Sunday came and went and so did my speech.
Sadly, I was unable to record it as I'd hoped. That was a major bummer but it was the only real setback I had. I'd been practicing my speech for days now as I had been rehearsing it in my head on many of my recent runs.
Here's kinda how the speech played out.
My name is Luis and I'm the co-pace leader with the 10s. I've run four marathons and this is my third year with the Lopers. Not too long ago, it would not have seemed possible to describe myself that way but I used to think a lot of things were impossible. By sharing my story, I hope that I will change the meaning of that word and give you a bit of a different perspective on impossible.
Every person in here has encountered something impossible, something that they thought was out of reach, whether it's in running, your career, education. And I know the first-timers are possibly having those thoughts as well, and maybe you're looking at the calendar and wondering 'How am I going to run 18 miles? That's impossible' or 'I'm supposed to run 20 and 22 miles? That's impossible' or 'A marathon? I'm supposed to run 26.2 miles at once? That's impossible.' I hope that by seeing what I went through, how I was able to redefine impossible, that you will come away with a different view of the word.
(Okay, here I went into my story, about how I had ballooned up to more than 300 pounds, and just to punctuate that point I put on and old Bears jersey that I wore, that was a XXL and really huge on me; about how I joined the gym and got a trainer; about my pie-in-the-sky goal of having a 1- in front of my weight and then about my entire journey, both in my weight loss, then after taking up running... skip ahead to the last part...)
When I had to run 18 miles I was in Seattle for work and I didn't want to run it but it was on the schedule so I had to do it, and I ran 18 miles alone, in 40-degree weather in the pouring rain. Then I ran 20 miles with the group, and then 22. For about two and a half months before the marathon, I was on a high. When the marathon came, I felt like I had to punctuate my journey and everything I had gone through so I wrote this on an old bib of mine.
I figured I could motivate people along the way but I also got a lot of complements too which was very motivating. The marathon itself was great. It started off just like a regular Sunday run, with about 8-10 of us. After awhile I kind of started running ahead and I felt good. At 18 miles I was thinking 'Yeah, going strong.' At 20 miles 'Feeling good.' At 22 'Almost there.' At 23 'What the hell was I thinking?' I kind of hit the wall there but my wife called me and talked me off the ledge a bit and settled me down, and when I saw my wife and girls just before the Mile 26 marker, and that helped motivate me to keep going.
I hit Mile 26 and just had the finish line before me. It was such a surreal feeling, seeing it right in front of me. I started to think about everything I'd gone through to get me there. Now, imagine if I would have thought at some point along the journey 'Why join the gym? You can't lose weight, that's impossible' or 'You can't lose 60 pounds by yourself, that's impossible' or 'You can't run a 5K or 10 miles, that's impossible' or 'You can't run a marathon. That's impossible.' I would cheated myself out of my appearance. I would have cheated myself out of my health, out of my lifestyle. I would have cheated myself out of everything.
I pushed forward to the finish line. I'd crossed the threshold of pain several miles back and was just numb but I got to the finish line, raised my arms and crossed. That feeling is so amazing. It's one of the best feelings of my life. It makes you feel like you can accomplish anything and it never diminishes. I've done three marathons after and it's always the same.
Now, before I go I just want to leave you with this. What I wrote on the back of that bib is something I believe wholeheartedly. Nothing is impossible, because if someone would have told you six years ago that I would have lost 120 pounds and run a marathon you'd have said that's impossible, and I'm here to show you that it's not.
Well, that's pretty much how my speech went. It would have been nice to have recorded it but hopefully next time I give the speech I will have a video camera.