People ask me “Why do you run?”

After years of gymnastics, competing in springboard diving, wrestling, playing football, pole vaulting, and coaching all of the above, I am left with a back that has the L4, L5, and S1 vertebrates fused together, a right knee that has seen four surgeries> three meniscus cleanups, one that attached a modern day torcher rack to the outside of my leg to help the bone grow a small bit every day(High Tibial Osteotomy), and finally a total knee replacement joint that is supposed to let me do all that I desire except kneel on cement for more than 2 minutes. The surgeon told me after the surgery that all I had holding my knee together that time was the skin.

I also have two shoulders that have been separated with rotator cuff tears and then surgically repaired in the earlier days. Now they have bone spurs that allow my movements to ratchet over small stalagmites and stalactites with each little twitch.

The flexibility of this youthful springboard diver has seen its day and is now just crying to get out again.

The quick repair of muscle, tendon, and ligament damage done during any type of workout now takes twice as long as it did before; if it is repaired at all.

The year of my back surgery (2007) the doctor told me I could walk. Walking would be good for me since I had shot up to a plump 205 pounds without my normal activities. Although my first stint at walking was a distance the length of my driveway. It was still a start. As I began to walk farther, I noticed that my lower back would stiffen up. So I would jog a few dozen steps and the back area would totally loosen up.

Pretty soon this developed into more of a slow jog with a few walking zones. I was walking thirteen miles every other day. The other days I would walk six miles. I met all kinds of people along my walks. Neighbors that now come to my house to see if I am okay if they don’t see me on that particular day.

The pounds began to melt away. I eventually lost fifty five pounds through my walking routine.

A special young lady that I worked with suggested that I chart the miles I had been walking and running. I thought about this while I was icing down my back for that evening. I determined that I would keep on logging the mileage that I went every day. At the end of that particular month, I would total the mileage and then plot them on a road map of the United States of America. My idea was to run/walk around the entire perimeter of our great country.

While I was doing my walk/runs every day, I was actually training for some “fun runs” that I had not even thought about. As a distance runner I started late in life. I guess I began when I was 58 after I was told by my surgeon that I had to walk.

And you keep asking that totally rhetorical question, “Why do you keep on running?” or better yet “How do you keep on running?”

I run for freedom. I run to clean the cobwebs and gobbledygook that gets sucked in every day doing normal things like at work, or dealing with others. Running correctly sorts and files this mess as each bird’s nest is unraveled, classified, and stored, or discarded.

I run for the freedom to breathe deeply the natural smells from the garden, as well as the kitchen smell of breakfast that gingerly waft through the kitchen windows out onto the sidewalk or roadway below. I run to smell the wet dew on the forest path or on the fresh sagebrush.

I run to see a family of wild coyotes romping across the foothills, or a doe and her two fawns as they step out of the ferns. I run to hear the crunch of fresh fallen snow beneath my feet and feel the amazing snowflakes upon my face.

I run to find friendship with myself.

As the ratio between running and walking become a religion to follow, hydration techniques supply the energy needed to complete a run, and my diet is now a 4 to 1 complex carbohydrate to protein ratio; I feel alive.

I feel more alive than I have in years past. I have set up many goals to achieve. I have achieved some of these and yet other goals will take more in depth physical work, and time.

The past four years have seen me enter, finish, and in some cases place in the top three in my age group. I started entering 5K (3.1 mile) races in 2007. I entered five that year. In 2008, I entered three more 5K races. In 2009, I entered five more. In 2010, I must have become rather energetic because I entered six 5k’s and three 10k’s (6.2 miles). I had never run a 10K in my life before this year.

At the end of 2010, I was diagnosed and treated for a very rare and aggressive form of Melanoma on my forehead and in three of my sentinel lymph nodes. I was in the latter period of stage two of the disease. My doctors treated me with surgery and radiation. Chemotherapy was held as a final option if I progressed any further. My Chemical Oncologist told me the interferon that they would have to use would just tear me up. So I was glad it did not have to be utilized.


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