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So I have to ask myself why...

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Monday, December 09, 2013

I have been asking myself that question alot lately. Why do I / did I push myself so hard that it has come down to this? What drove me? I have given it alot of thought and I think I have come up with an answer and it is not a comfortable one but one that I think people will relate to. I am willing to be vulnerable.

The vast majority of my life growing up has always been living on the fringe. I was never one of those kids that people wanted to hang out with much less be seen with. Always picked last in gym class, and couldn't hardly buy a girls interest much less a date until about my last year in high school. Life as the fat kid was not easy. Gym class was public humiliation dished out in hard to swallow doses and then there were the whispers in the hallway between classes.

Any sort of group sport was not for me no matter how much my parents tried to integrate me be it Little league, Football, or soccer. I continually sought solitude because the world was a cruel place and I didn't have the heart to compete because competition exposes weakness. There can only be one winner, I didn't want to face the feeling of rejection by being made to sit on the bench because I wasn't good enough, or too heavy, or because the game fell on a day that ends in y. Much of the time playing in leagues, that is exactly what I was... a bench warmer.

I preferred things that I could play by my own rules and do it my way such as hunting or fishing... and I got good at it too. It was my skill, my cunning, my dedication to get out there that brought success and the pictures proved it. Even if people thought I was a dork, they HAD to respect the end result... you can't argue with the picture of a big fish or buck that I got when everyone else got skunked. It forced even the most ardent critic to give me the nod.

That is what drives me... I love solitary sports where it is me against me. I am not competing against anyone, not being compared or judged, I'm just out there doing my best and that's good enough and I get the medal to prove it. Some folks on here think I'm really outgoing and brave when, if they met me, may find that I am a much different person. I'm (fairly) quiet, I like solitude, and I tend to think deeply into things. Then what makes me weird is that if I'm in the right environment, I can go to the opposite extreme where I want to be the party animal. Just call me odd.

This has been a strange epiphany for me because as a morbidly obese individual, I lived my life in such a way that I avoided anything that would challenge me. I avoided it because when you do something challenging, it will REVEAL where you are really at and most of us don't have a tolerance for being exposed.

Don't think so? Then why is it that the number one fear of someone training for their first race is almost always finishing last? It is the fear of being judged, compared, or being thought of as weak or incapable. How about climbing stairs? I avoided them because it revealed both to me and the rest of the world how bad off I was and how embarrassing it is to have people see you wheezing and clutching the railing at the top as the more fit people just skip on by you.

So we set our limits.

I don't run..period. I wont do this or that.. I wont _______.

So we live in our sheltered world with comfortable limits and continue to appear to the rest of the world as having it together as long as we can sustain the illusion. Don't rock the boat.

Sometimes I may have been a little extreme in my approach but it can be hard to put a cap on something that brings such strength and affirmation. While I may be sidelined from running for now, I look back at the things I have done and it tells me that the guy that lives inside me, the real Robert, is strong, capable, determined, and never gives up.

Running is just one of the expressions of that character not the character itself. There are other outlets and venues through which I can challenge myself.

I guess I write this because this is me thinking out loud and it helps define what is going on inside.

Maybe all of this is because that, at my core, I am still that scared little boy at school who needs to do big things to prove to himself on a regular basis that he isn't what his demons say he is. Maybe it is a mid life thing coupled with the fact that I have shaken off the chains of slavery to my obesity and because I have lived life on my knees for so long that standing upright feels pretty good, not quite ready to take a seat just yet.

Whatever the reason, I love what I do. It changed me, hopefully for the better. It makes me strong, proves to myself that I have what it takes to make it. Actually, I don't have to say a word, my results speak loud. Maybe its a little male ego mixed in for good measure, a splash of testosterone driven madness.

Maybe its a little of all of it together.

This is who I am and what drives me.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JAE_HENNINGTON1 12/17/2013 7:31AM

  great blog..i am glad I happened upon it

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JMARIES51 12/15/2013 4:11PM

    I absolutely loved your blog. And having been that obese child - I can relate to everything you write about. Very insightful.

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JANAYA2424 12/14/2013 4:48PM

    Very cool!! emoticon emoticon

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THEVOW2013 12/14/2013 4:31PM

    well said

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GEORGE815 12/13/2013 8:52PM

    Keep at it!

