First off, I am not going to bitch about my current predicament. I have daily reminders that there are MUCH worse things that can happen. And those things are often permanent and life altering. What I am going to mildly complain about is genetics. How is it that you can be a healthy, motivated, independent individual one day and the next be told "Oops guess not." You cannot pick your parents, just like they didn't get to pick you (with a few special exceptions).
Last December I competed in my first Half Marathon in Las Vegas, NV. I had a total blast. For those of you who have known me longer than a year are aware I HATE TO RUN. I do it because my job requires it. But there my list of why I do it ended. A friend of mine convinced me that the Half Marathon was a good idea in train up for my quest of reaching a 300 APFT score. So I agreed and started training. I can't say every workout was a thrill and I loved every minute of it. I didn't. There were times I asked myself "Why on earth are you doing this?" But I gutted it out and hit my goal distances and times.
When the day came for the race, I felt 100% ready and was excited to be there. That positive attitude carried me through all 13.1 miles. When I crossed the finish line I felt like I was on top of the world. The swag they handed out was great too. Never before had I gotten anything for a physical effort. Well unless you count being able to keep my job as a reward. We had not even left the Strip in Vegas before I was pressing the race directors of the next race.
I lucked out and the next race was the inaugural Dallas Half Marathon. The training was easier and my times increased. So when I hit the starting line in Downtown Dallas I knew the race was in the bag. I wasn't focused on finishing, but beating my last race time. Again I felt like there was nothing that I couldn't do.
Like the Vegas race, I was looking towards another challenge before I even left the race site. I set my sights on the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. Several of my VMI Brother Rats were going to compete and were asking me to participate. I had to transition my training from a 13.1 mile distance to 26.2 miles. I had no worries about this and was getting more and more excited by the day.
As my recovery period from the Dallas Half Marathon ended and the Full Marathon training began things started happening. My times were increasing and my distances were decreasing. I figured it was fatigue, or maybe the difference in altitude were to blame. I had an extended field training exercise in August and September, but I still attempted to train. My left leg felt like dead weight as I hobbled through a run. I thought "this is nothing, its probably a boo-boo, or overtraining." When the FTX was complete and I returned home I started having spells where my left leg would go numb. When it wasn't numb, it hurt like the dickens to walk on it. Again I chalked it up to a nagging boo-boo. My wife didn't think so.
Begrudgingly (because I know what it takes to get the wife off my case) I made an appointment with my Primary Care Manager. A sonogram and an ambulance ride later, I was diagnosed with a walnut sized blood clot in my pelvis. This little bugger was blocking the majority of the blood into my left leg. The muscle had atrophied a bit, which would explain the weakness. I was not thrilled with this turn of events to say the least. I had been getting recruitment calls from several very desirable organizations that were interested in me, and were offering positions that would put me back behind a rifle. The key element was, I had to be able to pass their physical fitness tests. I still smoke the upper body portions of the tests. But the runs.... yeah I would have sucked.
Through further testing at Beaumont Army Hospital the Doctors have pinpointed the cause of this malady, wonderful genetics. It already sucks that I have to lug around the name "Gray" but being kin to those people gives me a jacked up set of genes. But I digress.
So now I begin the road to recovery. My first step in this process is to start walking between 2-3 miles a day. Once I feel the pain go away and the loss of sensation ceases, I will begin running. 1 minute run, 2 minute walk and so forth. As the strength returns I will increase the run times and distances until I am back to my peak performance level. Who knows, maybe this will open some doors that I have really tried to pry open since I was a young man.
As things stand right now I am not being allowed to travel home for Christmas Leave. This is a major disappointment to my family. We had many plans that now are having to be changed. But it is change, no matter how sudden or disappointing, that adds variety to life. I will keep everyone abreast of my status. But I am declaring my new goal. By March 2011, I will run in the 2nd Annual Dallas Half Marathon and set a Personal Best. Until Later....
Stay in the Fight!!