Why do I run? Why do I get out there and hit the asphalt or treadmill or dirt or what-have-you? What's the purpose of all of this?
Is it for my health?
Do I enjoy the sense of accomplishment?
Or maybe it's because I have a few loose screws?
All those may be true but that's not the real reason why I run, the real reason why I set out on my fitness journey five years ago.
The little girl next to me is Yvie, and the one in my arms is Kennedy. At the time, Yvie was 2 and Kennedy was all of 3 months. And I was obese.
I had always felt bad about my weight, and it spiraled out of control. I didn't care about the weight anymore. Sure, it was rough but I tried to lose it and it wasn't going anywhere. Nobody said anything to me about it anymore; they just accepted me as a big guy and that was that.
But that was the problem. Acceptance. I was overweight. That's what people saw me as, an overweight guy, a *fat* guy. And that's how my daughters were going to see me. They'd grow up seeing their dad as, well, their dad. They wouldn't know any different. They wouldn't know that daddy was hopelessly overweight, that underneath those mounds of fat, he suffered from self-esteem issues.
My daughters would love me for who I was, I tried to make sure of that. I tried to give them unsolicited affection and love and kisses and hugs and anything I could to show them how incredibly happy I was to be their daddy. I wasn't so much worried about them not loving me. But I was worried about embarrassing them, about them having the *fat* dad, about being the really really big guy picking up his girls from school.
I did not want that... for them, for me, for anybody. That's the last thing I wanted.
So with the help of my wife, I got serious about it. I got serious about the one thing that I never thought I would be able to be serious about - my fitness. I set all the doubts and negativity, all the feelings of despair and helplessness and went for it. I went after my health.
Not for me. No, believe me. If I would have set out on a fitness journey for my own betterment and nothing else, I would not have come close to seeing it through.
I did it all for my daughters.
I wanted to be able to keep up with them. I wanted to be able to have fun with them. I wanted to enjoy life with them.
Now, I didn't exactly picture running races and getting them involved in racing. I set out to get fit and healthy but where that would ultimately take me, I had no idea. I just wanted to get fit and healthy.
And I did. I dropped more than 120 pounds over 20 months, and I showed to myself that I can achieve things previously thought impossible. I have been able to show my girls that life is fun, that being fit and active is enjoyable.
Sure, I'd like for them to be proud of their dad, but really all I want is for them to know that nothing is impossible, that nothing is out of reach, that if they try their hardest, they can achieve. All I ever ask from them is what I couldn't do for so many years, to try their hardest. No matter what happens, I tell them, if they try their hardest, they can take pride in whatever it is they're doing.
On Saturday, when I'm running my fourth marathon, I'm going to think about them a lot. They are going to get me to yet another finish line. They've been able to make me go places I didn't think I could go, to do things I didn't think I could do, and now they're going to do that one more time.
And I promise you, my babies, that Daddy won't let you down.