Why Do I Run?

By Mark Bydalek | Dec. 01, 2015, 5:25 p.m. (ET)

markIn the past year I’ve experienced several life-changing events that have caused me to step back and reevaluate what I want to do “when I grow up.” It has forced me to take a completely different view and approach on life. I have realized life is way too short to sit back and watch it pass me by. Therefore, I have decided to enjoy the remainder of my life to the fullest, with a focus on contributing to a greater cause that will make a difference in other people’s lives.

In January 2015, I lost my mother to a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease, a very sad and debilitating type of dementia. Previously, I lost my dad to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and both of my sisters to cancer at very young ages. I’m the only surviving member of my immediate family.

Since October 2014, after struggling with obesity for 15-plus years, I’ve lost almost 100 pounds. In May 2015, I got divorced and in November 2015, I’m retiring at the age of 60.

In January 2015, I fell on the ice and herniated a disc in my lower back, which severely limited my daily activities. Surgery seemed inevitable, but after several cortisone shots and extensive physical therapy I was once again able to resume basic daily activities. My therapist stressed the need for me to continue to strengthen my back and core.

My daughter was an instrumental part in convincing me to join a gym in which I began a rigorous physical training program. My trainers were my daughter and son-in-law; they have had extensive medical and weight training experience. There were days I thought I was going to die — I was convinced they were trying to do me in. They kept pushing me even during those times I was protesting. However, I could begin to see significant changes and felt wonderful; the best I’d felt in years. Eventually, they broadened my training to include walking and jogging on a treadmill. Today, I am grateful for their persistence and support in my endeavor to lead a healthier life style.

markIn April 2015, two of my granddaughters challenged me to run a Girls on the Run 5k. I accepted the challenge and completed my first 5k on May 29, 2015. What an exhilarating feeling to know that in basically 6 months I went from very limited daily activities to completing a 5k without stopping. Upon completion of this race, while crossing the finish line, I was pumped and knew at that I was destined to continue running.

 Since then, I have continued to train and run races on a regular basis. I’ve now completed two triathlons, in Florida and Michigan, and have run approximately 50 5- to 10-kilometer runs/races.

After many hours of running and thinking about what I’d like do after retirement, I’ve decided to set myself a goal to run a race (5k, 10k or triathlon) in each of the 50 states over the next two to three years. It is my desire to run the races in memory of my family members who preceded me. This running goal aligns very well with my desire to travel and see the United States.

After participating in the Boyne City Triathlon, which was my first official sprint triathlon, I was very impressed with Rob Swartz and his vision to support the research of brain diseases. I was convinced that it fully aligned with my goal to run in memory of my family. 

After meeting with Rob and his wife, Danielle, I was convinced that I wanted to become a team member. I feel honored to have been invited to join this team and contribute to its great cause. I’m also excited about being the seventh member of Team Lucky 7. I’m very enthusiastic to run for our team and raise monies to support the research of brain diseases.

Brain diseases are a major epidemic in the world and need to be stopped.

Read more from Mark at run4cures.com. To make a donation to Team Lucky 7, visit active.com/donate/teamluckyseven/TL7MBydale.

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