Hello Running, where have you been?

Yesterday, the¬†one-year anniversary of completing my first marathon, left me feeling guilty, very guilty. ¬†I don’t think I’ve ran a combined¬†26.2 miles since that race. ¬†Every excuse in the book¬†(plus a few that didn’t make it past the rough draft) was¬†given, justified, and reinforced by my non-runner self. ¬†I kept telling myself, “I’ll start running after¬†(insert some¬†unimaginably time-consuming – or so I thought – task).”

Finally, I told myself enough is enough. ¬†I know what I have to do to get back into running – invest money into a race. ¬†Nothing like a monetary commitment to encourage consistent training. ¬†So, I did just that; I signed up for the Frozen Sasquatch 25k in early January. ¬†Cold, I know, but at least it’s a race!

Today was my first day of training. ¬†A rainy day like today would have normally led to the following thought: I’ll start running tomorrow…….or just sometime when it’s prettier outside. ¬†I’m not going to lie, the thought did run (no pun intended) through my head. ¬†Besides that, I had plenty of other could-have-been excuses, but I stuck to my guns. ¬†That means I had to¬†turn down a dinner invitation with some pretty awesome people and forgo attending my students’ last home volleyball game.

All-in-all, I’m glad I did. ¬†I’d forgotten how much I enjoy running and how much better I feel afterwards, mentally and physically. ¬†I took off running, way faster than I should have, and kept going for 3 miles. ¬†Not much considering what I ran a year ago, but it’s a start. ¬†And an 8:45-pace to¬†kick off my training isn’t too shabby. ¬†Not to mention, I had the energy for some much¬†needed cleaning once I returned home. ¬†I feel better already, although my outlook my be slightly different tomorrow.

It’s only day one.

Never. Ever. Ever. Give Up.

One last post before the ultimate test. ¬†I don’t know how to explain my current state of mind; the best I can come up with is jittery. ¬†My mug of Caribou coffee (brewed strong) may be a contributor, but even without the caffeine high I think I would feel the same. ¬†My mind has been racing all week. ¬†I just want to scream into a pillow!

18 weeks. ¬†455 miles. ¬†That’s a hell of a commitment for ONE day. ¬†And I can’t even put the mental commitment into a quantity. ¬†I keep asking myself how I managed to stay on track and keep up with this training schedule. ¬†I came to an obvious conclusion. ¬†The answer to that question is YOU. ¬†I guarantee that if I had not been running this marathon for NCAPDA and had not had¬†all of the support from¬†you, I would not be leaving for DC in the morning. ¬†I would have given up many weeks ago.

When I moved to Wayne, WV at the end of my sophomore year of high school, I was solely a basketball player who didn’t mind the conditioning part of the season. ¬†I didn’t pick of cross country and track until my junior year, and even in track I was a sprinter. ¬†Cross country challenged me to run only 3 miles, and boy did I think that was a challenge! ¬†I’m pretty sure I only completed 2 races my entire high school career without walking. ¬†My 5K interest peaked during my college career but never went much past that. ¬†So, to say I’ve now successfully completed 2 half marathons, a 20-mile run, and hope to complete a 26 mile 385 yard run still seems¬†foreign to me.

I’m a believer in being well prepared and sticking to a training schedule was the best and only way for me to successfully prepare for the Marine Corps Marathon (which is Sunday¬†*eyes wide & teeth clinched in a strained smile*). ¬†Physically, I only endured a few hiccups along the way with a sprained ankle and typical post-run soreness. ¬†Mentally, after a few breakdowns, I grew stronger. ¬†I learned how to entertain myself for hours upon end with just music and my mind to keep me company. ¬†I learned how to argue with myself (I thought I was only half crazy, but after Sunday, I think I’ll be fully crazy) and sometimes win. ¬†Most importantly, I learned to push myself which in turn gave me the confidence I’ve been lacking for so long.

