This is, by far, the most excited that I have ever been to sit down and write a blog. The reason for this is because yesterday was Wade’s Wades Big Adventure, a trail run at Shelby Farms, which was the farthest distance that I have ever ran. It was originally billed as an 18 mile race, but it ended up being 17 and some change. Either way, it was a long muther fu*ker. Having finished the Stanky Creek 25k with a piss poor attitude and a defeatist tone, I was determined to have a different mindset. I am about 42 days into my Whole 30 Paleo diet, with the exception of the obligatory pizza, to celebrate 30 days and a loaf of pepperoni bread, which was made for me by the most notorious Italian football mom in Germantown history, and feeling really great. I was ready to tackle the challenge, and hell bent on finishing this thing, even if it took me 4 and a half hours…which it did. For those counting, that is just below a 16minute mile, which is SLOW, but a gentlemen described trail running best to me when he said, “it’s relentless forward progress, regardless of speed.” It seems that I was the last to learn this, as I thought it was “run hard, and then stop to pout when you don’t get the results you want”. Upon completion of the race my girlfriend, Amanda, gave to me a card that moved me like few things have. I am not sure exactly why the words made such an impact at that time, but they did, and they were as “spot on” as any words that could be summoned after what I had just endured. The card read like this:
“The reward of a thing well done….is to have done it”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
And that, my friends, is the gosh da*ned truth. I did it to do it. I’m not sure why, and I don’t think it is important why. What is important is that I said I was going to do it, and I did. During 4.5 hours alone on a trail, you have a lot of time to think. I would like to share with you what Beefcake thinks about during 4.5 hours of physical exertion. If you want off of this ride, then now is your chance to exit. It moves fast, contains crude references, there is no plot, and the language is terrible.
I thought about the gravel, and how it would only hurt for the first 2 miles. I thought about Autumn and how good the weather felt. I thought about injury, and how terrible it would be to drop out. I thought about winning, and I thought about losing, and how the only tragedy is not competing. I thought about God almost throughout, and how he loves a good comeback. I concluded that God loves Rocky movies. I thought about those weird twin girls from The Shining and what I would do if they were on the trail in front of me, and then what if they were behind me, and then I freaked the fu*k out. I thought about the people that I had treated poorly, and how many people had treated me nicely. I thought about how fortunate I am to have my problems, and not so many others. I have a healthy body (term used loosely), and healthy kids. I have an outstanding support system. I thought about Sloth and I thought about Chunk. I hollered “heyyyy youuu guyyyyysss”, and I wondered if anyone heard. I laughed at Chunk eating ice cream and telling his life story to the Fratelli’s. I thought about the birth of my daughter, and the five minutes that she did not cry, because there was no breathing. I thought of the team of nurses that rushed in and how fu*king scared I was. I thought about her being breached and had it not been for the experience of the nurse, not the doctor, that her life and mine would be very much different…and I began to cry. I remembered how I had promised God that if he got me through that one, I would change my ways, and then I thought about how I had lied. I looked back at all the times that I promised God I would do something, and never did, and I remembered that he is good ALL the time. I thought about when I ran naked through Waffle House….. and Sak-n-Save….. and a fraternity house at Mississippi State during their biggest party of the year. I also remembered how cold a jailhouse floor is, regardless what time of year you are there.
I was 5 miles in and felt like that I would run forever, but I needed to eat another Gu. I thought about what was in that Gu, and whether or not I really cared. I began to pass the other runners as they were making the turn and headed back towards me, and it got me excited. I thought about whom I would see first and what I would say. I wondered if the girl that ran past had heard me fart, and if I was supposed to holler “sorry”, as I don’t know trail fart etiquette. I thought about passing Von, and how I wanted to be running strong when he saw me. I smiled at the thought of him being proud of me, and having him firmly believe that if I say I am going to do something, then I am going to do it, and I thought about how I desperately wanted him to continue with this belief. I imagined Jason Vorheez and Michael Myers running behind me, and I envisioned Katie Brown kicking both of their asses while yelling at me to “keep moving, Beef. You got this. Don’t let up. Don’t make me…”, and I thought about how excited I get during a workout when John Brown yells out, “WHERE’S THE BEEF” at the top of his lungs to get me moving. I wondered why that guy I just passed didn’t say anything after I told him “good job”, and questioned if I should call him an a*shole. I wondered what the hell had happened to Greg Perry and Amanda Drogmiller, and it became quite evident that they were lost (like 3 miles lost)
