About 2 weeks ago, on April 15th, I went for a run. It was a run that I will not soon forget. For the 1st time in my life, I was scared to run!
Why was I scared to run?
Two days before(April 13th) at around 5:30 pm, I got a call from 1 of my grad school classmates to inform me that Kaytie Joiner,a fellow classmate, had died just after crossing the finish line of a half marathon earlier that day
I was in complete shock! A very close friend of mine, 27 years old and 3 weeks away from her wedding(the race was part of her bachelorette party weekend), who was an experienced runner with several half marathons under her belt, was gone!
Along with the shock, my brain started processing all the possibles causes of death that I learned in school while studying athletic training and sports medicine...could it have been hyponatraemia(extreme lose of sodium), heat stroke, or hypertrophic cardiac myopathy(also known as HCM, a condition in which an abnormally enlarged left side of the heart causes sudden cardiac arrest).
It turned out to be none of those, it was something much scarier; an undetectable congenital heart defect. That’s why I was scared to run that day! I had also learned about undetectable congenital heart defects in school, but all of a sudden it was starring me in the face! I have a wife,a daughter, 3 puppies...what if I had an undetectable heart defect?
In the nearly 3 weeks since I lost my friend, I’ve realized a few things.
1)Kaytie would not want be to be scared to run! She would want me to continue to enjoy it the way I always have! I intend to do just that! I plan on returning to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon(the site of my very 1st 1/2 marathon) next year to run my 1st stand alone full marathon; I also plan on raising money for a charity along the way....all in honor of my friend!
2)While Kaytie’s cause of death was completely unavoidable, the other 3 conditions that I described earlier (hyponatraemia, heat stroke, and hypertrophic cardiac myopathy) can all be deadly in athletic participation. Over the next few weeks, I will dedicate a few blog posts to educating my fellow endurance athletes friends on the danger of these conditions, and how to avoid them. If you are an endurance athlete, please read them! If you know endurance athletes, please help spread the information! I think this would be another fitting way to honor my friend!
Stay strong(and run safe),