Milestones are important to me. I sign up for races because they are concrete milestones that I can’t alter. But personal milestones are important too. These can be anything from just getting out and running 3 times a week, to increasing your mileage to a specific amount or breaking a personal speed record. One I find important, in my first year of serious running, is hitting 100 miles in a month. Last month was the first out of three that I did not (due, largely to letting my blister get better and easing off the miles after the Hottest Half). But I passed 100 for this month yesterday, and I found out I had passed a milestone I was not even thinking about. I've run over 500 miles in the last month.
I know a lot of people have run a lot further, but, since I was once presumed to be doomed as far as running is concerned, this is a big deal.
I knew I had some injuries from Iraq, but I ignored them. In the spring of 2007, I even played for the University of Texas at Arlington's club football team in a semi-pro league (and this is only because that is what they call it. It is the TUFL... a really poor league... but the only place we could find to play as we were trying to get football back to UTA) as a tailback (though most of my time was spent on special teams).
Going in for a tackle
Cool highlight video from a team game, if you are bored.
While I tried hard, and played hard, I was way slower than I had been even a year ago and I could feel something was not right. So I started going to the VA doctor.
I visited the VA several times for treatment and evaluation of my knee and back. My knees showed arthritis and signs that the meniscus had been torn and since I did nothing about it, had damage to an extent that I could not run again (and hearing damage + tenitus to boot). I even got a profile from the doctor saying I could not drive to Arlington from Austin for my Reserve duty (which I was on stop-movement for - so I could not transfer to an Austin unit and had to... drill from home) and when I did make it, could not run.
The culprit for the back looked to be some hard impacts that looked to be a little older than the football time (bone spurs had already grown in) along with the gear I carried in Iraq. I had felt it some in Iraq. It was almost like lightning on that part of my back. For my back, luckily the football did not do damage. the kinds of thing that hurt were (and are) sitting for a long time, not sleeping correct, that sort of thing. It got so bad my arm would go cold and numb. The VA prescribed so many pills, it was hard to keep track. In 2008, I was taking at least 16 pills a day, largely for pain. The pills had side effects which made me need more pills and so on.
I was feeling the back pain as early as this picture, in November of 2005.
Luckily, while playing football, I met Coach/Doctor Harris, a chiropractor, that luckily has moved to Austin. Before visiting doctor Harris, I had numerous treatments, including having a doctor shredmy muscle with needles to try to let it get better the right way this time, and literally... shock treatment.
What can I say, here? The below pictures are some of what was wrong with my back.
Within a year, I was off all pain medications. This was a big deal. Unfortunately, my insurance has changed it to price me out of continuing care right now, and I do have some regression, but I hope to get back sometime... anyhow. Without this, I could never expect to be participating in any physical activity.
In November, 2010, I decided to ignore the doctors and try to run. And I continually re-injured my knee. All December I stopped for different reasons, and once I got to 10 miles a week in January, the knee issues popped back up. By the time I ran the Capitol 10K in February, I was limping around the office, pretending to be okay.
That is when I discovered barefoot running. And the rest is histroy. I'm running proud and loud. Telling everyone I can how great it is. Some people give me a hard time, thinking I'm nuts for running barefoot... but it is the first time I have run injury free.
One last note- I have given thought to why my knee was not re-injured from football but it was from running distance. When you run in football... you sprint. You don't heel strike. The same with barefoot running. Knees bent, proper form (and low distance), means my knees were okay. It is that heel striking motion that causes my knees to go to crap again.
So milestones. Life is about milestones. I achieved one this week. My next will be a 200 mile month. What will yours be?