Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Road to My First Marathon

I ran a lot as a kid. I ran a lot in the army, but only because I was told to. When I became a civilian in 1996, I didn't really run again until 2005, after a huge amount of weightloss and lifestyle change. Manchester holds a Thanksgiving Day 5k annually, I ran my first race in 2009. Hated it. However, I noticed the effect it had on my wife. She's a former high school cheerleader, so she's always gotten really excited about any athletic endeavor I've ever attempted. She was right there with me on all the Body For Life and challenges, offering tons of support. Also really supportive of my weight training, and personal training biz, and will gladly listen to all the different theories and new breakthroughs in the science of bodybuilding and weight loss. However, the effect the race had on her was incredible. She loves the spectator side of it, which I don't really get, but I appreciate. Must be the old cheerleader in her.
In 2010 my personal training business was just starting to take off, and I was loving my full-time gig as a stay-at-home dad, when I had a major back injury. I had previously worked a year and a half at FedEx to save money for my certification. Not knowing what I know now, about the importance of a strong core and steady posture, I'd done some minor damage to my lower back. Summer '10, I was training a client who was squatting a little over 200 lbs. They thought they had placed the bar securely in the rack at the end of their set, but the left side of the bar wasn't racked at all. As the weight came crashing down, on instinct I reached out and grabbed it. That split second of time really messed me up bad. It got more and more aggravated over time, as I tried to "push through the pain" and continue my daily training schedule. One day I was at Gold's Gym, running on the treadmill, and my middle son was in his first kid's yoga class. I saw that the class was over, got excited and jumped off the treadmill, wiped it off, I walked over to the classroom forgetting there was a step down to the main floor. I felt my ankle snap, as all my weight shifted to the right of it. One of the gals from the kid's club helped me get my guys out to the car, and as soon as my wife could meet me at home to watch the kids, I stumbled into the hospital using a folded up umbrella stroller as a cane. The fracture healed with some ibuprofen, and the old R.I.C.E. (Rest Ice Compress Elevate) treatment.
I continued to train around my injuries. I think I looked better than I felt. My back would get better for awhile, then it would get worse. Sometimes it got so bad, I had to use two canes to get around. The canes were the biggest blow to my ego. There I was trying to model good diet and training as a certified fitness professional, yet I was falling the hell apart. Twice the doctor tried giving me steroid shots into the lower back muscles. That did nothing for me, except make me feel more of a hypocrite. I started attending yoga classes which helped a lot, but I'd still occasionally have a bad back spell. I remember a few times walking into the class with my cane, and having it right beside my yoga mat, doing what I could manage, and just laying there in corpse pose when they did a pose beyond my abilities. After 6 months, the docs said it was chronic and I went into physical therapy. Just as that was starting to work, I managed to overdue the stretching, and developed a hernia. So summer 2011, I went into surgery had the hernia patched, and spent several weeks maneuvering around with my 2 canes. I say all that to say this. I knew better. The whole damn time I knew better. I knew about law of attraction. I'd read Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life, and knew that my lower back pain was a physical manifestation of some psychological underpinnings. I knew my mind was cluttered with negative shit. I knew I was over-training at times, and I knew I had unrealistic goals. When I look back at the whole boring story, I can see how I attracted each painful piece of the puzzle. But as Esther Hicks' teachings of Abraham talk about, that contrast between where I wanted to be and where I was was vitally important. Where I was was my bouncing off place. I decided to heal.
So I ate cleaner, trained smarter, but most of all I worked on my mindset, or consciousness, heart, whatever you want to call it. I stopped complaining, to the best of my ability, and when I was with someone who was negative, I tried to listen without judging. I started looking for the good, and expecting it. Then it showed up everywhere, and things started to flow. There was a zombie walk for hunger a few towns over, so my best friend and I drove over, he got made up like a zombie, I got made up like a victim and we walked a mile and a half or so. I have some cool pictures of me walking with my cane, covered in fake blood and a pretty realistic looking head wound. I started feeling much better, and taking more responsibility for my health. I fell in love again with High Intensity Training (HIT). Brief, but heavy, intense weightlifting sessions that focus on building muscle by hitting momentary muscle failure quickly, and safely, so that recovery and growth time is maximized. It's a much more healing way of pumping iron, as opposed to the High Volume over-training I'd done in the past. I also started running, and that more than anything helped my back. I was also still doing yoga, but for some reason running just worked for me. I had to start with slow jogs on dirt trails, but eventually I worked up the stamina to run on asphalt. That year I ran the Thanksgiving 5k again. In the spring I did a challenge, dropped some weight, and haven't needed the canes since. In the summer I ran my first 10k.
That was something I didn't think I was capable of. I decided to challenge myself and run the 1/2 Marathon in Hartford in October. So I started training for it. While training a friend of mine died unexpectedly. That had quite an effect on me. I sort of felt guilty that I have so much knowledge about how to get healthier and stronger, but ultimately it seems like most people don't want to hear anything about it. I came to the conclusion that I can't "talk it" so I have to "walk it." But, "walk the talk" sounds so pompous, and also a lot of work. I just wanted to "have fun and do what needs to be done." I decided I was going to run the full marathon. 26.2 miles. Something I never dreamed of in a million years, but I trained smart, and I listened to my heart. And I ran it. My goal was 4 hours 20 min. And I ran the Hartford Marathon within 4 seconds of that goal. The thing that blew me away was how much I enjoyed it.

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