#20 – We All Only Get One Shot To Live

Podcast Ep 20 title image

By now, we know how I feel about “limits”.

If you’ve ever heard my podcast or read the blog you KNOW – I am a FIRM believer that the only limits we TRULY have are the ones we set for ourselves. Well, I might not have really stopped to think how or why we imagine those limits to exist in the first place.

Now, I’m thinking about it a little more.

I think I understand, just a little bit better, what keeps some people from taking the plunge. Why some of the, seemingly, most interested people ultimately leave the gym without joining. Prepare for one of those… “ooooohhhhh…” moments.



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The Quest For 100

In the last three years I’ve learned a lot about myself, my body, and what we’re all capable of. I’ve witnessed people achieve some amazing transformations, milestones and accomplishments, and I’ve had my own fair share as well. With each success I have, each wall I break down…I can’t help but want to see what’s next. What ELSE can be accomplished that was previously “impossible”?

I kind of threw this out there at the end of the year…but didn’t really get into it. This past November I decided to leap off the edge and see, once and for all, how deep the rabbit hole really goes. I decided to see just how far I can come from my starting point of 305 lbs. I decided 2016 is the year of the Ultramarathon.

The final challenge? 100 miles.

Wait…what?

Yeah…like I said, I more or less announced this in a post last December. I realize now, though, that I kind of just used the announcement as a means to make a point (and frankly, looking back, I sounded like an ass doing it). Maybe I was going for shock value…maybe I was drunk on coffee…who knows. Point is…I didn’t explain the whys and wherefores of what really is kind of a momentous thing. I most certainly did not do the thing justice, that’s for sure. I owe it to myself, those supporting me, and to the thing itself to explain what the hell this is all about…and why on God’s green Earth someone would choose to do it.

So…yes. My latest challenge…perhaps the final, top rung of the achievement ladder left to climb…I am delving into the world of the Ultramarathon.

Ultramarathon?

Yes, I’m not making that word up. An Ultramarathon is a running event longer than marathon distance (26.2 miles). There are two kinds – either time-limit (as far as you can go in 6, 12, 24, 48 hours) or the traditional “distance goal” (50K, 50 Mile, 100K, 100 Mile). So…what have I chosen to do?

50 and 100. Yes, Miles.

Those are my two big goals this year. First I’m running the Pineland Farms Trail Festival 50 Miler on 5/29/16. After that…October 22nd to 23rd 2016…Ghost Train Rail Trail Race, where I’ve got 30 hours to achieve my goal of 100 miles. As my prize, I’ll bring home a big green cowbell (Pineland 50) and a rail spike (Ghost Train 100).

“You’re insane.”

Am I, though? Earlier this month I had my last big training weekend – Saturday 4/30 I ran 18 miles. 12 hours later, on Sunday morning, I ran the Providence Marathon. I only slept 4.5 hours in between the two…and I finished Providence in a new personal best marathon time. In the two days after…aside from a slight twinge in my left shin (which we’ll talk about another day) I felt fine. Literally hopping up and down. That’s exactly the kind of shape I want and need to be in with a 50 mile race just weeks away. As insane as it might seem…I’m actually ready for this thing.

The initial decision itself…THAT was a leap. It didn’t happen all at once, either.

At first I registered for 50K. I was nervous. It was DEFINITELY a big deal for me. But once I got over the initial shock I realized…if I can do a marathon, I can do a 50K (so I felt better). And if I could do 50K, I could do 50 Mile (so I upgraded my registration). And if, at that point, I can finish a 50 Miler…well, just keep training and I’ll have the best shot possible at finishing my first 100 mile race. It’s all about the training and trusting the process.

That training, though, HAS been insane.

Those who follow this blog may have noticed…I haven’t written a whole lot lately. It wasn’t really on purpose…its more a result of my free time being completely consumed by training for this latest undertaking. In case you haven’t figured it out on your own yet…training for an ultramarathon means one thing…

You run. All the time. Forever. 

Honestly though, I feel like all I do is run. I’ll spend a good 10+ hours a week running (half of that on the weekend alone). I have to get up at the crack of dawn to get it done so I either get to work on time (weekday) or don’t blow half my day running (weekend).  The downside is obvious…but on the bright side?

