Boston Marathon!

Well, I did it with help with tons of help. My wife, Laurie, came out to Boston in order to be with me. All my family and kids were super supportive. My older sister and husband came of from Virginia to cheer me on. Flip Herndon, my nephew, was my guide. Flip set a good pace and he was instrumental in digging deep on a challenging weather day. Social media friends came out, too. I was surprised to hear them yelling my name out on the course. That was a welcome source of encouragement. All the positive feedback was useful, too. Thank you to all my supporters. I want to express my appreciation to my sponsors as well. I say thank you: TurboMed Orthodics, Rudy Project, and XX2i. And, of course, I did it for stroke survivors to help them gain a sense of hope!

Walter, my wife and mine friend, gave us ride from Attleboro to Hopkington, where buses responsible to get us to the start line were. It was 38°, light rain, and light wind. There was a light coating of snow in areas. We had plenty of time. Unfortunately, the bus driver got lost. The driver that the Boston Marathon organizer arranged! What was supposed to take 10 minutes turned into 40+ minutes, plus he let us off 1 mile from the start line. I was so glad Walter gave me a poncho, hat, and gloves. Originally, I opted against them but I decided to put them on.

Flip and I started jogging towards a start line where I disposed of the poncho. Heading in the opposite direction were the mobility impaired runners, already out the the course. We missed the start! The “warm up” was welcomed, although the circumstances were not. I was really looking forward to starting with the other mobility impaired runner’s.

We got to a starting line and gratefully the starting official decided to let us start late, about 10-15 minutes after our group had left. For a while, the crowds were cheering for us alone. There was no one around!

Soon, the light rain turned into downpour and 25 mph headwind started in earnest. By the time I was a quarter way done, I was thoroughly soaked and shivering despite wearing the hat and gloves. My hands and feet were numb. By the time I was half way my pace had fallen drastically and my right calf and groin muscle were cramping. Flip was a voice of reason, keeping me encouraged and keeping me away from barriers which would have tripped me.

The last half was a blur. I don’t remember much of the course. I checked out mentally for the most part. My right calf and groin muscle, and the shivering were begging, “no!”, screaming for to me to stop. But Flip kept me running. And stroke survivors kept me focused. Over and over the saying “Stroke Survivors CAN” kept going through my mind. I was running the race for stroke survivors first and foremost.

Crossing the finish line, I was toast. No celebratory gestures, nothing. I gave it my all. I was spent. I scored a personal best time in adverse weather conditions. Now I wanted to get the the medical tent for symptoms consistent with hypothermia and cramps. But on my way I did want to make sure I was going get to a medal. Stroke Survivors CAN, but I wanted the medal to commemorate me having done the Boston Marathon in such brutal weather conditions. The volunteer taking care of me quickly returned with my medal.

What I learned from this:

I couldn’t do it alone. Having survived a stroke, you would think that was a given. Apparently, I needed a reminder. I couldn’t do this race without lots of help. From Flip, my guide, family and friends, all the encouraging words on social media, and stroke survivors…I am grateful and salute you!!

I can keep on running even when my body yells “stop”. Through Flip, I learned a new level of perservance and mind over matter. I can keep on running with cramps and cold.

Human spirit is strong. There were other mobility challenged runners out there who were told to give up running years ago. But they were out the under the same miserable conditions. Amputees, blind, height challenged, all sorts of medical conditions… my respect to them all and the guides that supported them!

Do not let a diagnosis put you into a box. Challenge it, stretch it. You never know how far you’re going to go. This goes for athletics, and also daily rehabilitation. We stroke survivors are resilient and we have a lot to offer!

Stroke Survivors CAN!

Kevin Rhinehart

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My story this year (so far)

 

Emotional Support

I could not do what I do without all the emotional support. I owe a lot of thanks and acknowledgement for that support. First, there is a God who loves me and desires the best for where I’m at. I am thankful to God for the many miracles he has done in my life, and to my supportive and hardworking wife, and my kids and family. Thank you!
Secondly, my thanks go out to all my friends in real and virtual life who continue build me up in a variety of ways. (To all my virtual friends on social media, I wish I could meet you all in real life!). I would be honored if you’re on Facebook to “friend” me!
Finally, I am thankful for a Board of Directors who believes that I have a story to be told. With them, Stroke Survivors CAN! can bring hope to a far greater population than I could by myself.