In the recent years, I’ve considered myself a runner but not really anything special, not an elite. ¬†My opinion hasn’t changed; I know I will be a¬†slow marathoner, but I’m okay with this because at least I will be a marathoner. ¬†And that means something to me. ¬†I will never be an elite runner, and honestly, I don’t want to be. ¬†Yea, I would still like to beast a 5K every now and then, but all-in-all, I’m happy just to run. ¬†I run for the pleasure and enjoyment that I get from it, and for me, that means running at a comfortable pace that doesn’t drain me or potentially injure me.

The problem is I’m an extremely competitive person, so it’s hard not to run fast (in the beginning). ¬†But throughout this training, I’ve learned the pace I’m physically capable of running for 26.2 miles, and it’s slow (according to professional marathoners). ¬†That bothered me at first. ¬†I thought what’s the point of running, if I’m not going to be anywhere close to the front of the pack. ¬†But during this tapering period (approximately 3 weeks), I’ve reflected upon my past. ¬†Look how far I’d come. ¬†That is a win for me. ¬†To be able to say I committed to something wholeheartedly without holding back, doing the best that I possibly good, and creating something special, something helpful out of it along the way. ¬†That. Is. Victory. ¬†(Ah, I’ve never actually expressed this in words, and it’s making me tear up!) ¬†I couldn’t beat that for the world.

As race day draws near, I keep this thought in mind.

It’s very hard to understand in the beginning that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. ¬†Eventually, you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants to quit.

No matter where I finish on Sunday, I will just be happy to finish and give the boot to that little voice in my head.  Thank you for your continued support; it means more than I could ever express.  Thank you for joining the battle against the prescription drug abuse epidemic, a cause that is very near and dear to my heart.  For the loved ones we have lost to this epidemic, I will run.  For the many fighting this battle, I will run.  And. I. Will. Not. Give. Up.

Downhill From Here

What a crazy roller coaster ride the past few weeks have been! ¬†I don’t remember a time when I was this busy, even when I was working 3 jobs. ¬†Let’s just say, I underestimated the commitment training for a marathon required. ¬†Between my 2 jobs, coursework, and training, I haven’t been able to find the time to write. ¬†But I’m here now (with my coffee), so let’s play catch-up.

I’ve had three long runs since we last saw each other – a 19-miler, a 12-miler, and a 20-miler (whoa!). ¬†We shall not speak of the 19-miler. ¬†All I will say is that it was a mixture of a walk and a jog for the last, ohhhh, 13 miles. ¬†My time was terrible, I felt terrible; it was just terrible.

Moving on the the 12-miler, my favorite of the three, simply because I was able to run it in DC.

I was in DC the weekend before last for the FedUp! Rally. ¬†It was quite an experience. ¬†The most important thing I learned that weekend was that drug addiction does not discriminate. ¬†There’s no stereotype to classify the type of person who will succumb to drug addiction. ¬†And, so many cases of heroin overdoses began with an addiction to prescription narcotics. ¬†The FedUp! Rally is¬†an awareness campaign about the dangers of prescription narcotics and a call-to-action campaign¬†for stricter regulations on the approval and prescribing of these narcotics. ¬†I am in no way saying that all of the blame is to be placed on these powers-that-be. ¬†For those individuals who initially seek out prescription narcotics for the¬†high knowing the risk of addiction, some responsibility is placed on the individual. ¬†However, many of these individuals are able to obtain these narcotics easily through a doctor’s prescription. ¬†They go¬†to the doctor, get¬†a prescription, and have narcotics without doing anything illegal. ¬†Other addictions begin after narcotics are prescribed following a surgery or injury with no end game in sight. ¬†These medications are prescribed with good intentions (mostly) to relieve pain, but there is no next step to help these individuals ween off of these drugs. ¬†There are so many scenarios, that it would be impossible to describe them all, and the ones I have mentioned are extreme ends of the spectrum. ¬†My point is, when an¬†individual doesn’t have to do anything illegal to become addicted to opioids, we have a problem. ¬†One place to start to correct this problem is with the rules and regulations surrounding the use, distribution, marketing, and prescribing of these narcotics. ¬†It is not a fix-all solution, but it’s a start. ¬†It’s the one end of the drug ring that we actually have control over and can change without bloodshed. ¬†(Disclaimer: ¬†I understand there is a lot of gray area surrounding this issue and many sides to this epidemic.¬†¬†These are just my thoughts and opinions. ¬†I speak for no one else but myself.)

