Paying It Forward

I had a cool experience this weekend, well, two: I ran 17 miles at a sub-9:00/mile pace; and I spoke publicly, in person, about my story for the first time.

A big goal of mine for a long time was to run a marathon. I completed that. And as I’ve shared in a previous post, I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about the manner in which I did so. So, it’s back to the drawing board as far as training is concerned. The first thing I am addressing is just simply to run more. During the months prior to my first marathon effort, I followed, rather religiously I must say, a training plan my wife and I found online. It had us doing speed work, tempo runs, and distance. The way it was broken up was good for me at the time. I enjoyed the time in between runs, and used it to workout in the gym. But from a results perspective it didn’t get me what I wanted; I felt like a deadman walk/jogging in mile 22. This time I want to finish strong, I want run the entire time, and I want to finish in under 4 hours. I’ve heard from more experienced runners, and have read, “just log miles!”. So, as I loosely follow another training plan, I will refocus my energy on “getting the miles on my legs,” as I heard it put on the Rich Roll  Podcast with Christian Isackson, who has done Ultraman Hawaii and Ultraman Canada, as well as Epic 5. You should take the time to listen. It was profound, and spoke to me. Some of the very ideas in the following text are from that podcast.

In the interest of getting the miles on my legs, I am running a, what I’m calling, practice marathon. It will be in the South Lousiana July heat basically lapping a favorite park of mine in NOLA about 14 times.  My real next marathon will be in NYC!

You see, as I have made goals and achieved them (weight-loss, becoming a runner, running a marathon, getting a CCC poster), I have learned something about myself: I can do so much more than I ever thought possible. As a fat kid, with a fat brother and sister, being raised by a fat mom (my dad was not fat, and worked 80-90 hr weeks) whose parents were fat, I never imagined that not being fat was even possible, much less some of the other things I’ve been able to accomplish in my getting un-fat mission. Being able to share things that have beautifully altered my mindset along the way with children is something I feel compelled to do. It’s one of my next big goals. I want to use running as a way to help little Joshes, Dustins, and Kassis (my siblings) understand what possible really is, where it’s really defined and realized: inside yourself. Who we think we are is what sets boundaries, and limits what we think we can achieve. Our essence is where our true self lives. Our essence is who we need to face the world for us. Our essence is what’s left when we strip away everything we THINK we are. And running has done that for me. When you push your physical body to its limit, you realize it’s just a vessel for your essence. And that vessel, can be a physical manifestation of your essence. Or it can be a facade. Physical endurance as a sport has taught me a great lesson about making my outside match my inside, my vessel match essence, and I want to help pay that forward.

Teaching this lesson is something that organizations like Team For Kids is doing. Yes, we have organizations here doing the same. Run Youth NOLA in particular is doing the same thing. And I must admit, I wrestled with the idea of getting behind an organization all the way in New York City (Pace Pecante Sauce commercial voice) when we already have folks doing that here within the NOLA area code. The fact is, I think a former 400lbs. man running the New York City marathon in under 4 hours may have the potential to draw a larger audience to my story, in turn turning up the volume on my voice. And I think ultimately this may have even more impact back home than me running a random 5k with kids from the 504 (which I plan to do anyway between now and then and after). Please donate here if so compelled. It would mean the world to me.

click link to donate
click link to donate

Speaking of what I’ve learned along the way and sharing it, I got to share my story with people in a public, in-person setting for the first time Saturday. That was quite an experience. I got to meet some really cool people, practice my message as an advocate of a healthier, plant-based human existence, and learn a lot about the current ideas present in the plant-based community.

As I looked around while sitting in on some of the talks being given this weekend, I noticed people taking notes, asking questions, getting the specifics. I also saw people just kinda sitting back and taking it in. But we were all there for the same thing: to learn more about eating plants. I was able to meet a few people in the halls between these talks. I even met a few there who were interested in the physical fitness attributes of eating plants. One guy had even heard my interview with Rich Roll on his podcast (he saw my Plant Power t-shirt). That was especially cool. Speaking with these folks got me going. They spurred me. They made me want to spew forth with everything I’d learned along the way, but we were together for only minutes. Then came my and my co-panelist’s moment to be the focal point of the room.

Introducing myself. #WHODAT #PLANTPOWER gotta represent
introducing myself. #WHODAT #PLANTPOWER

I briefly spoke first, but cut it a little short as I choked up when I talked about becoming the runner I wanted to be. We both gave a quick synopsis of our stories and let the room get to the questioning. That part was so fun! I think we both brought something unique to the table, and it was over before I knew it. Even after the room began to empty, we both had little groups around us still asking questions, getting answers, and asking more…I loved that.

Next year I would love to speak longer, and have more time to field questions. What an amazing experience. Maybe next year we can kick off the NOLA Veggie Fest with a 5k, have Run Youth NOLA there, and teach them about the power of plants and running.

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