Brian Keegan / Athlete of the Month - Kirkland Community Fitness

Brian Keegan / Athlete of the Month

I am honored and humbled to be chosen KCF’s Athlete of the Month.  I am hopeful that members never discover the collusion involved in my receiving this honor. Witch hunt! I have been asked to reflect on and share with you my journey to qualifying for and competing in the 2018 CrossFit Games. When I began this writing, I had a few weeks left before heading to Madison for the Games. Training 3-4 hours a day while caring for 3 young children prevented me from completing my writing. Now I am home, having left the Games 4 days early because of a ruptured distal bicep tendon and damage to a number of other tendons in my lower arm incurred on the obstacle course at the Games and I am out of surgery to repair the damage.  Consequently, my writing took on a slightly different direction though the theme remains quite similar.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
My story is remarkably summed up by a great writer and philosopher. It is a story of life. My life, your life, and the life of those around us. Yes, we have to stop for a moment and reflect on our journey to truly see it for what it is yet realize that, despite our individuality, we all share similar experiences as we course onward and forward on our path. Birth to death, we all fill the space in between with life.  The book I am referring to wasn’t written by a Plato, Kant, or Descartes. It was written by Theodor Geisel – better known as Dr. Seuss. If you haven’t read, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, buy it. Read it. Read it to your kids. Dr. Seuss begins Oh, The Places You’ll Go with a simple paragraph,
Today is your day.
You’re off to great places!
You’re off and away!
I joined CrossFit in August 2014 – at the tender age of 52 – at the urging of my friends Patrick Sprague and Mike Golden. They thought that I was well suited for CrossFit because I was a gymnast in high school, was a competent swimmer, ran 50-70 miles a week for years, was a competitive Olympic weightlifter, competed in triathlons, and they likely realized that I was a little crazy when it came to pushing myself both mentally and physically.  I also enjoy making new friends. I enjoy being around what the singer Harry Chapin would refer to as “being with good people with live hearts, live minds and live souls.”
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Based on Mike and Pat’s enthusiasm, I decided to give CrossFit a try. I literally knew nothing about CrossFit. Zero. I found Kirkland CrossFit on Google, loaded my gym bag into the car, and drove down to start training. Uhhh and nobody was at the gym despite it being the middle of the day. “What the…?” I asked myself. Clearly something was wrong with this CrossFit stuff. I called the number on the KCF website and Jeremiah and John scheduled time for me to come in for an onramp session. Onramp? I don’t need no stinking onramp. Oh, how naïve I was.
Out there things can happen
And frequently do
To people as brainy
And footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
Don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
I completed my onramp sessions with Allison King as my coach. For those of you who don’t have the pleasure of knowing Allison, she is a true gem. A wonderful person and a skilled coach. She taught me CrossFit movements like toes-to-bar (I could do one or maybe two), slam balls (I couldn’t catch the ball on the bounce), thrusters (oh these sure suck), wallballs (oh these, too, sure suck) and worked through movements more familiar to me like snatches, clean & jerks, squats, etc… Just one month prior to starting crossfit I had donated my 25 year old Olympic lifting shoes to Goodwill because I had no plans of ever using them again. Wrong again, Batman. I was officially a CrossFit community member! I came in for my first wod and was immediately and heartily welcomed by everyone in the class. I think of those first moments when Lenore, Amanda and Scotti introduced themselves with big smiles on their faces and to this day I am committed to providing that same “welcome to the family” greeting to others that I was so generously offered. It meant a lot to me then and it still means a lot to me now.  
Let the training begin! It took me about 6 months before I really got the hang of CrossFit. I was getting better at performing the movements and learning how to pace myself throughout the workout to avoid redlining. Some movements evaded me – like double unders and muscle-ups. I was truly amazed and inspired by everyone around me. If I missed a day, people would ask, “Hey slacker, where were you yesterday? We missed you.” If I needed help with a particular movement, members would stay after a workout to help me work on that skill. Anton hovering under the bar (not at the Christmas party – that is an entirely different story) helping me work on bar muscle ups and then Jeramiah came over to offer suggestions. They stood back, cheered me on, and p r e s t o, I could do bar muscle ups – still one of my favorite movements.  It felt like a journey we were all in together, which it truly was. I was improving and simply loved learning new skills and feeling like I was part of something bigger than myself.
I’m sorry to say so
But, sadly it’s true
That Bang-ups
And Hang-ups
Can happen to you.
Shortly after joining CrossFit, I started getting sick. I had fractured both feet suddenly the year before starting CrossFit. For some unexplained reason – or just coincidentally – those fractures triggered an auto-immune process where my body started destroying my nervous system. There are a variety of nerves in our body that perform miraculous work and one type is the A-delta nerve fibers responsible for transmitting pain and temperature signals to the brain. My immune system decided to target those specific nerves. In destroying those nerves, one would think that it would prevent me from feeling pain or temperature sensations. Oh contraire – the exact opposite occurred. I got extreme pain for no apparent reason in my arms and legs. Debilitating pain. I went to the Mayo Clinic and they shut down my immune system for a couple of months in hopes that the reboot would calm things down a bit. I continued training at crossfit and continued being the best dad I could be. On one particularly ominous week, I stayed home with the kids when they were sick. Because I didn’t have a functioning immune system, staying in bed with kids who had the flu wouldn’t be considered the best idea but what’s a dad to do? A little flu bug from one of my boys wasn’t stopped by my inoperable immune system which lead to spinal meningitis and a weeklong hospitalization. A cold from one of the kids lead to pneumonia. I continued to train the best I could because it offered the most tangible way of expressing to myself and my kids that things were going to be okay. See kids? Dad isn’t sick if he can do CrossFit! I can say with 100% confidence that despite feeling very poorly before my workouts, I always felt better afterwards.  The discipline of just showing up and doing my best gave me some sense of control over my illness and being around my community provided me and my children with love and a sense of hope. I survived and it was time to get back to business.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
A few months after my last hospitalization, I flew to Costa Rica to surf. When I was in the hospital, I set the surf trip as a goal to get me through the hard times. Stay in shape, make it through this medical mess and see light at the end of the tunnel with a trip to Central America.  The trip was awesome with the exception of me mutilating my C4/C5 cervical spine surfing double overhead waves. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to surgery I go. The surgeon at Harborview said that, short of being severed, I had the worse looking nerves he had ever seen and was surprised that I hadn’t lost use of my left arm. My disc was fragmented into endless little pieces. The first question I asked the surgeon after getting out of surgery was, “When can I start working out again?” He recommended a few weeks off while the wound healed. A month later, I was back at it, albeit a lot slower for a few months. Coming back into the gym felt like coming home. I was embraced with love and compassion.
You’ll come down from the lurch
With an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
That you’ll be in a slump
And when you’re in a slump,
You’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
Is not easily done.
In 2017 I decided that I wanted to get back into tip-top shape. In January I saw the CrossFit open as being an opportunity set my sights on a goal and to increase the intensity of my training. February came and I ended up finishing 30th at the end of The Open which meant that I moved on to the online qualifier. Since I felt like I was getting in better shape, I figured the online qualifier would keep me on track and had no expectations of qualifying for the CrossFit Games and frankly, didn’t know if I even wanted to go to the Games if I did qualify. During the online qualifier I push myself harder and harder trying to find a balance between performing optimally while staying below redline. The problem was that despite my best efforts, I felt like I kept hitting redline because of a rapid heart rate and shortness of breath. We all know that feeling. Push yourself hard, beyond your comfort zone, and things start feeling nasty. The trick for me when things started feeling really bad in the middle of a workout is the mechanism called denial. Your body tells you things hurt and to slow down or even stop doing what you are doing but I practiced telling myself, “Things are just fine.  Keep pushing it and you’ll be fine. Ignore the pain. You will survive and be proud that you didn’t quit.” I finished the online qualifier in 26th place.  The day after the online qualifier was completed I had a routine visit scheduled with my primary care doctor. During the visit, she listened to my heart with her stethoscope and said,” Did you know that you’re having irregular heartbeats?” An EKG revealed that I was having of wide variety of abnormal heart rhythms so she sent me right over to the cardiologist. Step one: blood thinner. Step two: surgery. Three weeks later I had heart surgery to fix the problem.
Somehow you’ll escape
All that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
Where Boom Bands are playing.
As a flashback to 2017, I intended on using the 2018 CrossFit Open as a way to get back into shape for the 2018 season. At the end of the open I ended up in 9th place. That is the first time that I saw the CrossFit Games as a possibility. Subsequently, I competed in the master’s online qualifier and qualified to compete in the 2018 CrossFit Games.  
With banner flip flapping,
Once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of guy!
There is approximately 3 months between the completion of the online qualifier and the beginning of the CrossFit Games.  I trained anywhere between two and four hours a day, five days a week, and used Thursdays and Sundays as rest days. They weren’t really rest days because I either ran or swam on those days. I trained particularly hard on my weaknesses like rope climbs and ring muscle ups.  If I had a mental barrier to a specific movement I would look directly in the eyes of my biggest fear and work on that movement even harder. My training regimen also included foam rolling and stretching programs every day. A big challenge was taking in enough calories every day because I got sick of eating. People look at me cross-eyed when they hear me say that. “Sick of eating? Seriously?” Yeah, it does sound ridiculous but it is true. Eating became more of a stuff-your-face fest, jamming calories down my throat.
I eat to fuel my body and that is pretty much a summary of how I approach food. Some would find that boring as hell but I have done it for so long that it is really hard for me to see food as more than putting gas in the tank for energy and recovery. It helps that if I eat a big bowl of pasta or a piece of cake or lean into carbs, it results in a massive carb dump and I feel horrible. Oh, don’t you judge me, I don’t consider beer a carb – that’s hydration – so I don’t totally live like a monk.  My diet is generally framed around the Zone diet, 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fat. When I look at a plate of food, first I look for protein, then a lesser amount of carbs and fat. It’s more the size of the food rather than actually calculating calories for me. It used to be hard for me to find fat in my diet because I have always liked to eat whole foods rather than processed foods. Meat, veggies, fruits and rice are my mainstay so I cook with butter and put guacamole on virtually everything.
Competing at the Crossfit Games is a big commitment.  It takes a lot of time to train and has the opportunity to create a massive imbalance in your life.  It can actually become your life. For me, my three young children are my life and everything else takes a back seat so I had to find a way to make both training and caring for the kids synergistically work together.  I was blessed to train for the Games with Trina Huarte from Cascade CrossFit who happens to have 4 kids, three of which are the same age as mine. Trina is an extraordinary athlete who has been to the Games three times both as an individual and as member of a team. She is a wonderful person, has vast experience, sometimes laughs at my bad jokes, and is married to a great guy, Shawn. We would train and the kids would play together. After the workouts we would go to Lake Sammamish so that the kids could play. I was truly blessed.
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
Will make you the wining-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
With the whole wide world watching you on TV
A month before the Games, I started wearing down a bit. I got painful tendinitis in my elbows and felt really beat up. Training for hours a day has consequences, especially for a Master’s athlete in the geriatric age category. I am used to being sore every day but I was feeling an entirely different level of soreness. I trusted the process because mid-summer, during a recovery taper, I felt amazing. I was looking forward to the taper the week before the Games. In the meantime, I was icing the tendons that hurt, took routine Epsom salt baths, made sure that I was getting good sleep, and force feeding myself in order to get in enough calories. It was all about recovery at this point. The cake was baked. I had put in the effort and now it was time to do my best.
During my Games preparation, I wondered why I was even doing this. I headed to Madison feeling excited but also wondering what I had gotten myself into. By the time one gets to my age, we have checked a lot of boxes, answered many of the questions we asked when we were young, and generally accepted the fact that, no matter what, we are well over halfway between being born and dying. If I am lucky, I have maybe 30 Christmas’ left and while that saddens me, mostly because I would love to see my children grow old, I accept it and am at peace with that fact. No one gets out of this alive. My belief in God certainly helps me find that peace. So why am I doing this? Rather than one big reason, there seems to be many little reasons. Part of the answer is George Mallory, “Because it is there.” Another obvious reason is because, yeah, you get a lot of cool gear, compliments of Reebok and other sponsors. Still another reason, and likely the most powerful for me, is that I have a tangible experience to show my kids that despite all the setbacks, if you set your mind to something and apply discipline and dedication to doing your best, you can be part of something bigger than yourself.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
You’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
You’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
That can scare you so much you don’t want to go on.
