Racing Into The Future

Posted on in Health + Lifestyle, Kids + Family, Sports + Training by Michael Shane Helton

A few years ago I was lying on the ground playing a prolonged game of chess with my son and when I tried to stand up my legs would not work properly.  When I braced my hands on my quads and forced my knees into action I almost blacked out; but I distinctly remember the cracking and creaking sounds coming from my joints.  Yup...creaking.  They sounded like an old rusty barn door.

It was in this moment that I realized I could no longer ignore the warning signs.  I couldn't honestly consider myself as an athlete just because I had played sports in high school or because I had the top PT test score while in the Army.   The cold, hard truth I had been avoiding was that a decade of easy living and working in front of a computer day after day had taken it's toll on my physique.  It was not one big thing that had brought me to this state; just the progression of days.  I was middle aged and my body was in a state of atrophy from disuse. Ugh.

So, it was decision time.  Was I going to continue down this path, or do something about it?  Was I willing to make the necessary sacrifice to improve my health?

As it turns out, I did not have to ponder this decision long because that week someone sent me a link to the following video about Dick and Rick Hoyt (It reaffirms my belief that when we choose to open our minds, we become aware of opportunities).

After watching this I was stunned.  Humbled.  Inspired.  In the seconds following this video I made a choice to be a better man.  A better father.  I resolved to improve my health to set a better example for my son and to be able to be more active with him as he was getting older.

One thing I believe strongly is that the "why" is more important than the "how".  Once you make a commitment (a sincere commitment) you will make it happen regardless of what needs to be done.  It may take hard work, passion, dedication...but anything is possible.

I now had my general goal and my motivation, so it was time to get to work.  I silenced the inner voice that questioned whether or not my knees would allow me to do what needed to be done and started making my plan.

It was slow progress at first, but by eating right and incrementally rebuilding my body through progressive exercise I worked myself back into fighting trim.  With the support of my loving wife and wonderful son, the last few years have been a great journey which has led me through many running races, magical skiing days with my son, completing an ultramarathon (nothing like Joel Meredith's Sahara Race!), reveling in Tough Mudders, coaching champion high school track and cross country teams, having a blast at a half Ironman distance triathlon, and many other memorable times.

Although my training has only been for fitness (definitely not hardcore) and I participate it events to test myself, not beat others, I had some good results this year.  I placed 17th overall on the 54mile cycling leg of my Tri and I qualified for the World's Toughest Mudder.  Additionally, the high schoolers I coach for Track & field and Cross Country had one of the best years on record.

Oh, and my knees have never been better.  ;-)


So, what's next?

Well, during my triathlon training this year I fell in love with cycling, so when JP (Jon Pettengill) invited me to join the Reno Cycling Team he was creating (co-sponsored by Nature's Bakery) I took him up on it.  So, I will be the newbie on the racing team.  Heck, I am new to cycling, let alone racing, so it is going to be interesting.

Scary? Yup.  Daunting?  Oh yeah.  Challenging?  I am sure it will be.  Painful?  I can already attest to that fact.  Sounds like a great way to celebrate my 40th year of life.

2013 is going to be a great year!


Michael Helton

For most of my adult life, my top priorities have been my son, my wife and my job. However, I realized a few years ago I also needed to continuously nourish & strengthen my mind, body and spirit. I currently do this through coaching (Track & Field and Cross Country), lifelong learning and pushing my personal boundaries in endurance it in ultramarathon, triathlon, mud run, or cycling. My current passion is road racing and I am doing my best to torture my mind and body in preparation for my rookie year in the 2013 racing season.

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