and beg for a reader. :D

*jen* said...

What a punk! You just gave me another reason to keep running on my buses/baby carriages/strange flying objects around there. Your attitude and running revelation are both inspiring. Great post!

Run For Life said...

That's definitely a crazy story! I'm glad you were able to complete what you set out to do and felt great about the run to top it all off. :)

Jamie said...

That is crazy! And seriously my biggest fear b/c the bus drivers here are nuts. Way to continue on and finish through the pain. Isn't absolutely incredible how running changes your perspective and attitude.

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