Saturday, March 8, 2014
By JOHN ROLFE
Wish a speedy recovery to Denise Allen of Windham. A runner and triathlete who is training for her first Ironman, at Lake Placid, N.Y., on July 28, Allen was having a normal triathlete kind of day Sunday.
In the morning she did the Pirate Triathlon at Point Sebago in Casco, finishing the sprint event in 1:23:19, good for fifth in her 40-44 age division. In the afternoon she headed out on her customized Trek road bike for some "real training," a 100-miler that would take her from home over to Gorham and the lovely hills of Fort Road, aka Route 114.
She didn't get there. About 12 miles into the ride, Allen was heading south on Route 202, just past the high school at the intersection of Pope Road, when a black SUV (whose driver later said she "just didn't see" Allen) emerged from Pope Road in front of Allen. A collision was unavoidable.
Allen swerved right and took the impact on her left hip. She doesn't remember anything else beyond waking up on the ground, screaming, being attended to by a neighbor (a lawyer, it turned out) who held her hand, calmed her and told her not to take off her helmet.
"At first I thought he was a clergyman, he was so kind," Allen said Thursday from her room at Maine Medical Center. Her main injury is a broken sacrum but "I have some pretty impressive road rash and bruises, plus left-side muscle strain and vertigo from whacking my head."
But she feels "blessed" that the outcome wasn't worse; that the smash occurred so close to the police station so that rescue was so quick to arrive (as a Windham/Cumberland paramedic, she knows about prompt help); and that among others, the students and staff at Greely High, where she teaches health science and exercise physiology, have been especially attentive with flowers and cards and visits. (Allen is a Greely grad who ran for Danny Paul in the late '80s.)
She has a dozen marathons to her credit, including Boston. Two years ago she took up triathlons and is coached by Bob Brainerd of Central Maine Conditioning in Auburn. And on Thursday, as we spoke, she was 44 days away from the Lake Placid tri.
"Obviously I'm modifying my goal," said Allen, who is determined to get to Lake Placid either to race or to volunteer and help friends as she did last year.
Ambitions for now are modest. On Thursday, using a walker, she was pleased to get as far as the clock, "about 20 feet."
How long she'll be at MMC, and at New England Rehab thereafter, is uncertain. But she will race Lake Placid next year, if not this, and do a fall marathon, probably Maine.
OK, here's the Sunday morning sermon bit.
Windham police -- the officer on the scene is a good friend of Allen's, by the way -- deemed the crash an accident. There was no indication of speed on anyone's part. Allen had the right of way; the driver was simply negligent in failing to see her coming.
But following so close upon the previous week's cyclist-motorist dispute on Martin's Point Bridge, and followed by the death of a Trek Across Maine cyclist who was struck by a tractor-trailer Friday morning, the Windham near-tragedy gives one reason to think that much more.
Eternal vigilance isn't only the price of liberty. It's also the price of bicycling on Maine roads. One can only hope that drivers will begin to share the cost.
John Rolfe of Portland is a road runner. He can be reached at 791-6429 or at: