Megs Menzies (Facebook photo)
At 8 a.m. on Monday, January 13, Megs Menzies, 34, and her husband, Scott, of Richmond, Virginia, were out for a morning run when Megs, a mother of three, was tragically hit and killed by a drunk driver. A Hanover, Va., physician is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence in connection with her death.
A memorial, worthy of the Boston marathoner Megs was, has sprung up at the corner of Hickory Hill and East Patrick Henry Roads in Hanover.
But, even more impressive, are the more than 98,000 people from across the world who pledged to run a mile for Megs this past weekend, tagging their miles on Facebook and Twitter. Meg’s friends created a Facebook event, which went viral, inviting everyone to run a mile for Megs and raise awareness of athlete safety on the roads.
“This Saturday, January 18, 2014, no matter what your distance, no matter where you live, run for Meg. Take in the fresh air, be aware of your surroundings, keep your headphones on low, feel the heaviness in your lungs, the soreness in your legs, and be grateful for it–for all of it. The sweat, the pain, the wind, the cold…everything. Be grateful for that moment.”
On Saturday, I met with my usual Saturday morning group at Presque Isle at 7:30 a.m. It was 11 degrees and the trail was icy in parts. At the five mile point, we turned around and crossed over to the lake side, hoping to avoid the head wind. We didn’t. My fingers were frozen and my hat was frosted with fresh snow. I smiled, I laughed, and I enjoyed my friends. Eleven degrees or not, everything was perfect.
I can’t imagine losing any one of my running friends, especially in such a tragic, senseless way. (Who the hell is drunk at 8 a.m.?). I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like for her husband, a sergeant in the Ashland Police Department, to witness his wife’s death. I can’t imagine telling her children the sad news. I can’t imagine the giant hole left in her community.
But, I can imagine it happening here. I’ve been running the roads long enough to see distracted/drunk drivers at 7 a.m. ( and at 2 p.m. and at 6 p.m. and at 8 p.m. ).
Once, when the kids were still little, I had just come home from a Sunday morning run and Dan had just gone out (we had to take turns back in those days) when he came across a young guy stumbling in the road three-quarters of a mile from our house. The guy had just hit the tree at the curve, his car was half buried in the deep ditch nearby. He was clearly under the influence of something. Dan stopped to make sure he was OK and had called for a ride home. We laughed about it then. (What a dumb a@#!). But, now, I think… There but by the grace of God go I. Five minutes earlier, I’d run right by that tree, 5 minutes later Dan did.
I ran very early Monday morning by myself. I left my headphones at home. I didn’t want the distraction. I wanted to think — about a story I needed to work out, a costume I needed to design, and about Megs and how it could be any of us on any given morning.
Even in the dark of a winter morning in the country, I could still see the scars from that collision on that tree up the road. It, and the trees around it, bear many scars from drivers who have missed the curve.
We runners tend to feel invincible, but we are defenseless against 2,000 pounds of metal and a driver who has had too much to drink or a mom in a minivan who just got a text message. Megs’ death is a call to action for us, runners and non-runners, to fight against drunk and distracted driving and for greater safety on the roads.
I didn’t know Megs, but if I did, I’m sure we’d be friends. Never met a runner I didn’t like. It’s like we’re all members of some big, crazy, weird family.
Rest in peace, Megs
No….wait, runners hate to rest.
Run in peace, Megs.
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”