Friday, July 15, 2011

The Healing Power of a Running Group

Some of you may remember hearing about the horrible car crash in July 2009, when Diane Schuler drove the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway, colliding her minivan with an oncoming S.U.V. Eight people were killed, including Ms. Schuler, her 2-year-old daughter, Erin, and her three nieces, Emma, 8; Alyson, 7; and Katie, 5, as well as three men in the S.U.V.

Until very recently, Jackie Hance (the mother of Emma, Alyson, and Katie) has tried to stay out of the spotlight and cope with her grief privately, but recently she gave an interview to the Ladies' Home Journal because in a few days HBO will be airing a film on the incident that Jackie and her husband did not participate in, and which (apparently) tries to make the crash appear as though it was caused by an undiagnosed health problem, not alcohol and drugs. Jackie wanted to offer her perspective before the film airs.

I'm not going to comment much further about this; it's exactly the kind of tragedy one would never wish on one's worst enemy, and the Hances should be allowed time and space to grieve. But one thing she said in the interview really struck me: the integral role her running group is playing in helping her survive this awful, awful loss. As she says in the article:
I’ve learned that all you can do is put one foot in front of the other — sometimes quite literally. Several days a week my running group shows up at my door before dawn to take me on a six-mile run. We have done it for years, and even though I don’t always want to go anymore, I join them because it’s what I did before the accident. We’re back by 6:15 a.m., which used to be great because then I could make breakfast for the girls and pack their lunch. Now I come back to a silent, empty house. But at least it forces me to start the day. If I didn’t get up to run, I would have no reason to get out of bed.

There is certainly something about running that draws us all together in a special way, and my friendships with other runners are such an important part of my well-being. May something so horrible never, ever happen to any of us. Take care, Jackie, and thank you, Jackie's running group. Keep on running, everyone.

See you on the trail!
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