On a brighter note, while I was in DC I also met April Rovero, the CEO of NCAPDA, the organization for which I’m fundraising. ¬†She is a wonderful lady, and I am all the more convinced I chose the perfect organization to run for. ¬†NCAPDA lobbies for prescription narcotic reform at the state and national levels. ¬†And while my above statements focused on prescription narcotic reform on the medical and pharmaceutical end, I chose NCAPDA as my organization for another reason. ¬†They also focus much of their attention towards educating¬†our youth on the dangers of these opioids. ¬†I really do believe that knowledge is power. ¬†No one wakes up thinking “I’m going to become addicted to drugs today.” ¬†It’s progression; it occurs over a period of time. ¬†Overcoming drug addiction is a battle more lose than win and education will hopefully prevent the addictions in the first place. ¬†That’s why I’m running.

Moral of the story: my 12-miler along part of the marathon race course was beautiful.

On to Sunday’s 20-miler. ¬†I knew I needed to get out of Huntington to run this one. ¬†I love Huntington and am thankful to live in a runner friendly city, but after a failed 19-miler, I again needed a change of scenery. ¬†So, my friend Molly and I drove to Parkersburg, WV and set out on the North Bend Rail Trail, me on my feet and her on her bike. ¬†There was beautiful scenery along the path and the weather was great! ¬†Every few mile-markers, Molly would be waiting for me with my water in one hand and my fuel snacks in the other. ¬†I was feeling great until around mile 13. ¬†I realized my beginning pace was too fast and I was losing energy quickly. ¬†After mile 14, I began taking walking breaks about every mile or so. ¬†Molly’s motivation and cheering kept me going, especially in the last mile, when she refused to let me walk. ¬†I ended up with a 10:29 average pace, which is better than I anticipated. ¬†It definitely would have been a lot slower had my cheerleader, Molly not been there. ¬†I am greatly indebted to you.

20 miles was just as much a mental struggle as it was a physical struggle. ¬†Remembering how sick I felt after my 18-miler, I was worried I would feel the same after this run which made it even harder to get to the finish line. ¬†I felt okay as I laid on the ground after hitting the 20-mile mark. ¬†I even felt okay during the following 20 minutes. ¬†Then it hit me. ¬†I was so nauseous I could barely eat my post-run food. ¬†I sipped on ginger ale hoping to settle my stomach for the 2 hour car ride home. ¬†I attempted to sleep to make the trip go by faster, but as soon as I woke up I had to make Molly pull the car over and began dry heaving. ¬†This only occurred twice thankfully. ¬†As soon as I got home, I was in bed….for the next 11 hours. ¬†I woke up Monday morning a bit queasy, but by the end of the day, I was as good as new. ¬†The way I felt after this run makes me nervous for how I will feel¬†after the marathon. ¬†Hopefully, if I do get sick, my recovery will be as quick as it was this time.

Good news? ¬†Training: It’s all downhill from here! ¬†That was my last long run before marathon day. ¬†The next two weekends consist of a 12-miler and an 8-miler. ¬†And the next weekend is the Marine Corps Marathon! ¬†What an adventure this has been so far. ¬†I also want to mention that thanks to the help of all my supporters, we have raised $2,361 for NCAPDA to date! ¬†With 3 weeks left, I have high hopes of reaching my $3,000 goal.

There’s so much more that I want to say, but I’m going to be late for class if I don’t get this show on the road. ¬†I guess this is all I have for you until next time!

P.S. I’m going to design the t-shirt today, so if you want your name on the back under Alex’s Allies¬†get your donation in as soon as possible! ¬†Just click the “Donate” button under my blog picture to donate! ¬†Thanks in advance!

