Five years ago I ran my first marathon. I was young. I was an inexperienced runner. It was a distance and a challenge that I really knew nothing about. I thought I’d trained properly. I followed a plan. I did my shorter runs during the week, ran what I thought was 18-20 miles on the weekends, and tried to plan my nutrition accordingly.
Vacations are supposed to be fun. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing. Vacations are supposed to make you happy. Vacations are a time to escape reality. They’re a time to forget about home and work and everything that causes stress in your life. And that’s exactly why our vacation started with a marathon. Marathons do exactly just that. And yes I realize this sounds crazy, but marathons make me happy. They put a smile on my face. They allow me to forget everything that’s going on and enjoy the challenge, the task, and the joy of covering 26.2 miles.
I consider myself an endurance athlete. I compete in athletic events that require commitment and dedication. I compete in events that require time and sacrifice. Time away from your loved ones and friends so you can train. Sacrifice on a social life so you have energy to run 3 hours on a Sunday morning. I compete in half-marathons and marathons and soon-to-be triathlons. However, there are those that run a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112. There are those that spend anywhere from 8-24 hours moving towards the finish line.
As many of you know, I had the opportunity to spend this past weekend in Pittsburgh. I was invited to speak and share my story and video at the Dick’s Sporting Good Marathon VIP dinner Friday night and run the half-marathon on Sunday. I was excited. I love race weekends. I love the excitement, energy, and enthusiasm it brings to a city, to the people running, and to the people cheering. It’s a celebration. For those running, it’s a celebration of all the hard work and training that lead up to race day. A celebration of physical fitness. A celebration of pushing ourselves to limit. A celebration to see how great we as individuals can be. And to be able to tell my story to so many was icing on the cake.
An individuals story is made up of their experiences. Places they've been, things they've seen, people they've met. Life is about experiencing different things. About stepping outside your realm of experiences and learning about others, their cultures, and their beliefs. For me, March was filled with that.For those of you that don’t know, my girlfriend is Irish. I am not, yet for the first time I had the opportunity to take part in her family’s celebrations. First came the Feast of St. Patrick, or St. Patrick’s Day, for those that are more familiar with that name.
One of the most surreal things to hear someone say is that you motivate or inspire them. That you are the reason they have the power to wake up in the morning and run. That every time they go through something tough in life they think of you and they find the strength to get through it. That someone considers you their hero.
Whenever I tell people that I run marathons they normally respond with one of three words. I'm either crazy, nuts, or insane. It's been nearly 11 months since I last crossed the finish line of a marathon, but here I am once again
staring down the barrel of 26.2 miles. A journey that will not only take me through the streets of Chicago, but a journey that will once again push my body and mind to see what I'm made of. To see if I have enough determination, fight, and grit to overcome the challenges of the marathon and complete what only 0.5 percent of the US population will ever do.
Every now and then I feel it's important to reflect. Take a look around, have conversations with your friends and assess what's going on. And every time I do that I realize I am luckier and luckier. Whether it's sitting down at a wedding and seeing that instead of wedding favors a donation has been made to the Boomer Esiason Foundation, or calling anyone of my friends to have them talk me through something that is bothering me, or putting up with me and my bad jokes for an entire weekend - 12+ hours in a car and 9+ hours on a bike - I realize I'm extremely fortunate for the people in my life.
Throughout life there are many questions we often ask ourselves. Are we happy? Are we satisfied with what we are doing? Do we feel fulfilled? Is what we have in life is enough? Well, recently I think I found the key to what makes
me happy. Yes, I'm happy because I'm able to wake up and smile every day. Yes, I'm happy because I'm healthy. Yes, I'm happy because I can run, play soccer, and do everything else I love. But that's not what makes the happiest. What makes me feel on top of the world is knowing that I have such amazing friends and family to share life with. I realized that without friends, the special moments wouldn't be as special. The celebrations wouldn't be as celebratory. The advice, dinners and nights out wouldn't be as fun and memorable. Without them, life wouldn't be as great.
Welp, back at it. Realize it's been a while, but I thought this would be a nice time to write again. I want to share some thoughts based on recent accomplishments in the CF world as well as some of this past week's events. Living with a few chronic illnesses you kind of live with what I like to call hopeful skepticism. You're hopeful that treatments and cures will come along, but also skeptical that someone will unearth a medical miracle at the same time. You see, for the first 27 years of my life there were advancements in care that made life easier or fought off bacteria in a different way, but nothing that ever really changed the way we fight CF.