Monday, October 10, 2011

Entry #7 - Victories and Payback

-- Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
-- George S. Patton

What can we accomplish if we just try? Marty announced at a bootcamp session that he was a featured speaker at the Ted E Bear Hollow 5k/10k run/walk. The bootcampers were always announcing on the Facebook page all the races they were going to join. It felt right. I was a bootcamper. I should support Marty. So I signed up to do the 5k walk.

I would like to say that I was completely confident and ready for action. But as previously noted, a 2 mile hike took me 3 hours and I nearly died in the Colorado wilderness. Now I was signed up for a 3.1 mile hike and feared that even if I finished, it would take so long that everyone would have gone home before I returned to the finish line. It was just like a million other times where I would have talked myself out of going. I would have found some excuse (or made one up) and stepped away from the difficult task. I don't know what drove me to try. Perhaps it is just a part of my changing attitude. I figured it was better to try than to never show.

Despite this "give it a go" attitude, I arrived at the event scared and nervous. I sat on a bench before the race and merely tried not to throw up. Again, I thought about going back to my car and giving up. For once, I used my stubborn attitude to drive me forward instead of hold me back. Then, the announcer said the walkers could come to the starting gate and before I could think too much about it, the walk had started.

-- You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

There are times like these where I wish I didn't have a competitive spirit. It rubbed me wrong as I watched everyone in the race pass me by. Deep down, I knew I would be the slowest person there, but it still rankled to watch it happen. But I had my music playing in my ears, so I put my head down and kept walking.

The path of the walk was a simple "out and back", so pretty soon the fastest people were coming back the other way. It was moving to have people I didn't even know encourage me as they went by and the bootcampers made sure to do high-fives as they went by.

I noticed that this didn't seem to be very difficult. I was feeling pretty good and it got me to thinking. Yes, I was in better shape than I was in Colorado. However, I also had to chalk up a lot of the difference to a flat terrain and smooth sidewalk rather than rough terrain at high altitude. Maybe I could do this!

Eventually, bootcampers who were passing me on their way back were telling me that I was almost to the half way point. I don't know what they were smoking. :) It was still a ways to go (in my eyes). However, eventually I ran into what would be the last group of bootcampers coming the other way. They showed me that I could see the halfway point from where we were and offered me the opportunity to turn around and finish with them. I declined. If I was going to do this, I was going to do ALL of it. One of the bootcampers, Angie, peeled off and decided to walk the rest of the way with me. I am so glad she did. Her conversation kept my mind off the challenge of the walk. My heart and lungs were not being challenged but my legs and feet were beginning to feel the effects of walking this far.

I remember thinking, as I passed the 2 mile point, that I was now into new territory. This was the farthest I had managed to hike in almost 20 years! I would have been really excited, but I was thinking more of the next 1.1 miles. I started walking on the grass/dirt along the side of the sidewalk. It felt (slightly) better than the sidewalk because it was a little softer. Pretty soon, I could see the last turn towards the finish line.

-- The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

About 20 yards from the finish line, my heart swelled with love for my fellow bootcampers.
They had come out to walk the final distance with me. I was tired, sore, but filled with pride. Not only was I about to finish this race, but I had a great group of people who were encouraging me to finish and celebrating this new milestone. Really, who could ask for more?

As I approached the finish line, my friends began to clap and cheer for me. I looked up a couple of times and was shocked to see that
it wasn't just the bootcampers. Other people who had come to attend the event were also cheering me on. I don't know if I can put into words what this all meant to me. I was exhausted yet invigorated. I was swelling with pride, but near tears at the signs of love and support.

Just before I crossed the finish line, I saw Marty grinning and clapping for me. He said, "Come on Kev! You can run the last 5 feet!" I could not. I gave him the only response within me and shook my fist at him as if to say "why I oughta ...." (see pic).
Marty's wife, Amy was walking backwards away from me snapping pictures (the ones included here) also smiling from ear to ear. Did I deserve all this support? I better be sure I earn it! :)

Funny story: I cross the finish line. Amy and Marty come up to congratulate me. Amy has brought a cup of cool water along with her. Marty takes it from her and is about to drink it when she says, "I brought that for Kevin." Marty says, "Oh. Well geez Kev, it has been really hard for me sitting here working the booth." That's alright. He is the one who had pushed me to this point. I suppose I can forgive him a little water theft. :)

The picture to the right shows what a tired, but elated man looks like. That is Marty and Angie. Angie, I am so happy you walked with me through the second half. You really helped me. However, next time, you can make me even happier by taking off and going as fast as you possibly can!! You have so much more strength than you allow yourself to use. Tear it up!

