When I was younger I was told that I had the ideal body to run cross-country, track, and basketball. The only problem, I hated running with a burning passion and I already chose basketball as the only sport I had a desire to play, let alone the sport I was most passionate about. I remember always competing in those PACERs tests and absolutely dreading the idea of running to demonstrate if I was fit or not. For me, running is a part of basketball, something I love to play. So, running was enjoyable then because it was short stints, and faster paced and up and down style running. Beyond basketball, I had zero interest in running and it wasn’t because I didn’t want to remain fit and in shape, but it was because I just found it boring. I didn’t have a reason to run or a desire to just get up and start running in my neighborhood. I found people to be crazy if they said running was their life or they enjoyed running everyday. I always questioned, why do you run?
Fast forward about 10 years, my junior year in college. I ran off and on throughout my sophomore year, but started to pick it up more junior after I was advised to hang up my kicks and never pick up a basketball again because of all the concussions I have sustained. I thought I was extremely out of shape considering the struggles I endured while running, since I could hardly even run a mile without feeling the need to rip my chest open and get air into my lungs. As many people know the story, I underwent further testing while at home in Wisconsin during Thanksgiving break where I was diagnosed with an extraordinary lung disease that was causing my breathing difficulties, coughing, and so on. Soon find out that I would undergo a chemo style treatment therapy and was essentially told that I would regain 50% of my lung functionality. Only 50%? That’s like basically having just one lung, and that was a blow to me, no pun intended.
To keep the health scare story short (I have already written about it twice), I stood tall and crawled until I could walk again, then ran when I could walk again, all metaphorically. I could not walk under my own power very well when I first underwent the treatment. Then, I finished the IV treatments and could accomplish daily tasks like an average person, with drawbacks and obstacles because of the medications. Then, December 10th, 2016, I ran my first half-marathon. That is when I could run again, and I could run like I never could, prior to that. When I ran for that half-marathon, it was terrible. Let me be honest, no one ever said running 13.1 miles would be easy, and I learned that the hard way in the brittle 40 degree temperature that morning. It may have been hard, but I had constant support throughout the half-marathon, starting with my running buddy/best friend, my family, and my friends cheering us on. At the end of it, a remarkable feeling took over my body as I collapsed, (in a manner to not warrant medical attention or concern) in emotions, to the pavement because there I was thinking, man, the day I run more than 10 miles is the day I can say I am defeating my disease. And just like that, I ran 13.1 miles and accomplished a feat I thought one month prior was near impossible for me.
Ever since that first half-marathon, you can say I have grown an addiction for running. One half-marathon wasn’t enough for me, and honestly, it never will be enough for me to just run 4 to 6 miles every day or every other day. There is more out there that I want to accomplish, to continue pushing my body beyond its limits. One half-marathon pushed my body past my disease, but it didn’t push my body beyond what I am capable of. Two half-marathons within two weeks pushed my body to greater heights, but again, it didn’t push me beyond my limitations. The more I continue to run, the more I believe I can achieve. This is why I have decided to ultimately run 6 to 10 more half-marathons (depending on dates and such is why I said 6 to 10) within the next year, and end the year of training with a marathon in a major city. I told myself, family, and many friends, that I would never run in a marathon because I felt like I wouldn’t be able to do it. Well, I want to push myself beyond my limits right? That begins with running a marathon and continuing on from there.
Many people would say I am crazy for having a desire to run that many half-marathons, but honestly I think they’re becoming fun to me. At one point in my second half-marathon, I was outpacing a numerous amount of people and found an area where I was on my own without any support or any runners. At that point, I started dancing to my music while running because I was enjoying the run and felt great about it. Now I have been training on my speed to run faster at half-marathons. There isn’t a greater feeling, for me, than at the end of a running, you are dripping in sweat and your legs feel like they can’t move anymore. That only means to me, that I did my part and pushed my body to its limits that day. Pushing myself has become a habit since my disease, because I woke up realizing that at any given moment, your world can change and why not live it fearlessly and resiliently.
Running has become a passion and I choose to run because it is my escape, my happy place, my way of pushing myself, and a place where only myself stands in the way from greatness. Running has become my outlet to express whatever I may be feeling, whether that is anger, sadness, happiness, etc. Running has become something where I don’t ask, “do I have time to this?” but rather ask myself, “what time will I run today?” Even with less time with work and all, running is still a priority because of the escape it provides and the feeling it produces. It is also a constant reminder that I’ve been through challenging circumstances and situations that I have been able to overcome and proved that I not only did I defeat those situations and complications, but I transpired into an improved individual from running. No matter the circumstance, risk, challenges, and so on that will arise as I grow older, I will always find a way to continue running to remind myself what I’ve been through and there is no stopping me never.
As a gentle reminder to how fragile our lives can be and how much of an impact one event can be to our lives, I’ve included a quote below that hit home with me when I discovered that a mere cough would alter my life forever and change everything surrounding me in the blink of an eye. Wherever you are, and whoever you are, find that passion for something you love that will challenge you, but also help you in ways of being your escape or your outlet from everything around you. It will help you lead a healthier and happier life, because I know I have been living a brighter life ever since I started running.
“We are all just a car crash, a diagnosis, an unexpected phone call, a newfound love, or a broken heart away from becoming a completely different person. How beautifully fragile are we that so many things can take but a moment to alter who we are forever?”
-Samuel Decker Thompson