Foundation

Stroke Survivors CAN, a nonprofit organization, is about giving stroke survivors hope. It is about my experience with a stroke, and finding purpose through athletic events to bring hope to stroke survivors where they are at, whether or not they pursue athletics.
Stroke Survivors CAN continues to make good progress. We are waiting for the IRS to issue the 501(c)(3) as a nonprofit entity. In the meantime, the legal stuff (By Laws are Articles) are done, donated by an attorney. We have a mailing address, office space, and accounting services, donated by a generous business; and a board committed to make Stroke Survivors CAN successful.
High on the “to do” list is the creation of a web page. I have strokesurvivorscan.org already reserved. I’m also thinking about a logo.
Stroke Survivors CAN, a nonprofit organization, is about giving stroke survivors hope. It is about my experience with a serious stroke, and finding purpose through athletic events to bring hope to stroke survivors where they are at, whether or not they pursue athletics.
Stroke Survivors CAN! continues to make good progress. We are waiting for the IRS to issue the 501(c)(3) as a nonprofit entity. In the meantime, the legal stuff (By Laws are Articles) are done, donated by an attorney. We have a mailing address, office space, and accounting services, donated by a generous business; and a board committed to make Stroke Survivors CAN successful.
High on the “to do” list is the creation of a web page. I have strokesurvivorscan.org already reserved. I’m also thinking about a logo.

Training

Training goes on uninterrupted, except when I’m traveling. My typical week contains light weight lifting, stretching, core work, swimming, cycling, and running. The amount I swim, cycle, or run varies, depending on what I have coming up. A typical week has me swimming three days a week, cycling (and spin classes) four day a week, and running three days a week, with Sundays as my off day.
Running both short and long distances wouldn’t be possible with TurboMed Orthodics. It helps immensely with foot drop resulting from my stroke. Thank you, TurboMed. You are a huge part of my story!
After the Boston Marathon April 16, 2018, I’ll train for a half Ironman, and perhaps, a full Ironman, as well as participate in some local races.

Interviews

As a part of giving stroke survivors hope, I was privileged to do a number of interviews with newspapers and TV news stations. Talk about intimidating (especially the TV spots). I’m thankful for editing!
I’m also learning to speak to groups. When you have aphasia and are self-conscious about having aphasia, this is NOT easy! A work in progress I am. I recently spoke at a stroke survivors support group at Milford Regional Medical Center, outside of Boston. If you would like to see some of my interviews go to my website http://www.kevinrhinehart.com  .
Competitions
Let me be clear on this. I participate in athletic events as a way to give stroke survivors hope. Sure, I enjoy the events, and, quite frankly, I am still blown away by my “successes.” I’m writing this, for example, on my way to the Boston Marathon! But my goal is the same – give stroke survivorsrs hope.Stroke survivors are a determined bunch, whether it is getting up for the day, or athletic events. Stroke Survivors CAN!

Kevin Rhinehart

Stroke Survivor, Triathlete

The end of 2017 and start of 2018!

2017 saw some amazing things!  I completed seven events, with six considered by me to major events, all with improving times.  My presence on the internet rose considerably,  facilitated by my athletic achievement, making my story a source of inspiration to many more people, especially stroke survivors!

I would not have accomplished so much had it not been without so many people encouraging me.  Thank you for your kind gift of words!  It really means a lot to me!

For 2018, so far, I plan to enter the Boston Marathon (I got accepted!).  Additionally, I have put my name in for the lottery for Ironman World Championships (October, 2018).  I also have my eye in two Ironman 70.3: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (June) and Boulder, Colorado (August).  I will continue making local races, too, and long as it is affordable.

I also have been working on speaking topics.  As you can see from my interview, speaking is TOUGH!  Thank God for editing!

As always, if my story has touched your life, I would like invite to do make of donation.  All gifts are used for triathlon expenses.  You can go through GoFundMe or by sending me a check to Kevin Rhinehart, 531 Hahaione St., 12B, Honolulu, HI, 96825.  Contributions, both great and small, are greatly accepted!