I arrived in Madison late in the afternoon on Monday, July 30th after traveling for 9 hours. I needed to arrive for athlete registration by 6pm and I raced up the steps at 5:30. Check-in consisted of signing in, showing picture id (apparently to prevent me from having Kevin compete for me by proxy), recording the proper pronunciation of my name, and then getting my gear. Ahh getting the gear. Nearly 50 lbs of shirts, shorts, sweatpants, swimsuit, headbands, 4 pairs of shoes, socks, backpack, and on and on. All of the uniforms were boldly emblazoned with my and name and number (568). I had a team of 4 “fitters” with me throughout the process, making sure that I had everything and that everything fit. It was a very humbling experience. I wandered about, surrounded by incredible athletes but deep down my soul screamed, “Ah man, what did you get yourself into?”
On Tuesday, I needed to arrive at the athlete center for orientation by 9am. I didn’t sleep at all the previous night. I lay in bed awake, heart pounding throughout the night. I got out of bed at 7am and set about choosing which uniform I was going to wear and to find a place to eat breakfast. Madison was alive with CrossFit. Nearly everywhere I looked, there were athletes, parents, spouses, kids, all wearing crossfit tees. Wanting to be a bit anonymous, I chose my olive-green shorts and camo Games uniform shirt. No flashy headband for me – I wanted to be anonymous.
Orientation day for me was more disorientation day. During my training up to the Games, I operated very autonomously. I would arrange to train with Trina, Pat or Kevin, and virtually everything about the buildup to the Games is self-directed. Competing at the Games is far from an independent pursuit. It is its very own highly coordinated circus.  During orientation, the organizers and judges make it very clear that throughout the week, athletes must be where they want, when they want or be disqualified. The athletes are grouped in pairs and literally placed in livestock chutes. Then you wait. When they are ready, grouped athletes are led to the event center by an athlete coordinator where you wait some more. We were then seated on metal bleachers in a specific section based on our age group, and orientation began. Autonomy no more.
Orientation consisted of the athletic director describing how things were going to run over the next week. The head judge spent 30 minutes talking about the rules and the consequences of not following the rules. They reminded us of stuff like not taking performance enhancing drugs – note to self… don’t start taking PEDs the week of competition. Check. I was like a kid with ADD in a 4th grade classroom – without a window to look out of. So, I spent most of my time checking out the other athletes.  Who would win? How much had this person or that person given up to make it to the Games? I also sent text messages to Trina who was sitting in her Master’s section across from me at the arena. I wanted to see if I could get her to laugh out loud by sending funny texts.  At the end of orientation, we were assembled back into our groups and walked back to the athlete pavilion. It was 5:45 and day one was over. Tomorrow, the Games begin. My friend Pat was coming to the Games as my coach and he was set to arrive at 7pm. I was relieved to have the company of my close friend who had played this game before and I headed to my room for another sleepless night.
I’m afraid that some times
You’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
‘cause you’ll play against you.
Games Day! Let’s rock and roll. After a quick shower, putting on my uniform, attempting to eat breakfast without throwing up because of nerves, I headed to the event center at 7:40am. I chose to wear fuchsia shorts and a sea blue uniform top for my first day. My daughter Elizabeth screamed at me over FaceTime saying, “Dad, you simply can’t wear pink shorts on your first day!” I attempted to clarify the fact that the shorts weren’t pink – they were fuchsia – to no avail. I met Pat at the athlete center and relieved, gave him a big hug. It was game time now, time to pull up my big boy panties and get to work.