Change of Scenery

My family and I spent the weekend in a cabin at Watoga State Park in the mountains of West Virginia. Yesterday, I had the pleasure (misfortune?) of running along the Greenbrier River Trail (GRT). While the weather conditions weren’t ideal, I won’t complain about them, too much at least. Keeping on track with my training schedule, I set out on my 18-mile journey at 3:20p.m.

The GRT is a 78-mile rail trail that runs north from Caldwell to Cass, WV. My run covered the path from mile-marker 45 to mile-marker 54 and back. What’s along this 9-mile stretch, you ask. Not a whole darn lot! The beginning of the trail took me by riverside houses and rental property, but those quickly became sparse. What took their place? Small, vacant campsites and an occasional cabin; well, okay, it was just one cabin.

As its name describes, the GRT runs along the Greenbrier River winding through open fields and around mountains. The sun was shining when I embarked on my adventure, and the sights were beautiful. Most of the trail was shaded, but I could easily see the sun’s reflection off of the steadily moving river. I didn’t pass a single soul in the beginning, and I quickly became lost in my music and nature. It was a much needed change in environment this far into my training.

I should have known it was too good to last. I began to hear thunder, the trees started dancing in the wind, the river water became rapid, and the sky grew dark. But I was over 5 miles into the trail, and it looked like I was right on the edge of the storm. My Nike app informed me that I had reached 6 miles in 59:10, averaging a 9:50 pace. I thought, ‚ÄúIt won‚Äôt be too bad, a little rain will cool me off.‚ÄĚ And then, the sky opened up and the rain came barreling down. Looking around, there was nowhere to take shelter, so I continued on, figuring the rain would let up soon enough.

I was left to the full sounds of nature, since my phone decided to shut down once the rain began. For 3 miles, to the 9-mile turnaround point, the rain was relentless. I don’t think it could have rained harder. In no time, I was running through ankle-deep water with drenched clothing and shoes that had to have added an extra 15 pounds to my load.

At mile-marker 54, the rain finally settled down, I turned around, and replenished with a few black cherry Clif Shot Blocks. Around 11 miles, I crossed a GRT parking lot where my brother and sister-in-law, Aaron and Kisha, were waiting. My brother hopped on his bike and rode the last 7 miles alongside me. It was nice to have company especially since I didn’t have any music.

Earlier in the day, we visited the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, and learned of the many creatures that inhabit the area. One of interest was the blue heron, a large crane-like bird. I remember thinking I would be slightly frightened if I stumbled upon one of these considering their large size. Wouldn’t you know, I saw 2 of them in the river after the rain. They were larger in person and their wingspan was incredible. Other than these, the only other wildlife I encountered was a herd of deer.

As we continued on back towards mile-marker 45, we were left with a steady rain. It was better than the downpour but was still annoying. The closer I got to the finish line, the weaker I became mentally. On shorter runs, I get a boost of energy near the end because I know the faster I run, the quicker I‚Äôll be done. This run was exactly the opposite. I felt like I was getting slower and every step was harder than the last. I willed myself to keep moving forward mentally chanting, ‚Äúyou‚Äôre almost there, you‚Äôre almost there!‚ÄĚ And I made it!

When I reached my car, I gave it as big a hug as possible and then I melted into the ground. I’m proud to say, I completed these 18 miles in 3 hours and 6 minutes, averaging a 10:20 pace. For me, this is a victory, a victory I very much needed. As my mileage has increased, so has my fear. I constantly worry about whether I will be able to complete the 26.2 miles that lie ahead of me 7 weeks from now.

Last weekend’s 17-miler was not promising. I averaged an 11:48 pace and felt terrible the last 6 miles. Needless to say, this week’s run was encouraging. I don’t think I could have continued for 8.2 more miles yesterday, but 7 weeks from now, I have faith that I will be ready.

Some notable mentions from this run:  My brother let me borrow his Camelbak, and I have become a fan. It was awesome having so much water readily available while having my hands free. I think I will have to invest. Also, I definitely prefer the Clif Shot Blocks to the Clif Gels. I tried the gel because that’s what my marathon offers, but I can’t stand the consistency. I will be taking my own fuel to the race next month.

