Let’s kick this off with the question that I get asked the most, “Why do you run?” As simple as the question seems, it’s difficult for me to provide an accurate answer; with that answer being both meaningful and at the same time, understandable. The short and simple answer is “because I want to.” The more meaningful answer is “because I need to.” The understandable answer is “because running is a gift.” This will take some explaining, and so begins this journey.
As children we all have hopes, dreams and aspirations. MUSTS! Things that we feel we must do within the time we are allotted on this earth. One of my “Musts” as a child was to run an Ultra Marathon, plain and simple just to say I did it. As time went by and I grew older, my priorities changed and my “Musts” slowly reverted back into hopes, dreams and eventually becoming “One Day(s).” Thereafter, they were sent to the back of the line to now stand behind parenthood, work schedules, and a social life. It was in this vicious cycle that I lost myself. In life, we all have the same finish line but our checkpoints (things that we want to accomplish) are all different. I stopped focusing and lost sight of my checkpoints, and once I lost sight, I lost interest and eventually lost my way. Using alcohol as a stress reliever, slowly converted itself into relieving stress as an excuse to use alcohol. I deeply underestimated the value of time, succumbed to stereotypes, did things that didn’t align with my goals and I was content living within the confines of my self-imposed limitations.
I still remember the day that all of my inhibitions banded together and conquered me. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I suffered life threatening injuries at the hands of a fellow co-worker/trusted friend. I woke up in the hospital with a nonresponsive body. Conscious in my mind but unable to move despite of how much I tried, my first thought was that I was paralyzed. Slowly and painfully, I began to recoup strength and mobility. As I lay there unsure of the situation, I went through a roulette of emotions that stopped on “determined” the very instant the Medical Staff broke the news to me. “We thought we lost you. We didn’t think you were going to make it through the night. Your road to recovery is going to be a long one, and you (most likely) won’t be able to walk for at least 6 months; nor will you ever be able to run the same.” It was at that very point in my life that I realized that all my hopes and dreams had come to me to turn them into reality and not only did I fail them, but I failed myself. This was a turning point in my life for sure. Had I taken the Medical Team’s advice to lay, rest, and recover; who knows where I would be or what would have become of my Musts, hopes and dreams. That being said, my idea of recovery was using my IV Stand to hold myself up and pace back and forth around my bed; forcing my body to relearn the simple mechanical actions of walking. At first, it was only seconds but eventually minutes started to stack up and (of course as a runner) I just counted it as “Time on Feet” training. The Medical staff would stop me, get me back in bed and stress the importance of resting. I did not argue, and I understood that they meant well for my body’s physical recovery. They say “the heart wants what it wants,” and mine wanted to recover quickly and get back to work; with personal development at the forefront.
Though this incident has its (negative) lasting effects, I did not leave it behind without taking something (positive) for myself; a refocused mindset and a greater sense of respect for time, family and personal health. It’s mentioned so often that it almost sounds cliché but the words ring true for us all at some point in our life. The one thing that we can never get back is time. We spend our time at work in exchange for money, and we use that money to provide and spend time with our family. Hearing the words “you may not make it through the night” are hard on your heart, and it’s in those moments that all you want is time. Time to spend with your family and time to do things you wished you had while you were healthy and able to do so. After years of prioritizing everything else, I used this as an opportunity to refocus on my “Musts” and realign with my goals. After all of humanities technological advances, breakthroughs and earthly spoils, all I wanted to do was run. Finding advice and motivation in books, magazines and local athletes, I signed up for my first Ultra Marathon from my hospital bed. From hospital bed to Ultra Marathon runner in 8 months. I love challenging myself, but this one is going to hurt like a motherf*cker!
Now that you know the backstory, you have an understanding why I love to run and why I consider it a gift. This experience is best summed up in my mantra.
I’m Not A Survivor, I’m A Warrior
I Don’t Survive, I Strive
I Can Do This, I Will Get Through This
One Step At A Time, Running Is A Gift