To help understand, it’s important to see the journey I have taken with the help of Runkeeper. It all began several years ago when I began noticing even the simplest task was an undertaking including simple yard work, lifting, etc. Since I had always been active I didn’t quite understand why this was happening. After speaking to my son who is in great athletic condition, he said, “Geeze, do the math dad. You’ve been sitting on your butt in front of the computer for the last several years.”
That struck a nerve and so I made up my mind to start somewhere but the truth was, I didn’t know where to begin. I tried walking at first and found that boring with little or no results let alone self esteem. Then I decided to try riding my bike. At first I was a mess; knees hurt, no stamina, winded, and weak at best. I could barley ride half a block before wanting to quit. So I started biking one day, then walk the next. I found if I did this every other day I actually began looking forward to the next ride/walk. But then one day as I was telling my son what I had begun doing he told me all about Runkeeper. That was when things took a turn for the best some of which not only changed my life but in fact saved it.
What I found about Runkeeper that was so helpful was how easy it “motivated” me. I could watch as I walked or biked and say to myself, “Hey, I can beat yesterdays time/distance if I just go another 100 yards!” Before long 100 yards improvement became 200, 300, and on to another trip around the block and so on. The bottom line is, over the last year I have lost 50 pounds, I walk/run from 8 to 12 miles every weekend, ride my bike and walk every morning and afternoon, have started exercises and I am in the best condition of my entire life! And guess what…. I have a six-pack! Needless to say, my self-esteem has shot through the roof.
That Sunday, (8/23/2014) I hopped on my bike to go run at the Stanford track. I got up and on my bike for a casual ride to the Stanford track which is a key part of the story. I had originally planned to run the Stanford Dish Trail behind campus which is a beautiful but hilly tail in the foothills at the rear of campus. But since I left late I decided on the track instead.
It was a casual bike ride with no stress at all, but right from the start I felt like I had back when I first started to ride as if I was out of shape all over again. I just assumed this feeling would go away but instead I started to feel uncomfortable, enough so that I decided I better stop and lay down in the grass at the rugby field.
As I lay there in pain I tried to meditate to forget the pain but it was too intense. A jogger came to my aid and began tying up his dog but It was clear to see the dog sensed I was in trouble. I motioned for him to let his dog come to me. The dog cuddled up next to me and right away I found myself as a boy once again laying with my dog Ginger in the tall grass in my folks pasture in Oregon and the pain left me if only for a few moments.
Right away my chest hurt terribly and so did my arms and now I knew I was in trouble so I called 911. I could hardly talk due to the pain and fortunately the jogger helped guide the paramedics to me. Because I had Runkeeper on my phone the jogger was able to tell 911 my exact location, how far I had ridden and exactly what time I had left.
Within a couple minutes I was in an ambulance and taken to the ER where the masters of their trade were waiting and within minutes the experts team of Stanford doctors found the cause of the heart attack. Because I was so close and because of the critical time saved due to Runkeeper a stent was placed in the main artery of my heart in less than 20 minutes which resulted in a miracle of zero heart damage.
The doctors told me that because I was in such great shape it saved my life because the blockage was 100 percent blocked, “Gary, it’s a miracle you had your exact location on Runkeeper but even so, had you ran the dish today you wouldn’t be here because we would not have been able to get the stent in place in time. We can all be grateful to Runkeeper.” Isn’t that ironic that they told me I’m in such great shape even though I just had a heart attack?
It’s all very much like a dream and I know it has not hit me yet what a true miraculous turn of events this has all been. Can you believe it; I had a major heart attack and this afternoon (8/26/2014) I walked out of the hospital, back to my bike and rode home. By the way, on the way back to my bike, I took one lap around the Stanford track. (You can see it on my latest Runkeeper entry.)
I feel so indebted to Runkeeper not only for the motivation you gave me but in all probability for saving my life. Thank You Runkeeper.
Editor’s note: Shortly after receiving this blog, we received a follow up email from Gary with this picture and the following.
I thought you might enjoy this. Its a photo of the first response firemen who came to my assistance when I went to thank them in person. It was an emotional moment and I was very surprised when one of them actually cried and said, “In my 17 years on the force, not once has anyone ever came to say thanks in person. We always wonder what goes on in peoples lives after an emergency response or how they did.” I will be meeting the battalion chief today and the paramedics on Tuesday.