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THE COMEBACK - MY STORY
Hello, I am Ray Beaufait a 73 year old senior athlete. Why do I put myself through the pain, disappointments, humiliation and effort to compete at my age after a serious illness?
Well, about two years ago I come down with a mysterious illness and almost died after a month in the hospitals, Arrowhead and Mayo Clinic. I lost 70 pounds in one month and all muscle mass. After leaving Mayo Clinic I spent two weeks in rehab as I could not do any basic home functions. I could not lift 10 pounds. It took me a year of working out and lifting weights to get back to anywhere near normal.
After recovery and realizing I had beat death, this time anyway, I started thinking about what I wanted most in my remaining years. What did I enjoy doing most in my life? I realized it was sports and competing to win with my teammates and friends. All my adult life up to the age of 43 I competed in softball and basketball, ran a few 5K's and took up golf at age 47. I enjoyed the successes and the failures of each competition. Overall I had more successes and realized the failures were just part of competing.
As I senior I also realized it is not the winning or losing that counts but just being able to compete. It is the day to day journey (goal) rather than the end result that counts most.
In June of 2015 I competed in the US Senior long drive championships. I did not do very well but at least I was competing again.
In July of 2015 I joined a senior softball team in Louisville Ky. I thank manager Jay Paxton for allowing me to join the team late into the season. I started off slow, played 1st base and hit well. My running was suspect as my legs had not yet fully recovered. By the end of the season I was a very good hitter and I could tell I was recovering. I was on my way to recovery and gaining my strength back.
I continued to work out through the fall of 2015 and the winter of 2016. I spend my fall and winters in Arizona. I worked out most every day doing some type of exercise. I lifted weights at Anytime Fitness and joined the Dbat Baseball and Softball Academy. I hit balls twice a week and lifted weights about three times a week.
I realized that to play any sport well you have to have legs. To be able to run well. I added sprints to my workout. My legs have always hurt since my illness but I usually just push through the pain. Hurt like hell but I just pushed it hoping some day my legs would become so conditioned I would not have pain. My main problem with my legs are my knees.
I went to Arrowhead health Clinic and had xrays of my knees. They sent me to an orthopedic who determined I have osteoarthritis in my joints. They gave me rooster shots in my right knee and created a brace for me to wear while running or working out. The shots and brace helped my right knee and I continued to run my sprints when my legs allowed me to do so.
In May 2015 we returned to Indiana and I joined my new senior softball team in the Louisville Metro Senior League. My new Manager was Harry Trainer who started me at 1st base. He hit me at the beginning of the batting order and eventually in clean up. As the season continued Harry asked me to play outfield as we had a good hitting 1st baseman who could not run as well as I could. I reluctantly agreed as I was not use to playing outfield. After playing a few games in the outfield I began enjoying the challenge and realized I could still judge fly balls and actually played very well in the outfield making some very good fielding plays and no errors.. We had a very good team and won most of our games.
One of the players on our team, Dave Garmon, ask me to play on his Softball team the Kentuckiana Seniors Traveling Team. I began playing for his team also. They eventually won the World's in Alabama but I was not with them. I will explain why later.
Besides playing softball during the summer I decided I was going to train to become a Senior Olympic sprinter. I am going to compete in the senior games. In May 2016 I decided to hire a track coach to help me gain speed and strength in my legs. I hired John Blackwell (Videos) to train me for an upcoming event in September 2016. Hiring John would not only help my legs but would also help my participating in other sports such as softball and Long Drive Golf. I worked with John 3 day a week for 3 months. I trained for the 50 meter, 100 meter and 200 meter dashes (see videos).
When I started training with John my 100 meter dash was about 19 seconds. John and I got my times to around 16 seconds or less which would make me competitive in my age group. I also started hitting golf balls with Senior World Long Drive Champion Steve Griffith (See Steve's Site in Menu) once a week to prepare for the USSLDC in St. Louis, Mo..
September 2016 was going to be a busy month for me as I had the track meet (Kentucky Senior Games), the Softball Worlds (Huntsville, Alabama) and and US Senior Long Drive Championship (St Charles, Mo) all scheduled during the month.
I competed in USSLD Championships in the 65+ and 70+ divisions. I hurt my left shoulder and the best I could manage was 269 yards. The shoulder injury also was going to affect my softball swing. I did play softball through the pain and with determination did hit well but with pain.
I continued training for the sprints which was a week after the USSLDC. The track meet was on a Sunday and my last workout was on the Thursday morning before. Thursday night I has a spasm in my right knee that irritated my sciatic nerve causing the worst pain you can imagine. I could put no weight on my right leg. I had to call coach John and the Kentucky State Games and cancel my entry into the meet.
Not only did the knee injury not allow me to compete in the State Senior Games, my knee and shoulder injuries also would not allow me to play in the World's softball tournament the week after. My teammates won the 70+ ISSA Worlds's championship in Alabama. I was happy for them but I was rather depressed of course for not being able to play. Hopefully there will be other track meets and softball tournaments in the future for me.
I had a MRI on my knee and shoulder and made an appointment with an Orthopedic in Jeffersonville, IN. He stated the knee and shoulder will heal in time and gave me a cortisone shot in each. A week later my wife, dog and I headed to Arizona. I started working out and running slowly in AZ. I added running sprints in a pool to my work out routine, I also went back to the softball academy and began hitting balls again. I also had a brace made for my left knee. My workout routine is now 3 days at LA Fitness and 2 days a week at the Dbat softball academy and running sprints.
During the 2016 holidays I developed a case of shingles. I believe it occured because of over-training. I have been known to overtrain before. Hopefully I will be able to start training again the first of the year. There is a Track and Field event in Febuary (Arizona Senior Olympics) I would like to compete in.
I started training for the meet the first week of Jan 2017 for the Feb AZ State Games. John (My Track Coach) has sent me a training schedule to follow. You can view the schedule and my progress in the comments below and videos I upload..
(To be continued) Click Here to read more about My Comeback
I created this web site for my memories, resources and to encourage other seniors to get back into the game. You can start back at any age.
Senior Athletic Training
You can pause and view videos Full Screen
Need a coach? Contact John at (216)534-0606
I knocked off 3 seconds on my 100 meter speed since working with John.
See Swing Speed Radar #7 in the Menu at left. I use SSR to improve my golf club speed and softball bat speed.
Television interview on reaching World Long Drive Finals
Steve Griffith is a senior long drive champion and my coach and friend. Check out our book on Amazon #6 in Menu.
Usain Bolt Slow Motion