The Mikey Reed Story: Overcoming Obstacles Interview Exclusive

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I met Mikey the day of the Pennsylvania Spartan Race which took place around July of 2012. What took place that day is still etched in my mind as a group of friends and I struggled the entire race but one member of the group really stood out.  Here is his story.

Before I met you, Travis told your story about what happened to you as a little kid before we supposed to run the Spartan Race, can you elaborate and describe the side effects of what occurred?

Basically, when I was younger I was victim to a freak accident. I was accidentally hit in the neck with a golf club which later caused me to have a massive stroke. The impact crushed my carotid artery and paralyzed my right side. Most doctors would’ve given up on me at the time except for one who didn’t think I’d just sit in a vegetative state. I had to learn how to walk, talk and basically do everything over again. It took YEARS of progress and various forms of therapy to get me back to normal everyday living; if you want to call it that. I still have a few lingering ailments I’ll have with me permanently.

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Bryan: Before we did the Spartan race together, we were walking around the site, I could tell that Mikey still walked with a limp which as you will find out later, he doesn’t notice. There were several people who walked by and were flabbergasted that Mikey was running the race.

Often times, when something drastic happens to individuals they can become depressed or feel out-of-place, how were you able to cope with that as you act like the happiest person in the world? (Mikey had a smile on his face the entire time I was in his presence.)

I wouldn’t exactly say I’m the “happiest” person in the world but I try not to let things get to me. There have been plenty of times in the past & (even here and there now) where I did get down on myself knowing what I was dealing with was something I can’t fix or make go away but I learned to understand that hell is what you make it. That phrase is even tatted down my right leg as a reminder. It basically stands for making the most out of any bad situation thrown your way and that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. I utilize music, staying active & surrounding myself with good down to Earth people to keep that happy vibe flowing. The way I see it, if you put in hard work, play harder, stay positive & try to keep the world smiling, it will smile back down on you.

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Describe the races that you have done in the past, and can you let me know the feeling that occurred when you crossed the finish line?

Why did you decide to sign up for them? (I decided to sign up for them to prove other people wrong but what happen is that they made me a better person every single time!)

Well the first race I had ever done was called Warrior Dash. I agreed to do it with my two best friends (who are a set of brothers) Eric & Garrett. The race was held on 10-10-10 at 10 AM. With that unique date & time, I knew I had to be a part of it. It was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my adult life. Not just physically but mentally the bond the 3 of us took from that day can never be broken or be understood by anyone else but us.

At the time, adventure races/mud runs were really in their infancy and not as extremely popular as they are now which was great because I feel like we caught the train right on time and before the majority of the population did. The two of them inspired me to get into better shape & that I COULD do this. The race was roughly the size of a 5K; just with various obstacles, water & mud thrown into the mix. At that time, 3 miles was a mountain of a distance in my eyes and had no idea that I would later laugh at that.

A little over a month after that experience, the three of us went to Englishtown, NJ for the toughest physical challenge I could ever imagine, Tough Mudder. It was a cold 30 degree on a November morning and the course was sadistic, cruel & unforgiving I loved every second of it. After the Dash, Garrett opened my eyes to Tough Mudder but I was totally against it after reading what was waiting for us. As opposed to a 3 mile course, it was a 14 mile trek that made the obstacles I faced before look like child’s play. One day though, I did the right thing by manning up & said “yeah, I’ll do it!” Since then, I haven’t looked back. To this day I’ve completed 3 Tough Mudders, 2 Warrior Dashes & 2 Spartan Races with a few 5K running events sprinkled in between. I would have never imagined putting myself in competitions or challenges that involved a massive amount of running but once you harness the proper mental grit, anything truly is possible. Writer’s note: What’s funny is that Mikey and I both did the Tough Mudder along with the Spartan Races, we both agreed that the Spartan Race PA which was a sprint (3 miles plus) was tougher than the Tough Mudder.

Describe the challenges you have faced – career and social if any.

That’s an easy one. To be honest, one of the lingering effects is daily pain. I have early arthritis & other permanent damage in and around my right foot and even though I don’t notice it all the time, others do. For years, I’ve fielded the questions “Did you hurt yourself?” or “Why are you limping?” Fact of the matter is, I don’t even realize it half the time but when I walk, it becomes slightly noticeable to others. I never really go into detail when asked; I just kind of brush it off. My darkest days were in junior high school & the first half of high school. The kids were just straight up mean & not very nice to me because (at the time) I wore a brace and had those difficulties a lot more visible to the naked eye. Even some I had grown up with and went through grade school with me that already knew my situation but went along with the crowd because it was apparently the “cool” thing to do. I’m not saying everyone was so callous but there were a good bunch that were understanding and mature but they were definitely with me in the minority. Some of them, I’m blessed to still have around in my life as those others have just faded away into obscurity.

