Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I am a daughter.

My parents have been married for 44 years.  They live in the town I grew up in.  They love to travel and be outside.  My mom took up hiking and loves to venture into the mountains with her mountaineering brother.  My dad still works at the practice he started with his own hands, but hopes to retire soon and spend more time with his grandkids and traveling with my mom.  They love to go to wine country and Colorado.  My favorite adult vacation was when our entire family spend Christmas in Yellowstone National Park a few years ago.  Due to the heavy snowfall during the winter, everyone is shuttled into the park on a big "snow cat" and there are no cars- so you can't escape.  You spend the days cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and lounging by the fire with a hot beverage.  One morning we snow-shoed the trail up to the overlook above Old Faithful.  It was truly amazing to experience the stillness of the chilly morning and be surrounded by family watching one of the many wonders of our world.

I am a sister.

I grew up with constant playmates.  I love my sisters and could not imagine being an only child.  My two sisters are married to some pretty kick-ass men.  I have 3 nephews, and 1 niece all under the age of 10.  And one more on the way.  I'm hoping for a girl, but I'll take whatever they give me.  I can't wait to hold him/ her.

I am a wife.

I met my husband 10 years ago in October.  I don't believe in love at first sight, but this was pretty darn close.  From the moment of our first conversation, I was won.  He is smart and creative.  He makes me laugh every single day.  He knows me, sometimes better than I know myself.

I am a veterinarian.

It was the only thing I ever wanted to do.  From the time I was 6 years old, my parents say, I wanted to be a vet.  I worked for my veterinarian in high school.  Mostly cleaning and walking dogs.  But I loved it.  I grew up with cats.  My dad got me my first cat when I was 9.  We saw a sign on the local feed store advertising kittens.  Little Lucky was so sick, but he was a fighter.  I had him until after I graduated from veterinary school.  I was 24 when he died.  I never remembered a time before him.  It felt like a part of my heart had been ripped from my chest.  I was holding him when he passed and it was unexpected and quick.  He did not suffer.  Only I did at his loss.

I am a business owner.

My husband and I opened our running store 19 months ago.  It is truly a passion and we love being involved in the running community.  Showing up every Thursday morning for the group run that I lead is a highlight of my week.  I love seeing so many familiar faces, and a lot of new ones, every week.  It is comforting having a routine where friends meet to run.

I am a triathlete.

I never played sports growing up.  I started running after vet school to get in shape.  When my husband and I moved to Arizona it was a natural progression as there are so many triathletes here.  Through triathlon I have gained confidence, a competitive spirit and an admiration for what the human body is capable of.

I am a stepmom.

My stepdaughter is turning 16 a couple of weeks.  I was the first one to let her practice driving because her parents were too scared.  She is a sweet, smart, beautiful girl with dreams of going to college to study medicine.  She loves to watch football (college and NFL) and knows all the players and their stats.  She's funny, and quick with the comebacks.  She is adored by both (all!) of her parents.

I like to ride my bike.

I like to ride my bike because I love the sense of freedom and the wind blowing in my face.  I like to feel my legs working hard and the sun warming my skin.  I like to ride my bike because it's time that I get to spend outside, often with my husband or my friends.  I don't ride my bike to annoy you.  I try never to venture outside the bike lanes.  I stop at stop signs and stop lights.  I wear brightly colored clothing, not to show off but because I hope that it helps you to see me better.

It only takes a second to kill a person on a bicycle, or cause significant harm.

A person on a bicycle might be riding to work, or to school, or just for fun.  One morning a couple of years ago I was out for a run.  There was a teenage boy riding his bike to school, which is extremely common in Arizona because weather permits kids to walk or bike to school year round.  I witnessed a minivan make a right-hand turn into a gas station parking lot and sideswipe the boy.  He did get back up after being hit, thank God.  The driver did not even get out of the car to make sure he was OK.  She rolled down her window to check.  This woman had children, and may have been on her way to drop her kids off at school.  If it had been her child, how would she feel if the driver did not even get out of the car?   Would she feel hurt?  Offended?  Saddened that the driver felt so little toward the human being that was just struck the she didn't even get out of the car?

Almost every single person I know in the triathlon/ cycling community has been hit or run off the road at one time or another.  If you've been riding a bike long enough, it's only a matter of time.  Or at least that's how it seems.  But it doesn't have to be that way.

If you put down your phone, you might save a life.  If you keep your eyes on the road, you might save a life.  If you watch for cyclists or pedestrians when you want to make a turn, you might save a life.  If you understand that it's not about you, and it's not about me either, you might save a life.

