My first 5k

Up until my late 20’s, working out was an important part of my life. That changed pretty dramatically when I moved to San Francisco. The city knows how to throw a party. I exchanged dumbbells for beer bottles, protein powders for white powders, and started smoking. As a result, I all but abandoned my previous workout habits. Over the course of three years, I lost over 30lb. of hard-earned muscle and was embarrassed to go back to the gym.

2018 has been a year filled with many transitions. Relocating to Portland has been a challenge to navigate through. Yet, it’s given me some clarity about my life and I’ve been responsive to the lessons.

On August 26th, I called my Mom and told her the cigarette in my hand was her birthday present. Now 30 days later, I’m really proud to say that I’ve kept my word. Quitting is unpleasant. I’ll leave it at that.

Habits are a lot like ideas. It’s really difficult to alter a habit/idea without replacing it with something else. It reminds me a bit of the quote below from Ben Hur: 

“You can break a man’s skull, you can arrest him, you can throw him into a dungeon. But how do you control what’s up here? How do you fight an idea? I’ll tell you how… with another idea!

Running has been something I’ve never enjoyed. And I lived by my words: “I can’t run a mile.” In 30 years, I can’t recall a single time I’ve ever run an uninterrupted mile, which isn’t something I felt spectacular about.

This afternoon, my coworker came back to our hotel and asked if I’d be interested in going running with him.

“I can’t run.”

“I can’t either. Let’s go. You just quit smoking and this will be great for you.”

Sometimes you have to take a jump. So, I laced up my AllBirds and threw my shirt off. He assured me we’d go at a reasonable pace; “conversational” he said. As somebody who’s never ran a mile – let alone, a 5k – the distance worried me. It’s a good thing those shoes are so comfortable…

On the run, he told me about some of his adventures. In addition to being an engineer, he’s also a sponsored athlete who travels the world to ski competitively and provide real-life gear feedback for several sporting brands.

One tenth of the way through the run, we chatted about mental toughness; the ability to push yourself beyond your own expectations. At that stage, I was starting to feel a burn. However, I felt confident he’d be proficient at administering CPR if I went into cardiac arrest. So, I carried on.

We ran through the Italian countryside, which included beautiful views of the ocean and trails through the resort golf course. It was absolutely beautiful. My legs continued to grow heavier and breath, shorter. Finally, he said: “Sprint to the gate!”

He took off like a rocket and I sprinted to catch catch him. Passing the gate, he turned around and held his hand out to give me a high five. “You made it.” he said, with a big smile. I’m especially thankful that Joel was willing to push me beyond the limits I thought contained me.

Words can describe the moment, because you’re reading this blog. It was an inexplicable feeling to do something that I’d never done before:

I ran my first 5k.

I’m a firm believer that few things are impossible when you set your mind to it. In today’s lesson, I realized all of us have more inside of us than we might realize at first glance. At the onset, I was certain that I’d need to take a break (or have a heart attack) while we ran. With the encouragement of a friend and all of the motivation in the world to be better than I was yesterday, I feel proud to have proven myself wrong about my own limitations.

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