On June 17, 2007, I did something that a few years prior I could have never imagined would happened. Through no hostage taking, threats of bodily harm or blackmail of any kind, I willing entered a finished my very first 5K. Though already into the early days of my “remodel”, I was a Bieber-and-a-half over 300 pounds back then and still firmly subscribing to the mantra of “Run Only When Chased.” I did it anyway. I decided that my new lifestyle needed a challenge. I decided that running would be my nemesis. After all, it shared all of the properties of a great comic book Super Villain. It was mean. It was heartless. And it was hell-bent on destroying me. A suitable foe indeed. That Sunday morning in Detroit, it took me 36:04 to complete the 3.1 mile jaunt down Woodward Avenue. And though I’ve bettered that time each of the dozens of races I’ve finished in the five and half years since then, the challenge has never felt the same as it did in that first race.
I’ve continued to run as a means of exercise and personal competition (me vs the clock) since that first race. Though I discovered the world of Adventure Running last year to break up the monotony of flat road races, I’ve consistently stuck to the 5K distance. I’ve told myself that the run just feels right. Perhaps it’s the short commitment that I like. Maybe it’s because my town is nearly perfect for training with a run from my front door to the fire station and back mapping out at exactly 3.1 miles. I’m sure part of it is just my comfort zone. I know that I can do it, because I’ve done it.
But… where’s the challenge in that?
Maybe it’s because of the whole “turning 40″ thing or even my commitment to trying to make a go of this site, but I spent a lot of time thinking about how I’m challenging myself. I realized that I could run a 5K every weekend with each time faster than the one before, but, what was I accomplishing? I knew going in that I could run the race. I’ve got a drawer full of medals and a closet for of T-Shirts that say I could finish, but was it even a challenge anymore? I realized that I’d pushed myself to the point where I knew I could succeed and then stayed exactly at that level. That’s not who I want to be. That’s not what I share here. In life, you’ve got to keep pushing the bar. You can’t let fear of failure prevent you from trying.
So… once again… I’m all in.
This October, I will be running in the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon - my first marathon. I’m going from 3.1 miles to 26.2. I’m all in. The idea of running a marathon to me is daunting… slightly nauseating… mildly psychotic… and at the same time absolutely invigorating. I’ve never been so intimidated and completely captivated by something simultaneously like this before. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s still seven months away and I still question where there’s enough time to get ready. But, like the marathon itself, each day I prepare is another step in the race. It doesn’t matter how fast I get there… only that I see it through to the finish line.
While this personal challenge may seem like an incredible one to some, let me tell you about a bigger challenge that impacts so many others and a big reason why I’m doing it.
Wherever you’re reading this… at your home or office… do me a favor… take a quick second and count in your head the number of places from which you could clean water in less than a minute. I’ll wait…
Everyday, over a billion people in the world drink dirty water if they have access to water at all. In developing countries, women and children walk for miles each day to gather water for their families. They gather buckets from the same water sources where cattle wade in to graze leaving their waste behind and polluting the water supply. They carry these heavy buckets of potentially disease filled water back to their villages – all day – every day. Many of the children don’t go to school because the majority of their time is spent gathering water. Families drink the water because it’s all they have. They need it to survive, but it’s also killing them. 4,200 children die each day from dirty water and over 3.75 million people die each year from water-related causes. THAT is a challenge.
I’m running the marathon in October with a dedicated group from Team World Vision and my amazing church. Last year, a group of 200 runners raised over $200,000 to bring clean water to the people of Africa. This year, we’re hoping to do so much more. For the next seven months, while I’m out pounding the pavement to get ready for the marathon, I’m also going to be pounding all of you. I’m going be challenging you to help. On the right side of the page, you’re going to see a box that says “DONATE” which is going to take you to my personal fundraising page (or you can click RIGHT HERE). I’ve set a personal goal to raise at least $1500 for clean water. For just $50, you can supply clean water to a person in Africa for an entire generation. Not a week… not a month… for an entire generation. Just by bringing clean water to a village, the mortality rate in children drops in half. Just clean water. Something we take for granted.
$5… $10…. whatever you have.
Give up Starbucks for one week.
Have one less lunch out.
I challenge you to think about it the next time you go to the sink and not find a way to help.
Over the next seven months, I’m going to be keeping you updated on my training. You’re my virtual accountability partners. Part of the reason that I’m taking on this marathon personal challenge is because I’m challenging you. Help me help bring clean water to Africa.
If you want more information about World Vision or you’re interested in joining me in the Detroit Free Press Marathon, please don’t hesitate to send me a message.