Life is about choices.
Where we are now is a sum of the choices we have made during our lifetime. The good, the bad, the stupid and even the mundane. But, they’ve been our choices — decided upon for various reasons.
I’ve learned over the years that choices aren’t easily classified. Sure there are good and bad choices, but I also like to look at the easy and difficult as well. But, life is defined these choices we make. Some on a daily basis, others when the necessity arises.
But, ultimately, the choice of direction, selection and action is in our hands — no one else’s hands. When you grasp that reality — it’s life changing. You literally are the master of your own fate.
Eight years ago today — I made a choice.
I made a choice to live — to wake up. I made the decision to be actor in the story of my life and no longer a background extra. Yet — it wasn’t this grand choice I made heralded by trumpet carrying angels and light of inspiration. I didn’t just want a change in my life, I needed one.
Today, eight years ago, I didn’t know where to start. I just knew I needed to start somewhere. I was tired of false starts and redos, so I embraced my imperfection. I didn’t fully see the end from the beginning and it took a lot of faith for me to take those initial steps — but, I took those steps.
I chose to wake up and be present. I chose to be optimistic and to find the best in others — especially myself. I chose to be the author of my story — a story with infinite possibilities of new chapters. No one else was going to write my story.
With these new choices, did change come overnight? No. Far from it. But, it began the process where I had the faith in myself to make better choices in my habits, health, diet, exercise and overall life.
I started my focus on my weight, because that was the easiest thing to tackle first. It was the most obvious needed change from a physical and emotional point of view. Weighing over 400lbs. impacts you in many areas of your life.
When I started having success with the scale, I soon realized that the joy I experienced was fleeting. As great as I felt physically — that did little for the person that I was inside. I knew that I also needed to eventually work on him as well.
And, that was a fight I delayed for as long as I could. But, I knew that when I made the choice to live a better life — that this would eventually have to happen. So, I focused on me — emotionally, socially and spiritually.
This was the hardest part of my journey. It’s not easy looking inward. That’s why dealing with the outward was so much easier. But, I started addressing things in my life that I had neglected.
The change was hard. Especially when you realized the pain you had to go through in order to get to the joy, peace and calm you wanted. But, as difficult as that realization can be, it can also be a driving force behind the daily choices you make.
My change and transformation inward wasn’t overnight and in many instances — is a change that is still ongoing. But, I feel when I made the choice to be a runner, that transformation was expedited.
I found that desired joy, peace and calmness much faster and often. I found a confidence in myself that went unrealized for over 30 years. And, I found a community of likewise people that could relate with me on many levels — physical, spiritual, emotional and social.
I felt at home.
The choices I’ve made as a runner are many, but the root of it all lays in the decision to make my ambitious goal of running 180 races over 13.1 miles before age 40. I made this goal at age 30 shortly after I ran my first half marathon. I made it because I wanted running to be a part of who I was and to see where it would take me.
And, like many journeys — I never quite expected the journey to go as it has up to now. By the end of the day, today, I will have finished my 169th race, that leaves me with just 11 races to my goal — that’s three years earlier than expected.
The early attainment of that goal has a lot to do with how running has changed my life. I have embraced the love of the unknown adventure — and each race has been an adventure. Whether it’s been a new distance, pursuit of a new goal or a race met with a “que sera, sera” attitude due to unforeseen circumstances.
Many of these adventures have led me to some of my most cherished friendships. Along with adventures that are too numerous to count and moments that will never be forgotten.
Whether it was running a half marathon in blue jeans in support of my Mom’s battle with cancer, running alongside Jill for her first marathon or running with wingless angels during the last five miles of my first 50 miler — those memories will never be forgotten, along with many, many others. I wish I could list them all here.
I don’t just feel lucky, I feel blessed, for the many people in my life. They’ve made my affair with running the life changing journey it has been in my life. And, I thank God for them all.
Often when I find myself pondering about this journey and the places I’ve been and people I’ve met — I go back to the beginning to that moment, when I made the simple choice. A choice to wake up and live. Who would have expected that choice to lead me to now? Eight years ago … not me.
But, here I am.
And, the great thing about my journey, is that you can take a similar journey too.
The choice is yours.