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Bryan: It was a great day pushing each other at the Spartan Race. I am forever grateful that I met you.

Lessons Learned:

  • When you think you are going through a tough time, there may be others going through a lot worse. Keep pushing on. Never give up, trust me you won’t believe how much you can push yourself through.
  • Surround yourself with positive friends, they will only make you reach for the sky every time. Thank guys, you know who you are. Eric and Garrett, thanks for pushing Mike. You have made an impact on not only Mike’s life but others who will read this. I am glad that I met you guys as well.
  • Realize that the biggest opponent is not the race, not the competition, not the guy next to you but the biggest opponent is YOU. Beat it every day and don’t let it talk your way out of things.
  • Mikey and I could have easily let our DISABILITIES stop us but we didn’t. We simply removed the saying from our dictionary.

Readers, if you have any questions for Mikey or myself, please email me at bryaneadamson@gmail.com and we will make sure to answer your questions. If you know of anybody that needs inspiration, please share this on your Facebook wall, email it, tweet it, Google+ or print it out if you remember how to. We decided to do this to help just one person today and if we achieve that, then we have done the best we can do. Mikey and I are also looking for motivational speaking engagements, if you know of any where we would make an impact at, please email me at the above address. Thanks again to Mikey for sharing his story!

If anybody else has a story to share, please let me know!

Until next time,

BA is OUT.

mikey tough mudder

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A picture of progress from 6 months ago

I am sharing this picture with you to share my story with a picture. I have lost around 30 lbs in the last six months. It has been a super frustrating last six months of that and I feel like I have so much more to go. My goal is lose another 20-25 lbs before the summer. I have just started crossfit within the last year and I really think my body is going to explode into the best body I have ever had before summer gets here.

I will leave you with this, even when your world feels like it is crashing down on you and all you feel like doing is giving up, DON’T! It is a test to see how strong you really are. Be that strong person and then become that person that people look up to. Challenges will always be there and if you don’t have any, take time to truly evaluate yourself.

I am thankful for this journey and I am not going to say I wish the weight gain never happened. It truly showed me what was important in my life and that is my health as well as my self esteem.

Merry Christmas

Oh and one last food for thought, as we are going into the new year- I suggest to everyone to attack the new year as if you have nothing to lose, attack it as you have nothing to fear but fear itself. You owe yourself and everyone around you that.

Until next time,

BA

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My Spartan race journey, why everyone should try it once.

