I’m All-In

I’m a movie nerd. Any film that includes car chases, gunfights, loud explosions and/or outer space automatically should warrant an Oscar nomination. So, of course, I am looking forward to seeing the new Will Smith film, After Earth. Things explode. Outer space is involved. There’s a ton of action and the dialogue probably isn’t straight out of a PBS special. Perfecto. Sign me up. So why am I bringing up this movie? Because the movie’s tag phrase really hit me as influential for my own personal activities:

Danger is real. Fear is a choice.

Fear is a choice. The rest of the movie’s dialogue can stink – and that’s OK. I’ve got a quote that use on myself for a long time. In fact, it made me think about my childhood fears, as well as one of the things I’ve wanted to do / become since I was in high school:

· When I was a kid, I was afraid of getting a needle whenever I visited the doctor. Was the pain unbearable? No. My mind just blew the experience up into a far more traumatic thing than it actually was / is. This fear stuck with me through college and even as I began my adult life.

· As much as I absolutely loved being in the water as a kid, I had recurring nightmares of being stuck under water, unable to surface as I felt my lungs beg for a breath of fresh air. All of the time I spent on the water, I hid that inner fear of not being able to surface.

· As I began my professional career, I realized that the ability to speak in public is vital. A professional needs to be able to handle the pressure of a crowd, and come across with confidence. I realized in short order that I did not possess a natural ability to stand in front of a group of suit-wearing co-workers and speak at length about a process or issue.

I know these fear seem rather basic. Maybe even childish / embarrassing to admit. But it’s true. A few of my childhood fears stuck with me as I became an “adult” (please – let’s face it – I need to put that word in quotes when referring to myself). They stuck with me until November, 2005. The first Sunday in November that year, I put aside my lifelong fears of failure and underperformance and was able to push through a physical and mental barrier by running the ING New York City Marathon for my daughter. I like to tell everybody that, after that Sunday in November, my kiddo’s grades began to steadily improve. Well, they did…but that’s not all that happened. I found something in myself that I didn’t even know I ever had: the ability to overcome my fears. After I healed up from that 26.2 waddle through the 5 boroughs of New York, I realized that I could overcome other fears one by one…as long as I actually did something proactively. They wouldn’t go away by themselves.

Some people decide to proactively address their fears by talking to others about them. Rationalizing them. Sorting the out so that he/she can cope with the internal concerns and move forward. I know that I’m not really comfortable talking about my own fears to other people – I think it’s because I’m more than a little insecure. I did, however, need to come up with my own way of re-writing some of my own faulty programming. So I decided to attack my fear of needles by donating blood every 4 months. I crushed my fear of drowning by learning how to scuba dive. And I defeated by fear of public speaking by taking stand-up comedy classes and then doing an 8 minute routine in front of 200+ drunken strangers. Before that Sunday in November, 2005, I wouldn’t have had the (and I’m borrowing a quote from a professional wrestler from the 1980’s here) “testicular fortitude” to face these fears head-on. And if I didn’t have the wontons to address my childhood fears, how on Earth would I be able to tackle something that I’ve dreamed of doing since I first saw it on TV over 20 years ago?

As I placed my significant childhood fears firmly behind me, my confidence began to grow. With every marathon I completed, I have continued to build on this confidence, like a dude playing Texas hold-em in a Vegas casino who’s enjoying a heater. Each time I crossed a finish line, my stack of “confidence chips” got a little taller. Like a decent poker player, however, I needed to know the right time to bet everything and go all-in.

Well, yesterday I felt like the time was right to go all-in, and begin my quest toward something I’ve always dreamed about. It’s official: as of yesterday morning, I am registered to compete in the 2014 Ironman in The Woodlands, Texas.

I used to watch the Ford Ironman World Championship on TV each year. It takes place in Kona, Hawaii, and the television footage used to blow my mind. A 2.4 mile open-water swim, followed immediately by a 112 mile bike, and then a full marathon (26.2 miles). Each year, they would show athletes collapsed on the side of the road, absolutely exhausted, looking as if he/she couldn’t take another step. And then, somehow, this athlete finds it within himself to get up and keep going. It was obvious to me that the Ironman requires the athlete to give every last ounce of heart and courage within him/her to earn that moment when the announcer yells their name and says “(insert a name here) – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!” as the participant crosses the finish line. I’ve watched as participants literally crawled across the finish because they simply didn’t have enough left in the tank to even walk another step. I’ve seen Team Hoyt cross the finish, a father helping his grown son through the 140.6 mile trek (and trust me – if you ever want to read something motivational, google Team Hoyt). I’ve read all about the mental battle that goes on inside each athlete’s head as the long day takes its toll on the body.

For over 20 years, I’ve admired anyone that had the (and I have to use the phrase here again because it just fits) testicular fortitude to train for and complete the Ironman…but I always thought I would never have what it takes. It was one of those goals that I put on such a high pedestal that I lived with the assumption that I’d never attain it. Quite frankly: the thought of even trying to go 140.6 was like Ex-Lax…it literally scares the crap out of me.

I know now that if your dreams don’t scare you, then they are not big enough. Right? Well then, this dream is perfect for me. This one has been my dream for over 20 years. And the quest begins today. May 17th 2014. The Woodlands, Texas.

….crap….I guess I should buy a bike.


A Quick Statistical Snapshot of Where I Stand as of May 31st 2013:

Goal #1: Run at Least 2,013 Miles in 2013
Miles logged: 423.86
Miles to go: 1,589.14
In order to accomplish my goal, I need to average7.1 miles per day through December 31st, 2013. There are 214 days left.

Goal #2: Drop to 185 Pounds
Starting weight: way too embarrassed to admit right now
Weight lost thus far: not enough to even warrant mentioning at this point
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to lose more than 25 pounds by December 31st, 2013.

Goal #3: Run the Fifth Avenue Mile in Less than 7 Minutes
Quickest mile run: 7:05 (2011 NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile)
Quickest mile run in 2013 thus far: 8:03 (accomplished on May 22nd).
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my speed for the 1 miler by 1:04.

Goal #4: Run a Sub 4 Hour Marathon
Fastest marathon run thus far: 5:07:36 (2011 ING New York City Marathon)
Fastest marathon pace maintained: 11:43 per mile
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my average marathon pace per mile by 2:30 (shooting for a pace of 9:13 per mile) in order to drop 1:07:37 from my best marathon time.

Goal #5: Complete My First Ultra
Furthest I have ever run: 29.5 miles (not run during an official race)
Distance of my scheduled 2013 ultra: 37.28 miles
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to finish the NYRR 60k on November 16th 2013.

Goal #6: Complete My First Triathlon
Furthest swim distance: 500 meters (May 24th)
Furthest cycling distance: 5 miles (May 24th)
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to complete the 2013 New York City Triathlon, scheduled for July 18th. 1 mile (1600 meters)swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run.

BY setting some pretty challenging goals for myself, I am trying to generate interest in / donations to The Dream Team Project. This charity’s mission is to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the New York City Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: http://www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409


Author: backofthepacker

A slow running, wine slurping, Disney-loving, bourbon swilling triathlete that is simply looking to go from ordinary to extraordinary...and hopefully motivate others along the way.

One thought on “I’m All-In”

  1. I know you have the mental strength to achieve each goal on race day. Next step, the mental discipline to train for these goals. I know you’ve got this. Just remember to schedule family and friends into this equation. They provide the extras you will need to get through these challenges. And a bike… Dude face your fear and buy a bike! Training on a stationary is like running on a treadmill. You know it’s not the same as the road. I’m excited and scared for you. xxx

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