On the day of my hit-and-run bike accident I got an email from my friend Vito Palmiotti who works for the company 3M (think post-its!) in Milan. He’s full of enthusiasm for running and has spread the love to his colleagues by creating a running team of more than sixty employees. The Milan 3M headquarters has a private park behind the office building, perfect for lunchtime or after work runs.
Vito told me about a colleague and fellow runner, Corrado Bonavita, whose family had been in a hit-and-run accident last spring. Sadly, his son Elio did not survive and his wife was still in the hospital months later. The running group had decided to organize a charity run to raise awareness for hit-and-run accidents which seem to be increasing at an alarming rate in Italy.
I was lying in my hospital bed waiting for my arm operation with no idea where I’d be in September but I knew I had to be at this event. Who’d have guessed that seven weeks later I’d be driving myself to Milan with running shoes on my feet!
The 3M team set up a six kilometre course for the Corro per Elioevent in their running park. It was a Friday evening after work and the atmosphere was relaxed. No pre-race tension, just lots of hugs and smiles.
They asked me to say a few words while everybody was getting to the start. I talked about coincidences, Vito’s email and my own accident – I spoke forty seconds tops.
What I didn’t talk about was that my own mother had been killed by a hit and run when I was ten years old, and fifteen years later I lost my younger brother in a car accident. They’re episodes that not only had an enormous impact on my life but also shaped who I am. It’s why my own accident had a bigger emotional impact than it may have had on someone else. It’s why I felt I had to go to Corro per Elio.
Okayyyyyy. Back to the event…
The course was a winding path through woods with a mix of pavement and dirt. It’s still really hot here in Italy so the woodsy smell of plants and leaves was intoxicating.
I started out walking. Then threw in a few minutes of running and before I knew it I was passing people and running steady.
I loved the relaxed, friendly family atmosphere. It felt a lot like events I’d done in the 90’s when nobody was too concerned about their speed, GPS gadgets or posting live on Facebook. Just an old fashioned run, short and sweet.
The “sweeper” at the back of the pack even brought a broom. I had a drink of water and then went to say goodbye to Corrado and Vito. They did a fantastic job for this first memorial race with about 350 participants. A really beautiful way to commemorate Elio Bonavita’s life.
Since my accident last month I’ve received many lovely messages of general love and caring. Thank you to everybody! Even a quick text asking, “how are you doing?” really helped my emotional state.
My cast is finally off after thirty days of sweaty torture. Fellow runner friends immediately started asking, “When can you start working out again?”
Hello? Do you know me? I never stopped working out even with the cast on!
So often when an athlete I train sees a specialist for an injury, they’ll return with a verdict of whether they can keep running or need to stop in order to heal. Then their idea of being injured is chilling on the couch and watching the best that Netflix has to offer.
After you’ve got an diagnosis and timeline from a specialist the first question you should ask is, What can I do in place of running?
It doesn’t matter whether you have a running-related injury or a broken arm like I had, you can still be active while you’re healing. If you keep up your conditioning and fitness not only will it help you psychologically (because take running away from a runner and watch them go bonkers!), but when you’re ready to lace up your shoes again you’ll be able to step right back into your running schedule.
When my surgeon discharged me after my operation I asked him what I could do. He gave me a long hard stare, rolled his eyes and then told me to keep training as if I was still going to race. I had to take into account the amount of energy I had (very little) and the fact that I had to lug a cast around.
The next day I bought a turbo trainer for my bike. I set it up with my heart rate monitor so that I wasn’t just effortlessly spinning. I did lots of running circuits with lunges, steps and squats. Running with the cast was not that hard and I could cruise at a decent pace. I tried swimming twice by wrapping the cast in plastic and using a kickboard but it wasn’t a pleasant experience. So I opted for dry land stroke exercises for my shoulders and arms.
When the cast finally came off (sweet and sweat relief!) I got in the water and swam 2000 metres the next day.
We’re in a quiet mood this cloudy Tuesday and looking for distraction. Here’s some great reads we found…
This is not a “set back.” It’s a set up for a miracle. – Susan Hyatt
A devoted runner sidelined by injury, Susan went in search of inspiration wound up changing, “my entire perception about what a “set back” is, or rather, isn’t”.
Motivation < Action – Paul Jarvis
“Motivation is to action as reading about exercise is to being in shape. Certainly, both can happen, but simply being motivated accomplishes nothing while seeming like it’s accomplishing something.”
On Running – Dinner: A Love Story
“To this day, the pattern is the same with me: I dread the run, DREAD it . . . but then as soon as its over, I remember why I still do it. Why I know I’ll do it again and again: The tingles, the exhaustion, the exhilaration.”
A pain in the butt – In The Equation
Lori’s wise thoughtful lessons from six weeks of excruciating sciatic pain. Speaking as one currently bent over into a comma shape this was a timely read 😉
Six things I have learned about building mental fitness – Rose Gamble
“Once I tried to recite a sonnet. That didn’t work. And, on spotting blood creeping across the top of my trainers during the marathon, a calm conversation with myself ensued as to how much blood would indicate a toe actually being severed by a sports sock. This took up miles 18 to 19, which, frankly, seemed a happy exchange for a bit of blood.” (Thanks, Celia!)
If you’ve spied a story or have one of your own to share, please give us a shout.
A couple of weeks ago I had an accident. It’s crazy how life can change in a split second. As I passed a line of (illegally) parked cars on my city bike, a van driver opened their door without looking. I went flying and took the fall on my left forearm. It broke in five places. Yes, ouch, it hurt.
Thank God my husband was behind me and got me on an ambulance ASAP. My arm was reassembled thanks to two brilliant surgeons, two metal planks, two screws and one plaster cast.
I’ve learned a lot about myself and people in my life through the accident and subsequent eight days in hospital. All good, all positive.
While in the ambulance I thanked my lucky stars that I was born in a time when a bit of surgery would have me back on my feet within days. I was also very grateful that my arm saved me from further damage. This gratitude looped through my head while the sirens blared. No anguish, a little shock, but so much gratitude for my safety.
There’s induced pain (a race) and real pain, but I’m sure the fact that I’ve only needed pain killers twice (while they set the cast and post-op) was because I’ve practiced handling pain as it arises during training and racing.
I’ve been asked about Ironman Barcelona in October. Before the accident I was in top shape and had done some of my best workouts right before it happened. Now? I have no idea.
I walked the hospital halls and stairs a few times each day because that’s all the energy I had. I slept a lot, and I know rest will continue to be my number one ally in getting well. Yesterday I did a circuit workout with some running thrown in. I have a plaster cast on my arm so I consider it a strength workout too!
I continue to take my workouts one day at a time. It’d be great if I made it to Ironman Barcelona, but if I don’t, I’m fine with that because…
In the orthopaedic ward everybody coming in obviously had a broken bone. But most of the older women were also with high blood pressure, diabetes and mysterious aches and pains. The doctors were perplexed when I told them that I don’t use anti-inflammatories or aspirin. I chalk it up to making my nutrition and exercise one of my top priorities. The hospital stay made me want to up my game because there’s always room for improvement.
There was an outpouring of messages, phone calls and hospital visits that made me appreciate all the loving family and friends that I have in my life. Thank you <3
I already knew this but for better or for worse, always by my side. That thought alone helped begin my healing process.
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