4/6/2012 11:38 AM
By Ken Woodhouse
As someone who has always loved cycling and never really thought too much about running, I didn’t expect that I would one day write a posting like this … until now!
For cyclists, runners, and all-around outdoor enthusiasts, this time of year is especially exciting, as it marks the beginning of spring and the promise of warmer weather just around the corner. In the coming weeks, Chicago’s lakefront path and other outdoor trails will see a noticeable increase in the number of walkers, runners, rollerbladers, and cyclists. Even though I’ve already gotten in a couple brief bicycle rides in mid-March thanks to some unusually warm weather we got here in the Windy City, we’re coming up on the days when we can expect warmer weather with more consistency.
To some hardcore cyclists who insist on riding their two wheels year-round, I may not be considered a serious rider. While I do love riding, I apparently don’t love it enough to subject myself to riding through the infamous Chicago winters. This most recent winter was actually relatively mild, yet I still didn’t have the desire to bundle up and pedal head first into the biting wind chill or falling snow.
For me personally, the unofficial riding and running season is even more exciting this year. In addition to being able to get back on my bike as I’ve done in the past, I’ll be adding a new challenge in 2012: the Chicago Half Marathon, my first-ever running endurance event. After successfully getting through the roller coaster ride of health decisions and cardiology procedures this past fall and winter, I decided I needed to do something more. I needed to take on a new challenge to prove to myself that there’s no stopping me!
I’ve been working closely with the staff at ACHA to create a team—Captain Cardio’s Pace Makers—to run this race in order to increase awareness of congenital heart disease and to raise funds for ACHA. I invite you to join me, whether on the route or by donating to the cause.
While I’ve slowly started getting into running over the past few weeks, I still have a long way to go before the race in September. But I am determined to do it! I realize that for a lot of athletes, a half marathon is not that big of a deal. But for many people, whether they are CHD survivors or not, it is a huge accomplishment. When I decided to register for the Chicago Half Marathon, I knew that I wanted to connect my personal endurance challenge to a cause greater than myself. The staff and volunteers at ACHA were there for me when it felt like I ran face first into a brick wall this past September and learned that I wasn’t entirely out of the water with my own CHD. Running this race to benefit ACHA seemed like an obvious decision.
When I cross the finish line on September 9th, I will certainly be celebrating the fact that I just completed my very first half marathon. (Who wouldn’t?) But I will also celebrate the one-year anniversary (almost to the day) of getting that recommendation for another open heart surgery from an ACHD cardiologist following my bike accident last summer. Fortunately, ACHA gave me the guidance I needed and connections to additional ACHD cardiologists for second and third opinions, who helped me realize that surgery wasn’t necessary at this point.
The cardiologists that I decided to stay with for my ongoing care have given me the green light to start training for this race and are looking forward to hearing about my progress when I go for my next follow up appointment in July.
Yes, I will be hitting them up for a donation, too!
Ken Woodhouse was born in 1981 with tetralogy of Fallot and had his first (and, so far, only) open heart surgery at the age of eight months. He is an avid cyclist, having completed numerous multi-day rides, including the 7-day, 560-mile AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2010. Ken writes his own blog about living a healthy and active life with CHD.