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A Dream and a Team

A Dream and a Team

By Greg Kozera–

Since my soccer injury last October my long-range goal was to run the Kiawah Island Half Marathon with my daughter again. We started running that race in 2015. We were scheduled to run last December but I was in a wheelchair following surgery for two ruptured quads. My initial goal was to get out of the wheelchair and into a walker and then get out of the walker. My daughter was able to apply my 2019 registration to the 2020 race. We made our 2020 room reservations. Then it was my turn to do the work to prepare for the race.

A dream is a powerful thing, especially if we are passionate about it and believe it is possible. I made a commitment to my daughter to run the race in 2020. At the beginning of my physical therapy, while I was still in my wheelchair, I told Mark, my physical therapist, “I want to make it clear, my goal isn’t to just walk it is to run. I need to run a 5K in May and plan to run a half marathon next December.” Mark and I had a lot of work to do. I had been off my legs for almost 2 months before I could even put any weight on them. Muscles atrophy when not used. I saw my leg muscles shrink while I was stuck in bed. Fortunately, I had good upper body strength. Together Mark and I would have to rebuild my leg muscles.

Mark worked me hard. He knew I would do whatever he asked. He loved it when he made me sweat and so did I. In between therapy sessions I had exercises Mark gave me to do at home. By Christmas I was out of my wheel chair. By mid-January I didn’t need my walker and was driving my car again. It was thrilling when I could walk a half mile on my own at the end of January. My doctor was pleased with my progress. He gave me the go ahead to do whatever I could physically stand. In April, Mark had me doing drills on the same rope ladders we use at soccer practice. In early May I ran a 5k (3.1 miles). It was slow but a start. The next one was faster. My surgeon released me for full activity in June with this statement. “When I did your surgery in November if you had told me you were going to run a 5K in May, I would have told you, No way is that possible.” The restriction wasn’t my body it was how bad I was willing to work to strengthen my muscles. I told doc, “You do good work.” Soon I was playing golf and swimming.

There is a lot of work to train for any half marathon. I have run 39 of them since 2008. This one would be the most challenging. Mark’s work with me was finished. I was running again. Then my daughter Dannielle took over who is also my running coach. She is also my accountability partner and helped me to development my training schedule. The long training runs are on weekends. My responsibility is to let Dannielle know when I finished my training run. I was slowly getting stronger and faster. On Thanksgiving Day, we did our traditional run together at the Outer Banks. This year it was 11 miles, the final long run before the Kiawah Half Marathon.

Last Saturday, Dannielle and I ran the Kiawah Island Half Marathon together even though the official race was canceled because of COVID. We were running it anyway. We know the course. It was a good race. I finished with my slowest time but still respectable. My main goal was to finish. Dannielle trained me so well that I played golf with her and her husband on Sunday. I am blessed. I give the credit to my doctors, nurses, physical therapists, support of family and friends and especially my daughter and running coach, Dannielle. My wife, who had a knee replacement a month before my injury, supported me and encouraged me through the entire process. A dream is powerful but it takes a team to get it done. All things are possible.

2020 has been a year like no other. This Christmas season can be a time of hope. The New Year can be a new beginning. We have been through a lot. You may be feeling down and depressed. Maybe even hopeless. You may have considered giving up. I share my story only to give you hope. Laying in my hospital bed last November I had all of those feelings. What got me through them were the people who cared about me. The other thing that helped me was reaching out to help others in some way. As bad as I was, there were others who were worse off than me. When I listened to them and focused on their problems, my problems didn’t look as bad. It also helped my attitude.

This process can work for you. How does a small high school that never won a championship become a perennial champion winning 16 Regional and 5 State Championships? How does a woman (my wife) in a serious car accident with a broken neck make it Disney World, one month later to be with her grandchildren? How does a small nonprofit from Marietta, Ohio (Shale Crescent USA) get on the main stage of the World Petrochemical Conference with a study that changed the world? Anything is possible to someone with a high dream, a team willing to support them and willing to do the work.

Even during this pandemic, dreams still come true. Dream high, believe, keep your attitude positive and have a team that will support you. 2020 is almost over there isn’t anything we can do to change it. We can make 2021 a great year!

© 2020 Shale Crescent USA

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.