This may be the first time I’ve started a blog entry with a hashtag. Said hashtag has become… somewhat synonymous with me over the last three and a half weeks. Whether you’ve been following my journey from couch potato to very, very amateur basketball player or not (a journey which has been marked by a copious number of post-workout pictures posted to social media… well, copious for me; I’ve never been a big selfie guy) you know what I’m doing. You know why I’m doing it (see my previous blog entry for the “why” if you need a refresher). I’ve talked about the “why” and highlighted a handful of personal goals achieved (the most recent was the sub-18 minute mile) too date. What I haven’t talked about, and what has become… an interesting topic to ruminate upon while I walk briskly/jog/run, my Hoops Hysteria Playlist blaring in my ears is the psychological side of it. And let me tell you, friends: There is definitely a psychological component to this process.
Last night as I was endeavoring to break the 18-minute mile I started thinking about “Forrest Gump.” Really? Yes, really. Do you remember (sh*t, how can you not?) the scene in the movie where Forrest just starts running? Yep. I thought you might. The way he explains it when asked is that he just felt like running. But what he’s doing… running from coast-to-coast over and over again means something different to everyone. Maybe he is just running to run. Maybe he’s doing it for world peace. Whatever the case he’s doing it and it speaks to others… others who join him for their own, assorted reasons. So I asked myself–as “Highway To the Danger Zone” came on my playlist–what it means to me. Again, I know superficially why I’m doing this: #HoopsHysteriaHereICome. But I realized… I realize that it goes deeper than that.
In truth? I don’t think I’ve been happy with myself for a while. Shocking, right? Me, the guy who always seemed/seems so self-assured… not happy? Don’t get me wrong, y’all: I’m not miserable or depressed… at least I don’t think I am. I don’t know. Maybe I am and maybe I’m not. I know I used to smile more. For a while there? I wasn’t smiling much. But since I started doing this? That smile has started to creep back onto my face. Not always but from time-to-time, and almost always after I finish my brisk walk/jog/run. Those selfies? I’m smiling in most of them and that grin? It’s not fake. I feel good again. Healthier. More in control than I’ve been in a long time and right now? I need that. I think we all do. We all need to find something that gives us confidence in ourselves because life? It’s got an uncanny way of wresting control from us if we let it and when we least expect it. For the most part? My focus is back. And I keep thinking (usually in Forrest Gump’s voice; feel free to read this next part in his accent if you’d like) that for the first time in a long time… here, on the cusp of 42? I’m alive again.
You did, didn’t you? Read it in his voice. Hee hee. You’re Forrest, Forrest Gump. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.
So that covers the psychological angle: Mentality. Knowing again that I can and I will succeed. When I started this process three and a half weeks ago and clocked my 20:44 (or was it 20:43? Sh*t… I can’t remember… maybe I need to go re-read my previous blog entry) minute mile I thought, oh crap… this is going to be a long, long road. I mentioned other goals in my previous blog entry… that much I remember and one of them? Run a 5K of course. But not just participate in one. Achieve a sub-13 minute mile (13 minutes is apparently the average mile run by a first time… um… 5K’er). And yesterday? I made it to 17:44. I crushed 18 minutes and made it my b*tch. And then it hit me…
I’m almost halfway there. In three and a half weeks. How the f*ck did that happen? No idea. But it did. I’m here. And now I know that I can do it. I’m not saying I’m going to run the Firecracker 5K here in Broomall in July, but something this Fall? Most definitely. Why not? It’s all about mentality. Believing… knowing that I can and I will succeed. This is the first time I’ve felt that way about something in a very long time. Our first Hoops Hysteria game is this upcoming Sunday at 2:15 PM. We play the Sixth Grade and I know that as hard as I’ve prepared for this–I’ve literally taken maybe four days off, i.e. days sans exercise since I started training–we may lose in the first round. I hope that doesn’t happen but if it does? Will I consider this endeavor… this journey that I’ve been on a failure and go back to smoking a half a pack of cigarettes a day and sitting mindlessly on my couch every night exhausted and watching “Chopped” or “Carnival Eats?” The answer to that question is simple and resounding: NO. That me is behind me now. People talk about the new me all the time. It’s a gul’darned cliché. I try to avoid clichés but in this case? F*ck it. This is the new me. And if you don’t like it? Well, that’s your prerogative. Don’t worry ’cause I still like you.
Hand-in-hand with the psychological, and something else that I’ve been ruminating on as I briskly walk/jog/run is the physical. When I first started doing this? I really didn’t see much of a difference. Weight, shape… all were consistent with what I’ve grown used to over the years. It wasn’t until last week leading into this that I legitimately looked in the mirror and thought, holy crap. I look different. And I’m seeing it more and more now. Maybe this part is semi-psychological too. I mean, I’ve only dropped 10 pounds and when you get to be my level of… portly (to put it mildly) 10 pounds doesn’t really amount to much. At least it didn’t before. But now? For the first time in a long time I can see it. I’ve still got a ways to go until the difference is really, really palpable but it’s there now. And that in and of itself is incentive to keep going, even after #HoopsHysteriaHereICome becomes #HoopsHysteriaThereItWent. Because quite frankly? I think I’ve been portly long enough. I’m good with a slight bit of portliness but only a smidgen. Yes. I think a smidgen is acceptable.
That said #HoopsHysteriaHereICome is quickly coming to a close and I think now is as good a time as any to sum up… well, my Road To Hoops Hysteria. I may not have another chance to write between now and tip-off on Sunday so… What have I gained? Lost? Well? I’m healthier. That’s first and foremost. 20:44 minutes per mile down to 17:44 minutes per mile speaks for itself. And there are other metrics that I’m looking at that I won’t bore you with here; all of them are steadily improving. But I’ve also got an improved mentality and outlook and a slightly improved appearance to boot. All of these things add up to one, indispensable conclusion: This may have been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself in my almost 42 year existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Again, I’m not bragging. Nor am I preaching. This isn’t a sermon about changing your life. Like I said err… wrote last time be you. But if you feel unhappy with yourself… if you’re having difficulty smiling… if you want to get up, leave “Chopped” and “Carnival Eats” behind you (don’t worry… they’ll be on when you get back) and take the step that I took and you’re hesitant to do so for whatever reason don’t be. Please. Be like Mike and just do it. You can. And you will succeed. I promise. And if you need a brisk walking/jogging/running buddy hit me up. I’ll make myself available.