A Tale of Two Finish Lines

Back in January, I did what everybody (correctly) says to do when you decide to start running and signed up for a race.  That first race that I signed up for wound up not being the first race I ran – it was April 14th, and I realized pretty quickly that was too long to wait – but it was the first race I signed up for.

The race was the JFK Runway Run, which is exactly what it sounds like.  They run the race on one of the runways at JFK airport in Queens, New York.  I picked it because it seemed unique and is perfectly flat, which seemed important at the time.  And probably was.

I have no idea what the problem was, but they stopped uploading pictures after the first 600, and it turns out that my finishing place wound up putting me in the 700s.  That was in April – I had given up.  And then, out of nowhere, they update their Facebook page yesterday that the rest of the pictures had been uploaded.

Yay!  Time to wade through a bunch of random pictures!

Now – I’ve gotten accustomed to my new self.  Some of my running pictures are actually … flattering.  Which is not something I have said about pictures of myself in a long time.  So imagine my double take when I come upon my finish line pictures and see these:

JFK Runway Run, 4/14/13, Finish Line #1
JFK Runway Run, 4/14/13, Finish Line #1
JFK Runway Run, 4/14/13, Finish Line #2
JFK Runway Run, 4/14/13, Finish Line #2

Holy crap.

For reference, three weeks ago, I ran my 5K PR (which was like 7 or 8 minutes faster than the one I ran back in April), and this is my finish line picture:

Celtic Classic 5K, 9/28/13, Finish Line
Celtic Classic 5K, 9/28/13, Finish Line

(Yes, I know, I should look at the camera and not my damn watch.)

Those finish lines were less than six months apart.

When we have a long way to go, we sometimes forget to pause and look at how far we’ve come.  I still have what feels like an impossibly long way to go.  But I was hit over the head this weekend with how far I’ve come.  I’m proud of these pictures.

They make me want to go run.

Saturday Weigh In / Long Run

First, the line:

Weight – 275.2 pounds

Weekly Gain / (Loss) – 2.4 pounds

Total Gain / (Loss) – (52.2 pounds)

So … rough week.  I kind of knew this was coming, and in fact that knowledge was one of the things that finally kicked this blog loose.   The running has been going very well for me, but I’ve legitimately been struggling with food lately.  Not sure if that’s the weather, or maybe increasing weekly mileage again, but the constant drone of hunger has lately been harder to ignore.   Somehow I’ve got to figure out how to get that under control.

On a positive note, my run this morning was incredible.  5 miles, and I hit a groove in a way I haven’t been able to do in quite awhile.   The run wound up being the fastest per mile pace I’ve ever run outside of a race.  My “long” run was only 5 miles this time because I’m officially tapering for the Ragnar – only two more runs scheduled (5 miles total) until my first leg.

The crazy thing about the weight is that I’ve run 40 miles over the last two weeks.  And it isn’t like I’ve been eating bags of Oreos, which wasn’t all that uncommon before.

Otherwise fantastic day – pumpkin picking.  Fall is awesome.

The Problem With the Do Life Method … or why I decided to start a blog

So … I am one of those people that finds Ben Davis inspirational.  I didn’t start because of him – I found him after I was well along – but his story motivated me.  I bought his book and sent him the receipt so I could get the signed bookplate.   I rooted for him, and root for him still – he’s done impressive things, and is an example of what is possible.

But possible is not the same thing as practical, or even realistic.

See, Ben had a laundry list of built in advantages for starting something like this.  He was young, in college, and had a very flexible schedule.  His living expenses were covered, and he had the freedom to drop everything and do what he felt like doing.  At any time.  Pretty much ever.

When I decided it was time to get it together for myself, I had almost none of those things.

I have a wife and a six month old son at home that expect (and deserve) for me to be present.  I have a career, with a boss that expects me to show up on time, every time, prepared to earn my pay and not merely survive the day.  And I have employees that need to see me model a good schedule, and a good work ethic.  I have a mortgage … which comes with a yard that needs mowing, snow that needs shoveling, and a thousand little (and big) things that need fixing.   I’ve got a 45 minute commute … an hour and a half, every day, sacrificed to the automobile gods.

In short, I’ve got every built in excuse you can think of to not, ahem, “Do It”.

And the inspiration I need is not about saying “screw it” and going for an impromptu 4-miler at midnight.   No, what I need is a real, practical model for how it is possible to go from 327 pounds and not able to run 100 yards to healthy and active.  What the hell does “healthy” even mean?  How do you get up at 5am, day after day, until you don’t even need the alarm clock anymore, until you get it done?

Ben says “All you have to do it do it” … and I agree.  But “I’m going to do it” is the big easy choice.  The hard choices are the hundreds and thousands of little choices you have to make every day.  Going for this run or skipping it.  Eating the cookie or not eating the cookie.   Doing it – and I mean by-God-in-the-trenches-grinding-it-out doing it – or not doing it.

Overcoming a constant state of hunger.

And Ben didn’t help me with that.

Go and read Ben’s blog.  Buy his book.  Be inspired – I’m not a hater.  In this space we’re going to try our hand at some of that inspirational stuff, too.  But I also want to talk about the grind.  The hard little choices.  If we get to an Ironman on the way, then it’ll be by way of an epic string of really early mornings.

Next stop, Ragnar Tennessee.  And then on to the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA marathon, March 15, 2014.

The ides of March better beware of me…

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