I was running along Alii Drive last Monday minding my own business and listening to my tunes. ( I have headphones that allow me to hear ambient sound while listening to music. for all you safety-minded folks) I was only out for a one hour run and was pushing my pace pretty hard. I had just checked my time to see how I was doing. I was at about mile 4 and a half heading back to Coconut Grove where I started from.
I usually run with traffic because my left ankle is injured and the slope of the road is such that I need to run on the side that slopes to the right. Otherwise it is just too painful. More on all this in another post later.
Like I said, I was just minding my own business when out of nowhere I heard a loud "THUMP," felt a pain in the back of my left arm and at the same time my upper body twisted violently to the right as a gray-brown blur flew by me just inches away. Instantly my left arm went numb. I looked up and saw a Suburban-like truck cruising half in the shoulder and half on the road. It's passenger side mirror now smashed flat against the door.
My first thought was, "Holy crap, I just got hit. Am I alive?" My second thought was, "Hey, this guy's not going to stop." So I strained my eyes to get a glimpse of his license plate. "HVM something, something, 8." I don't know if he didn't know he hit me or it took it a little time to register with him what to do or maybe the fact that he just passed someone walking toward me who could be a possible witness, but after about a block and a half the guy pulled over.
I was walking by then, holding my arm and trying to assess if it felt broken or what. With every step I took toward that vehicle I was getting more upset. The driver didn't get out, didn't back up. He just set there. When the person who was walking got to me I asked him if he had seen that guy hit me, he said no. So much for a good witness.
Just before I got to the vehicle the driver got out. It was a young man in his 20s. Maybe even his teens. He looked scared and I'm sure I looked mad. As I approached him he asked, "What happened, brah?" Still holding my arm I said angrily, "You hit me, cuz." "I was just driving," he said too defensively I thought. "On the shoulder?!?" I said even more angrily. "I'm sorry," he said, a little shakiness in his voice now.
Then for some reason I felt like I was giving one of my kids a lecture about safe driving and started tell him he needs to be careful. That there are a lot of runners along Alii and to give them plenty of room.
He finally asked me if I was Ok which I told him I thought I was. I kept walking and he got back into his vehicle. Then I turned around walked back to him looked him in the eyes, I'm sure he thought I was going to lay into him again, and told him "thank you for stopping. A lot of people don't stop." Then I turned around and headed back to Coconut Grove. After he passed me a second time I started running, angry with myself for not getting any contact info and for not calling the police. I figure the more auto verses runner/bike accidents that are reported the likely we are to get funding for safer pathways. And I blew it by not getting any info.
My arm stayed numb the rest of my run and for a little while after that but otherwise as far as I could tell nothing else hurt. My biggest concern was how much the whole affair was going to affect my average pace for my run and if I should deduct a couple of minutes for being hit by a car.
The next morning taught me a lesson. Never assume you are OK if you get in an accident. When I got out of bed the next day I could not turn my head to the left at all and I could barely turn it to the right. And I couldn't look down without causing serious pain in my spine that made it hard to breathe. Nonetheless though, I went for another run on Alii Drive. I figured I needed to face my fear, you know, do what scares you. And I knew I had a confidence problem now. So I ran for only 40 minutes but with my neck/spine feeling the way they were it made it difficult to breathe and to run.
By that night I could barely move my head and hardly slept. Wednesday night I went to Masters swimming to see if maybe swimming would loosen it up. I managed to swim 2,000 yards but it was too painful so I stopped. By then I was getting pretty worried that maybe something serious was going on. By Thursday morning I was feeling a little better and by early afternoon I was feeling even better. By the time I went to bed that night I was nearly pain-free. And today, Friday, There's just a hint of pain in my spine between my shoulder blades when I turn my head.
So, here's the moral to this story. You get hit, you get the info, call the cops to report it and never assume you are OK just because you don't feel any pain. Or you could just never leave the house again. Your choice.