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“Deafness Does Not Hold Me Back or To Think I Have Limits”- I. King Jordan

“Deafness Does Not Hold Me Back or To Think I Have Limits”.- I. King Jordan.

The Blog “Health and Fitness” is to motivate you to act and influence others. According to Optimum Health Solutions, there is a difference between health and fitness, as stated below.

 The World Health Organization has defined health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It includes aging well, longevity, quality of life, freedom from pain, etc.

  • Fitness involves activity of some sort that stimulates various systems of the body and maintains a certain condition within the body.
  • Health involves every system of the body and is only achieved through a lifestyle that supports health.

 

It is our intent to encourage you to maintain a balance.

The reality is we all face unique challenges, or you might refer to them as barriers to performance. No matter what term you use, some are visible and some are not. The important thing is how to overcome and stay moving forward. There are mental and physical challenges we all face.

 

I want to introduce I. King Jordan, who some of you may not know.

 

At the conclusion, it will impress you. Jordan is better known as the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C. in 1988 until 2006. The university was founded in 1864.

Jordan held positions as professor, department chair, and dean. Jordan had an outstanding academic career.

At an early age, King joined the military.

I joined the Navy after high school because I was not an excellent student. I could have been a good student, but I seriously neglected my studies in school and when I graduated from high school, I was not ready to think about post-secondary education. So, enlisting in the Navy seemed like an excellent decision and, in retrospect, it surely was.

 

I was a Navy Yoeman, a clerk/typist. Another excellent decision, since it got me assigned to the Pentagon.”

King’s military career ended when he faced the biggest challenge of dealing with sudden deafness after a motorcycle accident while serving in the Navy at age 21.

 

“I experienced a terrible accident that resulted in hospitalization for about a year. However, most of the hospitalization period was because of the Navy’s lack of knowledge on how to handle a deaf sailor.”

There were changes which took place after 1998 and King recounts,

In college I originally majored in Biology but a mentor in the Psychology Department influenced me positively and I ended up earning a BA, MA, and PhD in Psychology. After the PhD, I took a faculty job at Gallaudet University and very much enjoyed teaching.”

King continues,

I had applied to the presidency at Gallaudet and the short story is that after a weeklong “revolution” on campus and in the deaf community across the country, they appointed me the first deaf president.

 

This happened at the same time as the US Congress was considering the Americans with Disabilities Act and sponsors of that legislation drafted me into a leadership role lobbying for its passage. Suddenly, I became a spokesperson for the rights and abilities of all people with disabilities. I ended up traveling and speaking across the country and literally around the world. It was a fantastic experience!”

King’s future was changing one step at a time.

As a faculty person at Gallaudet, I played basketball at lunch time with several colleagues. We called it the Noontime Basketball Association. You may have heard of the NBA.

 

We were competitive (but friendly) and one day I severely sprained an ankle. I worked hard to rehabilitate that ankle, and one thing I did was to jog slowly around the track. A woman PE professor would jog with me from time to time and we struck up a friendship and decided that running would be a lot more rewarding than basketball and we could do it at anytime and anywhere.”

The “running bug” got ahold of King.

 

king

I. King Jordan

We began joining races as a team, and it was a fantastic experience. We raised the mileage in the races we took part in and eventually registered for the Marine Corps Marathon in (I believe) 1997.

We ran the entire 26.2 miles together and crossed the finish line, holding hands up over our heads.   I still have a great photo of that finish,” and he adds, “We did several other marathons together, but the Marine Corps race became my favorite and I met and became good friends with others who would run it each year.”

As the distances extended, and the challenges increased, King observed that the road was getting longer. As he explains,

 

One year I met a man who had run several JFK 50 Mile races, and he suggested I give that distance a try. I thought I would freeze to death the first time I ran it. It was cold and snowing off and on and very windy. This was before they had good aid stations on the course, so the last 8 miles were especially difficult because I was seriously dehydrated and lacking any good nutrition.

 

At about mile 45, my wife gave me a can of coke and it really gave me enough of a sugar rush that I could finish.”

He made the decision to double the stress of a 50-mile race.

After that first ultra, I was hooked and tried a 100 miler. I do not know why I chose Leadville (The Race Across the Sky) as my first 100 because it starts in the city of Leadville, Colorado, at an elevation of 10,200 feet and goes up! It was a very tough run, but I finished in under 30 hours (their cutoff) and was hooked.

