When I joined my high school track team, I discovered my love of running and it has been an important part of my life ever since. During my time at Dartmouth College, I raced competitively on both track and cross country. After college, I continued competitive running with Reebok’s elite running group. At that time, one of my goals was to race in the Olympics. I actually qualified at the Olympic Trials for the 5000 meters on the track in 1996. While warming up for this race, however, I felt a stabbing pain in my lower back, but was able to get through the race and the final race, finishing in 6th place. The pain didn’t go away. In fact, two days later I was unable to walk upright. When I returned home after the trials, I visited a spine specialist where I learned I had a herniated disc at L5/S1, and subsequently had a lumbar discectomy in August of 1996 at 27 years of age. After this surgery, I was able to return to running and competing without pain! In fact, I went on to run all my fastest times just two years later in 1998. I did need two additional surgeries for my back; an anterior interbody fusion in 2003 and another lumbar discectomy in 2014, which were both successful and I was able to make a full recovery. Many people incorrectly believe that back surgery will leave you debilitated for a lifetime; when in fact, it is often the key to getting back to the life you love.