The Long Road... #2014reboot

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Finding the Inspiration to Keep Going

Unlike men of better character, I have always found it easy to quit. On projects. On relationships, On jobs. On myself. Yesterday morning around 5:36, I came very close to quitting on the whole stupid idea that I might ever be fit.

I had taken a week off of any workout at all. My legs hurt. I was tired and depressed and I really wanted to take one last shot at running in the 5K this weekend. Since the race is Saturday night, Wednesday morning was really my last chance to try if I was going to get two runs in before the event. Tuesday night I laid out my running clothes before bed. Wednesday the alarm went off at 5:00. I spent about 15 minutes waking up, then about 15 minutes getting ready.

Outside in the dark morning it was comfortable. There was cool in the air from the evening's rain and the streets were quiet. I walked for about five minutes. So far so good. I tried a little jog for a block.

The pain shot through my right calf and I pulled up. "That's it," I thought. "I'm done. I can't run on it if it's hurt. Hell, I probably can't run at all." I turned around and started limping back home in my clean dry shirt.

Then two of the people I had spent my weekend with caught me up short.

During her visit last week, Mom gave me a book, Keep it Simple by Terry Bradshaw. It isn't a very good book. Brad's shtick is that he's just a big dumb hick who says funny stuff. Well he is big, but he's not dumb. He probably stopped being a hick several million dollars ago, and the stuff he says is sometimes funny but sometimes it's just goofy. So no, I didn't care for his book. But by the time I was finished, I really did like him. His writing is so odd and quirky and genuine that his character delighted me much more than his style annoyed. And here's what I took away from his delightful, annoying book...
  • Life can be hard
  • Love can seem impossible
  • Keep living
  • Keep loving
  • Never give up
He talks about his divorces. There are lots of references to his transition from the Boy Wonder of little Louisiana Tech to the benched former starting quarterback of the never-won-a-thing Pittsburgh Steelers. He has been dumped by wives, booed by strangers, bullied by bosses, betrayed by teammates, and he has never given up. Instead of limping home in his clean dry shirt, he got back up and got back to work.

During the weekend's depression over not being able to run, I went looking for inspiration online and started watching YouTube videos of Lance Armstrong. Just about everyone knows his story by now. A hard charging up-and-comer, America's next great cyclist washes out at the Atlanta Olympics and learns he has cancer. A lot of cancer. 40% chance of survival type of cancer. He goes after cancer like he goes after a mountain on his bike. It tries to kick his ass. He could have limped home in his clean dry shirt. He kicked cancer's ass instead. And he's been kicking ever since.



I thought about those two brave men. They weren't better than me. They had stronger, younger muscles sure, but it wasn't muscles that got them back on their feet. It wasn't their principles or their up bringing. I was raised by good, hardworking people who taught me right and wrong. Where did their strength of character come from?

Practice.

Muscles get stronger when you use them. So does courage. They chose to act courageously. They practiced persevering, staying hopeful, setting their jaws and moving their feet. And never going home until their shirt was soaked.

So that's what I did. I turned my self around and I limped till I could walk. I walked till I could jog. I jogged till I could run. And by the time I got home, my stinky soggy shirt told the story. Three miles before breakfast. Then a long cold soak in a tub of ice water. Ahhhh...

I have decided to take the advice of two guys I got to hang out with this weekend.

Keep it Simple
Live Strong
Peace,
Pennsy

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