Monday, October 27, 2014

#25 - Rock Climbing

I put together a little work rendezvous to cross off this list item - with the weather about to tank for the year, I needed to get this done ASAP.

The extent of my rock climbing experience came when I was in middle school/high school... on a wall... so since I moved to Colorado, I've wanted to take advantage of an amazing opportunity that surrounds us, and give rock climbing a shot.

After work, we got to spend a couple hours hitting the rocks at Taylor Canyon.  This experience solidified a few things:

-I have no upper body strength
-I can conquer my fear of heights when needed
-Rock climbing is pretty epic

It was a beautiful day, and not a bad way to spend a few hours on a Friday.  Thanks to Renee, Geoff, and Tricia for being so easily talked into taking the trip!

Celebrating victory!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

#26 - Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

To celebrate 3 years with my beautiful Kristen, I decided to surprise her with something a little crazy, yet something we'd remember forever.  Despite my fear of heights, I've always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride, and this weekend, it happened!

We decided to do a weekend getaway to Moab, Utah for our anniversary, and I figured this was the perfect place to cross this off.  If anyone has been to Moab, you'll know it was a pretty easy decision - it is hands down one of the most beautiful places you'll ever find.

We woke up before sunrise to meet the crew and the rest of the people flying, signed our waivers, and hopped in the van to meet the pilot.  The excitement grew as we saw the balloon inflate and come to life.  This was really happening.  We hopped in the basket and up, up, and away we went.  Once we got a few hundred feet in the air, my anxiety picked up and I got super nervous.  But I took a few deep breaths, took in the scenery, and enjoyed the experience from a couple thousand feet in the air.

It was truly a once in a lifetime experience...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#29 - Complete Something Off The "Life List"

When I was 17 years old, I wrote the first version of my "Life List" - things that I wanted to accomplish.  Over the years, that list has evolved, and I have crossed a bunch of things off of it.  Many of the things from my 30 Before 30 list are taken directly from that list, but so many couldn't make the cut.  Usually, it was because they were too big or unrealistic to accomplish in this year, but I needed to make sure one of those things happened.

This past weekend it did!

Go to a football game at Lambeau

Yes, the home of my bitter rivals, but THE stadium in the NFL.  The MLB has Fenway and Wrigley.  The NBA has MSG.  And the NFL has Lambeau.  

Kristen and I planned on going at some point, but through a random conversation of happenstance with my friend Shannon who is originally from Green Bay, and she was one of the main reasons this dream became a reality.

I had tickets, and we were set to go.  But just for fun, I checked tickets just before the game to see if prices were going down.  They were.  Tickets in the front row were staring me in the face, cheap enough that it could actually be a consideration.  So I spent the next 12 hours talking myself into doing it.  The best part?  Kristen had no idea.

We spent the day in Green Bay taking it all in.  Wandering the tailgates, checking out the merch stands, wandering the town, taking photos with the statues, and seeing the Thursday Night Football stage come to life.  As discreetly as I possibly could, I picked up my new tickets and still had to sell my originals - so I told Kristen about an upgrade, but I kept our location a surprise.  I sold my tickets to someone and got a good chunk of money back, and we headed to the stadium.  

Once we decided to take our seats, we entered and went down the stairs.  And kept going.  And kept going.  Kristen thought since nobody was really checking tickets that we were just going to check out the field before the game.  I told her these were our seats.  Cue the confusion.  I showed her the tickets.  Cue the waterworks.  In that moment, it instantly became worth it!

The game was a nightmare.  Unless you're a Packers fan.  A completely one sided domination in favor of the home team, but that made the energy inside the stadium electric.  It was a truly incredible experience, and one that we will never forget.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Journey of 1,000 Miles

"A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step" - Laozi

Over the weekend, I just surpassed the 1,000 mile mark since I started running at the end of 2010.  Time to reflect on this milestone...

The First Step

I was finishing up grad school in Florida, and I was fat.  I've always been a pretty good athlete, but that's been conflicted with a lifetime of weight struggles.  In grad school, I let myself go, and I knew it.  I reached a breaking point.  No more.

I went to the gym, and I stepped on the scale.  284.  The heaviest I have ever been.  I was so humiliated.  But I knew that there was no time for that - it was go time.  I knew it was going to be a long road, and just at the right moment, inspiration came in the form of a YouTube video.  This video.  I laced up my shoes, and I headed out for a run.  I made it a quarter mile.  I started sobbing.  This was one of the lowest moments of my life.  But it was only the beginning.  I kept going.  And that quarter mile has always been a reminder - and the start of my new journey.

The Last Step

I went out for a run on a chilly, wet, fall day in a prairie park in Illinois.  And it was beautiful.  My running hasn't been up to par recently, so I was going to be happy if I made it 3 miles.  I made it 6.5.  And it felt gooooddd!  A great way to surpass the milestone.

The In Between

This has been an unbelievable journey filled with tons of ups and downs.  At least 1 race every month since then.  54 races.  6 half marathons.  1 triathlon.  1 marathon.  Several states.  So many unbelievable memories.  I've met so many amazing people through being a part of the running community.  I've been able to strengthen relationships and get to know friends in a better way through running.  I have pushed my limits and discovered levels of strength within me I didn't know existed.  

The Future

I know at some point relatively soon there will be a shift.  I'm not built for long distances, so those will eventually come to an end.  The commitment it takes to run a race every month and continue that streak will become more challenging as I embark on other commitments that life offers.  Running for me will look different.  But no matter what, it will always be a part of me.  Why?  The reasons are simple.

I am a better person when I am running.
I am a better person because I am a runner.