Event one consisted of a clean ladder and double unders. I scanned the massive warmup area and found a lifting platform with another single athlete and asked if I could join in. The maximum clean weight in the competition was set at 245 pounds for a double so I warmed up to #225. My pull on the cleans felt fantastic but my legs didn’t feel quite as spunky as I would have liked but it was going to be what it was going to be. I warmed up by doing 25 double unders in between sets and then moved to the assembly point to get checked in. Showing up at the athlete assembly area meant providing your name and a review of your uniform to make sure that it meets standards. No clothing or shoes that weren’t provided, socks could be one color, black or white, without patterns or logos, no visible branding on gear other than Reebok or they cover over it with duct tape. Into the chutes with your paired athlete. Wait. March 500 yards to the arena.  Then wait. Fifteen minutes feels like an hour. Two minutes prior to competition, a coordinator with sunglasses, walkie talkie, and whistle announces the impending start. “Two minutes!” I’m a little sick to my stomach. “Thirty seconds!” The energy is palpable. I can hear the announcers in the center cheering on the athletes in the prior age group as they race to complete their wod. “Go, go, go!” We run into the event center while the dude with the walkie talkie yells, “You have two minutes to setup before start!” I enter the event center, which is a corrugated metal building that is literally used for penning livestock at the State fair. The irony isn’t lost on me.
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
As you already know.
You’ll get missed up
With many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
And remember that Life’s
A Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
I meet my judge, shake hands, and turn to the athlete next to me and ask, “Where are we supposed to stand? Where is the starting line? Where do I put my lifting belt?” My mind races. The buzzer sounds and everything slows down. Calmness overcomes me. I perform my 50 double unders while the judge calls out sets of 10. I actually do 54 double unders per round because every time the judge counts out, “10, 20, 30 etc…” he misses a completed rep. No big deal. The wod consists of doing 50 double unders per round followed by full squat cleans. Each round of cleans gets progressively heavier but with one fewer rep per round. The starting weight is #185 for 5 reps. I complete the 54 double unders unbroken and it felt like I did 10. Easy peasy. My pull on the cleans felt just like it did during warmup, very snappy and strong. My legs felt strong but I knew, deep down, that was going to be my limiting factor. Technically, and this may sound ridiculous, in all of the confusion it is hard to remember precisely what you are supposed to do after you finish your first round of cleans. Process called for rolling the barbell forward 5 feet and loading another 10 pounds per side.  In the heat of the moment and because this isn’t something I practiced in the workup to the Games, it was hard for me to remember what to do, at least in the early rounds. Despite the deafening noise, all is quiet for me. Spectators are yelling for their favorite athlete or family member, the announcer is commentating on the leaders and time limit and counting down the remaining time. Music is blaring. Yet, I feel calm and the sounds become background noise. Another 54 double unders and progress to 4 reps of #205. I counted 10 between reps, trying to save energy for the heavier rounds. Roll the barbell forward, load 20 lbs. 54 double unders. Clean #225. The buzzer sounded and the event is over. I never got to #245 because I didn’t use my time wisely but I am not disappointed because I did my best. As I walked back to the athlete pavilion (guided and in pairs, as we were instructed) I walked next to Will Powell, a Games athlete veteran. During the 2017 Games, Will was literally drowning during the swim and was rescued by another masters athlete who gave up his swim in order to rescue Will off of the bottom of the lake. Three days after the Games, Will had a grapefruit sized tumor removed from his lung. Yet, here he is a year later, competing in the Games. Will is an inspiration to me and, as we walked, he looked over at me, asked how the event went, and I replied, “It felt good to get my first Games event over with!” he replied in a strong southern accented voice, “Well it looks like you’re no longer a CrossFit Games virgin” and he high fived me. I was happy and felt like I was catching on to what promised to be an incredible 5-day experience.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Event two was scheduled to begin 2 hours after event one. I rested against the wall in the athlete pavilion, ate food that Pat brought me, drank water, and went to Airrosti for soft tissue treatment. The tendinitis in my left elbow was really acting up and Airrosti applied pressure point therapy and taped me up for the next event. The next event consisted of 40’ of handstand walks, 20 Wallballs (#20 ball to a 10’ target) followed by another 40’ of handstand walks to the finish line. I felt very good about this event because handstand walks are a strength for me ever since I was a kid and a gymnast. The call to the athlete assembly area, uniform check, waiting, marching to the arena, wait, the 2-minute warning, 30 seconds, enter the arena. The buzzer sounds and upside down I went, walking on my hands towards the wallball rig. The handstand walk runway was broken up into three sections – 15’, 15’, and 10’ – and each athlete has to complete a section unbroken before continuing on. I broke up my handstand walks into a 30’ walk followed by the remaining 10’. No big deal. Wallballs complete, I walked back on my hands towards the finish line. I decided to break up the walk into two sections because I didn’t want to get stuck on a section unable to go continue because of fatigue. I completed the initial 25’, took a few breaths and shook out my arms, and then continued to complete the last 15’ unbroken. I didn’t realize that the athlete next to me, who would finish 7th, beat me by a couple of seconds. I was laser focused on my job and totally disregarded what was going on around me. Rookie mistake. I finished 8th and was satisfied with my performance. I felt like I was getting the hang of this whole Games thing.
