Feeling Like an Athlete Again
Dave Odalen survived a stroke in April 2011, but that didn’t stop him from running the Medtronic TC 1 Mile a year later and then surprising himself with a swift run at last October’s Medtronic TC 10 Mile.
Odalen’s stroke came from an unlikely cause: he was struck by ball while picking up his son from baseball practice. The web application developer still doesn’t know if the ball was thrown or batted, but the blunt force trauma dissected his carotid artery, causing blood clotting that ultimately led to his stroke.
“I awoke unable to speak and the entire right side of my body paralyzed,” Odalen (pictured) told us. “I was taken by ambulance to United Hospital in St. Paul. The surgeon performed an emergency thrombectomy to remove the clot.”
Over the next few days in the ICU, the Mendota Heights resident made a good recovery. He was able to walk out of the hospital without help. At his first appointment with a rehab physician, however, the doctor said she expected him to be in a wheelchair because of the damage done by the stroke.
“Over the next few months I continued to recover my physical strength,” Odalen remembered. “Late in 2011 I decided to run in my first race, the 2012 Medtronic TC 1 Mile race. It really does begin with the first mile.”
Slightly more than a year after his stroke, Odalen ran the mile down Nicollet Mall in 6:42.
“My hope was to be one of the finishers who gain entry into the 10 mile race,” he said. I was not selected so I applied for entry through the lottery, and I was selected!”
Odalen followed a 10-week training schedule for the Medtronic TC 10 Mile, in hopes of running 10-minute miles for the Shortcut to the Capitol®. Half-way into his training, the 46-year-old amended his goal to 9:30 miles.
“The morning of the race was cold,” he recalled. “I started at the back of the pack in the last corral to leave. By the first mile I was warm and began to find my stride. The race was incredible! I was so pumped up by running with the crowd and seeing all of the spectators cheering on the runners.
“My family was at the half-way mark to cheer me on,” Odalen continued. “The finish line came too soon. I could have kept running. I finished at 1:24:57. That is an 8:30 minute mile pace. I surprised myself with that time!”
“The finish line came too soon. I could have kept running."
The fantastic finish sounds like it’s just the start for Odalen.
“I’m going to run again this year,” he told us. “I’m starting with the 1 Mile again with hopes of getting into the 10 Mile. If I don’t get into the 10 Mile, I might try a half marathon.”
Odalen still finds himself on the road to recovery from his stroke. The most noticeable symptom is fatigue, he said, but running is having a positive impact on his rehabilitation.
“I’m still not 100% recovered from the stroke,” he acknowledged. “My memory is not what is used to be. My handwriting is hard to read. But running has made me feel like an athlete again!”