About mile 8, I was feeling as good as I ever have and I reminisced into a place of deep gratitude. I thought about having the gun in my mouth, how dark and alone I felt, and how I asked God to give me the strength to pull the trigger, and I thought about how he didn’t, and how dark it is before the dawn. I thought about how many times I thought God had let me down, and then I thought about how many times I had let God down….and I decided to change the subject. At this point, my eyes were filled with water and my heart was full of gladness. I thought about being in my Dad’s driveway, the first day home from rehab, and breaking down crying. I asked him what if I can’t get sober? What if I can’t clean up? What if I can’t get my life together? Then I remembered his response. He said, “I will tell you exactly what we are going to do. We are going to pick you up, dust you off, and put you right back up on the horse. We are going to do it the same way that my daddy did for me, and the same way that you will one day do for your kids, over and over again, because that’s what families do.” I thought about my step-mom, Debra, and what a bada*s person she is. I thought about how she welcomed me in her home and SHOWED me how to live a balanced life, but never once TOLD me. I thought about my mom and all of the times that I have been ugly and mean, and all of the times that she loved me anyway, because she knew I was better than that. I reflected upon her paying for my children’s education the year following rehab, because she wanted them to have as much consistency as possible. I had told her that this was not really fair to my brother Ted, and she gave me a valuable lesson. She said, “in this family, our resources go where they are needed the most, for the most amount of good”, and how my brother never mentioned this….because he already knew this lesson. I thought about how Ted invited me to football games and dinner with his family, and was unashamed of me, even though I felt like an embarrassment. I remembered how he shared with his Sunday School members, friends and past coaches and teachers my struggle and how proud he was of me, never once considering that it might get much worse before it ever got better. He has always believed in me. I thought about my kids and nephews, and how lucky I am to be able to grow up and old with them. I thought about how fortunate I am to have at least 10 people, who would quite literally bankrupt themselves at a single phone call’s notice, if it meant the health and well being of me, or my children, because that’s how they roll. I thought about the fart that I lit on Christmas Eve, because my brother didn’t believe in Blue Darts, and how I caught my sweater on fire and almost burned down my dad’s house. I thought about Amanda and how lucky I am to be in her life. I even thought about Laura Pinckley, and what a wicked haint she is. I also thought about how much I love her and her husband Paul, and what a blessing their children are in the lives of me and my kids.
At mile 10 I got to see the participants in the 8 miler, which included Amanda and many other members of Olive Branch Crossfit. I was beginning to struggle. Fortunately I was able to see Shelly Hanumaiah and meet her husband Kiran. Kiran is a RUNNER. This muther fu*ker ran 100 miler recently which had a dropout rate of over 50%. I tried to kiss him on the mouth for luck, but was given the Heisman. He was kind enough to shake my hand, which was good for getting get me a couple of miles down the road. Anyways, the struggle had become very, very real and I contemplated quitting. My hip, joints, knees, and ego were hurting and the negative thoughts and self-doubt began creeping in. So , I made the decision to go deep into positive thinking and see where I wound up. It was one foot in front of the other, regardless of how slow….relentless forward progress. I thought about Lardass from Lean on Me, and the dinner table scenes from the Nutty Professor and how much they always make me laugh. I thought about quitting, and then the number of people who believe in me. I found quitting was not an option, but I also did not see finishing to be an option either. I was literally calculating 40-minute miles and if that would even count. I thought as long as I can stay hydrated, I will crawl this muther fu*ker , and my biggest concern was passing out, and waking up in an ambulance having not finished.
Having had a 20-year senior football reunion the day before, I was able to reminisce on some of the happiest times of my life. I thought about my old buddies and what they mean to me, and how I wish I kept in better touch. Most importantly, I thought about the life lessons that I learned with and from these guys and what a profound part they have played in my life. I thought about our coach, the late Ken Netherland, and how much he had taught me about life. Coach Netherland had the exact same strategy for almost 50 years for every football game that he ever coached, and that was this….line up and whip their ass. He was, very unapologetically, who he was, and he believed in doing the right thing, even if it meant embarrassing the sh*t out of yourself. You did not get into trouble with coach for your actions, near as much as you did with how you handled the consequences of those actions. Mischief was expected of young men, but lying and excuses were not tolerated.He also believed in forgiveness, and moving on with your life. He was really a beautiful person. He believed in running the ball up the middle until it works, and if it works, continue doing it. He believed in 3 yards and a cloud of dust, over and over again, until something breaks for the big play. He was simple, he was old fashioned, and he was a winner. I thought about how proud he was of me and how pissed he would be if I quit. I thought about how little it meant to him that you run into problems, or get knocked on your ass, but how important it was that you get back up. I thought about how he hammered the basics, one foot in front of the other, and how much this applied to me know.
I was really focusing on my pain and discomfort when I began passing the others who had made their second turn. I was about 14 miles in, and I was beginning to drown myself in self-pity and doubt. That’s when I started to see the other runners. What I noticed about most of these individuals is that they were very fit, very healthy, and very strong. Another thing that I noticed is that they were very fu*king tired! It occurred to me that maybe I don’t get tired because I am fat, outta shape, or lack potential, but maybe I’m tired because running 18 miles is fu*king difficult, regardless of who you are. Somewhere amidst placing one foot in front of the other, and wondering if Bigfoot ever has sex, I popped out at the finish line, another mile closer to my goal, and another 48-72 hours of swearing to never run another mile. Thanks to all of you who support me, believe in me, encourage me, and keep me laughing.
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,