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LINDAKAY228 12/10/2013 9:51AM

    I really loved this blog. I could relate to so much of it through the years. For me the two biggest things were walking and hiking, both of which I could do along. I'm hoping I can get back to those soon. And also to running footraces in a group. Never did that before until about 4 years ago. Anyway, Oct 31 I had a stoke and a brain bleed and am not back to those things yet but the prognosis is that in a few months I'll be able to do many of those things again and work up to greater distances. The work I put in on fitness before the stroke really paid off in how I did after according to all the professionals. Sometimes I did it just because I could then, and it paid off in ways I never expected. And I will again, because I will be able to again!

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PROUD-GRANDMA 12/10/2013 8:52AM

    Great blog. Thank you for sharing.

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MARUKI52 12/10/2013 7:03AM

    I loved your blog and I can see so many aspects of your character in myself. I'm reading and saying been there done that! However....to you. You have come a long way since you were that little boy. You have succeeded again and again. You have a right to be proud of your achievements and the challenges you have faced. It's just that you are being challenged once again and that is to accept that you are human with all the human frailties that comes with it.

Perhaps you no longer need to challenge yourself so much, perhaps someone or something is telling you that you've done exceptionally well and that it is no longer needed that you continually challenge yourself. Maybe it's telling you that you have proven yourself as a winner and that it is now time to start accepting that this is so and start pacing yourself a little more. Still challenge, maybe if you feel the need, but not so strenuously and with careful planning so as not to put quite so much strain on the body whilst doing so. Good luck to you Robert and I hope the foot heals soon.
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DENVERSUZ 12/10/2013 5:02AM

  I definitely agree with JILLHARVEY. I felt like I could have written part of this blog. Thank you for posting.

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CELIAMINER 12/10/2013 4:28AM

    You really had me at the humiliation part. For years as a young person, I would not do anything I knew I wasn't good at, and that included running. Then one day I decided to try running, but I'd only run after dark when no one could see me. In those days, the only running shoes were for track and were designed to bounce off your toes. No cushioning, no stability. I gave up because I'm not a sprinter.

Fast forward decades, and I thought I was over what people thought, but I wasn't. I had become an obese person, and when we traveled to Europe, I was almost always the fattest person in the room and would wilt under the smug looks on people's faces. After I started SparkPeople and saw success, though, my confidence rose...except when it came to running. I was so afraid my neighbors would peek through their curtains and laugh at the fat person shuffle jogging down the street. It took one of the Spark coaches who responded to a post about my fears to get me out there to try. And my neighbors actually cheered me on!

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STRIVERONE 12/10/2013 1:17AM

    I think a good many of us are coming from the same place you described and I'd like to give an "amen!' to MobyCarp's perspective.

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DALID414 12/10/2013 12:22AM

    Wow! You totally nailed why I have all the excuses in the world NOT to sign up for races emoticon

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MAKBABE 12/9/2013 9:38PM

    Thank you for sharing your journey, I find mind self nodding in agreement, enjoying your humor and amazed at at your ability to share your vulnerabilities. I wish you a speedy recovery!!

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MOBYCARP 12/9/2013 7:56PM

    There comes a time for many of us when the question is no longer, How much can I do if I work hard? The question becomes, How much can I do without injuring myself?

That's a harder question, and I don't have a good answer for myself yet. I might never get a solid answer, but I hope to make progress on the question. To some extent, it's a victory to even change what question I'm asking. Those of us who are testosterone driven typically prefer the simple question. Answering it is easier; you just push as hard as you can and see what you accomplish.

From a practical perspective, injury has given me time to think about what I want. Two years ago, I thought I'd run a half marathon the following April and a marathon the following September. Those things didn't happen. Instead, I spent a lot of time on injured reserve.

I spent a lot of time thinking about things while I was on injured reserve. Some of my goals changed, and I put better definition on the priorities of the goals that remain. I have to face the fact that I can't do it all, and I can't even do everything I thought I could two years ago.

But still, what I can do is pretty good. The hope of being able to do 75% of what I'm doing now was enough to keep me working consistently through the last injury and the PT following it.

But I still have to be aware of that male ego, and consciously limit how much I let it goad me into. You might arrive at a similar place; if you do, I hope you find your own balance between achievement and avoiding repetitive injury.

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LINDAK25 12/9/2013 7:53PM

    And you will heal! Your enthusiasm is admirable. Now you just need to remember to listen to your body and take care of yourself along the way.

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ONEKIDSMOM 12/9/2013 7:35PM

    Echoes of kindred spirits, here. Not JUST male ego, 'cause there are several of us ladies out here (old and otherwise) who also have similar issues. It's about facing our fears, isn't it? Maybe not blowing them out of the water... but facing them!



