Jody Mitic, a native of Kitchener, Ontario, was a sniper for the Canadian Forces. After 10 years of service while on duty in Afghanistan in 2007, he stepped on a landmine and lost both his legs below the knee. After an extraordinary recovery, Jody is now fighting for causes like Alive to Strive, running 5 km races in support of charity. Many people may recognize him from the Amazing Race Canada, where he came in second place alongside his brother, Cory. Jody will be joining the 3 kg Challenge team as part of the Alive to Strive Race on April 27. Below, Jody gives us a glimpse into his life and the new challenges he has taken on since his accident.
I really surprised myself the other day.
I was invited by my friend, Curd to go to a “bench press seminar” at his gym Hostyle Conditioning in Orleans. Curd is an old-school powerlifter, and if you want to lift heavy weights he’s the man to see.
Now, I have been lifting weights since I was a little kid and used my dad’s dumbbells around the house. In high school, we had a class called “body shop” where we learned how to properly lift weights and get in really good shape. The benchmark exercise, so to speak, was of course the bench press.
Every two weeks we would all gather around the bench and see how much stronger each of us had gotten. It was fun and exciting and gave us bragging rights around school and of course with the ladies.
Those who lift weights know that when you go into most gyms one of the first things you will be asked is, “how much do you bench, bro?” Even if you don’t, I am sure you have heard this conversation among people who do. It seems to be the one thing body builders really use to measure and compare themselves to each other.
With 20 years of on again off again, but mostly off, body building, you would think I know how to bench press. And I do. My peak was 275 lbs in 2003 while on my first tour in Afghanistan. A few years later, I lost both my legs below the knees after stepping on a land mine and I have been busy with other things like kids and learning to walk again. But I still like to get on the bench press. Its familiar and I enjoy it, but I haven’t pushed myself.
So when I got on the bench with Curd, I didn’t expect much. His instruction was a good refresher and he gave me some new tips that really made a difference. As we got further into the seminar, I realized I was pushing well beyond 200 lbs, then 225 lbs, and then 245 lbs! With my confidence and ego feeling pretty good and with Curd’s encouragement, I decided to try for 255 lbs and did it! I didn’t expect to reach that much weight, but I didn’t let that stop me from trying.
All that to say, I think that running 5 km is similar in the running world. Walk into any Running Room clinic and the first thing someone will ask you is “What’s your 5 km time?” I always say “finish line.” Because when you challenge yourself to do something like a 5 km run, you shouldn’t worry about your time. Your goal should be to finish. Of course, the more you train and the more comfortable you are, the faster you are going to go. The faster you go, the more comfortable you will be and the more you will train! But it all starts with the decision to take on that first 5 km.
After I lost my legs in Afghanistan, one of the first things I wanted to do was try and run again. Mostly because it is what soldiers do to stay in shape. I was intimidated and nervous about running 5 km on carbon fibre feet. I used to run 5 km before breakfast and after work, and I was scared. But I did it with the support of comrades, family and the knowledge that once I step over the start line all I have to do is make it to the finish line. No one is going to play a trick and move it on me. No one wants me to fail. It is up to me, and no matter how long it takes me to cross the finish line, I will be successful at what I set out to achieve. Now, I run 5 km on my carbon fibre feet just to walk the dogs.
The Alive to Strive team is looking forward to having Jody as a member of the 3 kg Challenge team. With this race, Jody has taken on a new challenge—to help raise awareness of those living with kidney disease and provide them with the opportunity to live a healthy and active lifestyle. His extraordinary ability to persevere and determination to make a difference in the lives of those around him are truly inspirational.