Monthly Archives: May 2011

vulnerable user bill–signed into law

Just got back from a trip down to Olympia today, where Governor Christine Gregoire has signed SB 5326, the Vulnerable User Bill into law.  This is the culmination of three years of advocacy work by the Cascade Bicycle Club and others.  Having attended three Judiciary Committee hearings, and testified at two – I’m pleased to see this come to fruition.  SB 5326 was among the final bills signed from this legislative year. 


pictures snapped from’s video feed

Shortly before four this afternoon, I got to shake the governor’s hand, and to tell her that my family and I appreciate this new law.  It will go into effect on July 1, 2012, four years to the day after my accident.

If you are interested, you can view the video of the bill signing here (the Vulnerable User Law signing occurs at time 33:25) :

This experience was valuable for me in a number of ways.  First – it’s an education to see the legislative process in action.  Definitely not always pretty, but definitely good to understand.  Watching the Advocacy folks with Cascade work with the bill sponsors to help navigate the process was interesting.  Speaking with my legislators, as well as others about why it’s good to build awareness and accountability into our driving laws, was incredible.  Obviously, the opportunity to participate in positive change following my own brush with an inattentive driver was powerful too – good things from bad, and all that. 

The person I really have to thank for this is my wife Kris.  During my recovery back in late 2008, she and I were talking about the motorist vs. cyclist dynamic – how each seems to incite the other endlessly concerning road safety.  Kris pointed out that rather than complaining, it’s a far better use of energy to work to change the laws.  Naturally when the opportunity to participate arose a couple of months later, I couldn’t pass it up.

All in all, a good day.

recovery–time on my wheels

A couple of weeks back, I posted about having a LeFort 1 Orthognathic Osetotomy.  Basically, I had my Maxilla (upper jaw) rebroken, in order to better align it with the mandible (lower jaw).  Pretty straightforward procedure, but still not fun.

I’d known this was coming for about two years, ever since my first consultation with an orthodontist to address the alignment issues resulting from the bike accident.  And something about having that much time to think, or about it being a bit more ‘optional’ than my other four surgeries back in 2008 (the initial Decompressive Craniectomy for my TBI, an initial LeFort Osteotomy for my facial fractures, then two cranioplasties to reinsert bone, then bolster the left temporal area of my skull) – this latest one had me a bit nervous.  Part of me wondered why in the hell I’d invite someone to move my facial bones about again.

The surgery was about eight days ago.  It took about 90 minutes and according to the doctor, went quite well.  That first day, I felt far worse than I had after the cranioplasties (I don’t remember much about the others).  I was really out of it from the anesthesia, and there was a lot of blood back in my sinus cavities.  I’d sit up a bit and bleed all over myself (ick).  But the next day, I felt better.  And two days later I went for a nice long walk with my daughter, and felt even better.

Eating stuff that has the consistency of baby food isn’t fun, but not as bad or as hard as I’d worried it would be.

Two days ago, the doctor told me I could basically do anything short of running (too my jostling and impact), or chew food tougher than a ripe banana (need to allow the bone some initial healing time). 

And this afternoon, I got a lesson in what recovery is about.  I’m back to work, and finding ways to stay active again.  I got the okay to ride my road bike.  Standard cautions – don’t overdo it, etc.  Today was beautiful – too nice to pass up a chance at getting a good ride in.  So I rode into work, and took a slightly longer than usual route.  I put in a good day at work, then took advantage of the sunshine, and aimed to take an hour-long ride home.

I’m still not 100%.  Definitely feeling fatigue a bit more than usual.  So I kept my perceived exertion rate modest on the uphill stretches, and just kept things steady on the flats.  Downhill was interesting.  I found myself nervous about picking up too much speed.  I was very conscious of not wanting to lose control, fall, and yes – break my face.  I’d felt some of this before, usually on long downhill stretches, but today’s apprehension was a lot more pronounced than usual.  Really bugged me too.  I’m no daredevil at the best of times, but I basically rode my brakes on most hills.  When I got home, I was really amazed at just how much tension I was carrying from the ride.

And therein lies the lesson.

There are few miracles in recovery.  Lots of good fortune – yes.  But the thing I don’t always remember from my experience of 2008 is that a lot of this is about just staying with it.  Time on your wheels, opening your heart and mind to fresh, positive experience gets rid of doubt and fear.

