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Why I Didn't RunMarch 2, 2007

Oh, my gosh, Lala will kill me if I don't share this story with you. She keeps saying "You haven't blogged that yet! Blog it!"

The other day, I went out for a run with my dog, Clara. We drove to Alameda, and my plan was to run from the dog park down to the beach and along the shore, then come back and let the dog run off-leash to get rid of the rest of her energy. But while I was driving in that direction, the sky got dark. And then darker.

Then it started to rain. I thought, I'm hardcore. I can handle this. I pulled into the parking lot and stared into the almost-empty dog park. It started to POUR.

Then, as I was about to get out of the car, it started to hail. Hard. I got out my phone and started texting a complaint to Lala. "It's hailing. I don't want to go. Wahhh."

But before I hit send, something happened. I heard a noise that wasn't even noise -- it was louder than anything I'd ever heard, but it didn't feel like my definition of Loud. It just was. There was light, but it wasn't like light. I felt weird and completely stuck. While it was happening, I couldn't move, and it wasn't fear, I just couldn't make my muscles work.

The parking lot I was sitting in was HIT BY LIGHTNING! The same parking lot I would have been running through if I hadn't been sending my whiny text to Lala.

I thought my car had been hit, at first. Or that I had. I knew exactly what it was, even though it didn't sound or look like any lighting I'd ever heard or seen. I didn't know if I'd been hit. Was I burned and just didn't know it yet? I hadn't breathed yet, and I remember making the conscious decision to take a breath and see if it hurt. I did, and it didn't.


I turned around to look at Clara, and we reacted to each other in the same way. We looked at each other blankly, calmly, and then both of us started to shake uncontrollably. I scrambled through the station wagon into the back seat. I have a dog-fence blocking the back of the station-wagon from the back seat. I stuck my arms through the fence and clutched her and she leaned back into my arms and we both stared out the back window, petrified.

In a few seconds, I heard shouts. The three men in the dog park had grabbed their dogs that had originally bolted in fear and were running for their cars. They must have been even more scared than I was -- they were out in the open. All the lights in the park and its outbuilding were suddenly on and strangest of all, all the park sprinklers started shooting water straight up into the air, into the pouring rain. Maybe they were on an electric timer?

I started to grab the umbrella -- the UMBRELLA -- in the car to get out and then I realized that was probably pretty stupid, so I just jittered myself out the back passenger-side door and babbled in their direction.

I knew one of the men in the park, even though he doesn't know me. He's a local crazy* that I spoke to on a regular basis when I worked police dispatch, and he started yelling at me and the other two guys: "Who has a cell phone? Don't use your cell! Don't touch it! The lightning affects the transformers, and they'll hear us! It's just the government! Don't run, and don't use any phones!"

The other two guys babbled with me as we all just stood there, trying to figure out what the hell we should do, which was, basically, nothing. We just got back in our cars and drove away. What else SHOULD we have done? No one was hurt, we were just FREAKED OUT.

And dude, I SO didn't run. Nope. That was god's way of saying go home and make pumpkin muffins, yams with chipotle dip, spinach/kale turnovers, and tomato soup. Wow. I just realized I did that the same day. I was nesting a bit, wasn't I? Interesting. I was kind of manic about the cooking, actually. Ask Lala. I was throwing ingredients into the air and catching them wildly (and badly -- don't EVER substitute steel-cut oatmeal for Quaker oatmeal -- dude, it's like throwing uncooked rice into finished muffins. I had to throw out the whole batch).

There. That is my lightning story. I would like it to be the closest I ever get to lightning in my life.

*The same local guy, we'll call him Steve, was once behind me in the 7-Eleven line. I gave the checker a twenty, he put it in the till, and then gave me change on a ten. We started to argue about it, but then Steve stepped forward and boomed, "The lady GAVE you a TWENTY, give her CHANGE!" The checker did indeed give me the correct change. So I have fond feelings toward Steve.


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Holy cow! I'm glad you and Clara are okay...good thing you hadn't gotten out of your car. It sure pays to listen to that little voice inside, even when it's saying, "Text Lala that you don't want to run in the rain/hail." It was totally a sign to go home and do some nesting-cooking.

I am so very glad that you are fine.
My sister had a lightning on her left hand while she drove her scooter in the country. Very fortunately, the lightning passed away through her scooter to the earth. So she was fine but her hand was little bruise and it was very sensitive to electricity for a while.

YOU DIDN'T BLOG ABOUT THAT?! ARE YOU NUTS?! Meant in the nicest way, of course.

Amazing posting. Need I say we're glad you survived unscathed?

I am so glad you and Clara are OK. That story was very scary. I thought it was funny how you reacted to the lightning--go home and cook up a storm (no pun intended). I would have gone into bed and covered my head for a few days.

Holy cow! Scary and exciting stuff! Glad you were both okay even if shaken.