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TAICHIDANCER 12/9/2013 6:42PM

    I have repeatedly been inspired by your journey: by your successes, by your failures, and always by your self-reflection and your honesty. I will say, however, that I have made the resolution for myself not to run a single step until my BMI is below 25. The reason is that as a former runner, I know that when I train seriously above a certain weight, I just get injured. But I still love running and when I reach that goal number, I'll run with you.

Best to you on your journey.

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JILLHARVEY 12/9/2013 5:33PM

    Great blog!!! Parts could have been written by me.

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NILLAPEPSI 12/9/2013 4:55PM

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us, Robert. That's one of the things I really like about you. You are very, very REAL! I know not being able to run is really hard for you. Hang in there. This too shall pass. Keep smiling that great smile! emoticon

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IMSMILEY88 12/9/2013 4:07PM

    I love how you always speak out & share your heart. When I completed my first half marathon, it was so empowering! I had done the unimaginable... the unattainable... but I had DONE it. I don't want to ever stop pushing myself! And, I'm angry at myself as I sit here doing nothing. But, life has seasons & I need to get through this one. I will continue to push myself & see what is possible!

Thanks, Robert!

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WORLDSERIES11 12/9/2013 3:58PM

    As always, Robert, intelligent, introspective & honest. I'm sure many of us can relate, it helps to know we're not the only ones living on the "fringe" emoticon
Thanks for sharing!!

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MIMOTOGO 12/9/2013 3:32PM

    Again Robert, we APPLAUD you for your honesty, introspection, and saying things in a way that we can identify with you. I might not have experienced the things you have, I didn't grow up overweight, but I do understand how people can judge you and school is a torture chamber for so many. You just keep hitting the nail on the head. I am sorry that you have issues with your foot now and hope that you can recover. I have heard that once you start running, it becomes a life long passion and then you become a runner in life. Great job on that achievement. My hope for you is that you will overcome this injury that you can find your balance and pace that will carry you through the rest of your life. This is a battle worth fighting for and you are doing an amazing job on it. Keep the faith that you can and will overcome this!!! Because you already have overcome so much. WE are rooting for you Robert!!! Keep it going!
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BETHLOVESBIKING 12/9/2013 2:19PM

    emoticon blog. Yes, we all have different things going on emotionally. It seems to take an entire lifetime to figure them all out. You're doing great at figuring things out.

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VICKYMARIEC 12/9/2013 2:10PM

    There's NO doubt in my mind that you will continue to be the strong, courageous, powerful and determined individual that we have all come to know. SO for now you can't run. That does NOT mean you are back at square zero. IT just means you need to seek out those other avenues in your fitness regimen that you can focus on and excel at...because let's be honest. When you've put your mind to doing something you've excelled. That little boy that you once were...the one you've been trying so hard to forget...if it weren't for him you wouldn't be who you are today. I bet there are COUNTLESS people that you have reached out to and encouraged at some point. There are probably countless people that you've lifted up and egged on to do better. There are countless people that you have simply cared about because you've been in their shoes. IF you weren't who you were when you were a little boy...well, you may not be the man that so many of us look up to with admiration and respect. Love that little boy because HE made you who you are today. Thank that little boy for remaining strong when he wanted to call it quits. Hug him because he stuck around and was determined to be stronger. RObert, for now your running is on hold...i'm confident that you have other passions that you can pursue. GO after them with the same zeal you did with running. My friend...be encouraged and stay the course.

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REJ7777 12/9/2013 2:03PM

    You've overcome a lot of obstacles to get where you are. It's good to see you standing up straight, with your head held high. And it's inspiring to know you're a runner.

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RUNNERRACHEL 12/9/2013 2:00PM

    Continue standing up. Continue challenging yourself. Continue to do what makes you happy and grow. I remember feeling that way before my first 5k, my first 1/2 marathon, my first (and only so far) marathon. Also, I used to fear I wouldn't be able to finish.

You have proven yourself time and again. You don't have to prove yourself to anyone but you. That's what I love about running. I'm not fast. But I love the personal victory that comes when you finish a race. I've never been good at sports or played any (except in PE when I was forced) but I have come to love being an athlete (though I'm not sure if I feel comfortable calling myself that. It took a while to call myself a runner).

It's good that you are processing things. You are a deep thinker. Thinking through this makes you stronger and wiser.

Keep up the great work emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SHOOPETTE 12/9/2013 1:55PM

    Its was very moving, thank you for sharing something so personal, I am sure a lot of us can relate to it

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SLIMMERJESSE 12/9/2013 1:55PM

    Another great blog. Thanks.

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