Ever noticed the “Warrior Princess” tag line at the end of each “Living Outside the Lines” column? Well, today I will tell you the story behind the signature.
November 19, 2011 I embarked on a journey known as the Warrior Dash. This journey was several months and some severe arm-twisting in the making. When I first read about the 3.1 hellish miles, 12 obstacles course, I thought, “sign me up!” What I really meant was, “wonder who loves me enough to agree to run this with me?” Enter my younger brother, David. I’m still not sure why he agreed, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was to get the nagging to cease. I can kind of be a pain in the hind parts when I set a goal.
Race day dawned warm, dry and clear. Prior to leaving the house, I posted this status update on Twitter, “Today I shall defeat 3.1 hellish miles & 12 obstacles to be promoted from Mere Mortal to Warrior Princess!” I had no idea what would happen that afternoon, or how true my words would become. We arrived at the race site early enough to watch the other racers. I felt slightly nervous about the obstacles, but I was determined to complete each one successfully, and together, we did just that! I’m a stronger runner, but at a slim 6’2” David was much more competent navigating the obstacles; together we were a formidable pair. Dirty and tired we crawled through the barbed wire mud bath finish line, to have Warrior Dash medals hung around our necks. Sporting our new bling we feasted on turkey legs and Gatorade before heading for the outdoor group shower. Prior to that day showering had always been a solo event, usually indoors. Relatively mud-free we changed into clean, dry clothes and headed for home chatting about the mouth-watering super nacho celebratory feast I planned to prepare.
Less than one mile from our front door we were rear ended by an eighteen-wheeler. The truck crushed my side of the car (I was sitting in the passenger side back seat) and shoved us into oncoming traffic causing an SUV to drive up and over the other side of the car. Here is all that’s left of my little Dodge Caliber. I awoke at Breckenridge Hospital with broken ribs, a broken clavicle, broken scapula, lacerated liver, four breaks in my neck and absolutely no memory of the accident. Initially, I had no recollection of even being back in San Marcos after the race. My first memory is of three beautiful angels named Holly, Christina and Jessica visiting my room and brushing out my tangled, mud-encrusted hair.
Somehow between my Twitter post and waking up in the hospital, I had forevermore become the, “Warrior Princess.” I think my sister in law started it all with this poster she made for my hospital room.
Despite all my injuries, I was released from the hospital and returned home a week after the accident with a 15-pound titanium halo surgically attached to my skull. Reading my file, the nurses, and physical/occupational therapists who visited me at home, expected to find a bedridden and downtrodden patient. Instead, my mobility and good spirits amazed them. A mere twenty-one days after the accident, my surgeon granted her permission for my return to work, halo and all. Pushing the envelope even further, I ventured out in public to places like the grocery store and restaurants! No doubt the sight of me walking around with my bulky headgear was shocking for many people, but I refused to be deterred.
The fateful day started with me doing something I love, and I was resolute that I would do it again. From the moment I woke up in the hospital, virtually all I thought or spoke about was running. There were races I had already registered for, and I was determined not to miss them! Whether they believed me or not, my family and friends were kind enough to indulge my dream, even taking me on daily walks around the neighborhood (I couldn’t go alone because the halo limited my range of vision). And run again I did! Ten short months after the accident I ran the Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton, Ohio and I haven’t stopped. This past April I completed my first ever 26.2-mile race, the London Marathon!
With the four-year anniversary of that fateful day upon us, the Warrior Princess label still drives me to conquer whatever obstacles may come my way. I even have a tattoo on my shoulder to remind me not only of what I have overcome but that I should always keep fighting.
Until Next Time,
Becky J. Miller