Is Steve the guy who's REALLY tanned and REALLY blond and talks/argues REALLY loudly to/with himself as goes all over town?

first, i love won-ju's comment. i'm glad her sister is okay. second, that's pretty freaky friday-ish even though that didn't happen on a friday, but you know what i mean.
HEY, did you feel the earthquake yesterday??? omg. I grabbed my poochie, who thought there was someone at the door and was going to bark her head off, and ran for a doorway. and the lightning/thunder you experienced, I remember that day vividly because i remember thinking it was very VERY closeby! i'm soooo glad you are okay! and i'm glad you and Clara had each other! dogs are the best! :o)


Umm... If you want to use your steel-cut oats in muffins, soak them overnight, or a while, in some warm water and lemon juice. 1 cup oats, 1 cup water, 1/2 a lemon or so. If you make porridge this way, then just boil one cup water and your oats will cook in 2 minutes. If you make muffins, just reduce your wet ingredients a bit.

Yeah, I know, I have more to say about the oats than the lightening. But as you said, what else is there to do?

Holy crap! Thank goodness for rubber tires, eh? What an amazing story. I'm glad you two are safe.

it's great when the local crazy sticks up for you and your money!
i'd say he's a keeper...
i'm super glad you are okay after the lightning because what would Sile have done about your SOCK CLASS?!!! :o) you rock.

Yikes, sounds like I left Alameda right before all hell broke loose.

On a lightening strike related note, my mother's fiancé has been hit twice. In geographically approximately the same place. You think he'd develop the sense to stay away from that place when it's storming but apparently not.

Glad you're safe!

Ack! Scary. Whew, I'm glad you are okay. Next time, don't get out of the car after, you should wait 30 minutes after the last observed lightning.
In my college days, a bunch of us went on the roof of the dormatory during a lightning storm thinking that was a good idea, or at least not thinking it was a completely idiotic idea. Suddenly, there was a very close strike. I felt it more than saw it, like my breath got pushed out of me, and was sure I heard it before I saw it, weird.
I went to a lecture about lightning safety at an International Conference on Lightning and Static Electricity (yes, I'm a nerd) hoping to get some good tips from the experts on how to avoid getting struck (I do a lot of hiking) I was disappointed to hear how unpredictable lightning is, there's no safe place outside.
That dinner sounds FANTASTIC!

I got hit by lightning in GA 20+ yrs ago. There were 21 of us hit by a diffused strike during an Army training exercise (wet, sandy soil, lots of spindly pine trees, highest ground around and lots of communications equipment and antennas- we were apparently asking for it!!). They transported a bunch of us to the Army hospital where everyone there came to look at us ("wow- usually the lighning strikes come in dead" Um- yeah thanks, I really needed to hear that. Luckily we were all fine tho scared spitless and a little bruised and battered.). I ended up with some burns on my stomach (metal zipper melted), finger (edge of wedding ring melted), and upper thigh (coins in my pocket got hot and showed signs of arc-ing). The most ironic part (this was in '82 when digi watches were just getting popular and Timex's ad campaign was "Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'") was that all the guys had these expensive fancy-schmancy digital watches and I had a cheapo wind-up Timex. Guess who was the only one who had a functioning watch so the site commander could enter the correct time on his incident report?! Yep, even with a few scorch marks on the case it just kept tickin'. It still resides in my jewelry box and works just fine when I remember to wind it. I now live in CO (in the top 3 states for lightning strikes) and am uber-careful about lightning safety. Glad you and Clara are safe!

Go Steve.

yikes!! glad you are both okay and yay for nesting!!

Great googly-moogly! Thankfully you are both okay.

Message from God indeed! I'm glad that you are both okay - stick to walking :)

I've got knitting on the brain apparently. I read through your list of yummy foods and read "yarn with chipotle dip." It didn't strike me as odd until my brain said one of these things is not like the other - and wouldn't it be a shame to get dip all over one's yarn?

You scared the bejeesus out of me -- the allcaps "HIT BY LIGHTNING" kinda jumped off the page at me before I could read! Glad you and Clara are both ok, of course. Hooray for laziness!

whoa! that's so nuts. i'm soooo glad you guys are both okay. great story but super freaky, yah?

steve rocks.

What a story. And I am so glad that you and Clara are OK. That is exactly the kind of story that if I had read it in a trashy magazine, I would have thought it was fiction!
And not to be tooo selfish but I would have hated to cancel your sock class and leave all those excited people disappointed!

Holy crap, lady. I'm so glad you and Clara are alright. That must have been petrifying. I would probably still be in the car babbling to myself and the dog.

Dude! I'm glad you're ok! What an insane story.

My god woman, I'm glad you and Clara didn't run! I'm glad you're okay!

Jeezopete, glad y'all are all ok!! I was riding a bike in the rain one time. After I had lightning hit relatively close (though not as close as you did) TWICE, I got the message and called my sister to come pick me up. :)

Glad you and Clara survived! Sounds too close for comfort.

Holy Tarter Sauce! That was a close one. I do believe in signs, I do believe in signs (picture the cowardly lion on this one). Thank heavens you listened to yours and didn't run. Take care.

Your post brought me out of lurkedom to let you know I am glad nothing bad happened to you or the pups.

Yikes. Glad you're okay.

(Also- I'm glad I'm not the only one who read "yarn with chipotle dip".)

