Tag: self esteem

Choices.

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.


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Because “Those who matter don’t mind” like at all …

Before I go into this story and experience I had while running the Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon, I want to make two things clear — one, I don’t want or need sympathy. Mainly, because I don’t need it. I know my self-worth, my capabilities and potential. And, second, I reluctantly share this because I’m sharing this not for attention, likes or shares — I’m sharing it because I once didn’t know my self-worth, my capabilities or potential. I share this because I know there others — who struggle with these feelings of inadequacies.

This past year of running has been frustrating for me. I’ve been dealing with a sprained ankle that really killed a lot of my intended training. At this point of the year I really wanted to be back consistently running a 2:30 half marathon time. But, that just never happened.

I am fine with that — I’m at the point of my running now that the focus is on the Jackpot Running Festival and running 100 miles in February. I’m far more concerned with my focus on weight loss and overall fitness than my pace. I just want to do and give my best during any given run.

This morning I ran the Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon. This is one of my favorite races. I am a Legacy Runner — which means I’ve run it each year since the inaugural race in 2012. I’ve done the marathon four times and the half marathon now twice.

The marathon course holds my PR that I set during the inaugural race at 5:39 and my fastest time during the half was a 2:10 half the following year. On the flip side I’ve swept the course the last three years averaging around a 6:45 to 7 hour plus marathon time. I tell you all this for preference to my experience this morning.

Going into the race this morning — I knew I was going to be slow. I was suppose to sweep the course again, but my foot doctor didn’t want me to do the marathon — neither did my ankle. So, I decided to keep my Legacy streak alive and run the half marathon. It probably wouldn’t be pretty — but, I was going to do it.

So going into this week’s race my goals were simple — do my best, push myself without injuring myself and have fun. A goal that’s been repeated a lot this past year. And, I am fine with that.

Needless to say, I had a blast. Even before the race started — I had a lot of fun chatting with friends, running into online friends and just getting ready to run. If there’s one thing that keeps me running after the past seven years — it’s the relationships, it’s the people. I don’t honestly don’t know how committed I would be not just to running, but my 180 goal without those relationships?

But, that’s a post for another day.

Throughout the race it was fun being stopped by other runners to say hi. Most whom are a part of the number of Facebook groups we’re a part of. Even when the marathoners caught up while in the canyon many said hi — and I even got a couple of pictures with them. It was just a lot of fun and it made the fact that I was slower than I hoped or wished for — a non-factor.

Around half way through the race I ran with Amanda and Michael Bjarnson for a good 3-4 miles. It was a blast just laughing, joking and making friends. Amanda being 34 weeks pregnant was going along slowly as well. But, her timing had more to do with bathroom stops than her speed. Even being extremely pregnant she’s a very strong runner — she beat me soundly at the Nebo Half a couple weeks ago.

After we got out of the canyon we parted around Mile 10-11 (Amanda had to the use the bathroom — surprised?) so I just kept going. I just bunkered down, tried to find a good pace and just get myself to the finish line.

The last stretch of the course is along Ft. Union Blvd. in Cottonwood Heights and while technically downhill like the course — it’s more technical than the canyon miles. Around Mile 11-12 a slight hill leads to a rather steep decline that at the end of the race is tougher than it seems. I was no exception.

My ankle was feeling the strain of the latter miles and after making that slight climb and then downhill — I had to stop and walk for a while to stretch my ankle and recalibrate for the home stretch. Nothing out of the usual as of late.

As I was lost in thought while focusing on my ankle a Mazda Protege in the far left lay rolled down his window and started yelling something at me. I took an ear bud out and immediately understood what he was yelling at me. And, it wasn’t anything pleasant.

I’m not going to go into the particulars of what he said. I feel like it’s irrelevant to the story. But, needless to say, it was a profanity ladened and fat shaming tirade — basically telling me that I shouldn’t be walking or out there because of my size, especially if I was going to walk.

There was a moment it got to me — a slight moment. There was a moment of anger — a slight moment. And, there was a moment I wanted to bark back something — a much longer than a slight moment. But, I knew from experience that no matter what I said — it wouldn’t matter.

I was surprised I kept my cool because his tirade lasted a good 25 yards as he fought through the traffic. I am sure his anger was rooted in not expecting or wanting to be stuck in traffic. I would understand that frustration. But, to target a runner and berate them? I felt more sorry for the guy’s patheticness.

But, I wasn’t going to let his words get to me. Ten years ago or so — oh, yeah, it would have gotten to me. Totally gotten to me. But, today was different.

As ugly as his words were, they meant nothing to me. I quickly thought back to the previous 11-12 miles — I thought about the friends I spent time with, the runners who said hi and the laughs I had with a number of them. THAT. That, erased any doubts his words could have bred.

I thought back to my previous 158 races and those friendships and experiences I’ve made. Sure, I’ve had faster days. And, I will have faster days ahead of me — I’m not worried about that. But, the support group that I have around me — couldn’t be stronger. I’m grateful for that — truly, truly grateful.

I share this experience because I know his words could have gotten to other runners. They’re also words that I’ve sadly heard before shouted from a passing car while out on a run. I’ll never understand people’s need to put others down. But, I hope that those who get derogatorily yelled at understand — that they belong out there.

We all belong out there.

Like I said earlier, I don’t want sympathy for this experience. I don’t need it. But, I share it because I hope that we can all be a little bit nicer, be a little kinder and a whole lot more understanding toward everyone. We’re all in this together — so why make it harder for others? Support, lift up and inspire. Is it really that hard to do? Even if it is for you — just don’t say anything at all! Didn’t we learn that lesson from Thumper’s mother?!

I’m just grateful for the support around me. Without it I could have had a much worse experience. So, please — just be nice to others. Don’t make life harder than it needs to be.