My 10 Mile Journey

Entering Soldier Field before the race.

Entering Soldier Field before the race.

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to try something I had never done before, and even better yet, something I had never even thought about trying until I stumbled upon it while browsing through the internet. I ran in a 10 mile race called “Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10 Mile.” 

I wish to take you along with me and use running in this race as a way to relate to our everyday lives, and how a simple mindset was able to carry me further than my physical ability and stamina could take me. How when you actually put your mind to something, you can go above and beyond than what you give yourself credit for. Whether its running in a race or something completely different, we can all relate to the times when we are thinking clearly and the times when our thinking can be a little blurry , which makes us doubt our own self.

I have also put a few pictures so you can feel a little bit more like you were there with me. (To get a better view of the pics, simply click on them,)

Upon signing up for the race, I had two goals set in my mind. 1) Run the entire 10 miles. (Something I had never done before.)  2) Finish under 1 hour and 40 minutes, which is a 10 minute mile pace.

I also had a little bit of extra motivation giving the fact that I was running to support a cause, Salute, Inc., which is an organization that strives to raise awareness of our service members’ sacrifices while making sure that each military family is treated with honor and dignity.

I was also running for Mind.Set.Go., in which I wish to help people realize (myself included) that a positive mindset will most definitely take you further than an “I can’t do it attitude.”

Running in this race was not about me, it was not about my physical shape, rather it was about the cause and about testing my mind. Instead of saying, “I could never run 10 miles straight,” I asked myself one simple question.

“Instead of thinking I can’t, what happens if I think I can run 10 miles straight?” Well, the only way to answer that question was to actually go do it. To put my thoughts in motion and actually take some action. To take a step out of my comfort zone and try something I had never tried before simply for the fact that I always told myself I couldn’t do it.

Getting my mind ready before the race
Getting my mind ready before the race

Pre race, I prepared myself for the mental challenge I was about to face. I knew there would be times that I would want to stop and walk, but I also knew that I could push myself through it. It’s just running. There are far greater pains in life than a little bit of discomfort that comes along with running. After a quick prayer for guidance, and with my reminder to Think Positive and keep fighting forward on my Mind.Set.Go. Shirt, I was ready to test my mind.

Starting Time just before my group hit the pavement.
Starting Time just before my group hit the pavement.

Upon starting the race, my adrenaline was running, and I felt great, which is what I expected. I also knew that fatigue would begin to set in at some point, and that’s when the fun challenge would start.

Miles 1,2, 3, and 4 went by great. I had a nice pace, my legs were still fresh, and I felt like I was keeping pace. And that’s about where I would stop feeling so great. Miles 5-10 were more of a struggle. The thoughts of wanting to stop and walk for a minute began to pop in my mind more and more. But the more these thoughts of stopping set in, the more I had to remind myself that this is exactly what I expected. It was not going to be easy, and there were going to be times that I wanted to stop, just like in life. My focus was not on the negative thoughts. I was focused on one thing only, embracing the challenge and pushing through when others may give in.

I thought miles 5, 6, and 7 were difficult until I got to mile 8. The course had a slight incline to it, which made my heavy legs feel a bit heavier. My pace had slowed, but I was still able to maintain a jog. I had to constantly keep fighting through the temporary pain that I was putting my legs through. The finish line was the only thing on my mind, and I wanted to accomplish the goal to run the whole way. I was focusing only on the good, leaving any bad in the path behind me.

I absolutely had to take a 15 second stop to snap this view.
I absolutely had to take a 15 second stop to snap this view.
Take 2
Take 2

Mile 9 came and I was hurting. Feet were on fire, shins were burning and each step seemed to be getting harder and harder. But I was almost there and no way was I going to give in now. Being that it was getting close to the end, there were more spectators cheering on the 12,000+  people participating in this race. And then mile 9 was knocked out, and it was time to dig a little deeper, pick my pace back up, and finish the last mile just as strong as I started. I looked down at my shirt, reminded myself to stay positive, and I pushed on.

The unique thing about this race was that we got to finish on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field, which is where the Bears play. Being a Saints fan, I am not all that fond of the Bears, but it was a unique experience to run through the tunnel and on the field in which there is so much history. And even if I had to run 10 miles before I made it on the field, I felt like that was a solid reward.

People Finishing up strong!
People Finishing up strong!

Once my feet hit the grass on the field, something took over me. I felt like I was Devin Hester returning a punt for a touchdown. I made it. I accomplished both of my goals, and I was able to accomplish something I had never thought I could do. I expanded my boundaries and succeeded just for the simple fact that I was able to maintain a clear thought process throughout the entire time. Click here to view my results!

Just after crossing the finish line. Thumbs still up  because I passed the test!
Just after crossing the finish line. Thumbs still up because I passed the test!
And this is inside the stadium. It's Devin Hester returning a kickoff in the Super Bowl in '06. (The year they beat the Saints)
And this is inside the stadium. It’s Devin Hester returning a kickoff in the Super Bowl in ’06. (The year they beat the Saints in the playoffs)

Lessons I learned from simply running:

1) The only limits in life are the ones you set yourself. If we think we can’t do something, then we are right. We can’t do it because we cut our self short. But if we flip that thought process around and think we can do something, then the results may open your eyes to a world you thought was never possible. Yes, we may fail, we may stumble, and we may even bite off more than we can chew at times. But we may also succeed and experience different joys in life, and that is where we grow as a person. Through the trials and tribulations that lead to the success and moral victories.

2) A simple positive thought will get your further than any negative thought. I could have stopped plenty times and gave up on the goals I had set for myself, but my mind was not focused on the negative. It was focused on the positive and the process that I had to go through to get there. The doubt will set in. The feeling of wanting to quit or give up on whatever it is that we do in life will be there. It is up to us as individuals to embrace these doubts and replace them with positives. We must be willing to take the pain, the grind, and everything else that comes along with facing adversity.

3) This was just a race, and 10 miles may be a lot or a little to you, but that is besides the point. It’s the fact that when we step out of our comfort zone and broaden our horizons is when we experience the different joys in life we may be looking for. 10 miles is very little when we compare it to our journey in life, but it is something. Whatever it is you wish to do or try in life, take that step out of your comfort zone and try it. It’s that simple. Give it a shot.

Panda Express was the first meal I ate after the race and this was my fortune cookie. Coincidence?
Panda Express was the first meal I ate after the race and this was my fortune cookie. Coincidence?

4) It’s not about running, it’s about testing your mind. We should all try to test our mind in various ways. Running is not the only way to test your mind. You may want to do something completely different from running, which is great. Just be sure to go do it. I do not like running, but I like the  mental game that it presents. There is a certain distance that we can run before we get tired. It’s the ability to keep running even when your body wants to stop. It’s your mind’s ability to take you another step further. When you run, you come to a certain point you want to stop, just like in life. But the key is to get to that point and push it further. That is the only way in which we can expand who we are as individuals. To push when we seemingly can’t push anymore.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed My 10 Mile Journey.

Think Positive. Keep Running.

Think Positive. Live Positive.

Inside of Soldier Field
Inside of Soldier Field

My Reminder to keep pushing on, to keep moving forward on my chest. #Team Mind.Set.Go.
My Reminder to keep pushing on, to keep moving forward on my chest. #Team Mind.Set.Go.
2013 Finisher Medal. It's actually pretty heavy, but it felt great to put around my neck.
2013 Finisher Medal. It’s actually pretty heavy, but it felt great to put around my neck.
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