Event three – the obstacle course – was scheduled to begin in 2 hours. Again, Pat plies me with a smoothie and a burrito bowl, and I rest leaning against a wall in the athlete pavilion. Pat and I mocked up a rope hanging from a rig with stacked boxes on each end in order to simulate swinging across between two logs on the O-course. On my first swing, I experience horrible left elbow pain so back to Airrosti I go. After my treatment, I try out the rope swing simulation again and to my relief, my elbow pain is much more manageable. Now I wait.
But on you will go
Though the weather be foul.
On you will go
Though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
Though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Upwards up many
A frightening creek,
Though your arms may get sore
And your sneakers may leak.
We line up for the obstacle course and are guided the distance, passing the arena, the coliseum, through the trailer campgrounds, to a grassy field next to a small lake. Our goal is to run 500m on uneven ground partially around the lake and onto the obstacle course. We wait 45 minutes until the obstacle course is clear of athletes from other heats. I feel good about this event because I am finally settling into how the Games work and excitement overtakes my nervousness. The starting buzzer sounds and I am off and running. The competition immediately separates into two groups. I am somewhere in the middle between the sprinters and the pacers. One other athlete moves up with me while the 4 sprinters continue to separate from the main pack. “I am a runner!” I remind myself and now is not the time to pace a 500m run like I am running a 10k. So, I advance. I pass all of the other runners without a loss of breath and begin leaping over the first 6 log obstacles. I pictured Kevin during the 2017 Games on the O-course and that embedded in my consciousness. Be fast, be nimble, be quick. While other athletes lifted their legs to get over the obstacles, I leapt and it felt great. I grabbed the rope to ascend the 20’ wall, feeling awesome. About halfway up the wall on my 5th pull, I heard and felt three loud pops and my right arm became useless. This wasn’t my left arm, the one that had been giving me fits of tendinitis over the last 6 weeks. This was my right arm. What?? I landed at the bottom of the wall standing. A voice in my head screamed, “Go up! Keep going!” Another part of my brain quietly whispered, “Uh-oh.” My very first thought was, “It’s no different than when you pop your knuckles. You will be even more flexible now.” That thought passed through my brain in a millisecond. What followed was much different. Exquisite pain. I walked over to the main judge and said, “I’m done.” He looked at me perplexed as though he was going to say, “What do you mean you’re done? You have the rest of the obstacle course to complete!” As I stood holding my arm, he finally understood and called on the radio for the medical personnel. Within two minutes I was under the care of an orthopedic surgeon from Boston who put his arm around me as I cried because I realized the Games, for me, were over. I was taken to the medical facility in the basement of the Stadium where I was brilliantly cared for by the professional, loving, caring, and compassionate medical staff. They examined me and told me that I needed to head home to arrange for and have surgery to reconnect my distal bicep tendon. As I sat there realizing that despite all of my preparation, life can and will throw more life at you, I quietly wept. I have been through things like this before, and surely, I will again.
On and on you will hike.
And I know you’ll hike far
And face up to your problems
Whatever they are.
I had surgery on August 9, 2018 eight days after my O-course injury. I have complications from my surgery and am facing them just like I have faced this entire journey, with optimism and faith. I work hard, have discipline and perseverance. I have the view that when life throws life at you, that is exactly what it is – life. How cool is that? We get to do cool things and surround ourselves with people that love us and inspire us. We run into bumps along the way but those bumps are not what define us. What defines us is how we get up when we are down and keep marching forward.
Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
Or Mordechai Ali Van Allen O’Shea
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on your way.

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