Your Story–Brad Anderson

Here is one of our 10 winning stories for a Moab half marathon entry. Definitely one to remember when the going gets rough. At some point, it gets tough for everyone, but only some people decide to fight back. Brad, even with some doubt and difficulties, you most certainly came out of the corner fighting!

I first remember wanting to be a runner on July 24, 1981. My dad was running the Deseret News Marathon. I was only 4 years old. When he came by us, we ran with him for a block or so. I remember thinking how much fun it was. Over the next few years we followed him the a few Canyonlands Half Marathon or 5 mile races. I remember thinking runners were so cool.
I ran my first race when I was in 3rd grade. It was a 400 meter race in Liberty, Utah. I was a little nervous when I lined up, giving a girl in a Pink Warm up suit the stink eye as I thought she was my competition. After the gun went off I took off “Hell bent for leather” for the finish line. After crossing the finish line in first place, needing to scrap bugs from my teeth I was hooked. I ran many 5k’s and 10K’s over the next several years, always winning my age group, which wasn’t always filled with too much competition back in the 80’s. I had a pretty strong ability for the sport, and I liked being known as a runner.
By High School I was still running. I took Region in the 2 mile that year and placed at State. I was good, but not amazing by any means. I took Region in XC and the mile my Sophomore year, but didn’t really get tons faster. But the winter of 1993-1994, my Junior year, I really dug into my running. I had a goal of taking state since I was a Freshman, and new I had to do some extra work to get there. I would run after basketball practice, which was tough since we started after the girls team, since we only had 1 gym at Dear old Morgan High. So I would head out in the dark and cold most nights. I even ran before our team played in the State Championship Title game in Cedar City, Utah. I liked Basketball, but I was a runner through and through.
All of my work paid off that track season as I went on the win the Mile, and 800 meter title and took 2nd (still a disappointment) and was named the 2A Track Athlete of the Year. My Dad was the track coach which made it extra special. In fact, our school didn’t really have a Cross Country team when I got into High School, so my Dad started one. He knew I loved to run, and so he helped me reach my goals.
I would read Runners World every night. My Dad had boxes of them. I would cut out pictures of my favorite runner’s. I idolized Ed Eyestone and Paul Pilkington. To me it was like seeing Elvis Presley running down the road when I would see them doing runs in Morgan. My Dad had a locker in the Weber State XC room and I would hear about all of the runners. I always imagined how cool it will be when I run for a college. But at this time I thought I loved to run because I was good at it. I thought I ran because I liked winning.
That summer I lived in Utah County, with my grandparents, to run with a track club. I got so much faster, and was logging some good miles. By the time Cross Country rolled around, I was fit, faster than ever, and ready to really tear things up. I had gained so much confidence, and felt I really had a handle on my running. I knew it was about time to really start looking for a college to run at, and things were looking great. But then one night after a High school Football game the first week of school I was a passenger in a one car rollover in Weber Canyon. The doctors were hoping my parents would make it to the hospital before I died. Things looked very bleak for the first few days. Doctors didn’t think I would come out of the coma. But things started to turn around.
I was moved to the U of U, where I came out of the coma. I didn’t quite understand the seriousness of the accident and thought I’d be out of the hospital in time for State XC. And I still planned on winning. Due to my injuries which were from a Traumatic Head Injury, I could not walk, move my left arm, eat or talk. But with the help of great therapists and Doctors I was on the road to recovery. My one goal was the run. I would ask my Physical Therapist every single day if I would be able to run again. Of course the answer was “I don’t know.” But I was determined to run again. I knew there was a chance I would never run again, but if that was how it was going to end out it would not be because I didn’t work hard to do it again. I gave it my all in PT. I had so much help from family, friends and the entire community of Morgan. I had many visits from a good friend, Ed Eyestone. Without the help from so many people it would have been nearly impossible.
I also credit running for helping in my recovery. I learned that hard work pays off. I remembered all of those dark winter nights after basketball practice. I remembered all of those morning runs before school. I learned how to work hard. I knew that it takes hard work to reach your goals. I ran my first step at State XC, when I was able to go watch it. My Physical Therapist was not happy with my 2 or 3 steps since she said I could have really hurt my since I still had little control in my left leg. But it didn’t matter to me…I ran.
When I got out of the Hospital and was doing Therapy at home, things had really sunk in. I was not as optimistic as I was when I was at the U. It was so exhausting for me to run even 25 meters. My balance was terrible, and my left leg was still so weak. I admit, for a while I didn’t know if I would ever run again. My gate was really different, and it was embarrassing for me. It was at this time that I started dating , my future wife, Amber. She would come to PT with me. By early Spring, I was thinking more seriously about running again. Of course, I wasn’t the lean, fit guy I once was. I would go down to the High School track late at night and try to run. I went at night so no one saw me doing it. My left leg was still weak, and my foot sometimes drag on the ground a little. There were several nights after going 200 meters I just got frustrated, kicked over the garbage cans and vowed to never run again. But then I would get home, look at all of the running pictures of elite athletes on my wall, the quotes,the posters, and soon I was determined to run again.
But still, I was embarrassed to have people see me run. But it was Amber who said: “If you want to run, then run. People aren’t looking at you thinking: ‘Look at how he runs.’ They’re thinking: ‘wow, he’s running again.” It was then that I decided that I was going to run again. I wasn’t going to worry about how I looked. I loved to run, and there wasn’t anything that was going to stop me from running again. I started running again, though not much. I was so out of shape, and it was still difficult with my left leg. But by Fall of 1996 I was running almost daily. And by that Spring I considered my self a runner again.
I love running. I love being known as a runner. I don’t care what I look like when I run. It doesn’t matter because I am running. It’s obvious that I was hurt some how. I often get asked in races if I hurt my leg. At first I say” No”, wondering what they are talking about, but then I realize I look like I am hurt. Still to this day I ran nearly everyday. I race as often as possible. I don’t run to win, but I do run to run as fast as I can. I realized that is always why I ran. It wasn’t about winning like I thought. It was about hitting the roads and running as hard as I could. I still train like I am actually fast, and I still strive for PR’s. I do not Jog..I run…even though it can look a bit awkward. Sure there are times I am self conscience about it, but I get over it. I consider myself a true runner. I know I can’t always run my fastest, but I can always run my hardest.
I coached Track at XC at Morgan High School for several years. I was lucky enough to coach future Olympian, and my current sister-in-law Lindsey Anderson for 4 years. Now I help out at Davis High School with their XC team. There are still days I don’t feel like running, but all I need to do is ask myself: “If you lost the ability to run tomorrow will you regret not running today?” And the answer is always “Yes”.

Brad Anderson

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