Stroke Survivors CAN!
Kevin Rhinehart

If you see an error my in editing, please understand it goes along with my stroke.  Please let me know!

Humbling Experience

A little before Thanksgiving, I received word that I had been accepted to participate in the Boston Marathon, a running race covering 26.2 miles.  Wow!  The number one marathon in the world, complete with strict time standards, with top marathoners from all the world… I was (and am) humbled to be chosen!

Back up a few years ago to late January 2012.  I had just suffered the serious stroke, taking away my ability to communicate and walk, a career which I loved, and hobbies.  I was just existing.  For a more detailed account, click here.

Then came Ironman.  I was thinking sprint or Olympic sized triathlon, maybe someday in the far off future a Half Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 run, a half marathon, 70.3 miles to complete it) by the time I started training in October 2015.  (For a full detail of events I’ve participated in, go here.)  I never would have dreamed I would go from being new to running to a Half Ironman under a year!

  • Sprint triathlon… ((Tri)ptophan Turkey Day Triathlon, Nov. 26, 2015).
  • Olympic triathlon… (Lavaman Triathlon, Apr. 10, 2016).
  • Half Ironman… (Hawaii 70.3 Ironman, Jun. 4, 2016).

On a whim, I decided to entered my name into the lottery for Hawaii residents for the World Championship Ironman, held in Kona, Hawaii.  Much to my surprise, I was one of the several people picked.  I never ridden that far on a bike and a marathon, oh, my.  Back in October 2015, I could not run continuously for one mile!  Maybe I bit off more than I could chew, so to speak.  Well, I was not fast, but I did it, humbled by it all, beating the 17 hour cut off time, barely!

  • World Championship Ironman… (Oct. 8, 2016)

Through Ironman, I had finished the marathon in sufficient amount of time to be eligible for the Boston Marathon in the Physically Challenged division.  I have never considered myself to be an athlete, and certainly not with the world’s top triathletes and marathoners!   And I still do not consider myself to a runner.  Fast I am not, but persistent and determined I am!

Why, you may ask?  I do it for stroke survivors.  There is stuff several times a day that reminds me I am not was I used be as far as stroke is concerned.  It is a hassle!  But for someone who thought my life was over, I have found a new life, one that is involved with helping stroke survivors rediscover life!  I found with my new life lots of support, too, from encouraging words to volunteers to gifts financially to sponsors, and more.  Again, I am humbled.

I never would have even considered a marathon if it were not without James “Kimo” Cuizon and TurboMed Orthotics.  Kimo introduced me to TurboMed for foot drop, a result of the stroke.  TurboMed was life changing.  I hope to participate with Kimo in the Boston Marathon, also a wearer of TurboMed (for a different reason other than stroke).

One more thing before I sign off.  Participating in the Boston Marathon and Ironman takes a considerate amount of money.  Registration fees, travel and lodging, training equipment, and so forth quickly adds up.  I invite you to join with me in making this all possible by giving through GoFundMe.  All gifts are appreciated, whether large or small!

So, Boston Marathon, here I come, humbled and grateful!

Stroke Survivors CAN!

KR

 

Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon

As I headed toward my starting position outside the University of Washington Huskies stadium, I felt like I was running in a home race.  I grew up in Washington and several of my family still lives here.  As a teenager, I left home to attend the University and being a Huskies fan, the stadium holds some good memories!

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What made this race even more special was I was running with my nephew, Flip Herndon, who was a former collegiate track athlete.  He agreed to set the pace, as opposed to running his own race and leaving me in the dust.

From the first mile of the 13.1 mile race, I knew I was in trouble.  My right leg and foot – leftovers from the stroke, from doing a half Ironmen two weeks earlier, and running too many miles in between the half Ironmen and half marathon –  were fatigued and dragging.  Flip knew where I was because my right foot kept scrapping the pavement.  Needless to say, after the race was over, I threw the running shoes away.  Had it been a marathon, I would have been running in my socks!  Without my TurboMed 3000, I would have been in running in my right sock by about mile 6!

Still, Flip kept up a decent pace.  At the start, before I knew I would be having a problem my with right leg and foot, I had told him that I would finish at 2:15 mark.  He kept encouraging through his occasional spoken word and pace, especially when I would slow down.

