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Give runners a "brake"

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I began training for the 2011 MetroPCS Dallas White Rock Marathon at the beginning of August. I’m joined by more than 6,000 others, who will embark on this grueling 18-week long training program in hopes of crossing the finishing line on December 4. This year will be my first attempt at completing the 26.2-mile course around White Rock Lake, and I’m hoping to check completing the race off my bucket list.

My training schedule is nothing short of brutal. It requires four runs per week ranging in mileage from 3 to 20 and two days of cross training. During my most challenging week in early November, I will run 50 miles in southern Denton County over seven days. And yet, there’s an element to marathon training that I find just as difficult as the sheer amount of physical work.

Drivers.

After avoiding two near-collisions during runs over the last few weeks, I need to bring this to the community’s attention. At the ripe old age of 26 and a newlywed, I’d like the opportunity to see how the rest of my life plays out so I’m asking for a “brake” from my neighbors.

As the runner, I try to make it easy for drivers to see me. I sport neon orange shorts and a bright blue bandana during runs – I’m very fashionable. I avoid running when the sun is down but in the kind of heat we Texans are accustomed to, that’s not always an option.

When I do take to the sidewalks in the early mornings or evenings, I wear a blinking light that I position to face oncoming traffic. I run on the sidewalk, unless there isn’t one and then I stick to the shoulder as close as I can to the curb. When I come to a traffic light, I jog in place until I get the “go-ahead” from the traffic signal.

Since I’m doing my part to be safe, I respectfully ask that drivers take note of three simple requests:

1.)  Please don’t honk at me. The only time you should honk at a runner is if you’re going to hit them – and that’s what I think when I hear a honk, that my life is mere seconds from being over. As a related point that really should go without saying, please don’t throw things at me either. I was hit in the head by peppermint candies thrown from a passing car during a training run last year, which was unpleasant and unnecessary.

2.)  Be mindful of pedestrians that are crossing in the crosswalk, especially the ones that have the right-of-way from the traffic signal. This one in particular is for drivers that are turning left at a traffic signal when oncoming traffic is clear but before the appearance of the protected left-turn green arrow. The arrow hasn’t appeared because I have the right-of-way to cross the street where you’re about to turn. Nothing gets your heart pumping like crossing an intersection at the appropriate time, only to glance over your shoulder to see a vehicle heading for where you’re standing. All I’m asking for is a quick glance to make sure I’m not in the middle of the road before you try to make the turn before more oncoming traffic appears.

3.)  In the situation where there is no sidewalk and I’m running in the shoulder, please opt not to drive in the lane directly next to me if you can help it. Treat me like you would an emergency vehicle pulled over on the side of a highway. Move into the center lane until you’ve passed me and then pull back into your original lane. If you need to be in the lane for an upcoming turn, a tap on the brakes will always be appreciated.

I feel that these are very reasonable and simple requests that will keep me safe and keep you out of a lawsuit. The bottom line is that running 26.2 miles is enough of a challenge without having to fear for my life when I step foot on the sidewalk. Please remember that I’m someone’s wife, someone’s child, someone’s sister, someone’s friend – take care of me as if I was your own.

Krystle Nelinson
Lewisville, TX

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