Don't take such personal offense when you see someone out riding their bike.  Maybe they can't afford a car, or they have a medical condition that prevents them from having a license.  Maybe they ride a bike to stay in shape.  Or maybe they ride because they love the feel of wind in their face and the freedom from life's problems for an hour.

I know there are cyclists who don't obey the law.  I know there are drivers who don't obey the law.  There are people who don't obey the law.  Unfortunately this is not going to change.  The question is are you going to be one of them?  Will you text and drive?  Will you drink and drive?  Will you be distracted by your kids fighting in the back seat when you drive?  Will you take your anger out on a person riding a bike because you feel they are inconveniencing you?

Or will you pay attention when you drive, every time you get behind the wheel?  Will you slow down, take a deep breath, and wait until you safely can pass a cyclist with a minimum of 3 feet as required by law?  Will you see me as a person?  A wife, and mother, and sister, and daughter?  Or will you see me as an inconvenience to you when you get behind the wheel?

My husband was run off the road yesterday by a distracted driver who swerved into the bike lane, forcing him to hit the curb to avoid being struck.  As he went down hard, his ribs absorbing the impact, the driver drove away and left him lying there.

5 years ago, I was run off the road by a driver hauling a boat.  The boat swung into my lane and forced me into the gravel which threw me off my bike and into the lane of traffic.  The driver never stopped.

5 years ago my husband was run off the road by a truck hauling a trailer, leaving a garage sale.  My husband lay on the ground with 4 fractures in his collarbone and the driver never stopped.

2 years ago my friend was hit by a drunk driver.  Her body was thrown into the air and landed with such impact that she fractured both arms, her pelvis, her collarbone, tore all the ligaments in both knees, and punctured a lung.  She had to be helicoptered away from the scene.  The driver never stopped.

When will this end?  When will people care enough about another person to stop?  How do you hit someone and drive away?  I cannot begin to comprehend this.  We are all people.  We are mothers, daughters, fathers, brothers, wives.  We all share this one world for as long as we're here.  When will we matter enough?  As a person?  As a human being?

If you want to hate me, don't hate me because of what I AM.  Hate me because of something I have done to YOU.  Was I rude to you?  Hate me for that.  Did I say mean things or cause you physical harm?  Hate me for that.  Did I give you bad news about your pet?  Hate me for that (even if it's not really my fault, I'll understand...).  But don't hate me because I ride a bicycle.  Don't hate me because I like the color green.  Don't hate me because I love cats better than dogs.  These are things that don't affect you.  They have no impact on your life.

After his accident we received well wishes from many concerned friends.  I appreciate the support and am sorry if I tend to withdraw instead of reach out.  I am so so upset, it is sometimes hard to verbalize how I am feeling.  I think my rant to one friend pretty much sums it up...

If there is a God, this world is a huge fucking joke.  He must be so disappointed.  

Please, when you get behind the wheel, put your phone down.
Please, when you get behind the wheel, pay attention to the road.
Please, when you get behind the wheel, remember that the person on the bicycle, or the pedestrian, or the kid on his way to school is human just like you.

In all this overwhelming disappointment with the way of the world, and my compressive sadness, I would like to say thank you to the person who drove after the woman as she fled the scene yesterday and got her license plate number.  The only way to fight this epidemic is one person at a time and that license plate number was needed for the police report that was filed.  Thank you for caring.  Sincerely, truly, thank you.  


***I know that sometimes my family reads my blog so the following note is for them.***

Dear mom and dad,

I know I've told you before how much I love you.  Thank you for shaping me into the person I am today.  A wife, a stepmom, a veterinarian, an athlete.  Thank you for sharing your zest for life with me.  I know that you worry about me when I ride my bike and run long distances, and compete in Ironman.  I promise I do everything I can every day to stay safe.  I have blinky lights on my bike and try to ride with people as much as possible.  I try never to leave the bike lane or ride in places where I feel unsafe.  I love riding my bike, and I don't want to be afraid of living and enjoying life.  If I die, please know that I was doing something that I love.  

I hope to be around to say goodbye to you in your very old age.  I hope to see my niece walk down the aisle, and dance at my nephews' weddings.  I hope to be there when my stepdaughter gives my husband his first grandchild.  I hope that my sisters and I will still be taking "couples vacations" when we're in our 60s.  I hope to celebrate my 44th wedding anniversary with my husband.  But if I am not, then it was not meant to be.  I will always be with you.  My spirit and my joy will be evident in the lives of the people that are left behind.  Do not be angry, do not be sad for too long.  Celebrate the life that we have, no matter how short it may be.  And know that I will always, always love you.




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