I grew up very active. I stayed outdoors either running around, riding bikes, skateboarding, or playing some sort of pick up game with my friends. As I grew older and started high school, I focused more on running and riding my bicycle everywhere.
After graduating high school (1995), I attempted to join the Marine Corp. I grew up an Air Force brat and wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps. I went to MEPS Ft. Jackson on three occasions. The first two attempts were thwarted by governmental shut-downs and I was sent back home since at that time MEPS was not considered an essential function of the military. The third time I went to MEPS was shortly before my birthday which meant I would have missed spending my birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with my family. The morning of processing I was taken into an office and was told that I had been rejected. I was devastated! This is when I first learned that I have a very low arch and was told that I was flat footed. Who knew! I realized that my dream of following in my father’s footsteps was lost and there was nothing I could do about it.
Fast forward a few years, I was still running and was promoted to a manager position. A position that brought me to Augusta, Ga. For the first seven months of living here, I continued to run regularly. I was missing home and started getting homesick which led to my end of that running era of my life. I started eating more and more junk and was running less and less. I started to gain weight. And gained weight. I got up to 250 lbs.
In 2006 while taking our daughter to Disney for her 5th birthday, I started feeling a slight pop in my left knee. Once we got home, I went to the doctor time and time again trying to figure what was the cause. The pop became a pain and I was finally sent to a sports medicine doctor. The diagnosis, torn medial meniscus, arthroscopic surgery required to repair the damage. The only day the doctor was available to complete the surgery was…MY BIRTHDAY! What a present!!
I was in an air cast for just shy of a month and was cleared to get active. So I decided to round the guys up for a round of golf the Sunday before Christmas. We were having fun until the sixth hole. In a odd mishap, I was thrown from the golf cart. My left foot planted, spikes catching the turf. I was going down the momentum cause me to turn but my left foot stayed planted. Right before I hit the ground, I heard three, yes THREE loud, distinct pops from my ankle. I got up, shook it off and finished the hole and the next two holes as well. Finally I had to stop, my ankle had swollen to three times it’s normal size. I hated having to stop, the 7th and 8th holes were my best two-hole score to date (sadly, it still is). I drove myself to the hospital, had x-rays and a CT scan completed. Fractured left ankle. REALLY? I just got out of the air cast from my left knee. The hospital set it and I went to the same sports med doc who did my knee. He just laughed. My insurance and I probably paid for his kid’s new car from these two procedures. The worst part, the hospital set my ankle wrong. The doctor had to reset it again. OUCH!
The summer of 2007 found me in my first go around of getting fit. Most importantly, I was losing weight and slimming down to where I felt comfortable with the way I felt and looked. I was hitting the gym five days a week, started running again and joined a Men’s flag football league hosted by the city recreation department. At the end of September, during a scrimmage game, I was playing cornerback and was locking down my side. The ball was thrown on a quick out to the opposite side. I sprinted to the ball. Unknowingly, I as I stepped my foot down, it went into a divot that I didn’t see. I fell forward. My right cheek collided with the hip of my team mate. I was knocked to the ground, my entire body from the neck down was paralyzed. Within a few minutes of being on the ground I felt my legs come back. Okay! I’m thinking and telling everyone, it must be just a neck stinger and that my arms should be coming back soon. I stayed on the ground a little longer then my left arm came back but it was tingling. I got up, right arm still not responding. I had my buddy drive me to the hospital, the same hospital that set my ankle wrong. Great.
While at the hospital, my right arm came to the same state as my left arm, tingling and if you touched either sheer pain shot throughout my body. Two CT Scan later, they couldn’t tell what was wrong. I had to wait until the sports med doc could see me and get me onto their MRI table. For the most part, the nurses were great, except one nurse who kept hitting my arms which had me in sheer pain. I finally mustered up enough strength to grab her by the wrist and tell her to stop touching my arms because of the pain. She immediately gave me a Demerol shot. AHHHH. The shot didn’t take the pain away, it just took the care away. I was sent on my way with a prescription of Vicodin 10mg. The only way I could sleep that night was to wrap my arms like a mummy. The next morning I had to call people to let them know what happened to me. My boss, my ex-wife, my mom, my sister, and my close friends. I was living alone and wasn’t sure how I was going to go about the my daily routine. Thankfully, friends and family were there to help me. I could barely turn my head without sending horrible pain through my arms.
