Jim Allen, an attorney at Stinson Leonard Street, always had it in the back of his mind that he wanted to do a marathon. It was a bucket list item and he realized it wouldn’t get any easier.
“I knew if I was going to do it, it had to be someplace special,” Jim explained.
A branch of his family is from Sweden, so when he discovered the Stockholm Marathon it felt right. He decided to take the leap from casual runner to training for a marathon.
Excitement Turns to Fear
He started training, but very quickly experienced pain in his left knee. He visited an orthopedic surgeon who reassured him his knees were in great shape and that physical therapy would provide the strength and flexibility he needed.
Jim did his homework, asking his company’s benefits department who they recommended and the resounding answer came back: ARC Physical Therapy+. Based on the positive feedback and the convenient North Kansas City location, he was sold.
“State of the Art” Clinic
At the initial evaluation, Jim met his physical therapist, Carmen Kowalski, who examined the history of his condition, conducted a physical exam, even looked at the wear pattern on his running shoes. Based on the evaluation, Carmen made a physical therapy diagnosis and tailored a treatment to help Jim meet his running goals.
Jim was immediately impressed,
“The clinic is like a health club; they have all the equipment you could want, it’s really nice, state of the art. At the first appointment, Carmen went above and beyond. She took plenty of time talking with me, even after our time had run over.”
At the time Jim wasn’t able to run any far distances without knee pain, so Carmen helped him create a plan that allowed him to add mileage at a healthy pace. It helped that she had done a marathon herself.
“We discussed training programs and I made recommendations on what program was right for him,” Carmen explained.
Success with Physical Therapy
At each subsequent appointment, they built on their training and before Jim left, Carmen recommended stretches and strength training exercises to do at home.
Carmen explained the importance of these at-home exercises,
“Our appointments are the stepping stones in his success story. It’s the at-home exercises that he can do for the rest of his life that will keep him on the right track.”
“I adopted those stretches and routines and still do them today. Something must have worked because I have no more knee pain,” said Jim.
After the 3rd appointment with Carmen and noticeable improvement in his knee, Jim made it official. He signed up for the Stockholm Marathon.
Completing a Bucket List Item
After several months of physical therapy, a commitment to the at-home exercises recommended to him, and countless miles of running, Jim boarded a plane to Sweden.
On June 3, 2017, Jim lined up with 16,736 other runners from around the world on a beautiful afternoon in Stockholm.
As he ran through the scenic streets, enthusiastic locals cheering him on in Swedish, he realized he couldn’t wipe the smile from his face.
“I was actually doing it and it felt great,” Jim said.
Jim completed his first marathon in 4:19:35 in the 1912 Olympic Stadium. The same stadium where Steve Prefontaine, one of Jim’s favorite runners, set a 2-mile American record and achieved his personal best time in 1974.
“It was so meaningful for me to achieve this. I couldn’t have done it without the support of others and Carmen was part of that. It made a difference that she took it personally, she showed she really cared.”
As for Carmen, it’s a privilege to help someone achieve a life long goal.
“It gets at the root of why we as therapists do what we do, to help people get back to that level of function and accomplish their goals,” she explained. “It’s the best part of the job and I’m honored to have helped Jim accomplish this huge feat.”