Personal history

There was a time in my life where I could run three miles in under 24 minutes and then step into a rowing shell and do two practice 2000 meter races in one day. Those were my high school and early college days. Many years passed, and I traded my athletics for academic studies and then employment. Those were excuses. Periodically, I would dust off my bike and strap on my knee brace and cruise through my community, but that wasn’t real exercise.

Years passed, and then one day a coworker of mine informed me of her workout schedule with her personal trainer, and encouraged me to join her at the gym. While knowing that it would be good for me, seeing how exhausted she was every morning (not to mention sore) kept me from taking her up on her offer. However, the idea stuck with me, and in October of 2007 I started attending a gym near my office.

I was never a “gym” person. Even back in my rowing years, strength training for me was more about carrying items rather than using gym equipment. The gym I went to was relatively small, but it was private (something I was looking for so I could get back in the habit without feeling too self-conscious). There were five treadmills, four ellipticals, two stationary bikes, and a handful of traditional weight machines to focus on your upper and lower body. I chose to start with the ellipticals since it was low-impact but was great for the heart. The fact that it had cable TV might have been a reason to, especially when Ninja Warrior (Sasuke) was playing.

For seven months, I attended the gym almost every Tuesday and Thursday. I would start with an hour on the elliptical, running up to six miles during the first hour. After that, I would rotate through the various arm and leg machines until I was exhausted. And then at the end of May 2008, my time at the gym came to an end.

I was on vacation in rural America when I was bit by a brown recluse spider. The little critter climbed up my pant leg while I was driving and bit me on the calf. Even though they are one of the most poisonous spiders in North America, they usually are not aggressive unless they feel threatened. While the bite did not hurt, I was spooked by the fact something scurried up my leg. I quickly smacked my leg, hoping to crush whatever it was underneath my jeans before it climbed any further. Arriving at the place I was staying a few minutes later, I quickly changed clothes and examined the bite. It didn’t look bad initially, but things changed after a few days.

By the third day, the infection from the bite started to spread around the wound (see picture if you are interested). The local doctor gave me a prescription to fight the infection, but advised me to visit the hospital when I returned home. On the fifth day, I flew home. I felt very uncomfortable the whole day, so once I landed I drove straight to the hospital. It was a good thing that I did, as the infection traveled up my thigh (see picture if you are interested). The doctors kept me in the hospital for a week while they flushed my system with more powerful medication until the infection started to recede and the fear of necrosis subsided.

The doctor told me I could return to the gym after a few weeks, but since I was self-conscious about the appearance of my leg, I decided to hold off on returning. Unfortunately, this became an excuse. I still have a scar, even though it isn’t as visible as it once was (see picture if you are interested). The seven months I spent to get back into shape and lose weight was undone by a few weeks of inactivity and excuses. That brings me to this website and this challenge. This challenge is to end the excuses.


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