That’s what I’m telling myself now.  Need to spend more time on my wheels.

running the mud – 26.2 in soaring eagle park

Why do we go the distance?  Is it a cult?  An addiction?  Some kind of penance?  Do we have something to prove?  The answers to these questions are nearly as individual as the runners themselves.

Marshall Ulrich, from his book Running on Empty


Spring had become a very busy time.  At work, we’re trying to wrap up work on a new product release.  At home, the kids were involved with school, and activities.  And Kris was ramping her bike training, in preparation for some summer events.  I’d wanted to find a nice local marathon around the beginning of May.  It would be my last for a while.  On the fourth of May, I’d go in for surgery on my jaw – which would put a halt to running marathons for a while. 

As luck would have it, Eric Bone had another of his Northwest Trail Runs slated for the last day of April.  We’d run in Soaring Eagle Park, in Sammamish – just about 25 minutes from home.  I’d run a couple of shorter events there before, up to ten miles.  The park was nice, the trails somewhat technical and labyrinthine.  And word had it that the trails were pretty muddy too, owing to our wet northwestern spring.

I joined a small crowd of people out to run the marathon, and 50k on the morning of the event.  The runners included several friends from the Eastside Runners – Ather and Theresa were running the 50k (Theresa’s first!).  Greg planned to pace them for 15-20 miles.  It was a beautiful morning, blue sky and sun – atypical for us this spring.

After a quick primer on how to follow the route markings (important, given the twisty trails), we were off.

We started with a 1.2 mile loop, a short turn around one corner of the park.  Judging by the mud, it would be a challenging day – to stay standing up, let alone running 42-50k.  I ran with my friends for that first loop and a little beyond, when it became clear that their pace was a bit too brisk for me, so I dropped back.

After that first 1.2 mile loop, the remainder of the course was two 10 mile loops, followed by a 5.1 miler.  For those of you keeping track, that’s a 26.3 mile marathon – more miles for your money.  The 10 mile loop had an aid station about 4.1 miles in.  And the 5.9 miles that followed felt longer than 5.9 miles usually did.  That final 5.1 mile loop was a trip back out to the aid station, followed by a stretch along a muddy road back to the start.

I felt I’d kept a reasonably good pace for the first 11.2, but the remaining loop and a half took care of that feeling.  I started feeling fatigue earlier than expected, and more or less resigned myself to one of those “run just to finish days”. 

The second loop around felt long, and when I came in to fill my bottle at the 21.2 mile mark, I was pretty wasted.  The final loop was slow.  More and more, I’d settle into a walk while I drank or ate a gel.  That last trip to the aid station took longer than the others.  Ambling through the woods alone was quiet, and nice.  I ‘d spent most of the race lost in my thoughts.  I paid little attention to what my watch said, breaking out of my trance only when it was time to eat or drink something.

That final mile was tough.  It was along a wide muddy road, and possibly half of it was uphill.  I didn’t have much kick left, but suddenly felt concerned that I’d get passed.  Odd thought given that just a mile or so earlier, I’d spent several minutes sitting on a log, attempting to get all of the rock out of shoes completely saturated with mud.  I’d spent the better part of five hours running alone through the woods, rarely glimpsing another human being.  I’d seen lots of birds, and enjoyed watching deer lope along the trail ahead of me.  What was suddenly different?  I guess my brain had decided to reenter civilization, with all of its baggage.

A couple of hundred meters from the finish I ran past my friends Larissa and Don, out to cheer Theresa in.  They’d spent the morning running around Lake Sammamish – a nice 22 miler – and brought great smiles and great energy along.

I crossed the finish in just over 5:08 – my second-slowest marathon time ever.  And surprisingly, I was the first marathoner in.  But runs like this one are not about what the clock says.  Rather – they’re about what our souls tell us after something like this.  And mine gave thanks for being able to enjoy the mud and the miles this beautiful morning.



pictures taken by Larissa and Don Uchiyama, and the NW Trail Series folks

Charts and Graphs for Running Geeks

The data shows that this event wasn’t really about the time for me.  Had it been, I’d have wanted either the cumulative average pace to trend down, or (at the very least) the early splits to be fast enough to explain the steep positive splits.  But – it was a beautiful morning.