Splits. If you run than you know what they are. If you don’t, it’s simple. It’s a unit of measurement (typically a mile) that breaks down a run into smaller parts. Ran six miles in 54 minutes? Your average pace would be 9 minutes per mile but your splits might be all over the place. Mile 1: 10 minutes, Mile 2: 9 1/2 minutes, Mile 3: 8 minutes and twenty seconds and so on.
But there is another kind of split – the split second. I became a mother in a split second. One second I was in labor and the next second I had a baby in my arms. One second you have a full bucket of water and the next second you have water all over the floor.
This weekend I was running down the side of the road, towards traffic, like you do. One second I was running and doing math in my head (a quarter of a mile to the light, turn and head towards the house, one mile down hill and I will be at an even eight when I get home) and the next second I heard the screech of brakes and the smash of bumper on bumper. I spun around instinctively and my eyes started to well with tears. Behind me there were two more runners, my running partner and her teenage daughter. We were all okay.
Three runners. Two teenage drivers, one that hit his brakes abruptly before turning and another that was following too closely. Five people. Two drivers. And three runners. We were all okay.
It has been four months since Meg Menzies was killed by a drunk driver while out for her morning run. I still think about her every time I cross an intersection, every time I turn to look behind me and every time a driver waves back at me. I breathe deeply and I know I am safe. In this split second that I whipped around and counted two more runners I knew we were all safe.
Meg Menzies wasn’t okay. And I haven’t forgotten. When I run a long run on a Saturday morning and I zigzag across a few roads here in town I think about her. I am extra careful. I wave at the drivers and I run towards the traffic. I wear bright colors. She was extra careful, too.
Be safe. And be grateful. Everything can change in a split second.