 

I have since finished 11 Leadville Trail 100s and 27 other 100 milers. It is so very different running an ultra than running a marathon for a middle of the pack runner like me, but each time I finished there was such a rush and so much pride.”  

For King, what started with the NBA progressed so much more.

“Running really has defined who I am. When I see people who I have not seen for some time, their first question is “are you still running?” I recently attended a conference in Austin, Texas and honestly, far and away, most of the conversations I had with others had to do with running.”

 

Through the years, King faced all obstacles by being consistent, insistent, and persistent.

This year he faced a situation and how to manage it.

“This year (2023) I started the Marine Marathon knowing that I was not prepared to finish, and I made plans for where I could leave the course and head home. I did not realize how early I would want to leave the course! Between mile five and six, the course leaves K Street and turns on to Beach Drive.

 

It goes north on Beach Drive for a couple of miles and then back to where it began. I was already about 15 minutes slower than I would have to be to finish before the cutoff and I knew I would not be getting any faster as the miles continued, so I left the course there.

 

It was very difficult for me to do that. I have finished the MCM 39 times and would really like to finish a nice, round 40. Not this year. But I was less disappointed this year than last.”  

In the sport of running, it is easy to “zone out” and to have a loss of focus on where you are because you run a course so many times. It takes a few minutes to realize a mistake as King can attest,

“Last year (2022) just beyond mile 17 I missed the turn down 15th Street and continued straight to 14th. When I realized my mistake, I tried to go back to the course and a DC police officer grabbed me by the arm and told me I could not go back.

 

I tried to explain to him I still had time to continue on the course and make the cutoff, but he became very firm (as did his grip on my arm) and said I had to turn on 14th street and go across the bridge. A sweaty, tired runner does not argue with an armed, determined police officer.

 

So, I turned on to 14th Street and continued to the finish, but I knew that I had skipped mile 17 to 19 and would not have an official finish. That still bothers me. A lot.”

King adds,

“My friend’s kid about “the T word” when we are preparing for a marathon. T meaning training. We know that in order to run a marathon in a decent time, even middle of the pack runners must train. In the past, I routinely ran marathons in 3 hours and change, but now I struggle to reach the finish before a seven-hour cutoff.

I still run almost every day and I enjoy running, but I am just not fast enough to run the way I want. When people ask me if I am still running, I always say yes, but not as far or as fast. As they say, getting old ain’t for sissies.”

 

At the end of a race, King returns to the start line of another.

 

“Finishing a race in a decent time while still feeling good brings a smile to my face. It can be a 10K, a 10 miler, a marathon or an ultramarathon. Any distance when I finish and feel good makes me happy!

 

I am thinking right now about the finish line at the Leadville Trail 100. Merilee Maupin, one founder of the race, is always at the finish line and she makes a point of hugging each finisher. It is really a great feeling!”

In closing, King adds,

“I want the reader to know about King Jordan. I became deaf because of an accident in April 1965. So, I have been deaf far longer than I could hear, but I have not let deafness hold me back or allow me to think I have limits on what I can achieve.

 

I have run nearly 300 marathons, including one marathon a month for five years. That string ended after my wife, and I added up the expenses to travel every month 😊. I like to think that I used to be a pretty good runner, but realize that my running today is not really running. It is a more slow jog than a real run.”

As stated earlier, the King is consistent, insistent, and persistent and shows no fear of the start line. The time does not matter as much as the effort. The desire remains, and there are many miles left to run.

All hail to “The King.”

 



Author

  • George Banker

    George Banker was the Operations Manager for the Army Ten-Miler (US Army / MDW), one of the largest 10-mile road race in the United States. From 2003 through 2023, his responsibilities included the operational planning, logistics, community outreach, design of the course, volunteer recruitment, and support to medical and police jurisdictions. Prior to joining the Army Ten-Miler, he worked 25 years at IBM serving in administration and management within the federal marketing environment in Bethesda, Maryland. He is retired from the U.S. Air Force (enlisted grade Technical Sergeant), where his experience included ground refueling supervisor and cryogenic fluids production supervisor. He received 14 military decorations including the Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (1969-1989). Since 1983, he has worked as a freelance photographer and journalist, contributor for the Runner’s Gazette, and He is the author of “The Marine Corps Marathon: A Running Tradition”. He is an avid runner, with 136 marathons completed.

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