I am a happy runner. Running is my comfort zone. It has been for three years now. For three years I have run aimlessly without any specific goal race. I never really thought about running Boston. Hell, you have to be a wicked fast runnah to even qualify to run in the Boston Marathon and wicked fast I'm not. So, I just adopted the position that I'd find that pace I could run forever and run really long races. I get up every morning, put on a pair of shorts and a pair of shoes, and I just run whatever feels right that day. Some days a 9 minute mile for a 10K, other days I just lay back and run an easy 10:30 or 11:00 for miles, and yet other days I'll try to bust a 5K PR. But my running has always been a day to day whatever strikes my fancy that day.
And then Meb won Boston. At 38 years old, Meb - an American won Boston. What? Against all odds and with not a single soul expecting him to place even top 5, Meb wins Boston. Oooohhh... I want to run Boston. I want to qualify to run Boston. But. I can't run that fast. That's not my run happy place. When I try to run fast I seem to hurt myself. But, I want.to.qualify.for.and.run.Boston. I can run back to back marathons. I can run 50K's. I'm sure I can run a 50 and one day a hundred. But. I want to run Boston.
"Your comfort zone is not a place that you want to remain in. Dare, discover, be all that you can be." Catherine Pulsifer
To this end I've sought out and hired a coach to help turn my run happy ad hoc training into a disciplined training plan with speed work and strength work that builds this week upon last week's work. My coach is Jennifer Kimble, a coach with RunOn! and an accomplished runner and very motivational and inspiring person. Her job is simply to push me out my run happy comfort zone, show me how to run harder and faster, and keep me focused until one day, hopefully very soon, I break a 3:30 marathon and earn my ticket to Boston. And if anyone can do this, I'm sure Jennifer is that person. Because I'll do the work.
Yes. To be a wicked fast runnah. To dare, discover, be all that I can be.
Fellow RunJunkEes™ Sponsored Athlete Megan Caton posted an amazing blog today, which can and should be read here, in which she talks about the struggle she faces some days to get out the door and just run. In that blog she challenged, the people who are out there running for what seems like forever, "to tell us, the ones who are in park or idling in neutral, is there ANYTHING that will help us to find our drive? Is there anything that we
can do to hijack our lives back and push us forward? Are there tricks we can do to help us along? "
As a RunJunkEes™ Sponsored Athlete I promised, after reading the article, to answer the challenge.
As many of you know I began running on June 27th, 2011 - not that long ago really and in less than 3 years have completed 20 half marathons, 10 marathons, and 2 ultra (50K) marathons. I have run many training runs of 16, 18, and 20 miles and even run 34 miles in a day around around a 3.1 mile loop. I love to run. I love chasing the elusive runner's high, which should never be confused with the simple endorphin rush that we experience when exercising, day in and day out. I would rather be running than working out in the gym, spinning, or road cycling. Yet, there are those days, when I get up, get dressed, and then doink about the house trying to just get out of the house to push the start button on the Garmin. But, much more often than not, the button is pushed, the feet move, and 6 or 7 miles later I've completed the run I dreaded and I feel amazing for doing so. What drives me each and every time?
I hate to let myself down. I can, quite honestly, handle rejection from others but then that's not even likely to happen as runners are all incredibly supportive and rather than tearing another down for being unmotivated seek to help that person find his motivation while offering virtual hugs. I know, that whether or not I run, my wife and children will love me. I know that I can raise money for the causes important to me without ever running again. I know that if I never post another run to DailyMile or Facebook that it will matter very little to anyone. Except me. And I hate to let myself down.
Don't get me wrong, there are days I'm just too tired and I've learned to listen to my body and rest those days. But on those days where physically I am capable but mentally blocking I tell myself: Six miles. For you. Nobody but you. Remember how amazing you felt yesterday? Half mile of suck, 4 or 5 minutes, less time than you've spent arguing with yourself over it. And I'm out the door, the Garmin button is pushed, and every single time a half mile or less of suck later I'm feeling it... and the miles roll by... and I feel amazing. And I commit that feeling to memory, intentionally commit that feeling to memory, for the next time I need to to get myself out the door.
Sounds simple, right? Not always, but for me it has always worked. I hate to let myself down because I am worth much more than that to me. Most days I run to train to run races to raise funds and awareness for people with blood cancers, but there are those days I need to run for nobody else but me. Because to quote an amazing friend, Michelle Tomlinson, I Am Worth It. And so are you.
I was at the mall shopping for a new pair of shoes for my son Paul and the salesman said he really liked my shirt. I was wearing my "Bright As The Sun Orange" RunJunkEes shirt that says "The Journey is the Reward" on the back. He said he always spends so much time worrying about the end result, of whatever it is he's trying to accomplish, that he misses the fun of getting there. I told him that I am a RunJunkEe, an avid runner, and that for every finish line I have ever crossed and every medal ever hung around my neck the real rewards had always been found in the training leading up to that moment. The money raised for the cause, the friends met along the way, the stories learned of others and their reason for being there, and the many moments of zen and clarity found while running - the rewards were always received long before hitting the finish line timing mat. And he said "And so it shall be with life. I will look for the rewards on my journey." I bought Paul a nice new pair of Vans and we left the store.
The Journey is the Reward is by far my favorite mantra for this thing I do called running. Everything about my life has been enriched by running. I am fitter and healthier than ever before in life. I find myself surrounded by amazing people weekly at social runs, while training with TEAM in Training, and at races. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with positive and uplifting people daily. I've learned to Embrace My Joy on a daily basis. It is pretty amazing how this journey has rewarded me on an almost daily basis. Believe me, if this weren't true, I would've never run more than that first half marathon I set out to accomplish to raise money in memory of my nephew Mavrick.
Today I received an email from Dan Woods asking me if I'd consider being a RunJunkEes™ sponsored athlete to represent the RunJunkEes and running through his brand and website.
I couldn't have said YES fast enough. We are not RunJunkIes. We are RunJunkEes. The E representing EVERYONE. RunJunkEes are inclusive of all who run and it simply does not matter how long you've been running, how fast you run, or how long you can run. If you run we welcome you to our RunJunkEe world. The very fact that Dan selected me as a RunJunkEes™ sponsored athlete, a guy who's been running less than 3 years with a PR of 4:38 for a full, is more than enough evidence to his attitude towards RunJunkEes and running as a whole. I am not an elite. Not even close. I'm just a guy who decided in June of 2011 after losing his nephew Mavrick to blood cancer to run a half marathon and raise a couple of thousand dollars to benefit leukemia research and along the way, that first "season", training fell totally head over heels in love with running.
I love what running has done for me and what I see it do for so many others. Running is not the source of my "weight loss transformation" (that was actually strength training in the gym with my friend and personal trainer Abel Berry). Running is, however, the source of a personal transformation that goes much further than anything physical. It has made me more confident and more secure in my ability, as a human being, to accomplish whatever I set my mind to. I started running June 27th of 2011 and in October of that year completed my first half marathon at the 13.1 Dallas and in December my first full marathon at the MetroPCS White Rock Dallas Marathon. To date I have completed 20 half marathons, 10 full marathons, and 2 ultra marathons (50Ks), many of them as a Rundraiser raising money with TEAM in Training to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I'll share more about TEAM's mission and why it is the single most important reason I run in the coming days.
For now, I'll close this first blog entry in thankfulness and gratitude for this honor. RunJunkEes is by far my favorite running community online and to have been selected as a sponsored athlete and ambassador is truly an honor.