I can go run 10 miles without even thinking about it.

My body has reached a point where I could nap through a 5 miler. That intense weekend of Providence Marathon? I was fully recovered in just a couple days. It’s incredible to stop and think about how much I’ve improved my fitness…and sometimes I still marvel at the fact that I really am an athlete. I’m training for a thing that such a small percentage of the population even considers doing…even knows exists. I’m not the fastest guy out there…but when you’re taking on 50 and 100 miles…simply finishing is an accomplishment.

That is why I choose to do this.

Because I can. And years ago, as far as I or anyone who knew me was concerned…it was impossible. Now that I know what I know and have achieved what I have achieved…I want to see just how far I can climb.  With my friends and family behind me, and with the support of awesome sponsors like Cape Cod Nutrition Corner, I know…

This Is My Time.

I’m gonna get that cowbell. And damn it all…I’m coming for that rail spike. And if I can…anyone can. Go get it – I’ll see you at the finish.

Why?

There have been A LOT of mornings lately where I’ve woken up and asked myself “Why?”“what was I thinking?”, etc.

Most mornings, I simply don’t want to get out of bed. Most mornings I’m seriously questioning my decisions. To train for a winter marathon…to train for a marathon period… to work out 6 days a week…

This isn’t the first time I’ve questioned myself like this though…and the answer is usually the same every time.

WHY?

WHY on God’s green earth would I choose to put myself through this? I have a perfectly good couch to sit on, lots of tv/movies to watch, games to play, and books to read. I don’t need to work out 6 days a week…I CERTAINLY don’t need to train for a freaking MARATHON…in the winter…in half the time people normally train…
Something must be wrong with me.

I mean, how can there NOT be? Every time I reach my goal…every time I achieve a new height…I just push right past and keep going higher.

Shouldn’t I be satisfied?
Shouldn’t we all be satisfied? I have lots of friends who have (I think I said this recently) had some great achievements lately. They’ve lost a ton of weight, they ran their first 5K! Shouldn’t that be it? I mean, they thought they’d never run a 5K…and they finally checked that off the list. WHY are we still going…and pushing…and refusing to be satisfied? Aren’t we done? Pack it up and go home? Did what we came here to do? 
No.

If that were the case, we wouldn’t have cars. Or planes. Or freaking bikes. Walking was enough, why push it and figure out how to go farther, higher, or faster?

We must continue to challenge ourselves. We owe it to ourselves. We deserve more. Why should we settle for mediocrity? If you have the drive, determination, and motivation to get where you are now, why wouldn’t you reach for that next level of achievement?

“Work like there is someone working twenty-four hours a day to take it all away from you” – Mark Cuban

You must be hungry for success. You must believe that you have not yet reached the mountain-top. This is one of those cheesy quotes, but your desire for success must be greater than your fear of failure.

I could go on for days.

The bottom line here is that the moment you stop trying and settle for where you’re at is the moment you have given up. It’s the moment where you forfeit all the hard work you’ve put in and begin to backslide into mediocrity. And y’know what? You deserve more than that. You were meant for more than that.

Always reach higher.

It’s Easier…To Not.

Nobody is immune.
Up until 3 months ago, I was a 6-day-a-week fitness freak. I couldn’t even really rest on my rest day..I’d do yoga, or a long stretch session…something. Up until 3 months ago
Now I find it’s easier…to just…not.

Image from TVTropes.org
I’m once again in the shoes of so many others. I’m sure you know what I mean. It’s so easy to just…sleep in. It’s so easy to just…take a little too long having coffee…and oops…no time left to work out. 
But in the end…it’s really not so easy… but you might not realize why until it’s too late.

I know because I did this already

Sometimes, for an instant, I forget that I was 300 lbs two years ago. SOMETIMES I forget why I do what I do…and I fall back into bad habits…we ALL do. That extra half-hour of sleep I got by ignoring my alarm? Wasn’t really restful. That extra time I stayed up last night? I accomplished zero useful things. I could keep giving examples (and I usually do) but the point is…all of these things we do…it’s just wasting time. Sure, TV’s great (and I happen to be on a Breaking Bad binge right now) but wouldn’t it be even MORE great to feel like you accomplished something today?

