I have lost 100 pounds through running.
I repeat this to myself constantly in life when faced with hardship.
I come from an amazing family and upbringing. I was a straight-A student. I was a high school athlete who placed in statewide competitions. I was accepted to a great college that allowed me to study and travel across the globe. On many fronts, I could be proud of the man I was becoming.
I also struggled valiantly against my weight and my body image. Being obese is not easy. It is a constant, dull, aching pain that flares up when you simply catch a glimpse of your own reflection. It is a sobering asterisk on any other achievement you feel you may rightfully deserve in life. It is the impetus of so many negative thoughts that dangerously swirl around in your head, and intermix with the normal thoughts you experience while growing into adulthood. It is a stain on your self-confidence that I'm still not convinced can ever be fully scrubbed away.
I decided to do something about it.
I wasn't going to college feeling like this.
The summer before my first year at college, I made a promise to myself that all of this shit was going to come to an end. That I was not going to enter the next phase of my life as the person that I had become.
I was selfish, but not negatively so. I changed my outlook on my health. I taught myself proper nutrition. I learned the value of exercise as a cathartic release, instead of something to dread. I carved out time to check in with myself and my body. I had my enthralling ups and crushing downs. I learned that the weight loss process is excrutiatingly slow. Weight loss is not an action to undertake— it is a complete redeployment of your mental space and how you view yourself and your actions. It is an extremely personal process that you can have a very hard time letting others into.
And, most shockingly, I learned that the journey never truly ends. That the obese man that I was will always exist somewhere within the man that I am now. He is an aspect of my innermost ID that I still see every single day staring back at me in the mirror.
Running saved me.
And it took seven years.
I hated running. At one point, it was the single most unfathomable activity that I believed anyone could choose to do with their free time. It made no sense to me. People that enjoyed running had a screw or two loose in the head.
So when I made that initial promise to myself, I decided that I would only be successful if I was able to confront, in my eyes, the most menacing demon exercise in existence.
I owe almost all of my initial success to the Couch to 5K app by ZenLabs, I encourage everyone who is interested in running to give it a try. In 2011, over 10 weeks of scheduled running, I fought my way up the distance ladder. I went from huffing and puffing through 30-second running intervals to running a full 5K race straight through. In 2014, I put my newfound skills to the test and ran in the Keep Austin Weird Festival 5K. Later in 2016, I ran in the Racing Hearts 5K on Stanford University's campus.
Afterwards, I pursued the Bridge to 10K program, also by ZenLabs. This took me from running a 5K to being able to blaze through 6.2 miles without stopping. In 2017, I ran in the 10K version of the Presidio 10 and enjoyed a beautiful run over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Lastly, in 2018, I used Hal Higdon's half-marathon training program to bring myself face-to-face with (in my opinion) one of the hardest races for a layman runner. I finished the Yosemite Half Marathon in May 2018. It is one of my proudest accomplishments in my life.
All these years, I've been running for me.
And now I want to run for others.
My weight loss journey and my ascension as a runner have been so deeply, deeply personal. It is how I saved myself from an early death, or a lifetime of problems along the way. Though the journey never ends, I have accomplished so much along the way. Finally, I feel I can look back at my journey and know that it cannot be marred by that painful asterisk. I don't know at what point one becomes the mentor when they were once the mentee. I may never know that. But I feel it.
But now, I'm making the choice to lead. This 10-mile race still means so much to me and my journey, but I've realized that it can mean so much for other people, too.
The Guardsmen is sponsoring my upcoming race. They are a nonprofit that raises money for at risk youth in the Bay Area by providing them with educational experiences and outdoor recreational activities. These are kids that may have obstacles far greater and more poignant that anything I've ever had to face. I want to cross the finish line on April 14th knowing that, yes, I have again accomplished something for me, but that I've used my journey to lift others up for the very first time.
I'll be making the first donation to my campaign.
And it would mean the world to me if you would consider donating as well.
Sharing my story and starting this campaign makes me feel vulnerable. I don't know if my story is compelling to anyone but myself. I have never done anything like this before.
But I do know that it doesn't hurt to try. It didn't hurt when I took my first steps on my very first run ever. But look where I am today.
Thank you for reading. Thank you to all my friends and family who have known me as nobody else but myself for my entire life. And sorry it took me so long to catch up to knowing my own worth. I love you all so much.
Starting today, let's do the damn thing. :)