On Tuesday evening, I dropped Susanna off at her dance lessons and headed out for 14 miles total, including an hour with =PR= at the track. I'm so used to running near the Vienna metro, which is very runner friendly with plenty of light even at 5 a.m., wide sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings at all intersections.
Well, Reston isn't like that. There was absolutely no sidewalk on Sunset Hills Road, which I have to run on in order to reach the track. My headlamp wasn't bright enough to see the ground, and once I hit South Lakes Drive, I had the choice to run on a pitch black trail in the woods, or on a road without any sidewalk. I chose the road, thanked the Lord I was wearing reflective clothing, and was quite thankful to get to the stadium lighting at the track. I don't love running in circles, but it was better than the roads in Reston. When track ended, I had exactly 25 minutes to get back to Susanna's class, almost three miles away. I ran along the road, some parts without a shoulder, and prayed the cars would see me.
That night, I sat down to check email and Facebook and saw something someone posted about running in memory of a woman named Meg, a runner killed by a drunk driver. I hadn't heard of this, so I clicked on the link. And then I couldn't look away.
She was 34, just a year younger than me. She lived in Ashland, VA, just 80 miles away. Like me, she was training for the Boston Marathon. I put her name into the "search" box, and her profile popped up. She had a daughter about the same age as Susanna. Her wall, like mine, was full of pictures of a recent trip to Florida, pictures of her children on Santa's lap, comments from friends just days prior.
On Monday morning she set off on a 13 mile run after her children were in school. She only made it about one mile from her home before a driver, a doctor on his way to work and still apparently intoxicated from the night prior, swerved off the road and hit her as she ran along the shoulder.
I couldn't stop thinking about her. Her children. Her husband. How in one moment, everything - EVERYTHING - about their lives was altered.
I couldn't stop thinking about how that could have been me, just hours before. There are plenty of people who have too much to drink at Reston Town Center, think they are okay to get behind the wheel, and drive home. I had just been out running on roads with no sidewalks or shoulders, during Happy Hour for crying out loud, with a headlamp that wasn't really working. I was at home with my family. She was out in broad daylight at 8 a.m., and she will never go home to her family.
My thoughts turned to August 2012 when I learned of Heather Boyum, the teacher and mother of two whose life also tragically ended too soon when she was hit by two intoxicated drivers during a Sunday morning training ride. We had raced together two weeks prior. We were both out on training rides that Sunday.
I never met these women, and I don't claim to know them. All I know is that like me, they were runners who had children to whom they were THE ENTIRE WORLD.
On Saturday runners around the world came out and dedicated miles to Meg to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. On Saturday I ran my first 20 miler since my injury. On Saturday I thought of Meg, and of Heather, and of all the runners and cyclists whose unarmored bodies were no match for a vehicle operated by a drunk or distracted driver.
Meg, we are all thinking of you. Rest In Peace.