Guest Blogger: Rick Schumacher, Tillman Military Scholar Class 2, Park University
I haven’t really run since I left the Army. That was in 2004. I have a couple of pretty severe back injuries that have always held me back. Last year, I helped with the Pat’s Run Shadow Run in Austin, TX and had the opportunity to represent Tillman Military Scholars side-by-side with TMS Angela Durko. She ran and I stayed behind guarding the purses, water and breakfast tacos. At the end of that Pat’s Run, Angela challenged me to run with her the next year.
In August, I quit smoking. In January, I joined a gym. Those 4.2 miles ran off in the distance. I was looking forward to meeting the challenge that Angela had given me. Then in March, I was accepted into a study that might help with one of my back injuries. I had two procedures and was immediately unable to walk without a cane. Since it was a new study, no one was entirely sure what the pain level would be like. For weeks, I stumbled. I was unable to go to the gym. I was practically unable to get out of bed. I was sure at this point that I was not going to be able to meet my challenge. By now, Angela’s words were amplified. I thought about Pat Tillman, his legacy and my part of that legacy as a Tillman Military Scholar. I woke up early and stretched every day. I walked around the block with my cane. After a week I was able to walk without the cane for a bit. I was hoping to walk a portion of the 4.2 as a sign that I was trying to live up to the legacy.
The day of the run arrived. I woke up early. I was able to walk without the cane at all. I decided that I would suit up in my running clothes, just in case I was able to walk part of the course. I met up with Angela, the awesome ASU Alumni and 40 or so runners dressed in red and black Pat’s Run race shirts. We all walked down to the starting line on the edge of Lady Bird Lake in Austin. I thought about my past, as an Army Paratrooper, how 5Ks were a weekly routine. I thought again about Pat Tillman and what I thought he would have done. I saw photos from other Tillman Military Scholars getting set to run in Tempe. I thought about Angela’s challenge. And then I ran.