|Captain Hook and I say "Ahoy!"|
The next fall I joined the university club water polo team. I loved it. Competitive and very physical, it was just the challenge I was looking for. Add that we got to travel to compete against other schools, and I was hooked. It was a blast. I joined my teammates at the weight room every morning and sometimes in the evenings. I put on 60 lbs, mostly muscle, and was a pretty big dude. My bench press doubled. I was 230 lbs of fighting machine. And I was not a fat man. Yet.
During the last tournament of what would be my last full season, I was swimming past a defender when he grabbed my left arm and pulled. Hard. The ref did not call a foul, but I was hurt. I paddled over to the side of the pool, one-armed, got out, and iced it. It was all I could do. Club teams didn't (and still don't) have trainers on staff. I found that I had pretty severally strained something in my shoulder, and that I shouldn't swim or do much on it for a few months to give it time to recover.
So this is where I was at: No running. No swimming. What was left to do?
Those who know me know that I am not good at just sitting around. My athletic endeavors were a release for this excess energy. Without it, I fell into an unhealthy cycle. To put it simply, I did not use my powers for good. I partied. Hard. Too hard. I became a regular, almost pack-a-day smoker. It took me until my last year in school to get myself under control and focused on what was important and finally graduate. Which I did without much effort once I actually settled on a major (after seven, yes SEVEN, tries).
In 2004, I finally gave up living the college lifestyle, quit my job at a small event production company and moved back to my hometown. I began working in the trades as a sheet metal worker, but eventually was able to move on to a professional career.
My office was literally a one minute walk from: Taco Bell, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Godfather's Pizza, Be-Bop's Burgers, Krispy Kreme Donuts, and a carry-out Chinese restaurant. And I was a regular at all of them. It was not unusual for me to get every meal in a day from fast food restaurants. An average work week would see me eat at least seven or eight fast food meals. That's in just five days. Also not unusual - living off of frozen pizzas and appetizers during the weekend. The only vegetables in my diet would be the ketchup on my burger or the tomato sauce on my pizza.
Fast forward only eighteen months, and career burnout was already a reality. I was working at a job I didn't care for, was living in an apartment I didn't like, and didn't feel I was moving very far in life. Probably because I wasn't.
It was about this time when I began to dabble in running. Still almost pack-a-day smoker, I knew it wasn't going to be easy. In fact, I started running and quit twice before I finally took it up for good. No joke.
In January of 2006, severe stomach pain kept me out of work and eventually landed me in a doctor's office. After running a few tests, nothing was really wrong with me, but it was evident to the doctor that my lifestyle was extremely unhealthy. I tipped the scales at almost 245 lbs and had not run, let alone walked, a mile since I gave up running in college. The doctor, who I had seen once, called me at home to tell me, "You're killing yourself." Pretty powerful.
Within a few weeks I began improving my diet. On the last day of February, a Tuesday, I decided to lace 'em up and hit the pavement. I plotted a short two-mile course, and took off out the door. I lasted all of eight minutes. Terrible. But it was a starting point. I figured all I had to do was add one minute to that each night and things would come together.
And boy did they ever. Within four months I raced my first 8k (about 5 miles) and was thrilled at my time (averaging about eight minute miles). A month later, I ran a 7 mile race on a notoriously hilly course, the Bix 7, and finished under an hour.
I trained for my first marathon that year, got hurt, trained for another one in the spring, got hurt, and came to a crossroads again. Should I be a runner? Am I going to hurt myself all over again?
It was here that I bought my first book on injury prevention. It was extremely dated, but it worked. After three injuries in the first year a half of running, I got it down to one each of the following two years. After seventeen months of trying, I finally ran my first marathon. Within the next thirty-six months, I would run five more. To date, I've run eight marathons with no signs of stopping.
|The GO! St. Louis Marathon was my second marathon. Later that year|
I would better that time by almost 30 minutes
Running has taken me so many places. Some of my favorite experiences on vacations are the sights I get to see while out on a run. For example, One winter morning I woke up at 4:30 am because of an early meeting to a lucidly clear sky, and saw an amazing meteor shower. I'll admit, I actually stopped to watch for a few minutes. Out in Oregon this year I took off on a trail run (my first ever!), and somehow ended up running alongside the Pacific Ocean, letting the tide chase me up the beach. It was awesome.
After five and a half years of running and improving my health, it felt like time to share my experiences and help others, even if only one person, find that drive within themselves. If you've made it this far into this page, I hope you keep reading the posts, past and present, and if you take anything away from them, I hope it is this:
For most of us,
the only thing that limits what we are capable of
is what we decide we can't do.
is what we decide we can't do.
Please do contact me at DJRoosh@gmail.com to let me know what you think or if you would like to see any type of content whatsoever. All input is appreciated and I will get back to every email possible.