"There's always an excuse in life. I have a million excuses every single day, but I still get up at 4:00 AM to get out the door to train. The biggest thing is just to start."
“Running started out as something that I never thought I'd be able to do. I spent most of my life avoiding any sort of lengthy type of moving on my feet. In college I would drive from building to building as opposed to even walking even though it was only one block or something.
At age four I contracted a rare blood-based version of meningitis, which is how I ended up a double amputee. I did the town sports, you know, baseball, basketball but didn't really branch into actual athletics until I hit college where I actually started out as a gym rat doing power lifting. It wasn't until after college that I looked more towards the endurance stuff.
When I first started running, it was one minute a day for a week and then two minutes a day for a week. It literally took me about 12 weeks to run one mile. After I hit three miles total, I ran a marathon. Then I stopped running. I checked off that bucket list item and went back to the gym.
But in the summer of 2016, there were a bunch of people in the gym seeing how fast they could run on the treadmill. And I was like, well, I should try too. I ran a 4:48 mile and I thought wow, I guess I could be faster. So, I spent three months training and ran a marathon in 3:27. After the first marathon I got a little bit more serious and trained for eight months and ran 3:06, which qualified me to run the World Paralympic Championships in London and be part of Team USA. I ran 3:03 in London and it's just kind of continued on from there. At this point I keep running because I want to see how good I can be. It's more of a battle against myself than anything else.
I didn't have running legs for so long. I think I would've started a running a lot earlier in life if I had had them. I was lucky I found A Step Ahead and they took a chance with me and it worked out. But not everybody is that lucky. Some people are relegated to begging people for grants. And if they don't get the grants they don't have any sporting legs. I'd love it if insurance would start covering sporting devices for all para-athletes.
A Step Ahead took a leap of faith with me and decided to make the blades that I’m running with now. I went from feeling like I was trying to run with lead weighted workout boots to flying and gliding across the ground. When I'm running it just feels like I'm floating along, almost like you're flying. It’s a feeling that I never thought that I'd get to experience in life.
When I’m not training, I manage a running store. I also have two kids. My son is almost five and my daughter is two and a half. My wife and I ran our first marathon together, but since the kids she stopped running. If she wasn't home doing so much stuff in the house and keeping the kids alive there is most certainly no running for me, at least not at this level. My son ran his first race on Thanksgiving. He did the kids ½ mile race, ran 3:58 and finished with a big smile on his face, like he didn't do anything.
The Bionic5k race is supporting something that's near and dear to my heart. The cause is helping people that are adaptive athletes and raising awareness. Obviously, being an amputee for 27 years, this is something that I'm passionate about. I haven’t seen another race that has attracted this many adaptive athletes.
The best song to run to is Rooftops by The Lost Prophets. I heard it for the first time not long after I started going to my current prosthetist and the lyrics really resonate with me for running and just as a thought in life.
If I had to put my motto on a tee shirt it would be “No human is limited.” It comes from Eliud Kipchoge who is the greatest marathon runner of all-time.
Advice for others who are just starting? There's always an excuse in life. I have a million excuses every single day, but I still get up at 4:00 AM to get out the door to train. The biggest thing is just to start. You don't have to go out the door and run a bunch of miles. At first, it's just one step in front of the other, even if it's just a minute or two per day. I never thought I would be here in life, being able to run like this. It's just a story of determination and being willing to persist through it all to figure it out.”
- Brian, Bionic 5k athlete