Finally, a huge thank you to my parents, Helder & Lisa, for renting the cabin in Watoga. It was great spending the weekend with family and nature, not to mention all of the good food we ate!

Now, if only we had our own version of the GRT in Huntington…….

Tough Mudder

“I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge. ¬†I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. ¬†I do not whine ‚Äď kids whine. ¬†I help my fellow mudders complete the course. ¬†I overcome all fears.” – Mudder Pledge

Saturday, August 16, I made this pledge along with over 60,000 other Global Mudders and joined Mudder Legion.  What.  An.  Incredible.  Experience.

I don’t even know where to begin. ¬†I suppose I should start at Mudder Village. ¬†As soon as we got through check-in, we entered the village. ¬†We were instantly surrounded by awesomeness. ¬†People were dressed up in every outfit imaginable. ¬†We saw people like us, soon to begin, and people finishing the race. ¬†It got our blood pumping.

After waiting in line for 20 minutes, we arrived to the “warm up” zone. ¬†There were around 75¬†of us in this particular wave. ¬†We participated in stretches and warm-up exercises led by enthusiastic volunteers. ¬†A few minutes later, we were released to run up a hill and climb over a wall to enter the start chute. ¬†In the start chute, along with getting pumped for the obstacles ahead, we were told to introduce ourselves to our fellow mudders. ¬†We then raised our right hands to¬†make the Mudder Pledge, and in that moment, all 75 of us became teammates. ¬†And now we’re off………..

Now, technically, the course was 10.5 miles with 17 obstacles. ¬†I shall mention that tip-toeing¬†through slippery mud or wading through waist-deep water did not constitute an obstacle. ¬†In-between the¬†official 17 obstacles was mud, and a lot of it. ¬†I’m talking the kind of mud that tries to claim your shoes with every step you take. ¬†It also won’t hurt to mention, if we¬†weren’t headed uphill, then we¬†must be heading downhill. ¬†There was no such thing as level ground.

On that note, we arrive to our first obstacle Kiss of Mud, fitting, a typical obstacle course challenge. ¬†I’ll sum it¬†up with a picture.

Kiss of Mud

Now, 1.4 miles into the race, we are at Glory Blades, 2 8-ft walls you have to climb over.  Did I mention these walls are slanted towards you? My thoughts exactly, as portrayed in the picture below.

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Up and over, we finally reach 2 miles (seriously, only 2 miles?!) and are forced to Walk the Plank.  A 12-ft jump into muddy water followed by a 40-ft swim left the Old (Jon) & the Bold (me), our team name, looking like this:

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Another half mile of mud-trudging leads us into the Pitfall.  I would like to point out that this obstacle was not listed on the Tough Mudder obstacle page, so I YouTubed videos of the obstacle that GoPro-wearing mudders had recorded.  From these videos, I was under the impression that this muddy water we had to wade through simply had small dips you had to watch out for.  HA!  I was corrected on my assumption after one step that took me from ankle-deep water to waist-deep water.  I quickly learned never to underestimate a Tough Mudder obstacle.

Around the corner, we are face-to-face (or beard) with the next obstacle,¬†Devil’s Beard, one of my favorites. ¬†We had to make our way up and over muddy mounds, going uphill, under the weight of a cargo net. ¬†My strategy: sit on my butt and use the cargo net to pull myself up and over until I reached the end. ¬†I lived up to my shirt slogan “Suns Out Guns Out” and impressed all the boys with my upper body strength. ¬†We also made some new teammates during this obstacle, although, we didn’t know it yet.

4.2 miles –¬†Arctic Enema.¬† My worst nightmare! ¬†Jumping into a pool of ice water on a hot summer day doesn’t seem so bad, right?

AE1

Yea, I didn’t think so either. ¬†I thought it would be refreshing to cool off from the hot August sun. ¬†Now, after you jump into the water, you’re supposed to swim under a board and come up the other side. ¬†As soon as I hit the water, I lost all perception of where I was and how I was supposed to breathe. ¬†I came up before I swam under the board to see where I was. ¬†I forced myself back under and couldn’t get out of the ice pool fast enough!

