BLOG: How Running Saved My Life 
David Brooks, May 2017 

Challenge

Read this blog and then challenge yourself to accomplish something that is beyond your grasp. I don't want to be overly dramatic, but if I'm doing it, you can do it.
We always hear that you need a crystal clear goal combined with laser-like focus to achieve success. This past month has proven it to me.

Also, I encourage you to go donate blood. Since I'm going to be needing a blood transfusion, it would be good if I can encourage some people to donate so that I'm not being a burden to the system.
There is an easily accessible blood donor clinic on Silvercreek Parkway in Guelph. To find another clinic go to: www.Blood.ca
 

 

If I Don't Run, I'm Still a Runner
Last October 2016, I was ready to start running again. You see, I am a Runner, but I don’t always run.
Since 2009, my running has taken a back seat due to various setbacks in my life. The big one was when my wife, Lynn, was diagnosed with cancer. Three years of chemo, radiation and surgery ended in 2013. My wife of 27 years and mother of our three children, died of cancer. Needless to say, there was no way I could focus on running during that.
 
At the same time, I was working extremely hard to build a house that I bought in 2009. When I bought it, I was expecting just to downsize to an old red brick house in Guelph after my three kids: Courtney, Ashton and Quentin, had moved on to university, graduated, gotten married etc.. What actually happened is that I wound up with a house that wouldn’t be liveable until it was completely gutted and rebuilt from the ground up. So, I dove into the self-build of a house that consumed whatever energy I had left after taking care of Lynn.
There were other setbacks that tore me away from running. Let me simply say that you would understand why I didn't run if I elaborated on all the gory details.
 
False Starts
I was able to hold on to a bit of fitness while leading my weekly Boot Camp workouts, leading weekly track workouts and the occasional visit to the gym.
In 2013, four months after Lynn died, I attempted to start running again. God provided me with some peace so that I could think about the future.
I wasn't sure if I would ever run well again, but I was sure that I needed to run.
As had happened so many times in the past, I improved quickly. I was thankful to God that I could run and started to gain confidence that I could actually run well again.
However, also as had happened so many times in the past, I started to experience injuries in my calf, achilles and plantar muscles.
Ever since I started running, I have always been injury-prone in my lower legs inspite of doing all the right things.
From 2013 until 2017, I attempted similar comebacks but it always resulted in frustrating injuries of the lower leg.
For some reason, running comes very easy for me as my body from the knees up is well suited to it.
But from the knees down my body simply does not cooperate.
 
Intense Pain
This past fall, September 2016, I felt I was ready to 'get back on the horse' and try again.
For me, that means a regular routine of treadmill workouts and alternative cardio sessions at the gym. 
The guts of my training always has been simply a Long Run, Threshold Run, Speedwork and Boot Camp each week. 
My Half Marathon Long Run was down to 1hr30m. Then 'the wheels came off'. 
 
This is where God saved my life through running.
 
My running was triggering numbness followed by intense pain in my right foot. My right big toe felt like it was missing after a few minutes of activity. The rest of my forefoot would alternate between numbness, pins-and-needles and pain. The color of my foot would be a sickly white or grey.
In November, the pain reached crisis proportions when I was visiting Quentin in California along with Courtney, her husband Aaron, Ashton and her husband Adam. 
This visit was one of those times in life when all I felt was thankfulness to God to have such awesome kids and be able to vacation with them.
We all went out for a walk to go see Quentin's office in Redwood Shores where he is a software engineer.
The walk turned into an easy run for some of us. Within five minutes I was literally laying on the ground in pain, not able to take one more step because of my right foot and leg.


Blog Entries
I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121


Blog entries
June 11, 2017: Long Run - 2hr15min - Thank You Thank You Thank You

June 3, 2017: 1hr45min - MUCH easier - foot pain was tolerable

May 28, 2017: 1.5 hr Long Run - My foot was pain level 6 with 30 minutes to go. I took a 2 minute break then finished with a 20min 5K

May 27, 2017: My Training Plan on TrainingPeaks.com 

May 26, 2017: Why the Massey Marathon?

May 24, 2017: What about the Boot Camp? 


