It always seems impossible until it’s done

Today I find myself in the enviable position of being alone, which is a rare occasion for me.  Both kids went to pre-school today, and wifey is working.  What have I done with this precious alone time?  I ran 10k this morning… this hot and humid New England morning… and I did it for fun.

I passed a guy on my run this morning.  I had never met him before, but I knew him well.  He was really overweight, gut hanging over his belt line and out of his shirt.  His jogging pace was about the pace of my brisk walk.  Sweat poured down the sides of his face, which was beet red to match his shirt.  His breath came in wheezy gasps.

Me, about 5 years and 100 lbs ago.

Oh ya, I knew this guy.  I was that guy five years ago.

I said a chipper, “Good morning,” and waved as I do with everyone I see when heading out on a run.  Staring down at the ground, he grunted, and I trotted past him and along my way.

I thought of a quote I read on a roadside sign yesterday, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

I’m going to tell you a very small part of a long story.  It’s a story I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone in it’s entirety.  Five years ago, my wife was six months pregnant with our first child, and I had the realization that I’m not just going to be a dad.  I’m going to be the fat dad.  At just shy of 300 pounds, I needed to take a break after 20 minutes of mowing the lawn.  It was an effort to climb a flight of stairs, and I would be out of breath by the time I got to the top.

I had been a fat guy for my entire adult life to that point, it was nothing new.  Sure, I’d lost a few pounds now and then – most notably for my wedding – only to gain it back with interest.

I looked in the mirror one day and said, this will not be the example that my son follows.  He will not be the kid who gets made fun of for having a fat daddy.  I want to run around with him on a soccer field.  I want to be there for him as long as I can.  But every time I sit down to eat a bacon double cheeseburger I wonder, Will this be the meal where I leave on a stretcher after my first heart attack?

I had to make a change, so I decided that day to go for a jog.  “I’ll go a mile,” I said to myself.  I can do that.

Gasping for air, legs on fire, heart in my throat, I all but collapsed onto the curb.

I looked behind me.  I had gone maybe 500 feet.  Not even the length of two football fields.  This is impossible.

I had, to that point, spent my whole life being told that I could not be too active because I have exercise induced asthma.  It was easy to buy into this, given that sitting on the couch with a box of Cheez-its is much easier than exercising.  The easy decision that day would have been to turn around, walk home, order a pizza and fire up the XBox.  But something made me look ahead.

I got up off the curb and started walking, not towards home, but away.  “I’m doing this mile.”

I walked, I jogged, I sat on the side of the street more than once trying not to throw up, but forty minutes later I had done my mile.  I paid for it, for days, but I did it.  That was 5 years ago, almost to the day.

Getting back to my run this morning, finishing my 10k loop, I passed the guy again.  He was struggling, but still at it.  Again, as I do with everyone I pass on the way back in from a run, I waved and said, “Have a good one.”

He didn’t stare down at the ground and grunt this time.  He looked up and smiled, and gave me a thumbs up.  I said, “Alright!” gave him a nod, and continued on.

I finished my run and checked my time, an average 10:16 per mile.  Not my best 10k time, but pretty good for such a hot and humid day.  I thought about how far I have come since my first try at a jog.  There’s obviously a ton that’s happened between that day and this morning, and I’ll write about it at some point, but having seen myself 5 years ago, and then looking at where I am today, that road side quote came back to me again:

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  

Isn’t that the truth.

I’m Dave, a novelist, Mr. Mom, husband, son, office worker, and guy who has struggled with weight for 20 years.  If you like what you read, go ahead and use the links on the right over there to follow me on Facebook or Twitter, and drop me a line!  I love hearing from readers.  Hope you enjoy, and happy reading!

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