2014: My Journey Back to Running After a Life Altering Accident

Those who know me know that I have spent a lifetime either running, studying running, talking running or working on something to do with running.  I was running races at age two and finished my first marathon in 3:08:05 as a ten year old.   Aside from a two year break from competition to serve a mission for my church, I’ve been running competitively since before I have memories.  That all changed in January of 2012 when I had a terrible snowboarding accident.  I hit a pipe while doing a flip going 30 miles per hour—this threw me upside down and I landed on my shoulder and my helmet with a crack.  As I hit, I was folded in half like an accordion with my backside coming around to the ground and the weight of my board and my feet hitting above my head.  If you know me, you know I am anything but flexible and this was a position I can’t get within three feet of in normal circumstances.  Imagine lying on your back and pulling your straightened legs towards your head and then having someone jump on them to get them to hit the ground behind your head.  Needless to say, it was painful and I knew right away it was serious.

I ended up stretching/straining/tearing everything between my hamstrings and my glutes.  I also suffered a badly separated shoulder which is still obviously visible to this day.  The pain was excruciating and I couldn’t really walk at first and I certainly could not run.  To not be able to run fast for the first time in my life was life altering to say the least.  I went to physical therapy and tried to do what I could to recover and within a few months I was able to hike, and my girlfriend at the time—now my wife—kicked my butt up many a mountain that spring.  By the summer, I was able to run slowly, very slowly, so I decided that since I could only go really slow, I might as well go long.  We tackled quite a few mountains in the Wasatch that year, with my glutes & hamstrings screaming the whole time. Every time I tried to push, my legs held me back.

After one year, it was apparent that my injuries were serious and competition wasn’t going to happen any time soon, if ever again.  There didn’t seem to be a whole lot more the physical & massage therapists could do.  I spent 2013 running with girlfriend.  I had a blast running somewhere not at the front of the pack, mixing it up with people I never would have met had I been running fast.  I gained even more respect and appreciation for those not taking home winners trophies.  I remembered what I had always known, running is wonderful and fun, even when you’re not taking home hardware.  I ran to the top of a lot of mountains in 2013, becoming the first person to run to the top of all of the 11,000 foot peaks in the Wasatch Range.  And I remembered that running just for the sake of running is a beautiful blessing.

Running on top of Mt. Raymond

Running on top of Mt. Raymond

2014 started off much like 2013, and I spent the first few months running with my now wife and enjoying it.  But the itch to be able to really push again kept nagging at me.  Although my legs were damaged, my lungs and the rest of me wanted to be pushed.  There is something to be said for pushing yourself, whether you are fast or not.  Somewhere along the way, I pushed my legs close to the breaking point.  Only now something different happened…they didn’t ache and get worse.  In fact, they seemed to get a bit better.  Soon I figured out that the only way to get my legs better was to push them hard, but not over the edge.  Each time I did this, I gained a little more range of motion and a little more speed than I previously had.

Brit and I on July 4th

Brit and I on July 4th

So my wife eventually convinced me to race a 5k, not knowing what she was getting in to.  At this point, I could run fast for only a couple of miles before my legs killed me, so a 5k was really my only option anyway.  The 5k is a blast and is under appreciated in the distance running world.  I raced 5k’s most of the year because that’s all my legs would let me do.  I ran to the top of a few mountains along the way, but going long and hard/fast wasn’t an option. By the end of the year I was able to race a 10k without much in the way of complications.    My legs still aren’t 100% and neither am I, but I had a great year pushing myself.  I was lucky enough to win nine races, three of which my wife won overall as well, which will be something I will always cherish.  Although I am not at the national-class level I once was, and may never be again, it feels great to be out there pushing myself within the limits that my body currently allows.  I am grateful for that, and still feel that running just for the sake of running is still a beautiful blessing.

2014 Race Roundup

In my first year attempting to race since my big accident, I managed to pull off 9 Overall Wins, 4 Second Place Overall finishes, 4 Age Division Wins, and had some great experiences on road & trail.  Met a ton of wonderful people along the way and had the pleasure of my wife and I both winning 3 races together!

4/5/14 Run 4 Kids – 2nd Overall

4/26/14 Cookie Chaser 5k Herriman 17:18 – 2nd Overall

5/10/14 Vigor Big Cottonwood 5k 15:49 – OVERALL WIN

5/17/14 RWE Relay – Team was 3rd Overall – Had a 4:46 mile

5/21/14 Wasatch Trail Corner Canyon Short Course 3.5 mile Race: OVERALL WIN

6/7/14 Vigor Solitude Trail Series 3 Mile – OVERALL WIN

6/21/14 Butterfield Brawl Trail 10k – OVERALL WIN

6/28/14 Run Through the Lavender 5k – 2nd Overall

7/4/11 Riverton Country Mile 5k – 2nd Overall

7/11/14 Salem, MA Miles Over the Moon 23:06 – 6th Overall

8/23/14 Bryce Canyon Rim Run (Trail Race) – OVERALL WIN

9/13/14 Dirty Dash 10k – Passed over 1,000 people!

9/20/14 Grizzly Tracks 5k – OVERALL WIN 16:35

10/18/14 Runner’s World 5k Emmaus PA – 1st Division

11/1/14 Snow Canyon 5k – OVERALL WIN

11/8/14 Thanksgiving Crazy Course Race – OVERALL WIN

11/22/14 Hillcrest DECA 5k – OVERALL WIN

11/27/14 Mesa Turkey Trot 10k AZ 34:29 – 4th Overall/Division Win

12/4/14 TRE Indie 5k – 16:59




4x Age Division WINS

1 Honeymoon Cruise Ship Rock Climbing Competition Medal!

Running Tet Paul Trail in St. Lucia with one of the Pitons in the background

Running Tet Paul Trail in St. Lucia with one of the Pitons in the background