On June 9, I ran with Lesley in her first 8K – the Sunrise 8K in Simpsonville. Nine days later, I was struck by a truck while driving my son to the movies.
I went through a month of physical therapy just to be able to confidently perform basic functions around the house. The first time I returned to the gym, I couldn’t lift any kind of weight, and when I tried to swim, I could barely tread water. Running also went about as you’d expect with multiple pelvic fractures still healing.
But I continued to push myself. Every rep hurt. Every stride inflamed the left side of my body. Swelling in my left pectoral muscle made upper body exercises excruciating, and my flexibility was poor. Cardio was a constant work in progress (and still is), due to rib pain and reduced respiratory performance from my collapsed lung.
But by Sept. 7, I’d worked my way back into good enough physical condition to attempt to run a 5K. I ran the 2013 Westminster Apple Festival 5K early that Saturday morning. The race, which benefited the West-Oak High School wrestling program, began at West-Oak Middle School in Oconee County. I worked as a crime and courts reporter for the local paper for three years in Oconee County, and actually ran my first 5K in Oconee County, so it was nice to return running in a familiar area.
The weather was relatively cool since it started at 8 a.m., and I had a cool support group there – Lesley, who has been my biggest supporter throughout my recovery, her mom, and of course my son Connor were there to cheer me on.
The course was a rolling one, with multiple gradual elevation changes and one or two steep hills. Overall, it was quite manageable, despite some of the challenging stretches. It wasn’t an exact “out and back” course, through the roads that returned us to the start/finish line ran parallel to the initial stretches of the course. The last quarter-mile was all uphill, but I managed to climb it without missing a beat.
I ended up running a 27-minute 5K – not my best time by any stretch, but good enough for third place in my age group. Truthfully, it just felt good to be able to complete a race. It felt incredibly empowering, and let me know how how far I’ve come. I still have big goals – goals that will require me to keep improving throughout my recovery.
I’m certainly grateful to God, friends, and family for getting me to this point. I hope in the next several months I’ll be posting about successful 10-mile and half-marathon runs.