I’ve saved the best for last. This is my favorite of Anthony’s essays. It displays a side of him that even I didn’t realize existed. He’s always told me that running does good things for him, but I never realized how important it is to allow him those Saturday runs I dread. I had never stopped to realize how important it is for him.
Life has a funny way in which it molds us into the people we become. Stress, disappointment, trials, struggles, and things that just frustrate, or cause depression, how do we handle these things? Do they control our lives? At one point in my life I would have answered yes, they are in control. The thing that has allowed me to regain control is running. This is something that has changed my life; I now have the ability to think clearly and remain calm in taxing situations. It has become a way of life for me.
Back in the summer of 2008 I received a phone call while on a youth trip, I had lost a large contract for building homes for a specific developer that would have kept my construction company busy for years to come. I felt my stomach knot, in a matter of seconds I could identify every bill and every person I currently owed money. Things around me began to become dark and blurry. I felt I was going to throw up? This was the start of a dark path for me, at least that is what I felt at the time. Later, I realized I was already on this path. Depressed and frustrated I asked myself, “what have you become?” Looking deep into the mirror, I could not find peace. I hated myself.
This pattern continued for some time. I created new friends, food and idleness. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you will die, this was my new motto. Later, while in a grocery store I passed a blood pressure machine, (years earlier I prided myself on my heart rate and blood pressure) I sat, and as my arm began to be strangled my heart raced. I’m only 32 years old, I thought to myself. At this time I was about 50 lbs. over weight. According to that machine I was in the pre-hypertension range. Did this change me? No, I can’t even say this phased me. “How about some McDonalds for dinner?” Deep down I was scared and really wanted help.
January of 2010 my oldest sister Camille started to harass me about the fact she could run a marathon, not only could she do this but she had done this for the past decade. The only thing she succeed at with me was to pluck my “Marty Mcfly” cord, “Nobody calls me chicken.” And, no one tells me I can’t do something. This is the help I was looking for. Looking back I never saw it coming. Changing habits and exercising everyday was hard, but even harder is trying to identify when it went from a chore to a love. Three and a half months later I started off on my first marathon. The band played, all the crazies in short shorts stormed the start line, we paused for our nation’s anthem, I felt numb, and will I make it? BANG! The race started. Emotions ran high and also low. Not once did I consider quitting. In my life I have given up on a lot. I was done, no more. I will finish or die. Four hours, two minutes and thirty-nine seconds later I finished! And might I say, I was also 50 lbs. lighter. My son Camden met me at the finish line, I now understand why marathon runners cry. I had more emotion then physical effort invested in this race. Finally I was done, I am now part of the 1% in the world that can say I completed a marathon. Check that off the bucket list!
I now found myself with confidence and energy. No more am I sucking the life out of those around me. I didn’t stop at the bucket list check. This became a way of life for me. Stress, frustration, depression, etc. these things now hit the side line, I have a run to complete. With the wind in my face and my feet pounding the pavement I’m free, free is the only thing I feel. My mind clears, my body relaxes, and I’m now ready for the day’s demands. Free!