Meet Randy Woodward, our December interviewee. As a disabled veteran, Randy didn’t let injury and pain stop him. After many months of rehab, Randy was able to get back into the running game and take back his health, all while spreading his love for his country.
AfterShokz: WOW — 12 marathons in six consecutive weekends- tell us about that!
Randy: It started as a goal to complete two full marathons, back-to-back, in one weekend. I quickly found myself in a rush to find marathons within driving distance to fill in the weekends. Before I knew it, I filled in every Saturday and Sunday for five consecutive weekends. Once the ten marathons were complete, it was time for healing and a feast. Then, I thought “If I can do ten marathons, I wonder if I can add two more Thanksgiving weekend?” Before I knew it, I completed two more marathons, making it 12 marathons in six consecutive weekends (37 days).
AfterShokz: Tell us about your journey from a disabled vet to accomplished marathon runner.
Randy: I’m just blessed being able to cross the finish line no matter what the time. I had been a distance runner since high school cross country, but I was never a marathoner. After being hospitalized for nine months due to a roadside bomb in Iraq (2005), I was told I would never be able to run again. With knee damage, lower and mid back damage, neck damage, shoulder damage, and a 13-year-old non-stop migraine from traumatic brain injury, the idea of running seemed painful. Sitting on the couch with constant pains and feeling restless was also disheartening. I decided to try some light, low mileage jogging and after a few days, I increased the mileage. I found that the body pains I experienced were going to be present no matter whether I ran or not. It’s tough to give up something you really enjoy doing. Over the last decade or so I’ve tried to run at least one, sometimes two full marathons a year.
AfterShokz: What is the significance of running with a flag?
Randy: Patriotism. Inspiring other runners and vets. I don't want to get into politics here, but there is too much divide in America. I would think to see a Purple Heart-decorated combat wounded vet, carrying an 8ft x 5ft American flag, all while attempting to complete 26.2 miles would make some people forget about all the unrest around us and remember what it is to be American, patriotic, and proud of who we are and where we are. We have to be humble, respectful, grateful, thankful.
AfterShokz: How long have you been running with a flag and what are the added challenges of running a marathon with a flag?
Randy: These past 12 marathons in six back-to-back weekends were the first time I carried a flag running a full marathon. After running my first marathon in Kansas City and experiencing terrible collar-bone pain, I put together a makeshift flagpole holster and affixed it to the back brace I use while running. Although it helped, running with an eight-foot flag on an eight-foot flagpole is relentless. Ninety percent of the time there is a breeze. The faster the mile pace, the more resistance there is. Headwind is a lot of work, the tailwind is even more work, and no wind is the roughest of all. I’ve had fast walkers moving up hills faster than I could slow jog while pushing the flag in a breeze. Running 26.2 miles at a time only being able to swing one arm wears on the body. It affects your speed, proper body motion, ability to climb hills. It has been quite a challenge.
AfterShokz: Was there ever point over the six weekends when you didn’t think you’d be able to complete all 12 marathons?
Randy: No. Not one single time! I didn’t allow myself to think about failure. One way or another I was going to complete every marathon that I signed up to run, even if it meant having to walk during parts. Although slow, I finished all of the marathons running or slow jogging.
AfterShokz: What was your training like leading up to and during these 12 marathons?
Randy: Very minimal. I had just started jogging and decided to run a half marathon. Including the half, I had a total of six days of training before starting my “last minute, thrown together” 12 marathon endeavor. Before that, I had not run in six months. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment!
AfterShokz: What are your future marathon goals?
Randy: I hope to continue participating in at least one marathon a year. I have quite a few friends that have never completed a full marathon. I’ve promised them I’ll help train them, and I'll run a full marathon with them to help guide them on their journey.
AfterShokz: What do you love about your AfterShokz?
Randy: Where to start? I deal with constant headaches, and I didn’t think I’d be able to ever wear any headphone without making my headaches worse. I sometimes wear hearing aids, and AfterShokz headphones have worked fantastically; they don’t add or intensify the tinnitus. They sound great while running and they give me the ability to converse with others without yelling. They’re incredibly comfortable; the battery life outlasts my Bluetooth music watch, and they're quick charging. If I’m carrying a phone, the incoming call sounds better than the phone itself. The list goes on and on! What’s not to love?