I have never broken 2:30 in a half marathon.  To be fair, I had only run the half marathon once before, and ran the distance a couple times after swimming and biking in a triathlon a couple of times.  Truly, running (as well as triathlons) is new to me.  I was surprised to learn that I had finished​ in 2:16!  As an “old” man who’s been running under two years and who has survived a stroke, I was pleased.

I couldn’t do this alone.  Special thanks to Flip and TurboMed, as well as God, my hard working wife, my family, and all of you, many of you I haven’t met.  Again, thank you!

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What’s next, you ask?  In December, I have the Honolulu Marathon, and in April 2018, I’m planning to participate in the Boston Marathon!  Who would have thought that five years ago, I didn’t like running, to being wheelchair bound, then participating in triathlons, including the World Championships Ironman (2016), and Boston Marathon (2018)!

I never saw the stroke coming, and I never saw the results athletically coming.  Don’t ever give up hoping for a brighter tomorrow, and for me, it all started with exercise, starting with lifting my right arm and taking a haltingly few steps, the biking, then swimming, and then running.

All this to say stroke survivors CAN!!

Kevin Rhinehart

 

Ironman 70.3 Hawaii Recap

Honu, the Hawaiian name for turtle, is the affectionate name given the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, held yearly on the Big Island during early June.  Each year, 1500 people from all over the world, come to participate in a unforgiving 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a half marathon, 13.1 mile of running, all within a predetermined set of time guidelines.  A few are out to win; most, including me, participate to get through it.  All are winners.

My preparation was on track until early April when I was involved in a bike crash during another triathlon, Lavaman, an Olympic size triathlon.  I suffered a fractured left clavicle and three ribs, and Honu was is serious question.  I pulled out of the Hapalua half marathon, being help a couple of weeks later, being hurt from the crash.

fractured clavicle

While recovering, I rode the stationary recumbent bike, adding swimming couple weeks later, bike riding on stationary trainer, then running, and then bike riding.  While hurt, I did improved my leg strength, and that helped my bike.  While rather painful initially, the level of pain diminished gradually, and by race day, my shoulder was “comfortable.”

A couple days prior to the event, I had a pre-race meeting to attend, check in where I got the race bag and number, and brought my bike to check in.  It was a good time meeting people that I only knew on Facebook, and running into people I already knew.

Pictured here with 2016 Winner Physically Challenged Division Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, James Cuizon

Race day, I woke at my scheduled time at 2 AM after getting 5 hours of sleep.  I packed my race gear and nutrition, double and triple checked that I had everything, and I headed off the race, about an 1 ½ hour trip.  About a half hour into travel, I forgot my nutrition for my bike ride, an essential for my bike!  Panicky, I called Greta, who helped host me, who was also racing​ but had a much later start time, to see if she could bring it.  Gratefully, she didn’t leave yet, and she brought it!  Whew!!

The moments before the race is stressful.  The race itself doesn’t stress me out that much.  Did I remember everything from swimming, biking, and running?  I went through things for the transitions.  Gladly, I was able to do a warm up jog and swim, and it helped clear my mind.

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Exiting the swim, going uphill to where my bike is.  Photography by John Prehn.

The start time to swim was a couple minutes after 6:30 AM.  Gratefully, I’m comfortable in the water, and I didn’t have issues with it, even got to pass some people from the group before me!  I did the 1.2 mile swim portion in 38:10, and I was pleased with that.

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Exiting my bike, getting ready to put my shoes on for the run.

Next up, the bike portion was challenging, to say the least: 56 hilly, hot, humid, and windy (35-40 mph) miles.  All along with way, I saw people sidelined with flat tires, and occasional crashes.  I, however, was not in any bike crashes or flats!  Many people passed me; I don’t think I passed anyone.  My bike time was 3:41:16.  Clearly, I’ve got a lot more training to do.  One unfortunate thing that happened for me it all my electrolyte tablets, which aid in keeping cramps away,  blew off of my bike on my second half of the bike course.  I would be needing them on my run.

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Photography by John Prehn
TurboMed at work!  White things on my shoulders are sponges to my body cool.

