How “you can probably never run again” turned into my why for OCRs

We all have our whys or how, I like to call it our motivation.  In this post I wanted to share my journey
about how I found my why.  Most of you know me only as the guy I am today, the one who loves to run
long distance OCRs and always says “challenge accepted”.  But, I wasn’t always that person, in fact it was a long and rocky journey to get to this version of myself.

Back in 2012, I thought I had pretty much achieved what I wanted, I had just started my own consulting
company, I worked long hours and sports were an afterthought.  I loved to party a lot, was smoking and if you would have asked me to run a 5k, I would have probably just laughed and said no.  Then life struck, I got a cyst at my tailbone and ended up in hospital.  Typically it does take 6-8 weeks to recover from surgery, however I ended up having complications, it took the doctors eight surgeries and I spent a total of 11 ½ months not being able to work.  Before the last surgery, the doctors told me that there was a 50/50 chance that I could probably never walk or run again, because they had to cut down to the central nerve pathways; and this is the sentence that still echoes in my head: “You can probably never walk again”. This was the moment, I swore myself: If I made it out without any nerve damage, I would start to change my life and enjoy every moment. I am still grateful to the doctors for doing an exceptional job so I have no neural damage.

Fast forward a few months later, I had recovered so that I could walk baby steps again by myself, but I
had no cardio nor muscles.  Even the shortest walks left me sweating and out of breath.  I remembered
what I told myself in the hospital, to change my life and not let myself down, but enjoy every little moment.  I was too embarrassed to run or even go outside during the day, so I waited until it got dark to get outside and started to walk a quarter mile.  I did this for two weeks, then extended my walks to half a mile.  With every yard that I added, I felt my confidence coming back and after eight weeks I made it to
one mile, my first major milestone.  Looking back now, this doesn’t feel like much, but it was huge for me
back then.  When you are out of a real social life for that long, you don’t have many friends left, so I had
to mainly motivate myself, and my motivation was to prove the doctors wrong, that I could run again,
that I could run this 5k.  Ironically enough, I never signed up and ran that 5k, but I kept setting higher
goals which I could then chase.

I didn’t know anything about OCR, but this changed when I moved to the United States in 2016.  While I
was on a consulting project in Boston, I watched the Spartan Race in the Red Sox stadium.  I was
immediately intrigued by the combination of running and obstacles and decided that I wanted to do one myself.  I had no clue how to train for it tthough, so I decided to just sign up for Atlanta that year and figure out what this OCR thing is all about.  Being new to a foreign country and not having anyone to run it with me added to the level of discomfort, but I was determined to do it no matter what.  I showed up at the race venue, rain was pouring down, and I was already cold before my wave even took off.  I finished that race mostly because of my running skills while I failed basically every other obstacle and did 30 burpees; don’t ask me about the total count of burpees, because I lost track halfway through the race.  Crossing the finish line, I felt so accomplished like never before in my life.  I was hooked and I wanted to get better on those obstacles, so I decided to take every opportunity I could to get better and train.

Only a few months later I ran my second Sprint, also in Atlanta, and did the Hurricane Heat the night
thereafter, where I met a lot of amazing new friends.  I then got involved in our OCR Tribe group, which
really gave me a hold and a lot of encouragement.  We kept pushing each other and I ended up running
the Beast in New Jersey a few weeks later.  I had never run that distance on the road before, left alone
with 30ish obstacles on a ski resort.  But, I had found my why, to get better every day and not accept a
“you cannot do it” as an excuse – because it’s not true, you can if you want to.  And I had my Tribe, who
encouraged me to push harder. I ran the race, I didn’t cramp, it wasn’t pretty, but I used my why as my
inner fire.
After several more races, it became clear to me that I loved longer distance races. I can get in my flow
and just enjoy the race and the nature.  A year later, I decided that it was time to go Ultra, take the next
step, take the why even further and finally felt confident to really encourage others to do the same and
share my why and love for OCR.  Since then I have run several Spartan Ultras, Toughest Philadelphia,
World’s Toughest Mudder, and Ultra Viking.  But if you know me, I will say this is nothing special, you can
do this as well.  Why?  Because I walked the same path, and before every race I like to remind myself
where I came from.  How I overcame all the odds against me, how lucky I am that I can toe this start line
today and what a blessing this OCR community is.  This is were I draw my strength from and if you
struggle with “you cannot do this” or “I will never be good enough”, let me tell you, you can do this, you
can overcome every obstacle, all you need to do is find your true why.  Go define your legacy!

LegendBorne Ambassador
Sven Maschek

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