Running for Love

By: Kayleigh Peters


W hen she opened her eyes, Vera knew something was wrong.

She was staring up at the beautiful blue sky, filled with sunshine and fluffy clouds. For a moment, she felt pure bliss as she enjoyed the warm sun rays landing on her face. As she watched the clouds float calmly past, she thought of her fluffy white comforter at home, waiting for her to come curl up in her bed.

It only took her a second to realize that the clouds were the only calm thing around. As she came to, she realized that she was lying on the side of the road, her body twisted sideways. Black asphalt chips and small rocks were digging into her shoulders. She felt intense pain in her back, but she couldn’t feel her legs at all.

She could hear sirens, and as she tried to work out what had happened, a police officer’s face came into view.

He knelt down next to her, speaking gently into her ear. “Are you OK, miss?” he asked. “Can you hear me?”

Vera nodded. She tried to roll onto her side to sit up, but the officer gently pushed her back to the ground and reached for her hand. “Stay right there until we can have someone check you out, OK? There is an ambulance on the way.”

Vera groaned, a sharp pain shooting through her body as she came to rest on the pavement. Something was dripping into her eye, and she lifted her free hand to wipe her forehead. When she pulled her hand back, she saw that it was streaked with blood.

She groaned again. “Uh, what happened?” she stammered. The last thing Vera remembered, she’d been running along the side of the road, happy to be exercising outside on one of the first warm days of spring.

The officer looked Vera in the eyes. “We’re not sure yet, miss. We’re going to have some questions for you once you feel ready, but best I can guess, you were hit by a car while you were running.”

Chapter 1


A t the same time I clicked register, I realized I had lost my mind.

It was just one of those things, really. I’d received an email informing me that the price of the race registration would increase soon, and I’d been tossing around the idea of running again for quite some time.

It had been many years since I’d run a race—the last had been in the pre-accident days—but my physical therapist told me that I could get out and try it again at any time. He’d probably been talking about a 5K, thinking that I would work my way up to a 10K before the summer’s end.

There’s absolutely no way he would have approved me for a marathon, a grueling 26.2-mile race where anything could happen.

Before signing up for the race, I had failed to take into account all of the things that could go wrong. The weather could be terrible, I could forget my lucky socks (as if I had lucky socks), I could fail to train adequately. Even the most experienced marathon runners had problems on race day, I knew, but of those problems, I knew very little.

When I clicked on the register button and forked over my $125, I didn’t even know about all the other things that could go wrong. I had no idea where I would get a training plan from, I didn’t know how I would learn to fuel for the race, and I didn’t know who I could run with in order to prepare for the mother of all distances.

I only knew that I had to take back control of my own body, and training for a marathon seemed like a serious way to ensure that my body became mine once again. Especially after several months of learning to walk again. Because I had through physical therapy, and I needed to come to terms with my new lifestyle, I wanted to do something that made me feel like I was in control.

In some ways, signing up for the race had been impulsive. I hadn’t run in quite some time, and I obviously hadn’t come up with a solid, committed plan for getting through the yet-undetermined training program.

In other ways, the decision hadn’t been impulsive at all. The last time I felt confident and comfortable in my body, I’d been running routinely.

In fact, I’d been running at the exact moment when everything changed forever.

You know that whole ‘Murphy’s Law’ thing? The one about ‘anything that can go wrong, will?’ That’s what’s happening to me this morning.

I’ve been training for a marathon for about three weeks, and today I wanted to get my run in before work. Last night, I gathered up all my running clothes, set my alarm, and settled in for a nice night of reading until I fell asleep. It didn’t take long. Within a few pages, my eyes were heavy and I was having trouble comprehending the words on the page. I admit that my brain was foggy, a sure sign that I was relaxed and would quickly fall into a heavy sleep.

It was a little too foggy, I guess, because this morning I slept through the alarm, my phone going off for a full 10 minutes before it jolted me from my nighttime reverie. At first, I was irritated that my phone had woken me from the wonderful dream I’d been having, so I closed my eyes and tried to hold onto it for just a moment longer, hoping to fall back into the comforting warmth of sleep and finish the blissful scene that had been playing out in my sleeping mind.

I’d been dreaming of a guy I met while running on the trail a few days before. Nick. Our initial meeting had been mortifying, and still, I couldn’t get Nick out of my mind. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to see him again, but I had no problem daydreaming (or night dreaming, as the case may be) about Nick nonstop.