Park Your Car First.

We Lift Each Other
We Lift Each Other

A month before my first Broad Street Run race, I stopped wearing heels to work. You must understand that for me, not wearing heels is about the same as not wearing pants. But, naked as I felt, I wore my flats for those weeks because I was terrified of twisting my ankle or falling and not being able to run. After all, I had spent MONTHS preparing. Well, I managed to stay healthy and was able to run that run and all of my runs since then relatively injury free.

Karen Madrigale's Injury
Karen Madrigale’s Injury

However, many on Team CMMD are not so lucky. Last year just before Broad Street, Karen M. fractured her fibula, Maria U got a stress fracture, and Leigh P. torqued her knee.  Those last training runs before Broad Street were so heartbreaking to watch. Those girls were hobbling, limping and grimacing down the trail…determined to finish the race.

Last week, Stephanie C. was shut out of her Rock n Roll half marathon by a nasty stress fracture. At the same time Heidi Y was reeling from not one but TWO hospital stays back to back–totally crippling her running.

Stephanie C and Friends
Stephanie C and Friends

Today these last two ladies did something that inspired me to the point of literally DROPPING everything to write this blog (soup, braising short ribs, second grade math test–are all on hold.)  Today, Stephanie and Heidi posted in our group that they are starting the “Walking Wounded” club to move to getting back in shape.

Heidi Y and Maria U
Heidi Y and Maria U

Can you imagine? You have the mental stamina, you put in the time, the sweat, the miles. Then boom. You are stopped dead in your tracks. Would you have the gumption to put your arm around another wounded friend and say “Hey, let’s start over–together?” I am not sure I would.

I couldn’t figure out why exactly I was so moved by this little gesture of Stephanie and Heidi’s until about a minute into writing this post. They remind me of someone else on our team.

Karen Baker has been battling Leiyomyosarcoma for five years.  After chemo, radiation, multiple surgeries, vascular grafts, more chemo, she did the unimaginable. Karen chose to have a below the hip amputation. If she had no leg, she could have no leg for the cancer to recur in. Right?


Before she was even done learning how to  use her prosthetic limb, Karen learned that she had a recurrence of her tumor at the surgical stump. Since May, she has traveled to MD Andersen in Texas for consultations and chemo treatments. She is once again, battling sickness, fatigue, and pain.

Here’s a small digression.

I tend to zone out when I’m driving. You…know…I start thinking about things and find myself miles from where I am supposed to be. Well on Monday, instead of picking Maisy up at STEM, I found myself in the Downingtown West parking lot. As I pulled in, scanning the field for my daughter (who wasn’t there because I was at the wrong school) I caught sight of an unmistakable figure on crutches. At the sight of Karen and her twin girls and husband,James, I literally put  my car in park and started to climb out in the middle of the parking lot to run to her.

“Hey!” Karen called.

“Why don’t you park your car first?”

My Normal Parking
My Normal Parking

See, that is how Karen is. She is sick. She has been through hell. Yet, she is systematic, thoughtful, practical, and  determined. She has cancer. She gets treatment. It fails. She has an amputation. She learns to walk. She gets a recurrence. She gets more treatment.

In all the years I have known her, no matter what catastrophic news she has gotten,  Karen has always parked her car first. Thought through her options, then made a quiet, solid decision.

Heidi Y. and Stephanie could be running around (figuratively) distraught about their injuries and set backs.  but they are not. Today, they parked their cars and then came up with a plan to move on.

I have always been one to try to get things done–to make things happen quickly. The problem is, sometimes that’s dangerous. Sometimes, before you go jumping around, no matter how excited, frustrated or panicked you are, you need to stop. Think. Come up with a plan. Or in Heidi and Stephanie’s case, name your group.

In short, you need to first, park your car.


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