Holy crap! I don't remember the circumstances exactly, but sometime last year I was near something that was struck by lightning. (It now seems odd that I can't remember where this even was.) Anyway, it was SO LOUD. Like a loud crack, even though nothing in particular seemed to have been damaged. I'm glad you and Clara were still in the car! Was she OK, or did she shake all day?

Oh shit!

That was some storm! Hey! I think we heard your lightning!

And did you feel an earthquake Thurs evening?

I am glad you are both okay, sounds pretty scary! Would you be willing to share the recipes for the yams with chipotle dip and the spinach/kale turnovers?

Woo, what a great story, the hair on the back of my head stands electrifried.

So glad you didn't go running.


Holy fucking shit. Scary! I'm so glad you're okay!

Crap!! I am so glad you and Clara are OK. We were driving next to a tree that was hit by lightening once - I never knew I could jump up and sideways at the same time - I ended up on the other side of the car. Of course I let out a scream that could have been heard 3 counties away I swear.

And I live in a little tiny town and we have 2 Steve's that I can think of just off the top of my head and one is my neighbor -- God talks to him thru his furnace among other things.

Wow...that's an amazing story. Very scary. I'm glad you and Clara weren't outside. Soon after we moved to our house in Leesburg, lightning struck a tree across the street, about 100 feet or so from the house. We found a chunk of it on our front porch. Powerful stuff, that lightning.

Holy crap! I'm so glad you guys are ok. And I think your heart probably got a good workout even without that run.

Holy crap! Glad to hear you and Clara are okay. Good thing you were still in the car--definitely the Universe's way of telling you to cook instead of run.

Wow! We saw the flash and heard the almost instantaneous thunder in my office that day, Rachael. I knew it was close!

In my physics class we were told - if a huge charge (eg lightning) is delivered to a metal sphere (or a car), the charge will be distributed all over the outside, with nothing on the inside. Upshot - the safest place to be during a storm is in a car. Even if the car is hit, you wont be touched. And it would be a good idea to follow the advice above and not get out for a while. :-)
Thinking about it, the unsafest place might be outside with one hand on a car just as it is hit............
Anyway, I'm glad you're ok.

Man, am I glad you didn't get hit by lightning! That is the best excuse for not running, ever, though. And crazy Steve? I've been telling folks for years to wear aluminum underwear, but nobody is listening...

I'm so glad there weren't any, um, after-strikes...Cuz yeah, IN the car is the best place during a thunderstorm. I've been stuck/struck twice that way. The sound is deafening.

Damn, that is crazy. You sure were lucky to be in the car still or you might have gotten fried! I almost got hit by lightning when I was drinkin' on the roof of my apartment building in college-- there was thunder but no rain, then everyone's hair stood on end from the electricity, then we figured out what was happening and ran inside. Lightning hit the lightning rod just after that. glad you are safe! And now I'm hungry for yams...

So basically Lala saved your life :)

Holy cow, honey! So glad you survived that wild encounter. I just wish I'd been around to reap the benefits of all that nesting! XXO

Don't ever let anyone tell you running can't be hazardous! Glad you're okay. I once knew a gal who claimed to have been struck by lightning TWICE. She was a little odd.

WOW! The closest I ever got was being in an airplane that was hit...

Holy crap! What an experience - glad you, your dog, and everyone else in the dog park was OK.

The whole cell phone thing comes from when phones were actually attached to wires - and there were some people who when talking on the corded phone during thunderstorms got zapped because the electricity traveled through the wires.

Glad you ditched the umbrella!

Wow. I don't think I'd ever run again!
i was camping once and lightening hit about 50 ft in front of us. That was close enough for me! Especially since it was coupled with an evening of assorted shooters and followed by a thunderstorm migraine.

dude. dude. whoa.

You were safest in the car since the wheels grounded the car. But I am sure that you know that already. Lighting is strange in its behavior. And BTW, I loved the article in Curve.

Wow! Talk about a near miss! I'm so very, very glad that you're OK. I have a major phobia of eletricity, but not lightning or thunderstorms, so I'd have been in hysterics if that had happened to me. I guess the occassional waivering of one's dedication to running has its upside after all.

Holee! On the plus side, the odds of it happening again are really really low.

I'd buy a lottery ticket.

Holy crap! Glad you are ok and Clara, too.

Try yams with five spice(it's a bunch of spices put together sold under the name "five spice") -it's good. The original recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance is somewhat more involved - watercress,etc. I just went with the five spice! Vegan with A Vengeance has a lot of interesting vegtable recipes. The recipes in this book don't seem difficult but I haven't tried them, yet. Also, I already returned it to the library! BTW, I'm not a vegan, just a vegetarian. Also,maybe you could post the recipes of the food that you've been preparing or recommend the books that the recipes originate from because they sound good.

I know this post is super old at this point but, holy crap! That is so scary!

You were very lucky- good thing we have our people to call and whine to...

I remember that day! I was in the office and it hailed more than I'd ever seen it hail. Went to pick up my son and he scraped almost an inch of hail off a car in the Albertson's parking lot! I remember the BOOM of that lightning. My office is about 1 mile from there.

I think I know Steve, too; he likes me, for some reason.

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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