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From The Trail

Not too long ago I was introduced to trail running. Just think a few short months ago I was training for my first 5k. Now I’m voluntarily running in the woods. How crazy is that? This was probably the most challenging run I’ve done to date. The terrain – unforgiving. The hills – lung burning. Those things also made today’s run the most gratifying to date. (To make it even more challenging, I parked my car about a half a mile from where the trail started. So I ended up walking an additional mile to and from my car. Talk about maximizing my time. But that’s another topic for another blog.)

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As I finished up, I was exhausted. I successfully pushed myself to the limits. With beads of sweat traversing their way from my forehead to the corner of my eye and heading down my cheek, I staggered to the nearest tree and just plopped down. While sitting there with my head down, I did everything in my power to catch my breath. I was so in the moment replaying my accomplishment I didn’t notice the hand that was held out in front me. I looked up and saw this elderly gentleman reaching for me. He said “C’mon let me help you up.” I smiled and let him help me up. We walked together underneath the sea of uninterrupted blue talking for a short moment before we went our separate ways.

That moment reminded me that I wasn’t on this journey alone. There have been many people who have played the role of that gentleman. While maybe not physically, your words of encouragement have been the hand he extended to me helping me up when I felt too tired to move. Your checking on me to make sure I hadn’t fallen off the wagon were his hand extended towards me. So to you all I say thank you. The encouragement and support have been priceless.

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A funny thing happened after we went our separate ways. I passed a guy who was struggling on the trail. He was bent over breathing laboriously. I walked up to him and said, “Friend, you finished?” He responded “No just catching my breath.” I extended my hand “I’ll run with you a ways, my friend.”

Just like that I was able to pay it forward.

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Lesson from Mile Two

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Today I had a great experience. I ran and completed my first 5k. All along my goal was to run the entire 5k and not come in last. I prepared for weeks. I ran the course multiple times training for these few minutes. My outfit was picked out weeks ago – complete with shorts to match my shoes. A shirt that I wasn’t comfortable wearing but needed to wear for motivation for my next 5k. (Yes, I’m hooked.)

My playlist was set. An hour and five minutes of songs that would help me run 3.1 miles. I’ve learned many lessons through this process. Lessons like I can do whatever I set my mind to do. Growth is found outside my comfort zone. But I was reminded of one the greatest lessons at mile two.

There I was running… Hitting my zone…. Music was blasting in my ears. I had talked myself out of walking twice by this point. Then I saw this little boy up ahead. Sweating, walking, head down. I saw his mom urging him to continue. He was having no part of it. For whatever reason, our eyes met. At this point, I hadn’t uttered one word to anyone on the course. After all, I was focused. I was competing with me, myself, and I. Goals needed to be accomplished and nothing would stand in my way!

Then it happened. I took my earphones out for the first time. I introduced myself.”I’m Antuan. What’s your name?” He looked up at me, with his hair disheveled, sweat on his face and said softly, “I’m Matthew.” I asked him if he was okay. He just looked at me. “How old are you?”, I asked. “Eight”, he said. I told him I was new to the area and needed a friend to help me finish this race. I asked him if he’d help me finish the race. He said yes. I then asked his mom if it would be okay if Matthew and I finished the race together.

Once she gave her approval, we gave each other the fist bump and started off on the last mile. We ran it slowly, at his pace. At this point, my goals were a distant memory. For one mile, Matthew and I talked, jogged, encouraged each other, and vowed to finish the race together.

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We finished it. Crossing the finish line together. (Ahead of his mom as a matter of fact!) He looked up at me and said “We did it!” I replied, “We sure did buddy. We sure did.”

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The lesson in all that? There’s no greater joy than helping someone else along the way. We all need each other to accomplish great things. No man is an island. I was reminded of that today.

Matthew helped me way more than I helped him. He reminded me that we’re in this together. We can accomplish more with others than by ourselves.

After the race, Matthew sought me out and brought me a banana and water.He told me this was his second 5k. I responded “Whoa! You’re amazing, buddy! This is my first. I hope to run as well as you one day.” The smile on his face as he ran off was priceless. That smile, that moment, was worth far more than any goal I set out to accomplish with this 5k.

Thanks for the reminder, Matthew.

 
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Posted by on 05/20/2013 in Exercise, Inspirational, Weight Loss

 

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3980. What is that? That’s my race number for my first 5k. A 5k that starts in less than two hours. Who would’ve thought I’d be running (yes running!) a 5k! My goal isn’t to come in first. My goal is to run the complete 3.1 miles and not come in last(hopefully). I’m excited, nervous, anxious, proud all at the same time.

I’ve trained for this so I’ll be fine. For the past 8 or 9 weeks, I’ve been building up endurance and destroying the “I can’t” monster weekly. These last few weeks I’ve had quite a few accomplishments – Running for 5 minutes straight, running a mile, two miles, three miles…

Proving to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. So now it all culminates in an hour and 26 minutes. I can’t wait to check another item off my list.

See you at the finish line……

 
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Posted by on 05/18/2013 in Exercise, Inspirational

 

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