It was 5 years ago today that a woman struck me with her car while I was riding my bicycle in Arlington, VA. This is an update of what happened after the crash and how my life has changed in the last 5 years.
I stopped writing about the crash and how I was doing afterwards here & on social media upon the request of my lawyer. It became clear that keeping up with documentation and communication with the insurance company was incompatible with healing my body. I felt like I was having to fight to prove what really happened and it affected the headspace I was in. So, I hired a lawyer.
Regarding the case, the good news is the driver was determined to be at fault by police & insurance. The bad news is that me being physically harmed by a person with a car isn’t considered to be that big of a deal under VA law. $100 fine for a red light violation. For an additional fee, the driver didn’t even have to go to court. Just pay the fee online. The compensation/ accountability in this system is through insurance. Thankfully, the driver that hit me was insured.
The other reason I stopped writing on this blog is that we are no longer a car-free family. One year after the crash, I purchased a bright red car. Unsure of how quickly I would get back on a bike for transportation, it felt like what I needed. So, I have changed the title of the blog to Car-Lite Family.
Many people thought the reason I chose the color was for visibility. Sure – that’s good thinking.
But I had my own reasons:
This is as close as my ecological conscience will let me get to the car I really wanted. I am a child of the ‘80s.
Regarding my body, as you might recall, my sacrum was fractured. I also experienced chronic pain for 6 months in my hip, which we discovered was caused by a tear in the labrum. Once the bone fracture healed and cortisone injections did nothing to ease the pain, we decided to go with arthroscopic surgery to repair the labrum of my hip.
The recovery from that surgery was no walk in the park. See, I am sitting in the park instead donning the delightful & attractive brace. Crutches, pain medication and super fun PT exercises were required.
It was another 3 months of healing and physical therapy before I was released from the care of my physical therapist and my surgeon in July 2014.
There was a moment in my pre-surgery consultation that I believe was pivotal in the trajectory of my physical health and athletic pursuits following the crash and my surgery. The surgeon asked me if I wanted to run again.
I hadn’t run in about a decade after making a promise to my body at mile 25 of the Marine Corps Marathon. The promise went something like this — make it to the finish line and I won’t run again the rest of the year. I kept this promise x 10. But when he asked, I heard myself say —YES! It was a light bulb moment.
Then, at a yoga retreat, I had a conversation that started with a question I thought was about someone else –not me. I overheard this very strong looking woman talk about doing triathlon. I simply asked her out of curiosity about her experience doing a triathlon. By the end of the conversation, we were talking about my first triathlon. Less than a month later, I hired her to be my coach.
My first race was a 5k in March of 2015. Then in June of 2015, I did my first sprint triathlon ( 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run) in Bath County. I chose this race because it was the only race I found with a bike course closed to car traffic.
I cried when I crossed the finish line as I didn’t even think I would finish it. And then I found out I was 3rd in my age group! I was hooked!
Since I started this journey of triathlon training, I have completed the following races:
4 sprint triathlons, 5 olympic triathlons, 6 5k running races , 2 5-milers, 4 10k running races, 3 half marathons, 1 century bike ride, 1 biathlon ( 1/2 mile ocean swim & 5k run), 1 five-mile swim in the South River.
I am in my 40s and I am stronger and faster than I have ever been in my entire life. This includes when I ran cross-country and track in high school!
I wanted to prove to myself that I could overcome this thing that happened to me. Not let it define me. And now, I have exceeded my own expectations of what I thought was possible for myself as an athlete.