Monday, August 29, 2011

My 37th Birthday Challenge

I had never heard of doing a Birthday Challenge until a couple weeks ago on a training run for the Noble Canyon 50k. Some friends were talking about one of their friends doing a birthday challenge - where he would do 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours...

I thought that was intriguing so I came home and thought about what I could do to challenge myself for my birthday. I decided to do a birthday run - to run a mile for each year I’ve been alive - to burn off the years I left behind. It wasn’t anything special or very intriguing to others but it became some thing of a symbolic gesture to myself.

I lived a lot of those 37 years wasting away in a dark place and not really living but waiting to die. I wanted to go through those years in one day - and kind of move on from them (even though I have moved on mentally years ago and learned from those years) - I wanted to go out and sweat out those miles and remember how far I’ve come.

I’ve learned a lot these past 4 years of my life and I keep growing and learning as each year, month and day goes by. These last few months I’ve learned a lot about my eating habits and have changed the way I eat. I have been chasing my goal weight and yo-yoing up and down for these last couple years - forgetting I set this weight goal when I started out 4 years ago above 300 pounds.

I am a pound a way from hitting my goal weight of 200 pounds as of today.

Starting out four years ago, I never imagined where this life change would lead me and what I would be doing in the future. I’ve learned so much about myself and what I can achieve if I let myself just do what I set out to do.

I set a goal and chase that goal and accomplish it.

This simple chain of events changes your life - not only to achieve that goal, but the journey to get there will change you for good. You will come out of your journey a stronger and better person for going after your goal. I never truly understood this until I really worked for my goals.

I had goals as a kid to be a a pro-football player (among other things) but I truly did not put everything into it or work as hard as I should have. I let my weakened mind take me down - I never truly believed in myself so I would self-sabotage my journey. I know that now - I used to go after a goal, then just fall apart right before achieving it - then blame others or some circumstance for my failure to achieve that goal.

I have learned to work through that voice or that self-sabotaging inside of myself. I beat it down during my first 50 mile race - I came out of that race a different, better and stronger person. I’ve learned I want to inspire others who might have had a similar story as myself.

So this Birthday Challenge was to run through each year and think about how far I’ve come as a human being. The Challenge itself was exactly that - a challenge - but one I am totally happy I did for myself. I had some loving and awesome people help me along the way.

I started out at 6am in the morning running on top of the mesa we live on for the first hour, running around the Qualcomm campus trails and roads around it. I had time to think to myself and reflect on those first childhood memories I had as the sun rose in the eastern sky.

For the second part of my run, I had a friend who was meeting me at the Los Penasquitos Canyon. Christine met me at the parking lot and we embarked on a 13 mile journey though the canyon. It was so nice to run with someone while going through the canyon - it can get lonely and hot. Christine had just done a 20 mile grueling run the day before - so to have her come out and share a birthday run with me (and talk to and encourage me) was completely amazing! With her spirit guiding me I had a wonderful time. She showed me the ranch house and a lot of the cool sites inside the Canyon I had no idea about. When we got back to her car she had some food, juice and water in her trunk waiting for me. She was not only a great pacer she was a great crew :-). Thank you so much Christine for your company and your awesome spirit! She sent me on my way after pouring water over my neck and head. I left her at 18.5 miles down and 18.5 miles to go.

It was kind of crazy to leave and embark on the next few miles on my own - the third part of my run. I started thinking of the improvements I have made mentally and physically  over the last few months. I reflected on those years between age 18-24 and burned them away as each foot hit the pavement - on my way to meet my wife at Torrey Pines State Beach. She was meeting me there to finish out her brick training for the day - she is training for a Triathlon so before meeting me she had swam a mile and biked over 25 miles - she came out to run the beach with me and be my aid station for my run.

We met around my 24th mile and she fed and watered me and sunscreened me up. For the fourth part of my run, we ran to Del Mar and back on the beach. She stayed with me until I hit the 32 mile mark. We both reflected during this time and it felt good to have us doing something that just a few years ago we would not have been doing. We have been through so much together in the last 16 years - it feels good that both of us are growing and learning together. She is an amazing person to stick around all these years (with the person I used to be) - I appreciate everything she has done for me.

With her driving off and me having 5 more miles to get home, I was amazed at how good I was feeling and I think it came from the fact that the last 4 years of our lives have been some of the greatest we’ve shared. My legs felt great as I started the fifth part of my run. I was still running strong and it felt nice to finish the run and not fall flat on my face. Today as I write this I still feel great - a little sore but I felt like going out and running... but it was my birthday so I rested.

I attribute how good I felt to a number of people
  • to my friend Keith for his training runs and his nutrition advice - especially now that I am plant-based and plant-strong eater
  • to my friend Gaby who makes the tastiest bars I can stomach during a run GABYBARS
  • to Christine for being one awesome lady and being there for me in the morning and helping me out after you ran with me
  • to my wife Rachel who is the most amazing woman and person I have ever met. You are one amazing human being Rachel. Thank you for coming out and believing in me during my life and this run. You’ve always been there for me.

I am 1.2 pounds from my goal weight and I feel like I’m in the greatest shape of my life. I’ve worked the hardest for it and I now know what it means to set goals and go out and accomplish them. There is nothing like it people - I mean nothing like it...

If you do one thing in life, set a goal - one lofty goal - and go out and achieve it! I bet you will come out one hell of a different person - not only for achieving that goal, but for that journey you went on to get to that goal.

I feel great and I recommend that everyone to chase those dreams and goals. Don’t forget to live - and live the life you want to live.

I hope that you turn the impossible into the probable and conquer your goals.
Healthy Day


  1. What a great post!! I am honored to have been a part of this amazing run, even if it was in the form of GabyBars. You are one of the most inspiring people I know. Keep it up!! :D