The run started off well.  I had plenty of energy left, although I was missing Hot Shot, an anti cramping drink, and, as previously mentioned, my electrolyte tablets.  What the run course consisted of was the two laps around a golf course and a hot, barren road called Hell’s Kitchen.  As I began my second lap, I had muscle cramps in both of my calves.  I sure could use Hot Shot and electrolyte tablets!  I was on pace for a 6:45:00 ending time (my goal was to break under 7 hours) until the cramps hit.  I walked a good portion of the second lap and my run time was 2:36:00.  Darn!

In all, it was a challenging day to race for everyone.  I take my hat off the everyone who tried, finisher or not.  You all are winners!   I finished with the official time 7:13:45. I am happy with that considering all.

I couldn’t have done it without people who supported me every step along the way:

  • Bike Works Kona Hawaii
  • TurboMed Orthotics
  • Network Enterprises, Honolulu
  • Challenged Athlete Foundation
  • Rudy Project
  • S-Works (they upgraded me from Specialized when my bike needed warranty work)
  • My wife, kids, family, and friends
  • My faith in God who loves me no matter what
  • Health professionals including Kristina Roberts, ND and Larry Derbes, MD
  • So many people from the town of Kailua-Kona and Honolulu who cheered me on
  • My old coach, Rick Rubio, and team mates
  • Facebook friends who cheered me on
  • Honu specific: Kevin Lannen, physically challenged athlete volunteer; Bree Wee, volunteer cheerleader; Larry Derbes, volunteer; Tiffany Nakamura​, Ironman staff; Wil, Toni, and Greta Friesen, hospitality
  • And others!

It does take a village to raise of a triathlete from the ruins of stroke!

One final note: it is my passion (or craziness) to pursue triathlons.  You have a life affirming passion within you.  You might not even know it.  Before the stroke, triathlons didn’t even show up on my radar screen!  It all starts with exercise.  It might not end up in you doing anything athletic, but it starts with being healthy.  You are worth it.

Blessings,
Kevin Rhinehart

Stroke survivors CAN!!!

 

Honolulu Triathlon Recap

Honolulu Triathlon Recap

May 14, 2017.  I woke up in plenty of time, 0’Dark AM.  For a short time, I wanted to go back to sleep; the sheets were calling my name!  I resisted and got ready.  Breakfast, if you can it that, was liquid form, jogged a mile before leaving the condo, checked my gear, got in car the car and started to head out, had go back to the condo because I forgot the race number, and finally, I left at 4:45 AM.  I was planning to leave at 4…

I arrived there on time, but not enough time to warm up swimming.  Oh, well…  I kept on telling myself it was okay, that I made it, and I’m doing it for stroke survivors!  It also help that I ran across a fellow stroke survivor who was doing it.

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Swim Portion: I had purposed to take my swim nice and easy, and I did, and I recorded 30:22.  1500 meters along side other participants is, well, interesting.  Swimming is a non-contact sport, right?  Not when you’re in a triathlon!  Gratefully, nobody swam over me (I did, though… Sorry), but I did have put up with many arms and legs.

Transition One: This is where with I had throw off my speed suit covering up my tri suit, rinse my feet after running through sand, drink, and get on my bike.  An abysmal 6:26.

Bike Portion:  This one I was most curious about.  As you may already know, the bike portion is my weakest.  I kept a good pace without killing myself, I didn’t crash (and I didn’t have anyone crash into me), and I did 40 km in 1:14:55, a 20 mph average.  A noted improvement!

Transition Two: This is where I rack my bike, change of out biking shoes into my running shoes.  The brace keeps it slow for me, and that’s okay.  But I had trouble putting on my shoes.  6:09.

Run portion:  I kept telling myself a take it easy until the last half of the 10 km run, I am did that mostly.  I started with 11:35 for the first mile, 9 something for the next 4 miles, and 8:46 for the last mile.  Other that the first mile, I’m happy that.  58:43 was my run time.

So, I finished with 2:56:35, and I was glad because I set my time to break 3 hours, even though it was a flat course.  I got 463 place out of over 1300 participants, and 18/38 place for my division.  Clearly, I’m improving and I have room to grow!

Next Up:  Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (Honu), June 3.  This is a half Ironman consisting of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 run.  It will be tough because the hills on the bike ride, a half marathon, plus the heat.  I did it before, barely making the bike cut off time.  We’ll see!

As always,

Stroke Survivors CAN!