I wrote a post last week about learning to “dance the songs of the land I am in” — i.e., move my body in the ways that my body is capable of moving — after struggling with a (thankfully short!) bout with vertigo.
After it posted, I got a message from a friend who lives in Wales. I met her on a wildlife photography trip in the Norwegian Arctic about 7 years ago, and then, I admired the way she threw herself into her photography. Then I became even more awed as she took up triathlon, then IRONMAN, in her late 50s. (She’s 62 now). Just from, you know, bog-standard fitness most of her life. She often sends me little notes after reading something I’ve posted, but this one shocked me:
Enjoyed reading your last blog. I empathise. We are always told that running is good for us, sadly not my case. 5 weeks ago I was hit by a car whilst out running. Fractured rib, 2 litres of blood drained from my lungs and some broken bones in my left foot. 2 weeks in intensive care, however….. I was lucky, I am still me, I didn’t go through the windscreen, I hopefully will race again one day. Just a little message to never take life for granted because we never know how long we will be allowed to live it.
I was running on a road I have used for the last 10 years and was hit at 30 mph by a Range Rover. Left my socks and shoes 20 feet from my body! Luckily I don’t remember anything until I woke up in ambulance 40 mins later. And also luckily a doctor was one of the first on the scene. The driver was apparently saying that he didn’t see me! In broad daylight in turquoise!
I asked if the driver was texting or drunk.
Don’t know. Little old man with bad eyesight seems to be the current thoughts. Police are deciding whether to bring charges!
Sadly it meant that couldn’t race Ironman Wales this year with my son, my coach and 2 friends. Never to be repeated opportunities. However as I said earlier I am grateful to still be me and still be alive. Can only look to the future and see what happens.
Later she added:
I have done some thinking and hold a gratitude in my soul for surviving the accident but also a deep sorrow for what I have lost.
I got this text from my friend in the same week that Sam is working hard at learning to swim to find something she can do that is okay for her injured knee, and when fellow blogger Catherine is hobbling around on crutches after falling down the stairs and badly spraining her ankle. And when many other people in my close world are dealing with cancer, autoimmune illnesses, constraining mental health issues, joints giving out.
We are such strong people, us fit feminists — we’re standing on our hands, and running the mudmoiselle, and learning to swim as adults, and taking out our piercings for mammograms, and analysing the impact of racism and sexism in tennis. But we are also fragile creatures, and our bodies are — even when muscled and densely-boned — fallible, soft containers for our indelible souls. My vertigo reminded me of that — gravity is real, y’all — and the note from my friend hit it home. Her SOCKS AND SHOES WERE BLOWN OFF HER FEET WHILE SHE WAS RUNNING IN BROAD DAYLIGHT.
SOCKS AND SHOES.
BLOWN OFF HER FEET.
It’s getting darker out there here in the northern hemisphere, and Sam wrote some great things last week about keeping up our momentum as the temptation to snuggle in the house kicks in. I want to add a big message about being safe.
I don’t have Big Tips other than the obvious — add lights, then add more lights, to your body and your bike; add reflective gear; tell someone where you’re going; make sure you can hear traffic; if you’re running on the road, make sure you can see oncoming cars and pay attention to where they are; if you’re riding, take the lane. If you’re driving, put down the phone, relax and pay attention, especially when there are bikes and runners on the road.
As a favour to me, do one thing right now that will make your workouts and movement safer — mine is to make sure my bike lights are charged and to tuck them into my pannier so I can’t “forget” them when I have to ride home in the dusk next week.
But mostly I want to say dumb things like — don’t fall down on the ice and don’t fall down the stairs. Don’t fall! Keep safe, lovely fit feminists!
People get hurt, our bodies give way to wear, accidents happen. We can’t control it — but remembering it is a good reminder — as my friend said — to savour what is true, to use your body in the way your body lets you use it. To love the people around you with your full heart.
(Her shoes and SOCKS!)
This hackneyed but important reminder to savour your life and the body and fitness you have right now was brought to you by Cate Creede, who lives and works and enjoys the full bodied presence of her cats in Toronto. This is Emmylou.