I am so happy I did this walk. It signified a new level of achievement. Someday, I'll be running these races. But for now, I will revel in the fact that I am so far from where I once was. I am so much closer to where I want to be. And maybe, just maybe, I will succeed where I have so often failed. Pride, joy and hope are now the feelings of the day. They feel so much better than the emotions of old.

-- There is a destiny that makes us brothers: none goes his way alone, all that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.
-- Edwin Markham

So, how does one thank someone for helping them be alive? Is it possible? What can one do to give back even one tenth of what they have received? I can help others on their journey. I can try to convince others that they could do it as well. And I can help my friend and mentor to grow his business so others will receive the same benefits that I am enjoying.

For this reason, I went to the Omaha Marathon to help work the Square One booth. Square One
is the future home of Marty's new gym. It will be designed specifically for people of size. Designed to help combat one of the biggest (pun intended) problems in America today. It was a really good time. The bootcampers and I passed out plastic leis and spread the word about the gym.

Eventually, I had to quit the booth and sit down because I was experiencing an odd pain in my stomach from all the standing around. At first, I was really disappointed by this. Where was this new body I was building? Why had it failed me? It really, really bothered me that I wasn't able to continue. However, when I got home, I put it in perspective. As previously noted, I was unable to walk for a few minutes in a grocery store. Here I was getting down on myself because after 4 hours of being on my feet, my body was telling me that it was having difficulty with all the weight I was still carrying. 4 hours! This is a huge improvement! I have to look at it as a victory even though it was disappointing. It just serves as a reminder of why I need to keep going. Disappointment aside, I was happy that I was able to do something to help get this gym off the ground. I am hopeful that it will help a great many people.

As I wrap this up, I can say we have finally caught up to the present. Now I will simply add entries as events or thoughts warrant. But the question still looms .... How much weight have I lost?

In one respect, Marty and I are cut from the same cloth. We are easily distracted or diverted. Thoughts or ideas can intrude on our plans and derail them. For weeks, at the beginning of a workout, we would remind ourselves that I needed to weigh in. And every time, we would get busy talking of other things and forget. Plus, there was the added difficulty that there was really only one scale available that was giving accurate measurements and it was at Torri's house.

Based off the amount of time that had past and my usual rate of loss, I knew I was probably getting pretty close to a big milestone. Finally, we had the scale in our possession and we remembered to get my weight. 98 pounds! While this was a huge success, I have to admit that I was hoping for the milestone. But I only had to wait 4 days. Marty weighed me again and I was down 101 pounds since I started. This officially makes it the most weight I have lost on any of my attempts to become healthier.

I don't know that I have the words to say how great this first 100 pounds has been for me. I feel better physically and emotionally. I have achieved so many successes and gained so many friends. There is so much more I want to do and so much more weight I want to lose. But it is clear from the results so far, that I can do it if I just keep at it.

-- Success is dependent on effort.
-- Sophocles

Since I have caught you up to the present, I suppose I should take a moment and thank the key players. Hey bootcamp family! Thank you for all your support, encouragement, and the inspiration of your example. It means the world to me (even if the parties are scary). :)

A HUGE thank you to Mom and Dad for financing this journey. I literally couldn't do it without you. Love you! If only I could get Dad to quit cleaning me out of the healthy food! Even healthy food isn't good for you if you eat 4 or 5 at a time! :)

Erin, you sparked this whole journey. I don't know what would have happened to me if you hadn't invited me to that dinner. Thankfully, I don't have to find out. Thank you! (I suppose I love you too, but you are still my twerpy little sister)

Marty ... I can't thank you enough. I know, I know .... I can hear you doing the same thing you always do when I try to give you credit for the things you do. You deflect and say that I did it myself. That isn't true. I did a lot on my own, but I wouldn't have done it without you. You are the catalyst to this change and I can't thank you enough. As we continue down this road together, I hope you know that you are saving my life and that is more than any person should be expected to do. Thank you for taking that burden upon yourself and pushing me to greater heights.

Now let's look to the future and see where it goes. It is easy to focus on the positives in hindsight. So much has improved that it seems impossible not to be ecstatic about what I have accomplished. Future posts may not seem as positive. If I am having a hard time, I will type it here. I simply can't be all happy-go-lucky about it. I want to remember the good and the bad. The ups and the downs. I want to remember what I overcame to be where I am. Someday, it will be a great way to relive what I am sure will be one of the greatest challenges of my life.

Thanks for reading. Comment if you like. I promise to respond. I was hesitant to share this with others, but I am so glad I did. It is easier when you know that you have people who will support you rather than judge you. Perhaps this will help others. I sincerely hope it does. Let me know if I can help, because if writing this has shown me one thing, it is that I owe. I owe for all the help I've received. And I intend to pay the debt by helping others. It seems to be the only logical way to pay.

-- While I take inspiration from the past ... I live for the future.
-- Ronald Reagan

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