Updated: Mar 28, 2019
One of my life mottos I often repeat in my HIIT&RUN classes is "Baby steps to big changes." This is especially important to stress at the beginning of our program. Because it is easy to get excited at the beginning of a new exercise, only to find ourselves burned out half way through and lose motivation. Slowing down and pacing yourself, will get you further, and there's no better example than the story of a real life tortoise that made history this past weekend in the LA Marathon.
Adam Gorlitsky is the first paralyzed man to finish a marathon with the aid of modern technology and his ReWalk Robotic Exoskeleton that allowed him to walk again. Three seconds of falling asleep behind the wheel while on his way to visit his family for New Years Eve thirteen years ago had changed his life forever. His car accident severed his spine leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
After a decade of searching for meaning and purpose to his life, he found hope again when he was introduced to the new breakthrough technology - a ReWalk Robotic Exoskeleton. The first time he stood in the new "Terminator" suit as he recalls, empowered him to challenge himself to become the first paralyzed man in history to walk the Cooper River Bridge Run on April 2, 2016. The 6.2 mile race took him nearly 7 hours and exactly 17,932 steps to cross the finish line. The feeling of crossing the finish line, surrounded by family and friends inspired him to reach for his impossible - walking a marathon.
This past weekend I was excited to hear that Adam and I chose to walk and run the same marathon. I was there to support a dear friend April, who two years ago could have not even dreamed of running a marathon. Within the first 8 weeks of starting Katarina's HIIT&RUN program, April lost 20 lbs. She continued to lose weight and transform her mindset as she continued with the program. She loved the changes to her mind as well as her body to such a degree that she became a KHR coach. Since then, she has enthusiastically and passionately inspired many other women to change their lives too.
I was there for her first 5K, then 10K, then even a 1/2 marathon. Once we reached the finish line of her first half a marathon, accompanied by our friend Lori, I turned to them and told them that I had no doubt that they could right now turn around and run another half. Those words resonated with them, so much so that April decided to run her first marathon in the LA (where she recently had relocated to). Coincidentally, it was her husband Steve Powell's first marathon to organize for his new company Conqur Endurance Group. Lori and Vanessa (April's long time friend and KHR online member), decided to join April in their first marathon as well. Vanessa was recently a convert to running as a newly beginning practitioner of KHR.
Adam, with his dad by his side, started the marathon 2 days before the rest of the 25,000 plus contestants, took 26.5 hours to finish, made history for being the first paralyzed man to finish a marathon. With his persistent and tenacious spirit he has inspired many men and women including us, especially our friend Vanessa. She started falling behind within the first 5 miles of the race due to her injured knee.
The pain became worse over time so that it was hard for Vanessa to focus on anything else but her pain. And although taking her mind off with funny stories and silly questions worked for another 5 miles, there were still many to go. Her pain had moved to both of her knees, causing her to stop running altogether. Only the night before she was telling her 3 year old how tomorrow mommy will bring him a special medal in time to celebrate daddy's birthday.
By now Vanessa's breathing sounded labored and shallow, and her altered walk resembled walking on stilts, with both knees locking and swinging legs side-to-side. I knew she could not last much longer with that breathing and posture, so I took her hand and started talking to her. She squeezed my hand as if it was the last lifeline. I told her to relax her hand, to start breathing deeply and to bend her knees. I also told her to focus on how good it would feel to cross the finish line and hug her son and husband. How proud she and they would feel. I told her to focus on the beautiful things we were passing by, the pleasant sun rays on her face, the music playing, the kids cheering. I told her that we will finish together even if we crawl to the finish line. And if Adam can do it so can we.
For the next 8 miles or so, I was switching the hands as they got sweaty and kept moving us forward one step at a time closer to the finish line. Smiling April was on her other side, encouraging her and reminding her how good it would be soon when eating tacos and drinking margaritas in celebration. And her bubbly new friend Lori was setting our pace ahead of us, turning and smiling giving us thumbs up and wearing our STRONGER slogan on the back of her shirt. And indeed we were STRONGER TOGETHER.
We finished the race in tears, holding hands! To see their faces beaming with pride and joy gave me such a feeling of contentment and happiness.
And watching Vanessa's three year old run to her arms was priceless. I can only imagine what was it like for Adam and his family. He mentioned that it was the greatest feeling he ever had. I believe it.
If you are reading this and feel inspired to take action or chase your goal (they usually lead one into the other), by all means start where you are. When we see that a paralyzed man can finish a marathon, we are all without excuse. Don't wait for the perfect timing as it just doesn't exist. Even if that time ever came, you might replace it with another excuse. Beginning your transformational journey starts NOW! Thank you Adam for leading by example and inspiring us all.
If you want to learn more about Adam and his charitable organization, go to I GOT LEGS.
To try our KHR Program for two weeks click here.