MyF3: “Van-Damme” (RESPECT)

My F3 Story (Van-Damme)

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In July 2011, I was your average 46 year old male, eating garbage but doing a spinning class a couple of times a week, taking a fish oil capsule and some vitamins. 5’10, 190lbs, not horribly overweight but a small paunch developing nicely. My wife and I drove to the emergency room on a Saturday night because “something did not feel right”. After parking the car and entering the triage area, I went into full cardiac arrest in front of the nurse attending to me.

I wake up three days later, from a therapeutic hypothermia induced coma. I am discharged from the cardiac ward six days after that with quite the mix of emotions, cracked ribs from the CPR and burns on my chest and side from the defibrillator paddles. My supervisor had sent an email out to my entire organization which read, “It is with sadness and a heavy heart….” Not many read further. Once I was allowed back into the online world, I quoted Mark Twain, “Rumors of my demise have been grossly exaggerated”.

During phase II cardiac rehabilitation, I observed one of my therapists doing bear crawls around the perimeter track with a small rucksack. She explained to me her preparation for a twelve hour endurance event called the Goruck Challenge. This immediately piqued my interest as a potential goal to aim for but I was advised that it might be better to just focus on completing cardiac rehab. I also made some major changes to my diet and progressively removed all processed foods and animal products. This led to a weight loss of 35-40lbs but increased strength and stamina.

Two and half years later, 9am Saturday, I am lined up with the other successful participants at the completion of Goruck Tough Challenge class #1026.

I have since completed a number of the Challenges including a Heavy (24hr) followed by a Tough (12hr) followed by a Light (6-7hr), colloquially known as the HTL. I use the events to keep me focused on a regular and varied training program that mixes strength and cardio.

This leads to why I found the first F of F3 (Fitness) to be appealing as the workouts vary each time due to the nature of being self-led. I mix them with my other workouts just because I never know what to expect.

The next F (Fellowship) is very important to me. I have made some very solid friendships in the Goruck community that have also joined F3 (@TPacko, @Mariah). We keep each other accountable, support each other. There is another heart attack survivor in our group and we serve to inspire each other in our recovery.

On a side note, I volunteer with Team Red White and Blue. I have had a couple of projects to assist in enriching Veterans lives and when I have reached out to a couple of my F3 colleagues they have met the call.

The last F (Faith) is challenging for me. I am not a “religious” individual, however, I have found my involvement with the group has allowed me to be more open to my spiritual side. I know that I am not only fortunate to have survived a major heart attack but also to now thrive physically and emotionally. I am now more engaged in my marriage, my friends, my neighborhood and community than I ever was.

Van Damme