Ryan Dixon from Ankeny, IA.
Just your average guy with a passion of running and a goal to push myself to my limit both mentally and physcially. Where’s the good in challenging yourself if you make the goal too easy to achieve???
Here’s my story….
Why??? That is the question that I have been asked since announcing my running three marathons in four weeks. Well, there have been other statements that include, “You’re Crazy!!”, “That’s Insane”. & “You’re Nuts!” for doing that to yourself. Ha! Sure I can understand being called all of those, but what most do not know up until this point is the story behind why I am doing this to myself. It circles back to my post from yesterday that referenced the lyrics that inspire me to run not only these races, but to run in general. And with that….. My story.
Some years ago I fell victim to a life changing event that almost cost me my life. An unfortunate accident caused me to be trapped for hours outside in below freezing temperatures. The fortunate part was that I was extremely lucky that the actual temperature was what saved my life. Waking up in the hospital and having the doctors tell me how I was lucky, was definitely a blessing and a scare. Plus or minus 5 degrees in the temp and I would not be here writing this. So yes, I was very lucky and blessed. What was the cost? Frostbite on both of my hands and my left foot. The seriousness of the frostbite required skin grafts to both hands and the front pad of my foot. The largest cost was the extent of the frostbite cost me to lose my great toe and half of the toe next to it. While I was very happy to be alive, it was very unsettling knowing what was in store for me. The next 31 days while I lay in a hospital bed, I endured the most humbling experiences I’ve ever went through. To prevent my hands from losing their flexibility while waiting on surgery, they were both placed in braces and bandaged down to my elbows. What does that mean? I can do nothing. I am fed all of my meals by my nurses, bathed, etc. My first surgery was to complete the skin grafts on my hands and to test the grafts for my foot. The surgery was a success and the next step was physical therapy. Who would have thought that something like rolling clay out on a tray and touching my fingertips together would take so much out of me. That alone felt like I just completed a marathon when I was done to the point that I would literally sleep for hours afterward. I stuck with it and listened to everything my therapist had me do. Surgery number two was the most heart wrenching one. The taking of the toes. Another fortunate outcome though. For a week there was talk of taking my entire foot if the first surgery wouldn’t take. Another bullet dodged and the determination kicked in for me. I was told by doctors that I would most likely walk with a cane due to the great toe being monumental in maintaining balance. With that one and the one next to it half gone, the odds weren’t in my favor. The surgery again was a success but one thing I will always remember is my doctor telling me. ”You came through and everything looks great! Do exactly what your physical therapist tells you and you’ll recover just fine. If you do not use a cane, you’ll probably walk with a limp and there definitively won’t be any marathons or anything like that in your future, but that’s better than the alternative that we almost went through.” A few more weeks passed as I continued to heal then came time just two days before being released…. Learning how to walk again. Another task that would leave me exhausted from just walking from the bed to the door of my room. Within a day I was walking down the hallway and come the morning of going home, I’m walking a lap around the entire floor. This amazed the staff, but again, I was determined. I remember being released and continuing my recovery, talking to my great friend Nichole and telling her, I will NOT be walking with a limp. Being the wonderful and supportive friend that she is did nothing less than stand right behind my determination. The support I received from friends like Nichole, and my other great friend (Like a little sister) Jennifer made me feel like I had two guardian angels on my side. Other support that helped was my mother & father visiting and assisting with my recovery, doctor visits, and getting back on my feet with work, etc. And J who helped with something as simple as making a nightly telephone call and just talking to me. All of that support gave me the mind state to overcome any obstacle in my way and I can never repay them enough!!
Long story, shortened.. I recovered and followed through with my statement that I will not walk with a cane or limp. As a matter of fact, I’ve already ran one marathon, a half-marathon, an annual 20k race 4 different times and this year, my Three marathons In Four Weeks. So why these three?? The kickoff of the quest begins in Omaha Nebraska where I fell in love with the sport of running. It’s only fitting that I have this race as the official starting point. This is a meaningful race also because I will be running along side my former Cross Country teammate for his first marathon after 20 plus years from finishing our last meet together. The 2nd race which is Chicago will be the largest race and a bucketlist type item. The 2nd largest marathon in 2011 with over 1.5 million spectators will be something I will always remember. That got sweetened just weeks ago upon finding out that the race sold out in a record 6 days. And finally the Kansas City Marathon, the race that will be the most important one to me. Not only because it will be the completion of my quest, but I will be ending my quest where I was able to start life all over again.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE THAT WAS A PART OF MY RECOVERY!! THESE RACES ARE PART OF MY REPAYMENT TO YOU IN SHOWING THAT I NEVER GAVE UP AND WILL CONTINUE TO STRIVE!!