Over the years I have had people walk up to me and ask me “How many miles did you run today?” I would follow up with an answer like “Six miles.” And no lie, their usual response would be this ‘Are you insane?” Hence the origin of the name of my blog ‘RUNSANE’. Which, if you haven’t caught on yet, is a play on the question Are you insane / R-U-nSane? Now I must tell you that my life wasn’t always this way. Though I was a wrestler in high school, like most people, once high school ended it didn’t take long for me to fall into the rut most of us fall into and since every one of us has a story I thought I would spend some time here and tell you mine.
To start, I wasn’t the guy who was three hundred pounds over weight, but I was definitely a guy on the road that most roads lead to for people who follow a sedentary lifestyle. Although I could go all the back to my childhood years, I will leave some of those stories for later posts. But this story, for this blog, begins back in 1997 when my first born baby girl came into this world. I was thirty-seven years old and my wife and I had been married for about six years. As those who have children already know, bringing a child into this world is a great and wonderful responsibility but with it also comes a lot of changes and a whole lot of stress. So after six years of having a ‘carefree’ marriage of only having to care about ourselves, my wife and I suddenly found ourselves with a new baby and a whole lot of new parental pressures. Long story short. One day, though I don’t recall the exact day, I found myself laying sick in bed and staring up at the ceiling. The stress of change and trying to be new parents had finally taken its toll on this ole body. Sickness (flu bug) put me down and out. When this happened, I recall a moment. It was a brief moment of clarity when a thought came to my mind and I will never forget it till the day I die. I remember my wife coming over to the bed and taking care of me. When she walked away, I began to think within myself. Look at me. I am lying flat on my back unable to move. I am sick and being sick means I am not able to be what I need to be for my family and my baby girl. Being sick meant I was not able to help my church, being youth leader of our youth group or being the principal and high school teacher of our church school. I was (and still am) a very busy man and being sick was not allowing me to be counted on. Something rose up from within me that said, ‘This is not going to happen anymore!’ It was from this point on I began to examine myself on why I was sick.
It didn’t take much to realize there were a few things which needed to be changed in my life. I was at least thirty pounds over weight. There were times when I would play in some of the pick up games with the youth I would get so winded and out of breath. Shortly before I got sick I remember a moment when I was playing football with the boys I got so dizzy I almost fainted on the field. Needless to say, it didn’t take me too long to figure out the ONE thing that was missing in my lifestyle. This ONE THING was almost a dirty word. It was something I had avoided since high school. Sure I was taking my vitamins on a daily basis, but I always found a reason why this one thing couldn’t be done. What was this ONE THING? If you guessed exercise, then you nailed it! Back then, in 1997, exercise was a curse word to me. But now I felt like it was the ONE THING I had avoided and could not longer avoid. So I did what most people do. I went out and purchased myself a treadmill! I know, I know, you are laughing right now and probably for all the right reasons. Yes I bought a treadmill and YES it wasn’t too long after my purchase that my treadmill became a beautiful coat rack in the laundry room. My return to youthful glory faded away almost as quickly as it’s image showed up in my mind.
Though my meager beginnings in exercising seemed to be failures I can honestly say those thoughts that I had while laying sick in the bed never did leave me. Believe me too when I say my treadmill snickered at me every time I walked past it. My hardly used treadmill would taunt me and say smart aleck things to me like ‘what’s your monthly payment for me?’ and then it would laugh as my wife hung another shirt from it’s arms. The battle that treadmill and I had between one another was one psychological mess. Though I may have lost a few battles along the way, but I never did lose the war.
Let’s just say my exercising was very piecemeal. Here a little, and there a little. A few scattered victories here and there, but at times depressing defeats. Life happens. Situations arise. It’s just the way it is and there was always an excuse as to why I couldn’t win the war. From moving my home two or three times between 1997 to 2001 or just dealing with the stress of raising a new born, life dealt me plenty of excuses to justify my contempt for the treadmill. Now I can’t say I had an epiphany or some evangelical moment where God came down and spoke to me in an audible voice, but one day something changed. The year two thousand was a tough year for my family. To start the year off one of my very best students died in a tragic car accident. My sister-in-laws house burned down in February. By April we were burying my mother who had died from liver cancer and to top off three weeks later my brother-in-law also died from complications from a horrible car wreck. Then just when things seemed to be settling down my grandmother died. All this happened within a span of six months and our entire family was rocking and rolling. Maybe all these events in my life moved my subconscious thoughts into my consciousness. I really don’t know. But what I do know is a change took place. I can remember running on the treadmill and feeling ‘good’. I have many fond memories of my first runs outside of the comfort zone of my home. Call it the bug. Call it inspiration. Call it what it want, but the moment I caught it, there was no turning back.
From my first 5K to my first 10K, I left my sedentary life behind me and never looked back. In 2003 I ran my first marathon. In 2004 I ran and qualified for the Boston Marathon. In 2005 I ran and finished the Boston Marathon in three hours and thirty-seven minutes. On and on I ran to the point where today I have finished twelve marathons. It was like the proverbial snowflake at the top of the mountain. Once it began to roll down hill it gained in size and stature and of course momentum. On my fiftieth birthday I came up with this crazy idea of running fifty miles and so I did. I ran a fifty mile ultra on my fiftieth birthday. Just this last year I adjusted my training to a more complete kind of training to compete within the world of Obstacle Course Races. Just this past year I took that training with me and ran my first Tough Mudder Half and my first Spartan Super.
Who knows where the Lord will take me from here. I just know over the course of these twenty-one thousands miles I have logged as a runner I have learned much and this is why I have started this blog. I want to share what I have learned. What good is knowing something if you don’t give it away?
So this is my story and I hope my story in some way can inspire you to make YOUR story bigger and better. I know this and I have always felt this way. I don’t count myself as anyone special so if I can do it, so can YOU! And let me tell you something. Today, when people walk up to me and ask me if I am crazy, I smile and take it as a complement, because I am more sane now that I ever have been!