My visit to the sports med doc, yes the same doc as the first two procedures; was tough. Laying on the MRI table being scanned for hours on end. Head scanned, neck scanned, hips scanned, you name it. The results, I herniated the disks at C5 and C6 and I had mild spinal stenosis. The bulging disks were pressing on the nerve roots leading to my arms. The treatment options I was provided were fusion, cortisone epidurals with traction, and disk replacement from a donor cadaver (which I would have had to pay the entire bill since insurance companies would not approve the procedure). I chose cortisone epidurals. The maximum amount of epidurals I was allowed was 6 spread out every 3-4 months. If the pressure on the disks wasn’t better after the 6th epidural, fusion would be the only option. I was told no more working out. My neck couldn’t handle it. All the while I was taking Vicodin 10 mg like they were candy, it was my only coping outlet.
My arms continued to tingle for five months. Taking 3-5 Vicodin 10mg a day. I was awake and functioning. Looking back, I’m not really sure how I was able to function. At the end of January, I was standing in line waiting to order lunch when a customer called my name, I tried turning my head towards the direction of the voice. All of the sudden, POP! I heard it, the guy in line behind me heard it. He asked me if I was okay. I just grinned at him and said I never felt better! The tingling was gone! Somehow turning my head caused the disks to sit back into my vertebrae. I couldn’t believe it, I could actually feel my finger tips again. I could hold a pen again. It didn’t cause severe pain in both my arms to undress again. Was that really all it took?
That night at home I was sitting at the dinner table when it hit me. I’m hooked on Vicodin. I was taking the Vicodin the rest of that day even though I didn’t need them. How do I stop? I continued to take the rest of the supply I had. Until I met this beautiful blonde named Ashley who showed an interest in me. I was shy and nervous. I paced and nearly walked little circles when I was standing while I was with her. She offered her number, I was working up the courage to ask, honestly I was. I called her that night and we talked for hours. I had one Vicodin 10mg left. I vowed to not take it as long as she continued to talk to me.
Our first date, I asked her out to dinner. She replied, “No, I’m coming to your house and you can cook for me.” That night was amazing and I knew that night she was the one for me. I still kept that single pill though. It wasn’t until after six months of dating her did I throw it away. I didn’t need it anymore. I asked her to marry me in November (two days before my birthday) of that year. We were married July 25, 2009.
Not working out, I got lazy and gained weight. I ballooned up to 265 lbs. I wasn’t happy with myself. I asked my doctor what I could do about it. He told me that he didn’t want me lifting weights because of my neck and that the only option that seemed to be the best choice was cardio. “Start running” he said. HUH? So the guy who in a year’s time had 30% of his left medial meniscus repaired, fractured his left ankle, and herniated two disks at C5 and C6 should do cardio? Head-scratcher to say the least.
I join the bootcamp class at the local Y. I made sure there was no weightlifting involved. Body weight exercises and running three days a week. I count the first day of that bootcamp class as my restart in running, October 12, 2009. Our goal was to complete the Gasping Gobbler 5k the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving. I finished, 28:35. I was hooked! I wanted to run more. I wanted to race. I wanted to get faster!
I started running on my own. Reading books and web pages on running. I signed up for three more races. The Pinch Gut Puffer (7.5 XC event), the Heart and Sole 5k, and Cooper River Bridge Run. While learning more I found out about an interval training group. I started going. I was getting faster. I started talking about wanting to do a half marathon by the end of the year. I was told to “just shut up and sign up for one already!” I did. I found one that was two weeks after the CRBR. From Oct. 2009 to the end of December 2010, I competed in 34 events. For my 1 year running anniversary I completed my first 50k, the FATS 50k. It is grass-roots style event that was great for first time ultra runners. I finished in 7:48:50. I found myself in love with the trails and the ultra distance events.
I now run to hopefully influence my daughter to practice healthy habits and not have to deal with some of the issues I’ve dealt with when it comes to weight. I run to outlive my father who died in 1998 at the age of 43 from a stroke that was brought on by stress. I run to be happy. I run to honor my God. I run to be a better husband to my wife. I run…