Yeah. It would. Know why?

It’ll always come back around in the long-term
Whether it’s in a month, a year, or more…eventually you’ll see the results – whether you wasted time or used it wisely. I miss that feeling of accomplishment when I lost a couple pounds, or when I completed a workout program…Honestly, the only thing I’ve accomplished lately is losing muscle, gaining fat, and making a dent in my couch.

Backsliding sucks

Image from GalleryHip.com

Example: I ran the Jingle Jog in Falmouth recently (recap coming soon) and I came in at 28:58. Many would say that’s great, and for many…it is!

But my PR is about 23:30.

I can do better than 28:58. Yes, I broke my knee. Whoopee. It’s healed – not an excuse. That time and my current condition is a result of not working out for the last three months.  Just not doing it has already come back around to bite me. Imagine what would’ve happened if I stayed out of it longer. Jeez…I might’ve ended up right back at 300 lb square one…

And now I have extra work to do

I have to make up for all those losses. I have to get back that 5 1/2 minutes I lost off my 5K time, gain back the muscle, lose the fat… And the best part?

It takes longer to fix than it did to break.

It can take much longer to re-lose the weight than it did to gain it back. That’s incredibly discouraging. Discouragement leads to lack of motivation. Lack of motivation leads you to…not. See the sick little self-fueling cycle we fall into?

You owe it to yourself to NOT not-

Every time you’re thinking “let’s…not”… just DO it. It’s easier to not, but it’s BETTER to not not. I immensely regret letting my fitness fall by the wayside. Hell, if I had stayed with my workouts…I might not have broken my knee in The Beast!

It’s time to do something about it.

You have to BEAT this. Every time you’re going to nothit it harder. You KNOW you can do it, and you know the saying…

I have already started – today is day 3 of Insanity. How about you?

No Regrets.

Attitude Is Everything

Well, recovery is going great. It feels like it’s been about a million years, and sometimes I feel like I’ve nearly forgotten what it’s like to walk on my own two legs…but I’m almost out the other side of this.

It’s been almost 6 weeks since surgery. This week I start working my way off the crutches. Victory. I’ve been doing my best to set myself up for success this whole time, from “Moment Zero” with the injury all the way through now. Proactivity and a positive attitude have gotten me pretty far. Attitude can make or break you. And I don’t just mean dealing with injuries…

It’s easy to give up. 


You’re injured…that’s it, I’m ruined, I’ll never be the same. 
You stopped going to the gym for 3 weeks…I can’t show my face there again. 
You got a divorce…I’m already THAT undesirable, working out won’t help anything.
You haven’t started…It’s never worked, it’s never stuck, and it’s never going to. Why bother?
The list goes on.


Any of these could plant you firmly on the couch never to be seen again…it’s all about what you do next. Do you take the high road and plan for 5 steps from now, or do you wallow in the misery of the moment? 
Many of the greatest achievements of our time would not have happened if someone had given up. You simply can’t let a bad attitude get the best of you. Michael Jordan failed so many times it made his head spin…but how many people are wearing Air Jordans today? Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was 4 years old…and…well, I think we know how THAT turned out. Get my point?

Focus on the positive. Focus on what will drive you. Is it your family? Is it loved ones? Is it a particular goal? Is it doing something for you? Whatever it is, find it, focus on it, and let it push you to achieve things that would otherwise be forever out of your grasp. Need some motivation from the outside? Seek friends who will empower you. If you need it, there is a support system just waiting for you to call on it.
You are bigger than this…whatever “this” may be. Every victory you can claim is important, even the little victories that seem insignificant. 
At 5 weeks out of surgery I was on a stationary bike working my knee. At just under 6 weeks, I’m already gearing up to start really hitting the gym hard. I’m already planning my next race. Attitude is everything, and my attitude is that I’m getting back into it as fast as I can. 
Broken bones heal, torn muscles mend, cuts, scrapes, bruises…they vanish in an instant…but a broken spirit might not – and that’s what negativity brings. I don’t let it get there. I’m through being beaten down. Now, I will not be broken. When I fall, I will get back up stronger than before. This is my personal victory every single day. Find Your Victory…and embrace it.