AE2

We thawed out by the time we arrived to¬†Pyramid Scheme where we climbed up the human pyramid to get to the top of the slanted wall. ¬†Remember how I mentioned we made new teammates back at Devil’s Beard we just didn’t know it yet? ¬†When we arrived to Pyramid Scheme, we quickly decided we needed more than just the two of us. ¬†We waited for our teammates-to-be – Tom, Brian, and Tim – and stuck with them the rest of the race.

Our triceps got a workout 5.2 miles in with¬†Pole Dancer, parallel bars slanted to form a peak in the middle. ¬†Using only our arms, we had to make it from one end of the bars to the other. ¬†My thoughts, “triceps, don’t fail me now!” ¬†Thankfully, they didn’t.

Cliffhanger, Berlin Walls and Mud Mile, the next three obstacles.  The first one required us to sprint up a stupidly steep hill.  I say sprint because, if you tried to walk, you either found yourself stuck or rolling back down the hill.  The second one required a boost to get over the two 10-ft walls.  The latter obstacle was an up and down battle.  Climb up a mound of mud just to slide down the other side into waist-deep water, repeat x5.

Prairie Dog, Warrior Carry,¬†and¬†Quagmire another set of three obstacles. ¬†Ever wonder what a prairie dog feels like traveling through those small tunnels? ¬†Yea, me neither, but now I know. ¬†Wade through muddy water, crawl through small pipe, slide down muddy hill into more muddy water. ¬†Not so bad until we had to high step through 100 yards of thick mud that was almost successful in claiming my shoes. ¬†I got it easy during the¬†Warrior Carry. ¬†My wonderful partner Jon Reed had to carry me 100-yards. ¬†I was just along for the ride. ¬†Alas,¬†Quagmire, my nemesis. ¬†The largest of the mud mounds to date. ¬†After reaching the top, we had to slide down. ¬†It was more like jump down and try not to hurt yourself. ¬†After watching two men attempt to slide down in what looked like a painful manner, I opted for the side path which was more of a climb down. ¬†I didn’t think it possible, but the mud following the¬†Quagmire¬†mounds was even worse than the mud after¬†Prairie Dog. ¬†It was impossible to walk through this mud, so we were forced to crawl. ¬†It got to the point that I was laying on my stomach, with my arms stretched as far ahead of me as possible, using every bit of strength to pull my legs out of the mud and my body forward. ¬†I would have to say that was the most tiring of all the obstacles.

Finally, 8.7 miles and we’re out of the woods and at¬†Funky Monkey. ¬†These aren’t your typical playground monkey bars. ¬†Similar to¬†Pole Dancer, the monkey bars ascend to a peak in the middle and then descend to the platform on the other side. ¬†To make matters worse, one random bar along the way is greased. ¬†Hang on tight. ¬†I am happy to say that I am part of the 40% who successfully completed this obstacle.

FM

Balls to the Walls required us to scale a wall with a knotted rope and use it to come down the other side.  Not too bad and at mile 9.5, only one more mile to go!  One before last obstacle, ramp Everest.  Full speed ahead Рwe had to run as fast as we could to get as far up the half pipe as possible.  Luckily, I had great teammates at the top to help pull me up the rest of the way.

Finally, the last obstacle,¬†Electroshock Therapy. ¬†I didn’t realize that not all of the wires we had to run through were live. ¬†So when I began my sprint through the mud and electricity, I thought things weren’t so bad. ¬†Then it hit me, literally. ¬†1000 wires – 10,000 volts. ¬†Every shock was reinforced with a popping sound. ¬†The last one caught me on the side of my neck temporarily choking me. ¬†That was quickly forgotten as the mudder beside me dove out of the wires tackling me along the way.