What is God Trying to Tell Me?
Why did this happen? How could I go from a feeling of peace and thankfulness, to being on my back in pain?
Since I know God has a hand in my life, I couldn't help but feel He was trying to tell me something, but it certainly wasn't making sense.

Ultrasound
When I got home from California, a vascular ultrasound was scheduled within a day.
They determined that I had 60% less circulation in my right leg compared to my left leg. 
However, it only became an issue when I exercised.
The next step my doctor took was to refer me to a vascular surgeon. Because of a waiting list and a few mistakes of referring me to the wrong doctor, it took 6 months to see a specialist.
During this time, I was determined to exercise, even if it meant I could only ride the bike or use the elliptical trainer.
The impact of running was sometimes too painful when my foot was numb.
Gradually things improved. Due in part to the exercise, natural supplements that I began taking (tumeric, cayenne and ginger) and God's help.
By time I saw the vascular surgeon in April I was able to run up to 20 minutes and workout for an hour.
 
Find Another Hobby
The doctor told me there was nothing that could be done about my circulation because the problem was in the small arteries in my lower leg where surgical intervention would likely cause more damage.
He also told me that I would not be able to run the way I had in the past. He suggested I get a new hobby.
I couldn't imagine not running again. It isn't a hobby. It is part of my identity.
It wasn't surprising that he said there isn't anything that could be done. I was relieved to hear that he wasn't recommending surgery.
 
CT Scan Reveals Iliac Aneurysm 
In spite of his diagnosis, he ordered a CT scan so that he could see more detail than the ultrasound gave.
This is where the purpose of what was happening became clear.
The CT scan revealed that I have an aneurysm in my right Iliac Artery (just above the hip).
I was told by the doctor that it isn't a matter of 'if it ruptures' but 'when it ruptures'. The reason for the forming of the aneurysm is unknown, but it will continue to expand until it ruptures.
A person has about 5 minutes to live after an iliac or femoral artery ruptures.

The CT scan also revealed that my arteries are larger than the average person throughout my body, except below my knees where they are smaller.
This explains why I am so injury prone in my calf, achilles and plantar muscles. I have very poor circulation in my lower legs.


"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8

God's Plan
God had a plan. This aneruysm would never have been discovered if I didn't get a CT scan.
I wouldn't have gotten a CT scan if I didn't feel the foot pain when I attempted to run.
God saw to it that my aneurysm was discovered.
My foot has gotten so much better since last fall.
If it always felt the way it does now I wouldn't have known I had a problem.
I would have never sought medical help.
 
Right Femoral Artery Bypass Surgery Scheduled - July 31st
The other thing the doctor told me was that this femoral artery by-pass is major surgery that would 'wipe me out for 6 months'.
He said I would never run another marathon. He said I would be off work for 2 months or more.
The surgery is scheduled for July 31st 

Train for a Marathon in 7 Weeks
I am taking this as a challenge. Just in case the doctor is correct that I won't be able to run another marathon after the surgery, I am going to run one before.
So, on July 16th I will be running the Massey Marathon.
It was on May 23rd that I decided to do this. At that time, I wasn't able to run much because of painful achilles tendons and calf strains.
However, by having a specific goal, I have been able to focus my efforts and train with a purpose. I have also been getting massage therapy while emphasizing stretching and strengthening of my calfs and achilles.
Seven weeks is typically not enough time to prepare for a marathon with less than 5 miles per week of base.
However, when you have a purpose, more can be accomplished.
 
Patty Takes Up the Challenge With Me
I shared this goal with a running friend of mine from years ago, Patty Neudorf. Our children are the same age, we ran together with our kids in my running club, The Guelph CrossTrainers, and we were fitness instructors at the Y. 
When I told her about my goal, she also wasn't running much at the time but she is the kind of person who accepts a challenge. She decided to support me in this goal by also attempting to run the Massey Marathon in a Boston Qualifying time.
Patty is an Ironman finisher, marathon runner, fitness instructor and mother of four who doesn't step down from a challenge. 
 
Goals
My goal is to run a Boston Qualifying time for my age group - 3 hours and 30 minutes. Then, after the surgery, I will focus on recovering enough to be able to run, or even fast walk, Boston next April - at any pace.
My other goal is to recover from surgery quickly and get back to work in 4 weeks.
The doctor says no way. But really, only God knows what is possible.


"I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

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