NE Half Marathon: After a brush with death, I run to live.

NE Half Marathon: After a brush with death, I run to live.

I sat quietly in a padded chair, covered in sweat, my muscles still twitching from exertion. A towel covered my head, but I could still hear the cheers of the crowd announcer calling the names of finishers behind me. I had no desire to stand; no desire to even lift a muscle. Fully absorbed in itself, my mind had no control over my body…

Moments prior, I had staggered to a halt just past the finish line, nearly collapsing at the feet of Miss NH who was trying to hand me a finishers medal. My fingers could barely grasp, so it hung loosely from my fist. I staggered to the chair…

Eight minutes ago, Mile 12. My race was falling apart in front of my eyes, but I didn’t care. I relished every twinge in my hip flexors—every agonizing stride. I had been slowing gradually from 5:55/mi to 6:30/mi over the previous few miles, but the painful challenge only served to awaken me. A man in blue passed me. He was the same guy in blue I’d passed early in the race as he was struggling. I didn’t care…

Nineteen minutes ago, Mile 10. A big downhill. I should be going faster than this. I can go faster than this UP a hill. With every step I felt like my hips were made of hot coals. I knew I should be staying closer to this guy in the black shirt, if only to run with another human being…

Mile 8. Things were getting rough, and quickly. I was still maintaining an even pace, thanks only to the downhill slope, yet I felt like I was working harder than ever. The guy who had just passed me was moving slowly away…

Mile 6.2. Hey not bad, 36:56, only 26 seconds away from my 10k PR! Pretty even pace so far, despite the recent hills, so I’m happy. I still feel good, and aerobically, the effort still feels moderate. Maybe I should have run a bit harder?

Mile 3.1. Wow, 17:51! A year ago that would be a 5k PR. But I’m long past a year ago. Today is different. Wildly different. My mind is starting to lock in though, so maybe I can still pull this off.

A lifetime ago. Mile 1. 5:47. Yes I know it’s a bit fast, but this is a nice downhill, and that’s probably only equivalent to a 6:00 pace. I want to push my limits, after all… I want to see how far I can go.

Half an hour earlier… Warmup. Winding through the endless rows of parking spaces, eerily empty…

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Two hours prior, the light glimmered through the autumn leaves, casting dancing lights and shadows on the road ahead. My mind was focused. Today was going to be a good day. Suddenly, the oncoming SUV began to veer sharply into my lane… Hmm, must be turning into that driveway there. No, too fast, you’ll miss it… No, you didn’t cut the wheel enough, you’re headed straight for me… Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. I veered into the oncoming lane hoping there was no one behind them. Just ahead of me, the vehicle veered sharply again up the steep embankment, and became airborne, doing a barrel roll and somersault over my car and landing on the road behind me. Fuck. Holy shit. Holy shit. 911. Have to call 911. Holy shit are they alive? 911. Crap, no service. I look in the rear view mirror. Three other cars have stopped to help. I’m ahead of the scene facing away… I’m probably the closest to service. I drive ahead. As soon as I get a bar, I slam on the brakes, not bothering to pull off the road. There’s no way anyone’s coming up behind me. 911. What’s your emergency? I just witnessed a rollover accident. Holy shit. It’s bad… I’m in Georges Mills along the lake. Georges Mills, I don’t know where that is. Is that New London? What house number? What mile marker? What route number? I don’t fucking know! It’s Georges Mills! Right along the water! I’M CALLING FROM A CELL PHONE PING THE GPS. Rt 11, that’s it. What house number? THERE AREN’T ANY HOUSES AND I’M NOT AT THE SCENE! Connecting you to Sunapee dispatch. Sunapee dispatch, can I help you. Yes we have a rollover accident on Rt 103—yes, we already have units on the way. Good, thank you. Sir are you in a position to help the victim? No, I’m half a mile away and there are others at the scene. Then I’m going to disconnect you to take other emergencies. Call back if there are any changes, have a nice day. HAVE A NICE DAY?! …. Shit. Shit.

I wrote this in reverse… Well, because it was the only way my brain was processing it. I’m sure it’s difficult to read and follow, but perhaps that will give you a sense of how the day went for me. I still don’t know the outcome of anyone in the SUV, or any other details about the accident. Perhaps it’s for the best, I don’t know. I do know that I’ve driven past five times since, and each time things flash back to that day. I narrowly avoided death, and not knowing the result for others is hard.