Weeping at the Disneyland Half Marathon with Run Disney

Today as I ran through Disneyland…I wept.

It had been 6 years, since I had last visited Disneyland. The last time I was at Disneyland I weighed more than 435 lbs. We had to constantly stop and rest because I was so large I couldn’t stay on my feet for long. Our teens at that time had to ride most rides by themselves because I was too large for the rides.

I was running through Disneyland as a 53 year old man. The thoughts that went through my mind were many but one of the greatest thoughts was:

I now live again.

(Read more from Ken below the video) 

Now don’t misunderstand me, I wasn’t able to complete the race. Physically, the years of unhealthy living still has taken its’ toll on me. A few weeks ago when I went out for my first extended run of 9 miles, I found that I had some back spasms starting mile 8. A few weeks later when I went out for my 11 mile run, I had severe back spasms and while I did finish the mileage I wasn’t able to get anywhere close to the time I was looking for.

Race StartToday, as I got to mile 8, I started to really feel the struggle throughout my back both lower and upper. The greatest struggle is the muscle spasms behind my shoulder blades that shoot up into my neck. This made it difficult to breath deeply and smoothly. At mile 8, the RunDisney worker told me I was 4 minutes ahead of pace. By mile 9 I was six minutes behind. At that point my gait was horrid and my breathing painful. I got through Angel Stadium, but just couldn’t proceed.

Why didn’t I continue on and drag myself across the finish line? I might have been able to, and if my life had depended on it, I would have continued.

But Austin had reminded me of a situation when I was on Biggest Loser earlier this morning. We were in New Zealand and I had what they thought was a possible slipped disk. For the four days prior to our second weigh-in in New Zealand, I hadn’t been able to work out to any great degree. I knew I was in danger of going home, so I was trying to walk. My trainer, Brett Hoebel stopped me for health reasons.

Brett Hoebel challenged me to think long term.

You see I’ve already signed up for not only my next Half Marathon but for my next two Half Marathons and not only am I signed up to run Half Marathons but I signed up for a 10k the day before each of them. I know I have a future. I know I will move forward and be able to complete this distance.

Now I have a plan to change my limitations that includes massages, rehabilitative exercises and careful training. I am going to work through this and restore my body. I am going to complete not only my first 10k, but also my first half marathon and eventually a full marathon.

I am one of the old school guys. When I couldn’t complete the race this morning, I texted my wife, Lori and Austin to let them know and they made there way over to the medical tent. When I arrived and hobbled out of the van, a very kind gentleman and older lady met me and offered me a wheel chair (which I adamantly, but kindly refused), they started to award me a medal. I politely told them I hadn’t finished. They insisted that I deserved the medal for trying so hard. They even had a small finish line where I was to walk over to officially finish my race.

I did it. My new saying is this, “I have only begun to run”.

Post RaceWhy you might ask? On my ride to the medical tent, I was listening to the radio calls between all the medical vehicles. They didn’t give me a head count, but it sounded like hundreds of people just like me were unable to finish. As I ran, I was surrounded by the overweight, unhealthy, and obese.

But beside the numbers of people running who were overweight, unhealthy and obese, how many more thousands and thousands sit at home existing and will never attempt to “live again.”

I run for them. If I can encourage even one of them to join me, we can walk the path back to real life together.