EST

Through the last obstacle, I could finally see the light, or the orange headband and beer, at the end of the tunnel.  We finally made it and, more importantly, we survived!  Old (Jon) survived in one piece with a beat up knee, Tom survived in one piece with wicked sunburn, Brian survived in one piece (I think) with an already existing cold and fever, and Bold (I) survived in one piece with a few scratches and bruises.  All in all, it was a great day!

race_0.9163741999889888One last note, the Tough Mudder was a fabulous experience because of the people involved.  Fellow mudders helped each other in every way possible whether it was lending a helping hand up a hill or providing encouraging words.  The volunteers were so enthusiastic and encouraging.  A special thanks to Lorna for driving us and taking pictures and videos along the way.  And a big thank you to my parents for letting me crash on the couch so I could get some extra sleep!

In case you were wondering, I’ve already signed up for a Tough Mudder next year, and you should too!

 

More Than Just Boxing

First of all, let me apologize for skipping out on three weeks worth of blogging. I haven’t written because I’ve been debating with myself about what I wanted to write. I have all sorts of ideas swimming around in my brain but putting them to paper (well, screen I suppose) is a different story, especially for this mathematical mind. I’m still not sure what the topic of this blog is, but I know I need to write and determine the title once this post is complete. So, here goes…….

Excitement – that’s what I’ve felt the past 2 weeks at 304 Boxing Academy. I don’t mean the typical I’m pumped to work out excitement. I’m talking about jumping up and fist bumping the air joy. If you follow my Facebook or Instagram page (and if you don’t, you should!), then you already know the cause of my excitement. If you don’t, let me enlighten you. Last Monday, I achieved a goal I’ve been striving towards for the past 3 months; I summited the rope at the gym! And this past Monday, I did it again, just to make sure the previous success wasn’t a fluke.

Now, this doesn’t sound like a huge goal, but a goal is a goal. Over the past 3 months, I’ve slowly inched my way up the 15 foot rope in hopes of reaching the metal beam to which it’s attached. Each attempt would elicit a response from my trainer TK that went something like this, “that was okay” or “you made it halfway.” Even when I was clearly further than that. Everyone else cheered me on while TK was below questioning my ability. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the cheering, and I definitely needed it. But what really got me to the top of that rope was the way TK reacted. It drove me. Deep down I know he was on my side, but he kept it hidden in order to push me. And it worked. Even after successfully climbing the rope for the second time, TK said “I’m not impressed. You’ve already made it up once. I want to see you climb to the top twice in a row.” I bet you can guess my new goal.

This is how TK handles every activity we participate in during our boxing-styled workouts. He always shows us what we’re doing wrong and how we can improve while rarely providing compliments. However, when a compliment is thrown into the mix, you know you’ve earned it, and in that moment, it means the world.

TK pushes me to perform at my best, but he also inspires me to perform at my best. Looking at him in jeans you would never know it, but TK has a bionic leg. I say bionic (not prosthetic) because that’s what it looks like and that’s how he treats it. Boxing was a way of life for him until an accident at work cut his boxing career short. He could have given it all up in that moment; he could have quit, but he didn’t. While he could no longer fight, he put all of his energy into helping others achieve their dreams. Every day of the week, he’s at the gym or at fights coaching young boxers who look up to him. I admire the strength he demonstrates through his enthusiastic personality, and it makes me want to be a better athlete.

For those who can’t is one of my reasons I do what I do. TK’s bionic leg doesn’t hinder him from much, but to me, it’s a reminder to be thankful that my body is in the condition that it is, that I am able to train with a healthy body.

A healthy body – that’s another reason TK has become an inspiration. I didn’t know this when I first began working with TK, but when he lost the lower half of his leg, he was given pain medication to help with phantom limb syndrome. The medication left him feeling disconnected from his true self, and he refused to continue taking them. Not only was he strong enough to cope with the aftermath of losing a limb, he was able to do it without becoming addicted to prescription narcotics. I only hope that one day, I will be able to demonstrate the strength and spirit that surrounds “Machine Gun” Kelly.

To close out, I would like to thank TK for giving me permission to disclose the details pertaining to his injury. I would also like to mention a few others who have made my training at 304 Boxing Academy worthwhile.

