I can put the napkin down…I do not have egg on my face. And I am so relieved.
After highly publicizing my intention to run a 5K race-something I have NEVER done before in my life-yesterday, I did it…and I finished.
With a good luck kiss from my wife, and the encouraging words, “just don’t throw up” echoing in my head from my good friend Rachael, I was off. And my life was changed forever.
I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s true.
You see, when I weighed 360 pounds and I could barely walk up a short flight of stairs without stopping because of severe knee pain and extreme shortness of breath, running a road race wasn’t anywhere on the radar of plans for my life. In fact, I genuinely believe that if I had tried to run at that point, I probably would have had a heart attack.
And I was probably right.
But that was then…In the last four years, I have lost weight…close to 100 pounds.
And with the loss of fat has come a gradual gain in self-confidence.
But it was a series of challenges that brought me to the point where I am able to write this particular blog post:
- Steve challenged me to run one mile, because he saw my lack of belief in myself;
- Larry, Bryan, and Mark challenged me to run a 5K with them;
- And I challenged myself to risk looking like a fool if I failed by telling anyone and everyone who would listen what my goal was.
So here I am, 24 hours later, reflecting on my first 5K. The race route has been cleared, the road has returned to normal, and the only reminders I have of the race are a couple of tired legs, some great memories, and a few nice pictures.
And, oh yeah, I also have more than 100 comments and “likes” on Facebook from well-wishing friends and relatives. Thanks to everyone for their well wishes.
To be honest, I was a little bit surprised at the massive groundswell of support. People who had friended me and then disappeared from my Facebook feed are popping back up to congratulate me or to tell me that they are inspired to set a similar goal.
You know what that means?
It means that during a time when the stock market is down and gas prices are up…when the politicians on both sides of the aisle can’t stop the attack ads and negative campaigning…when the Middle East situation continues to spiral out of control…
People from all cross-sections of society NEED to hear a feel-good story.
As I ran this race, I was energized by the people along the 3.1 mile route, shouting encouragement, clapping for the runners, handing out cups of water, and even spraying willing runners with a hose to cool them off.
I joked with a couple of people sitting in lawn chairs at the end of their driveway that I would trade places with them if they wanted. They laughed, politely declined, and encouraged us to keep going. As I approached the finish line, the race director was standing at the top of the hill, shouting encouragement, “Keep going! You’re almost there! Good job!”
And then I heard the calls from my friends, my wife, and my kids:
“Keep going, Jon! You can do it! Go Dad! WOO HOO!!!” I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and was immediately mobbed by my favorite people in the world…my family and friends.
And as I thanked them for their encouragement, I also thanked God for giving me the strength to do what I could never have done on my own.
So now I have done something I never IMAGINED would be possible…I’m looking for my next challenge…and I’m excited to figure out what it will be.
In the meantime, I am planning to run my next 5K. It’s at the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival. And it’s in three weeks.
I guess I better keep running.
Because I can’t accomplish my dreams if I’m not willing to chase them down.