STFU (Spartan The Fuck up!) By: Bryan Adamson For those of you that don’t know my story, I will summarize it for you in a few sentences. October of 2011, I was 5’7, 260 lbs and absolutely miserable. As of the writing of this article Sunday July 15, 2012, I am now 206 lbs. In a period of nine months, I have lost 54 pounds, ran three 5K’s, a Tough Mudder, a half marathon and as of yesterday the Spartan Sprint Race. A feat I did not think was possible last year. A big thank you to those friends who have supported and encouraged me to sign up for the races with them, you know who you are! “Keep going Bryan, you will move mountains before you know it.” – Maureen Kane Now for those of you who have not heard of the Spartan races, here is the website’s definition. We are an international obstacle racing series with three levels of courses: 3 mile sprints, 8 mile Olympic (Supers) and 10 -12 mile Ultras (Beast) where you will run, jump and crawl your way over a dozen or more obstacles put in your way! Each region gets a taste of our races starting with a Sprint and working up to an Ultra. Courses are uniquely designed to test your mental and emotional fitness and push you past your limits. Our races are muddy, creative, and extreme. They will exhaust you and exhilarate you. For some individuals, it might not sound fun but believe me, once you try an obstacle race you slowly become addicted, wanting more and harder challenges. Here is the story of what happened this weekend at the Spartan Sprint Pennsylvania 2012 at Blue Mountain. I was super excited for this weekend to come because not only was I excited for the race, I was pumped about my ankle being healed and hanging out with a friend who I haven’t seen in awhile. I was also in the best shape I have been for six years. I thought I was going to demolish this race. The funny thing was that the director sent us an email on Thursday warning us that this race was going to one of the hardest Spartan Race they have put on, the race was now five miles plus instead of three. Every obstacle you do not complete, you would be punished to do thirty burpees which I later found out can suck the life out of you. Still, I thought I was going to destroy the course because I had just done a Tough Mudder (an obstacle race that was fourteen miles long, thirty plus obstacles three of those where you are shocked with 10,000 volts of electricity and a half marathon a month before! Boy, was I completely wrong in my judgment! Since being from Philadelphia, the only time I ever go to the mountains or the Poconos is to ski. As we arrive to the parking lot, the mountain looked huge without snow on it and you could see groups of people at the top of the mountain. My buddy Travis and I were shocked. We did not know what we got ourselves into. We met up with a group of guys that were incredible and I feel honored to have met them. One of the individuals inspired the heck out of me and I will talk about more about him later in this article. We registered and then the mental preparedness was on! We stood at the starting line which was opposite of the finish line which is the best part for two reasons, one being that you survived a Spartan race and the other is because you get to run through the Gladiator pit! I was super pumped for this and so was my buddy Travis! The time never seemed to dwindle down to our starting time as it felt like we were stuck in a time glass. When the announcer came on, I was all of the sudden like oh crap, here it comes! He announces that we will be going all the way the top of the mountain, (I raced without my hearing aids because I knew I was going to get wet) Travis relayed this important information to me; I wished at that point that he did not! We take off, going up what seemed to not be a monstrous hill from the start to becoming very monstrous! Most of the runners which I am estimating at five hundred at our wave had to stop running and walk within the first ten minutes of the race! All of us probably did not even make it to the first obstacle without stopping to walk. We stopped to walk because it was a hike up a > 45 degree grassy slippery hill! I was amazed at how much I thought I was in shape and immediately how much I thought I was out of shape for this race. I was never a big hill fan, if you know me; you know I strictly manage to stay on flat ground when I run. Hills kick my ass. They make me better but they always kick my ass. Now I was running up an entire mountain or several hills for most of the race. The race directors are great at playing mental games with you right from the start. Within the first quarter mile, my calves were burning; it felt like they were actually on fire! We get up to a quarter of the mountain and we start going downhill, immediately in my head for some reason thought the worse was over, maybe we had made it to the top well I was wrong again! When we were going downhill on a trail made only to fit one person, and it was steep enough to do a jog at best, then my thighs started to hurt. I was not alone in this feeling, the group I ran with felt this way. When I say steep hills on the trails, my brand new pants are not happy with me because I literally slid down the hill on my butt on several occasions including the one in the quarry. We jumped over six feet walls and I thought it was awesome because I cleared the walls with no problem, was super excited because I thought that was all they had which I later learned during the race that it was not! The first wet obstacle was a two story foot climb on a rope, reminiscence of a high school gym class and was the only thing I did not do well in gym! Needless to say, I tried and did not succeed, the very beginning of lots of burpess was in store for me that day and I did my thirty. Travis, the buddy of mine I mentioned earlier got to the top of the rope, reached up to hit the bell and fell while reaching for the bell smacking the water on a double twist somewhat of a belly flop! He laughed about it and so did I because when he got out of the water, he had mud up his nose! We ran for bit, then started the steep uphill climb again, went through a trail and were met with gravel along with home depot buckets. We had to fill up our buckets with the gravel and then walk up part of the mountain and back down depositing the gravel where we found it. I also had the urge to puke, three times during this one. I tried to lighten up my demise and others by joking that beer was such a bad choice the night before. It was at this point where the never ending mountain climb started and it was brutal. It felt the mountain that was staring above us was tilted more than 45 degrees uphill at certain points, some people crawled, lots of people stopped, other shouted encouragement and I tried as hard as I could to not throw up on others that were below me. What a mind fuck this was. We made it to the top of the mountain exhausted and what an incredible view it was! It was the best part of the race and you felt like you accomplished something, even more so when I found out that the top of the mountain is the highest elevation point in Pennsylvania! We had no idea when that we got to the top of the mountain that we would be spending another forty five minutes climbing up and down a black diamond slope. We ran towards the ski lift on the other side of the mountain and there are sandbags waiting for us, some will say twenty, others will say close to forty pounds but all I can say, it was heavy. I picked the bag up looked at where we were going and saw that we were going down a black diamond slope! I can’t imagine skiing down this mountain now that I seen it without snow and filled with a mix of gravel, dirt and grass nor at this point did I see myself making it down the hill without sliding to the bottom. We got to the bottom and I was cooked, my thighs felt liked they were stabbed with butchers knives. Just looking up to the top of hill and seeing people only making it ten feet before they had to stop was enough to make me want to give up. As we were going up, it was slippery and I had to stop more than ten times, some people laid down and used the sandbags as pillows in the middle of the hills. It took all of the strength I had at the moment I THOUGHT I had. It was indeed another mind fuck as we thought when we have gotten to the top of the mountain the first time that the rest of the race would be downhill. What I realized at the end of this race is how much you can put your body through but it takes tremendous training of the mind to be able to do so!

