There things happen in your life or people you meet who have survived tragedies that make you grateful for all that you have. Today, I am grateful, very grateful. This week I met someone who survived an amazing tragedy and guess what…he’s still running.
I’d like to introduce you to Jamie Hart. Less than 3 years ago, he survived a gunshot wound to the head, lost his eye and endured 8 reconstructive surgeries, including a peek implant. In his journey to recovery, he rediscovered running and said to me, “Strangely I don’t know if I would take my pain/journey back since I have rediscovered running and the joy to test one’s limits.”
There were so many questions that I wanted to ask Jamie and he was willing to tell me whatever I wanted to know, but because this blog centers around running, I stuck to running. Below is our conversation.
ME: I guess let’s start with when did you start running? Was it before the shooting or after?
JAMIE: I use to run in HS and a year or two after that, then took like a decade off and just started running again last memorial day or should I say the weekend after that, I had a friend that was training for a 1/2 marathon and I thought to myself why not I, so within a few days I joined a gym and was humbled that I could only run 17mins and only covered like 1.3 or 1.4 miles. But going through what I have gone through just 18 months prior to that I knew that it would be a rough road but over time the road would be smoother.
ME: How long did it take for you to recover from the shooting? Does it affect your running? Do you have to make modifications because of the loss of your eye?
JAMIE: Physically I’m pretty good, still recovering mentally/emotionally and that may take years. Obviously with my field of vision being reduce it’s hard for me to do large races since I can’t see anyone or anything on my left side so I try to typically run as close as I can to the left so reduce the chance of running into someone or falling, etc. Cold weather runs are hard as well since I have pins on the skull/face that cause discomfort. I always or am supposed to wear eye protection at all times.
ME: I can’t even imagine! Are you currently training for a race or are you running just because?
JAMIE: I’ve done several 5ks, last year my 5k times were 22-25. This year I done sub 20 2x, tonight I have a race. I did a 1/2 marathon in April, got 1:40:29, and have a 1/2 marathon next Sunday where I’m expecting 1:36 or so based on a 10miler I race on the 4th where I got 1:13.
ME: Impressive! Lately I’m lucky if I finish 2:20! I guess I just like to chit chat and look at the scenery too much. How has running changed you?
JAMIE: Well it’s a huge stress release since I have anxiety and PTSD issues now. It’s one of the only forms of exercise that I can do now and with the running community they are nothing but supportive. I am very self-conscious of my scars and my personal appearance now and when I run or when I’m running with my running club I get that mental recess of not worrying about that.
ME: The running community is simply amazing. What keeps you motivated especially when it gets tough?
JAMIE: Just knowing nothing is tougher than surviving what I’ve been through, everything else is small potatoes. That been said I’m still very demanding on myself as far as times/performances but that’s what makes striving for your best so rewarding when you accomplish something you didn’t know you could.
ME: I hear ya! So…tell me…what’s the most rewarding thing about running?
JAMIE: The most rewarding thing was my 1st 5k last year in which the proceeds went to victims of domestic violence, I make that an annual race I have to do each year. Completing my 1st 1/2 was exciting but my goal is to do 3 this year. Which shouldn’t be an issue since #3 is the Columbus Marathon, I pondered running a full but don’t want to hurt myself with a lack of training and I know that I’ll have an aggressive time goal for me and won’t back down from it. This year I was stoked about placing in my AG for the 1st time and in one race got 3rd overall.
ME: Congrats! I don’t think I’ll ever place in my age group! What’s your training schedule like now? Do you incorporate cross training?
JAMIE: I cross train in the winter months but other than that I get most of mileage by running. My schedule right now is coming to an end since I have a 1/2 next Sunday. I’ll probably take it easy the following week after the 1/2 and gear back up for Columbus which would be like 7 weeks away at that point.
ME: What about nutrition? Do you have a go to meal before the race? Do you carb load, etc?
JAMIE: Not really I do like to do sushi the day before a big race and tend to treat myself after a big race with fried ice cream.
ME: So delicious! What advice would you give to a new runner or a runner that’s struggling?
JAMIE: Listen to your body, it will tell you all types of things if you learn how to communicate with it and when you do that you’ll be stronger than you thought possible. Oh and of course believe in the training, in the long haul it will pay off.
Jamie is running another half marathon this weekend. I promise to come back and update you on his results. He doesn’t blog, but if you want to send him words of encouragement and wish him luck, feel fee to post it on my So What? I run. Facebook page. I’ll be sure he gets the message.
Let us rise up and be thankful; for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. ~Buddha