“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” ~Michael Jordan
I ran with all the strength left on me, I felt the energy of the people cheering other runners. There is a strange feeling when you see the finish line getting closer and closer. Suddenly I heard my friends Daniel, and Donna shouting my name, and an extra inner strength was poured out all over me. I pushed with everything I had, crossing, not only the finishing line, but also overcoming my own demons.
I felt so emotionally overwhelmed because I faced the fear of failure. I did it! I ran my first 5k, pacing myself, and I did not care when other runners were passing me. I concentrated in the memory of my father, and how proud he would be for me doing this. I kept hearing his voice saying: “mi grandote” (my big guy). I do no want to sound too selfish, but I am so proud of myself for the journey I started back in April 11th when I first stepped into Iron Tribe Down Town, and all the things I have accomplished.
Seven months have passed since I started this journey, and day-by-day I get more excited about the new things I am being able to do. Last week I squat 200lbs, and I reached the 60lbs lost. In this craziness of reaching new limits, goals and horizons, I have decided to go back to swim, so eventually I can start training for a triathlon. Any way my next step will be running the Dothan 10k in February to start getting ready for the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, TN in April.
So why am I setting all these crazy goals? Because for the first time in this entire journey, I have started to believe in myself, and all I can accomplish. My good friend and co-athlete Caroline May taught me a phrase that I’ve adopted: “This time next year”. It has become our slogan every time we want to quite and give up. But the funny thing is that “the next year” part, is becoming a “this time now”. Vincent Van Gogh said: “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
Crossing the finishing line of a 5k could seem insignificant for you, especially if you are an avid runner, but for me was a milestone. When I turned for the last time and I saw, at the distance, the goal I have set a couple of weeks before, I laughed, and cried at the same time. I had my “aha” moment. That was when I realized I was capable of doing what I thought was an impossible. Of course I have to admit that I did not set this goal by myself, it was not my idea. It came from a person who has believed in me since I started this journey. He has put up with all my complaints, bad attitudes, hundreds of “I cant’s”, and of course my unbelief. He is the one, without any hesitation, told me “Miguel, you should go and register to a 5k tonight.” He has not only been my coach but a leader whom I respect and listen. (Of course I am talking about Coach Josh Bateman) This kind of coaching can only happen in a place like Iron Tribe. Then you add the many encouragements for the rest of the coaching team, staff, and fellow athletes, and this becomes what true community is all about.
It is amazing to see what happens everyday while working out together. People from different races, ages, languages, gender, religions, fitness levels, and even sexual identity are able to come together, and for 45 minutes work out for a common goal. We need to take this approach into our daily living activities specially if we are working for social justice. We do not want all people to be the same, our differences make us stronger, our colors make us diverse, and our acceptance and compassion make us humans. Then we need to have a common goal, and that eventually will unify us.