Below is the picture of the view and yes, it does look more than forty five degrees downhill.

Downhill was steep, some parts were I had to slide down on my butt which must be why my butt is hurting so bad right now. We encountered several Berlin walls; one of them had to be twelve feet in heights, several of them I needed help on. This obstacle seems to be an automatic calf cramp for me. We came across the mud quarter mile, eight trenches of water that we had to climb in and out of us which was probably one of the fun ones. The best one is where we got to go down a large slip and slide estimated by our group to be a steep fifty yards long downhill into a mud pond. That was my favorite obstacle! We had to swim across the pond and out into the trails, next pond we encountered we had to carry down a cinderblock on a chain, into the pond and back up a hill which sucked! Then we had 100 yards of barbwire crawls on gravel and mud with a fire hose squirting full steam of water at us! We had a heavy tire flip which I was unable to do, I think it was close to three hundred pounds, I could be way off but my body was unable to flip it over. Back to burpees I was. Burpees are great exercises but once you do five, your body starts become numb; it is a complete body workout. Then we came to the last of the obstacles, we had the javelin/arrow throw which is awesome. Lot of individuals missed, I somewhat had it easy I guess with all of my previous baseball days. I am glad to see those days worked for something! The finish line was in sight, that is if you could see pass the dark thick smoke of a fire jump. The flames were high; considerably high that I had to jump as high as I could which was something I did not want to do at that point because I was hurting! Then we had to jump into water and climb out of it using a rope to get over a forty five degree wall. It was an amazing sight to see how close to the finish line you were and how freakishly huge the gladiators were. I collected my thoughts and took off full sprint into three gladiators. It happened in a blur and they swung their sticks at me, and I ran through them. I ran hard enough where I managed to injured one of them. For some reason, my body took over and I did a Ray Lewis scream with my arms open wide as I crossed the finish line. I was greeted by great volunteers who handed me a medal and several bananas. I did it and concluded that this race was tougher than the Tough Mudder. I completed the Spartan race in three hours and fifteen minutes which puts my mile pace at 48:36 minutes. My best mile pace is 8:37 which should show you readers the toughness of the course! I looked up my race results and saw that I was 2,730 out of the 7,500 participants that ran that day. A great accomplishment, the winner did it in 59 minutes which is unbelievable in my book. He missed the Olympic trails as a marathon runner which shows me even more the determination and athletic ability that our Olympic athletes have.

The guy in the middle wearing the light gray shirt motivated me to do more. Why? Mike had an accident in his childhood years which caused him to lose feeling to one entire side of his body; he endured numerous surgeries and rehab to gain back his ability to move. I think he told me that in the past couple of years, he has done MULTIPLE Tough Mudders. There were several points of the race where he got behind but he never gave up, I have absolute respect for him and for anyone that does this race. So ask yourself, if you are reading this, have I done all that I can in my life? What more can I accomplish? This guy follows the book of no excuses. He motivated all of us that day and several passersby who I quote said “how is he going to do the race? He can’t even walk! “Well guys, he did and maybe you should too. Find out what is inside of you, you won’t be disappointed, I promise! The great thing about this is that meeting Mike showed me humility; His story showed me that my life is not bad compared to others and I can do more. One more piece of advice, continue to meet others and find out their stories, you might gain a better appreciation of your life. I am glad that I ran into him and the others for I experienced a moment that I will never forget.

A conclusion of this blog, there was several times where my body and mind wanted to quit but every time it did, I immediately went into overdrive to think about how great I will feel when I accomplish this and how I can add this on my list of things that I did. This takes more mental training than physical training. I went from barely able to run one mile in October to conquering the largest mountain in Pennsylvania and as I am writing this, I am thinking to myself what is next? It is a great feeling and I am very overwhelmed in writing all of this, I can’t believe how far I have come. I am looking forward to doing a marathon in November. If anybody wants to join me, please do. If anybody wants weight loss help, motivational issues or has questions, please email me at bryaneadamson@gmail.com. Some more pictures are below. Thanks and until next time, BA is officially out! The light green area is where we ran, all the way to the top! The AFTERMATH!

Overwhelmed and Happy!

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