– Cindy: She doesn’t just take our money; she sticks around to cheer us on and encourages us to knock out TK.
– Jason “Put-em-Away” Pettaway: He takes over our training on the off chance TK can’t make it and puts on a pretty good show (I mean, fight).
– The Youngins: The young boxers who train at 304 are always full of energy and help us with our boxing form.
– The Parents (of the youngins): They always have a funny story to tell and tell us what a good job we’re doing.
– My Partners in Crime (Lorna, Molly, Lisa): It’s a lot more entertaining when they’re around.

So, to all mentioned above, thank you for making me feel at home at 304 Boxing Academy!

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”

In the words of Henry Ford, “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” ¬†I saw this quote on my Twitter feed and have thought about it a lot this week. ¬†My conclusion, I’m not sure I agree with¬†it’s message. ¬†I prefer the saying, “Identify fault, then find a remedy.”

The most recent time I caught myself thinking about this quote was during my run this afternoon.  Today, my 6-mile run concluded Week 3, a step-back week, of my training.  It was not a good run.  Here are the facts: I ran 3.2 miles without stopping averaging a 10:01 pace.  At 3.2 miles, I stopped for water and rested.  The stop lasted 5-7 minutes.  I proceeded to walk/jog another mile, arriving at 4.2 miles and the bottom of a hill.  I jogged up the 125-foot hill and walked the rest of the way home.  My average pace over these 6 miles was 12:15.

It’s so hot! ¬†I’m extremely thirsty! ¬†My hips are throbbing! ¬†I think I’m getting nauseous! ¬†Are these stitches ever going to subside?! These are just a few of the thoughts running through my head during my 6-mile journey.¬† At the same time, Ford’s quote was in the back of my mind. ¬†I told myself, “Okay, I don’t need to find fault in this terrible run, I need to find a remedy.” ¬†But, how was¬†I to find a remedy to the struggles I was encountering without knowing what was at fault for each problem?

Why’s it so hot? ¬†Because it’s midday. ¬†Next week I’ll get up and run earlier, before the heat settles in.

Why am I so thirsty? ¬†One, it’s hot. ¬†Two, I didn’t drink much water prior to running. ¬†Next week I’ll drink more water the morning of and the night before my long run. ¬†I will also carry a water bottle with me.

Why are my hips throbbing? ¬†I’ve done two sessions of yoga this week. ¬†Some of the stretches make my hips sore. ¬†Next week I won’t do yoga the day before my long run. ¬†I’ll adjust¬†my schedule to accommodate this change.

Why do I feel nauseous? ¬†I only gave my breakfast about 20 minutes to settle. ¬†Next week I’ll eat a good meal the night before and allow my breakfast to settle before running.

Why do I have stitches? ¬†Last night I drank a can of Sprite. ¬†That’s sugar my body’s not used to the night before a long run. ¬†Next week I’ll drink plenty of water before and after running.

I agree 100% with the message to find a remedy. ¬†I just think you have to be able to identify what causes the problems before you can begin to fix them. ¬†I think Henry Ford meant that it does no good to simply place blame and not do anything about it. ¬†That’s the message in which I agree. ¬†That’s exactly why I’m running my first marathon to raise money for¬†NCAPDA.

I gave up placing blame and worrying about who was at fault for my mother’s death a long time ago. ¬†At first it comforted me, blaming some entity for her passing. ¬†It gave me a place to direct¬†my anger. ¬†Then, a time came when I was¬†tired of being angry. ¬†In it’s place I found¬†acceptance. ¬†I realized there was no use in being angry, it did nothing for me. ¬†It wasn’t going to bring her back or change the past. ¬†But I discovered that I could change the future. ¬†During my anger stage, one entity I blamed was the “pharmaceutical system”. ¬†I was angry at it’s design, that “doctor shopping” is even possible. ¬†Thanks to this blame and anger, I am¬†able to direct my¬†remedy in the right direction. ¬†Raising money for NCAPDA will help create legislation that will hopefully change¬†the pharmaceutical system for the better.

Fault led me to a remedy,¬†fundraising for NCAPDA, with fighting to end “doctor shopping” as just one of our goals. ¬†Please join me in remedying this problem by contributing to my marathon Rx reform mission at¬†http://www.razoo.com/story/Rxreformmission!