#SpartanTransformations: Transformation Stories from the OCR Community
I met my husband, Greg, in February of 2011. We hit it off immediately and were married that June. At the time, we didn’t realize what a roller coaster of a life we would have together. When we met each other, he was injured and having trouble walking due to a 40-foot fall out of a helicopter he experienced in the military. We became pregnant that August and we were so excited. We figured everything would be perfect despite the fact that he was now in a wheelchair, struggling to walk only 10 feet. Despite that setback, we were committed to being great parents.
In January of 2012, my husband underwent his first back surgery and as a result – he could finally walk again! Sadly, our happiness was short-lived because in February, at 28 weeks pregnant, I ruptured and was told by many doctors that our son would not make it. Our son measured underweight at less than 16 ounces, and the doctors were certain I would give birth before he was ready. However, my little boy fought hard, and I had to stay in the hospital until I gave birth. To pass the time, I decided to research things I could do after everything was said and done to help get me to the world of being active. Through my research I found Obstacle Course Races (OCRs)! My husband loved the idea and he wanted to do them too! My son and I defied all odds, and I was able to stay pregnant until week 34. I gave birth to my son, Ruahan, who is now three years old. He had to have two surgeries while in the NICU, but thankfully, he was relatively healthy. I was so excited to bring him home, and shortly thereafter I signed up for my first OCR that was near my area. Even though the race was months away, I was ready to work hard and get back into shape.
Just when everything looked to be improving, life threw us another curve-ball. Sadly, just five months later my son ended up needing another surgery. It was getting close to the race, but I was worried about my son. My husband, on the other hand, was worried about me. I experienced terrible headaches to the point I went blind for periods of time. Other times, I could barely function. I thought it was normal motherhood kicking my butt, but my husband knew better. He forced me to talk to the neurosurgeon who performed his back surgery. The neurosurgeon looked at old MRI’s I had from a time when I had been diagnosed with a cyst in my brain. This time they discovered I had a brain tumor, and they thought it might be cancer. My world stopped – I needed surgery, and fast.
In December 2011, I had my first brain surgery which removed a tumor out of the pineal gland, which is in the center of the brain – not many surgeons will even perform the operation. I survived. The tumor was gone and I figured my family would be healthy again. Between taking care of my son and my husband fighting for the military, Greg was honorably discharged. Unfortunately that hope was short-lived.
In the fall of 2013, my son underwent another surgery, and I was to follow suit shortly after. The metal from my first brain operation to keep my skull together was causing an allergic reaction and had to be removed in November of 2013. When it rains it pours, and to add to our struggles my husband threw out his back by picking up our son on Christmas Day. The injury put him immediately back to having issues walking. Greg used forearm crutches because he refused to be back in a wheelchair. At this moment, I remembered being in the hospital when my son was born – trying not to think of the possibility of him dying before I had the chance to hold him. I had to keep my emotions together and show the same strength once again, so I got back to to the gym and started working out.
That Summer of 2014 I did a 15K OCR, that’s right, 15K. I completed it and even though I was tired, Greg saw what I did and wanted to do it, too. We got together with an amazing group of runners and my husband signed up for an upcoming OCR in October. I actually ran the Spartan Beast the day before an OCR in South Carolina! I completed the Beast and was so proud of myself. The next day my husband and I completed an OCR together; he crutched himself the entire way. That night he asked me a question, “What does it take to get the Trifecta for Spartan?” I told him. His response was simple: “Let’s do it!”
This past March we both completed the Spartan Sprint in Atlanta. Not only did Greg love the race, he loved the people as well. We volunteered so we could afford to do the race, and it was so worth it. We met so many people from Spartan, and now we plan to volunteer at any Reebok Spartan Race we can. Not just for the race entry, but also so we can help spread the joy.
My son was able to complete the kids race, and that weekend I feel that our family of warriors completed something that leaves me speechless. We raced together – as a family. I cannot wait until the Super this year in Atlanta! I wanted to thank you guys for everything. Shit happens, sometimes more to some than others, but the defining moment is what you do to conquer all of the difficult situations in life. The OCR community has truly taught us this, and we are so happy to be a part of it.
– Stephanie, Greg, & Ruahan Bullock