Two years ago today, I hobbled into Saratoga hospital on my crutches, and would leave without the lower portion of my left leg. I had no idea how I would live or what I would achieve as an amputee. I was just banking on being relieved of the pain the leg caused. After six years of unrelenting pain, multiple surgeries and the inability to walk, I had to take the chance with amputation.
I spent the first year making my body strong and capable without the leg. Being freed of the painful, useless leg was liberating, and I soon discovered that I was capable of accomplishing anything I wanted to in the gym. The more I pushed and challenged myself in the gym, the easier my daily life became. Outside the gym I took on cycling, rock wall climbing, returned to skiing and successfully completed challenging events such as the Warrior Dash. I also spent the year learning to walk with the prosthetic leg and manage it. None of it was easy, but with the right attitude, hard work and determination, I learned that amputation didn’t have to stop or define my life. In fact, I discovered that the human body is very much capable of adapting to physical change and accomplishing incredible things. I was living a full, highly active life despite losing a leg.
Going into my second year, I became a full-time personal trainer. The most rewarding part of my fitness journey has been having the ability to inspire people to get out and make improvements in their own lives. With the loss of my leg I have gained an incredible gift – the awesome ability to teach people that it doesn’t matter what challenges life has thrown at you, you can accomplish anything you want with determination and hard work. When faced with becoming unemployed early in the second year, the answer seemed obvious: give back by guiding, supporting and pushing others to overcome their challenges, discover their capabilities and give up their excuses.
This year has also been about running. In August of last year, I set the goal to run a 5K. As an amputee the freedom running gives is incredibly powerful. Unfortunately, running was also very frustrating for me. I was more than physically fit to run, yet without the proper tool – a running blade – I found myself really doing nothing more than inflicting pain on my residual limb. Not wanting to give in, I reset my goal to return to running in the spring.
As luck would have it, my motivation and push to get myself running came as a result of training a client. I promised this client that if he trained with me, not only would I get him physically ready to complete a Tough Mudder, but I would be right by his side running it with him.
My challenge was twofold. One, I needed to get my client ready to complete the Tough Mudder, and two, I had to figure out how I was going to run a 10-mile course without a running blade. We both put the work in, my client in the gym and me outside pushing through the pain, running, and adding a little length whenever my tolerance allowed. On July 24th we ran through the finish line at the Long Island Tough Mudder together.
Today, exactly 2 years to the day later, I am in Nashville, TN, where I will begin my journey as a runner. I have been given the incredible opportunity to become a member of the Amputee Blade Runners team. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and humbled to be among these amazing ABR athletes. I spent the past two years building a strong, very capable body, and will now return home with the tool – the running leg – that I need to fully experience the power and freedom running will give me.
So, what will year 3 bring? Training to run a marathon, another Tough Mudder, Ragnar Relay, triathlon training, 5Ks, jumping higher boxes, changing as many lives as I can in the gym as a trainer, and continuing what I do best – showing the world that life doesn’t end with amputation, and that you can in fact soar.
No Limits, No Excuses!!!!