April 26, 2008 was a proud day for me. I completed the Country Music Half Marathon, my first distance event. I wasn’t in the best shape of my life, but at the time I was enjoying a 68 pound weight loss and finishing a half-marathon was a real celebration. I was so proud I later spent a boat-load of money framing my medal, race bib, finisher’s certificate and the section of the newspaper’s participant list that included my name.
Afterward my goal was to stay in shape and keep my running distances high so that I would be perpetually ready for half marathons. In June I registered for the Saint Jude Half Marathon in Memphis. Two days later an event occurred that rocked my world and put my plans on hold.
While outside doing yard work, a neighbor’s dog entered my yard. It was behaving very aggressively and was foaming at the mouth. Naturally I thought it had rabies. I had a stick close by and without taking my eyes off the dog I slowly stepped over to pick it up. The dog kept lunging toward me, barking and growling. All I knew to do was to swing the stick back and forth in front of me with the goal of keeping that dog on the other side of that stick. I’ve always heard about the adrenaline rush that can occur during an emergency. In my mind I was fighting for my life and I must have been swinging pretty hard. All of a sudden I felt my knee buckle inward and I fell to the ground. I tried to get up and immediately fell again. It was no use. I realized I would have to fight off the dog from ground level and I hoped someone would hear my yells for help. After only a few minutes I was losing my energy. The dog became even more aggressive after I fell, as if he knew how vulnerable I had become.
Thankfully a neighbor heard me and drove over. He later told another neighbor he was terrified at what he saw, but he realized I was in huge trouble and he couldn’t leave me. He managed to get the dog off of my property and he helped me into my house.
An MRI showed that I severed my ACL and tore my lateral and medial meniscus. Surgery was in store.
Little did I know that the training for the Country Music Half Marathon was actually preparing me for something even more challenging: my first ever surgery and a very painful eight month recovery journey.