Life Throws Curveballs…Even to Ironmen

Post by Rodney Jenkins. Rodney is a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a Business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School System. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette and his graduate degree from N.C. State. He lives in Raleigh with his new bride, Angie. In his free time, Rodney enjoys traveling, hiking and outdoor photography.

Life, as they say, is full of challenges. In 2000 (at age 43) I got a doozie called Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Imagine having the ability to work a full time job, run, hike, cycle, etc. pain free then have it taken away from you and replaced with joint pain all over your body. Add in some days when you have to walk with a cane. That was my world. For almost a year, my Rheumatologist tried every available medication and nothing worked for me. One day, he mentioned a new injectable medication and after a year of severe joint pain, I was willing to try anything…even a needle (I hate shots). So we tried it. And for me, it was the magic bullet. I started running again. It was difficult at first but things got better. A year later I ran my first marathon and I was hooked on the marathon distance. My doctor has often told me that my results are not typical. But for me, the results have been phenomenal.

My medication is keeping my RA in check. I see the Rheumatologist twice a year. To date, I have completed 26 marathons, including a 50k ultramarathon (31.1 miles). In 2009, I wanted a new challenge – a triathlon. So, in 2010, my then girlfriend and I competed in my first triathlon and I was hooked. In 2011, we competed in two half-iron distance triathlons, but wanted more. So, early this year we signed up for the Beach to Battleship (B2B) 140.6 ironman distance triathlon in Wilmington.

Before tackling B2B, we decided to register for shorter distance races to get ready. On April 5th, 2 days before the Cary duathlon, I was working out with my wife at Rex Wellness in Garner. I had a stiff neck, so my plan was to go easy. During a decline push-up, I had a very sharp pain shoot down my neck and through my arm. My arms were tingling and my finger tips were numb. I tried to swim but couldn’t lift my arm. I tried to bike but couldn’t grip my handlebars. The next day, I called my doctor. Eventually an MRI would confirm a pinched nerve. Recovery included physical rehabilitation at Rex (thanks Jennifer!), lots of medication and completely changing my training routine. I had to rest and heal. And as you’ve probably guessed, that’s not easy for me to do. As a fitness instructor at Rex Wellness in Garner, I often advise our members to be patient with injuries. Now I must take my own advice. I’ve modified my training so I can heal, but I haven’t given up. I might skip the swimming leg of the race for now, but I will still race.

  • JACKIE DUNCAN

    THANK YOU RODNEY FOR SHARING THIS STORY WITH US, YOU ARE SUCH AN INSPIRATION TO ME!!! WAY TO GO MY FRIEND, ALWAYS JACKIE DUNCAN

  • You are my hero great inspiration thanks for sharing,
    Pam Price