Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Anniversary To Me!

Dear Me:

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! It was two years ago today -- Dec. 1, 2006 -- that you broke a box of KOOLS in half and bought a box of ASICS (below) instead, joined the NY Road Runners, and set out to become an ultramarathon runner. You are free.

Addiction to cigarettes is a self-imposed prison sentence, lots of tiny escapes from life that all add up. You smoked for over 5 years, for silly reasons. You always wanted to run, but you would wake up and smoke and then ask yourself: "What's the use?" You would freeze standing outside your office with other smokers. You were dying rather than living, literally.

You decided to run a marathon within one year of quitting, and you started with 5Ks and 10Ks and Halfs (pictured above is you trundling through your first race in December 2006), and you drank water constantly and you finished the NYC Marathon on Nov. 4, 2007. You dedicated yourself to living a long life for your boys, and you dedicated yourself to being a FINISHER in life for the first real time. You knew that if you could finish marathons, you could finish anything.

You ate oatmeal. Lots of oatmeal, almost every day, with lots of fruit and nuts and vegetables. You were better at everything. Your lungs were clearing up by all accounts and you were breathing stronger and stronger. You were happier, more creative. You endured the first year of overuse running injuries -- shinsplints, plantar fasciitis, lower back pain, etc. You learned the importance of perfect footwear -- the No. 1 need. You had more and more friends than before.

In Year 2, you poured it on. You never thought about smoking anymore, it was so in the past. You ran your second marathon in April 2008, and you lowered your time to 5:21 at the St. Louis Marathon. You lowered it further to 5:13 in the NYC Marathon on Nov. 2, 2008, and two weeks later you finished the Knickerbocker 60K ultramarathon -- completing 37.2 miles in 9 hours 51 minutes.

In Year 3, it is your goal to be stronger and stronger than ever in every way, to be better than ever in your eighth year with Major League Baseball, to help others and make an impact on the world more than you ever have, to be a better father, to be better at your relationship, to be a bestselling author through doing rather than hoping, to be better with your finances, to run at least three more marathons and one more ultra, to discover more about yourself, to be a leader by example, to be awesome with a heart of a champion.

"Constant and Never-ending Improvement," or "CANI", is what Tony Robbins taught you and what you always will keep in mind. You will always surround yourself with positive vibrations and the pursuit of excellence and happiness.

Anything is possible. Keep going for it. Work your ass off because it feels so good to dance across those finish lines!!! Happy Anniversary!




Tenacious B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tenacious B said...

(Typo in earlier post) Great blog Mark, thanks for sharing! Today was my 8-year anniversary of quitting smoking and my 1 year anniversary of being a marathoner. I enjoy your Twitter posts, and look forward to running a few miles with you sometime!
- Brett Stewart (TRI PHX)

Mark said...

Thanks, Brett! Congratulations to you as well and see you on the running trail somewhere!

Gerri said...

Wow! If that doesn't get your heart pumping, nothing will. Happy Anniversary Mark! From one former smelly smoker to another, congrats! Keep on running and inspiring.

Mark said...

Thanks, Gerri! Glad you can relate. Ready for an awesome 2009!

CTBamaFan said...

Great post Mark. Congrats on your anniversary. You have made an amazing turnaround and are an inspiration to many. I'm sure your family is especially proud of you. I look forward to following your journey.

Mark said...

Thanks much and good luck to your Tide. My friend Dani is going to need the same luck for her Gators here so I am among temporary enemies lol.