I just have to decide to move... decide to change... and stand up!
Why is breaking the 2 hour mark in the Half Marathon important to me? At the core, it is only an arbitrary number. 2 hours 120 minutes 9:09 minute miles. But for me, it runs a bit deeper
I am in the signs and graphics industry. The lettering that you see on business doors, delivery vans and in many other places, is called vinyl lettering (it is plastic with an adhesive on the back a sticker for you laymen). There are a couple processes to making vinyl. One way, the cheaper way, is they take a mass of plastic (think pizza dough or chewed bubble gum), heat and stretch it until it is flat, then apply an adhesive. The problem with this method is that the vinyl wants to go back to its original shape, so it shrinks over time and is meant to be temporary. Since the end of the 2017 I feel that my body is trying to morph back to its original shape (think pizza dough or chewed bubble gum).
A common clich you hear from older people is some form of lament on how fast time passes. As a teenager or twenty-something I tended to roll my eyes at those laments. As a man in my 40s, this realization of the rapid passing of time is becoming a pervasive concept to me
In 2017, I ran my first half marathon at Wrightsville Beach (much more on this in a minute), Won my category group in a sprint triathlon, ran the Blue Ridge Relay (12 man team, 208 miles from the VA mountains to Asheville, NC), Won my category group in the Lake James 50 Triathlon and finished the year by running my 2nd half marathon in Huntersville, NC. All in all, and on paper, a successful and potentially inspiring year of fitness. Potentially being a key word
There is always more to a story. I developed knee pain during my Wrightsville training cycle, then dehydrated in mile 7 and missed my goal by 10 minutes. I was supposed to compete in a triathlon in mid-May, but sprained my ankle 2 weeks before the race and had to defer. During my last segment of the Blue Ridge Relay, my inside of my left heal/ankle/foot started hurting and didn't stop for 6 months. The training for a 50 mile triathlon (now with a sore heal/ankle/foot) left me exhausted, sleep deprived and feeling very lonely. All in all, and on paper, a challenging and demoralizing year of fitness. Talk about two ways to look at the same story.
Unfortunately, the second story took hold. I immediately gained 10 pounds after the Lake James Triathlon. I stopped distance running. My fitness slipped. My diet slipped. I found excuses work was busy, life was busy, we're pregnant, we have a new baby, my ankle hurts, my back hurts, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. I am not saying some of those weren't valid excuse for struggling to find the time, but I used them as a crutch for much longer than necessary.
The truth is, it's hard for me. Whether buried in my genetic code or my adolescent psyche, my awareness that I can easily revert to being the fat guy I thought I had left back in 2015, reared its head. With a chance to practice a fight or flight response, I had decided to do neither and just ignore it and put life on cruise control to stick my head in the proverbial sand.
So coming back to the now, I woke up and realized 2 years had clicked by without me really realizing it. I added 20 pounds to the 10 I gained in the week following the Lake James Triathlon. Life was more sedentary then it had been for a long while. Junk food and beer were more prevalent in my diet. Then one day I found myself perusing my Strava history, searching for motivation to get out of my fitness funk. If you don't know what Strava is, think Facebook or Instagram for fitness. People post their activities to keep a fitness diary or looking for comments or Kudos (Strava's word for Likes). My Strava account has all of the activities I have logged since about August of 2016. The task was at first a bit demoralizing, sifting through PR's for my mile time, 5k's, 10k's. Seeing my average pace drop and my activity level increase as I moved back through time then something started to change in me. I started to remember how good it felt to achieve those fast times and PRs. I remembered when I put 300 pounds so far in the rear view mirror that I was able to pack up 3 full trash bags of clothes and jackets and give them to Crisis Assistance Ministry. I remembered being an inspiration to my family and to others also struggling just as I had (and do). But most importantly, I remembered that, just like I decided back in 2015, I don't have to stay where I am. I just have to decide to move... decide to change... and stand up and do just that.
I paused for a long time that day on Strava on one activity in particular. It triggered something in me and it is the reason I am writing this today. Something happened to me in mile 7 of the Wrightsville Half Marathon. I lost sight of who I was, who I had become and where I was trying to get to. Seemed like a worthy task, to see if I can find that vision again, while knocking out that missed goal I had for myself back in March of 2017.