Next Race: 10th Annual 10K on the Noland Trail (Newport News, VA)

Countdown to Kansas

Monday, September 6, 2010

Here we go...

Thursday, Sept 2nd 2010

I have never been big on blogs, posting a Facebook status, or making my life known on the public domain, however, now seems like an appropriate time to change that. Twenty-two weeks ago, my wife, Megan – one of two who inspired me to challenge myself and pursue this goal of mine (we will get to this later) – started training for the Virginia Beach Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon. Hopefully, by the end of this post you will understand the enormity of this for her and how along the way I have managed to figure things out for myself. Some background - there is no denying that both of us have gone through phases – lifting weights to get bigger (me), training for a triathlon (both of us), exercise videos (both of us), etc. At times it was almost laughable. For instance, on several occasions I have gone out in search of the “magical” protein powder that would finally help me to get bigger (I am 5’ 9’’, 130-ish lbs). Each time, after a month (or even two) of mapping out a detailed training plan, ingesting sick amounts of protein, mainly, powder and chicken, I would always fall back to the same place. In fact, I even managed to lose weight on several occasions. Very, very discouraging. My wife will admit that she has gone through her “phases” as well. She and I have gone the exercise video route, and after trying it for a while, it faded off into the distance.

However, things are different this time. SHE wants it (referring to the VA beach half). Nothing will get in her way. Period. It wasn’t like before when I would say, “hey, it may be fun to go to the gym together” – which was never a hint of you are out of shape. (this is not what motivates her). SHE wants to go out there, with me or without me, and complete this race like the handful she has completed over the past 5 months. In fact, during the beginning phases of her training, it was all her. Not until she reached 5 miles in her training routine did I join in. I am very fortunate that I can run at an 11:00/min-type pace for 1-2 hour or even more and be ok; my breathing is just fine and I don’t feel like I am about to die. Stupidly, I never accounted for my joints, bones, etc. After my second or third run (all at least 4 miles) my hip gave out; I was down for the count. That is what I got for following “proper” training techniques; should have listened to the wife. After a visit to the orthopedist, and a brief rest period, I learned my lesson.

After jumping on board the training train with the wife, we are ready to go. After 60+ runs over 22 weeks (I won’t even guess how many I did to prepare – not nearly this many) she is about to do it. Not only has she shown me what dedication is, but she is fully aware of what she is capable of achieving with some blood, sweat and tears (all of which we have encountered along the way). What she has done is a perfect example of pure dedication. Morning after morning of waking up at 5:30 (for her, the non morning person, this is AMAZING) to run, regardless of humidity, heat, or motivation. I have encouraged her consistently through her training, but to say I have gotten up with her at this hour day after would be a flat out lie. Eventually, it became easier…something I have been willing to do a few times a week, especially, once the long training runs (6+ miles) commenced.

Case in point, this journey has left her happy, FULFILLED and ready for more – she signed up for a marathon yesterday. The key word here is fulfilled, no doubt. This is something I have struggled with; besides the wife and puppy, I have not felt fulfilled. Yes, I have a steady job that pays way to well for what I do, but money means nothing – feeling like you have a purpose and are pursuing something with meaning means everything. The search for fulfillment has taken me down several paths – the big one being working on graduate school. Since I have been a kid, I have felt ridiculous pressure when it comes to education. In my mom’s eyes, if you don’t have a Bachelor degree and are working towards a Master’s, you are lacking. Thinking back, I may be kidding myself if I ever really did graduate school for myself. Was just trying to make others happy and not disappointed….even though my passion for Criminal Justice is undeniably strong. One day will be the right time, but I cannot and will not use it as a means to feel fulfilled – unless you do something for yourself it accomplishes nothing.

So how do I feel fulfilled? I know one thing, I would drop my desk job in a heartbeat if the opportunity ever presented itself – hopefully, a job with BoP in Oregon will make this possible. BoP would definitely help in the FULFILLMENT category as would moving to Oregon with the wife and puppy. Oregon = happy and not here.

I have always enjoyed challenging myself, especially, physically. I love to make it hurt when I work out and watch it pay off. In addition, I strive for a mental challenge. This is when Dean K. comes in. While in Oregon for a week-long vacation I bought “Ultramarathon Man.” What a book it is. He doesn’t make excuses, give up or take no for an answer…like my wife on her running journey. Because of these people, I have had an awakening. Why sit around doing the same old stuff while always trying to make others not be disappointed by my choices!? Time to challenge myself, physically and mentally…no excuses and “doing it with my heart” – thanks for that one, Dean. I am not made to be behind a desk – period. I could be making a million bucks and I would still hate it. Personal trainer and correctional officer are two examples of what I am better suited for.

Ok, this brings me to my goal – I made the rational choice to pursue trail running (not a fan on “regular races”). Boy, it hurts so good, and it does not come easy by any means. I need to work at it, just like Meg and Dean. As it stands, I am a registered participant in the North Face Endurance Challenge in Atlanta – bring on the trail run half marathon! After that, I plan to do some more 10ks and half marathons, with a goal of completing a 50k by the end of next year. No doubt, this is what I want. There is something perfectly peaceful about traversing a trail, run or walk. It doesn’t matter, 1 mile or 5 miles, it still burns. It will continue to require hard work, no excuses (early alarms for sure) and dedication (thanks Meg!!). This is not a short term goal. I can always get better. FINALLY I AM INSPIRED AND HOPEFULLY FOUND A WAY TO BE FULFILLED (in addition to puppy and wife)! Megan was right, I didn’t fully understand her love of everything running – now, I do. I support her 100% and she is doing the same for me. (I am still kicking myself over the double Camelback purchase – should have known the chest strap existed) I need to feel alive (as running makes her feel) and this is how I do it. Bring on the trails, tests of endurance, adventure trips and all! No more sitting around, time to act and rid my thoughts such as “would this disappoint your mother.”

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