Pick yourself up after a setback!
Since the beginning of the year, I have been in training to run my first marathon. If the idea of months of training for one event does not make sense, allow me to explain. One does not simply decide to run a marathon on a whim. Running 26.2 miles in seven hours or less is a physically taxing task which is beyond the ability of most people. It doesn’t matter what’s your motivation, if you do not put in the time and effort to condition your body to its best possible shape, you will risk injury and possibly even death.
Three years ago, running a marathon was the furthest thing from my mind. I weighed 325 lbs and was most likely on my way to an early grave. I considered myself both worthless and hopeless. My ‘wake-up’ call was having 3 of my co-workers ( 2 were good friends ) die from heart attacks. All of these men were in their 50’s and overweight. At that moment I knew that if I didn’t take immediate steps to reclaim my health while still in my 40’s, I would soon pass the point of no return. I began focusing on m diet until I found a plan that was right for me. Then I started exercising, and eventually stated running. I’ve lost over 90 lbs since I began this journey of self discovery. I am now back down to what I weighed in college and am in better physical shape than I was when I was 25 years old.
Last April, I ran my very first road race. It was the Beat Beethoven 5K at Alverina University held on Sunday April 28th, 2019. Slowly increasing my strength, stamina, and endurance I was eventually running half marathons by Autumn. I ran eleven official races in 2019 and had planned on more than twice that number for 2020 as I built myself up for the November 2020 Philadelphia Marathon.
2020 started out looking very hopeful until COVID-19, the virus that shut down the world struck. Suddenly all the races from mid March through Summer and part of the Fall were cancelled. Undaunted, I pressed on in my training by signing up for dozens of virtual races. There were a couple of weeks were I ran in 5 days everything from a 5K up to a half-marathon tracking the times and distances with my professional runners smart-watch, a Garmin 945 Forerunner. The Philadelphia Marathon was still slated as of two weeks ago, and I was greatly encouraged by this fact. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed to pieces last week when the Philadelphia mayor arbitrarily decided to ban all large gathering though February 2021, and the Governor of Pennsylvania doubled-down on his draconian laws shutting down the state. As of this moment, my path forward has been made unclear and uncertain due to this unexpected setback.
Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans
Hitting a stumbling block and getting knocked to the ground is the point at which most people give up. For them, their dream has died and they will forever be a failure. Successful people get up, dust themselves off and pick up where they left off. VERY successful people examine what knocked them down, formulate a plan to prevent similar setbacks, and take a moment to decide on their best course of action BEFORE dashing ahead blindly.
Living in ‘the pause’.
Pause powers performance! –Kevin Cashman
In his powerful book on success, The Pause Principal, Kevin Cashman uses the acronym VUCA two ways, first to describe our world, then to tell us how we must react to it.
Our would is:
Life is not about what happens to us, but how we react to it! We need to pause, and take a step back to move forward.
Our reaction should be comprised of:
Failure is PART of success
Failure is a powerful tool if used wisely. IF a person succeeded at every task they attempted on the very first try, they would never have the impetus to improve themselves. They would never be forced to try harder. They would take for granted every accomplishment as an entitlement that they deserved matter-of-factually. Failure is part of life! Failure is NOT the end. It only becomes the end IF you QUIT! Quitting IS the end! Quitting IS giving up! Quitting IS DEATH!
“I’m a big advocate of personal responsibility. You do whatever you feel is safe, within reason. You know what’s best for you.” – Ron Horn CEO Pretzel City Sports
On Thursday July 16th, 2020 races returned to Reading PA for the first time since the shut down. At Trooper Thorns, 98 fellow runners and myself gave it our all as we ran the first official 5K race in over four months. It was the most exciting and amazing race I have run thus far and I gave it 110%! I was ahead of my friend Steve Capozello for an entire 5 seconds, but kept pace with him neck and neck for the next 30-45 seconds as we raced down the trail like two rabid Clydesdales intent on tramping anyone that got in our way. Unfortunately my pace began to slip as Steve is a much faster runner than I am, and has he has been running for over 20 years. Slowly he kept pulling further away from me as I tried to keep up by sheer willpower alone! By the end of our run, I was only 10 minutes behind my friend. Iron sharpens iron. My blue shirt was drenched with sweat from the effort, and I changed into a dry green shirt that was in my gym bag.
At the awards ceremony, Ron Horn called out the various winners by divisions, ages, and genders.
When he called out my name for 5th place winner in the Male Clydesdales division, I was stunned and said “what?” in total shock. After a back and forth of “who?” and “ME?” pointing at myself, he said “YOU!” pointing at me as the third prompting to come get my medal. I had set a Personal Record and I accepted my first ever medal for placing in the TOP 5 with tears in my eyes.
My friend Steve took 2nd place. Another friend Gina took first place in the Women’s 30-39 group.
If I had quit running after everything got shut down by the coronavirus, I would not have signed up for a 12 week virtual running series. If I had quit training due to the unpredictable and ambiguous fate of my November 22 marathon, I would never have gotten faster, stronger, and better. Quitters NEVER win, but winners NEVER QUIT! I have the understanding that The 2020 Philly Marathon is dead, but I also have the clarity of vision that there will be another marathon and I must keep training. I AM A WINNER! Hopefully my example will encourage and inspire you to overcome whatever setback you may be facing. As long as you don’t quit, you too will have your day, and you’ll be able to sit back and reflect upon your accomplishment with pride! As always I wish you success and happiness!