Have you ever had a moment where you just felt so loved that you were nearly speechless? A moment in time where there are no words that can accurately describe how appreciative you are when someone (or many people) shows they care about you? I had several of those moments this past week, and I’ll do my best to describe them and put them into words.
I turned 27 years old this past Friday, and it was arguably the best birthday I’ve ever had. At a younger age I’m sure I would classify, ‘best birthday’ as receiving gifts, money, etc. But as I get older, I’ve learned that life is not about that at all. Rather it’s about what you can offer to people, the impact you make on their life and knowing that they appreciate what you do.
My day started off fairly normal: ride to the office, mentally prepped myself for the day, etc. As I left the office to meet with a coworker that I commute with, I had an iMessage on my phone from my niece. It was a nearly 2-minute video of her explaining how much she loves me, misses me…and hopes that we can paint our nails again (we did that this past summer, which she loved) sometime soon. I was so touched, and it was the perfect start to my day. My 5-year old niece is the funniest, cutest, sweetest (okay, I’m slightly biased) little girl ever! We even got to FaceTime for a couple of minutes which made the day even better.
After that, I met with my coworker who has been incredibly supportive since we started commuting together. I am so appreciative as she holds me accountable in making sure I work out and eat clean. I’m especially grateful for her support because sometimes, the people closest to me don’t necessarily support what I’m trying to do. Moreover, she made me a couple healthy (and delicious) muffins for my birthday treat. It was a great start to the day and I hadn’t even made it to school yet!
A lot of the kids at school already knew it was my birthday, so I received a lot of ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. Shane’ wishes right away. It was super sweet and really cute. I received birthday cards, birthday treats, hundreds of fist bumps, etc…But there were a few moments that really stuck out that absolutely made my day. The first moment was from one of my little buddies that I refer to as, ‘My Man 50 Grand’ (he calls me the same or ‘My Man Shane’). With a little assistance, as he can be shy, he sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me and gave me a big hug. It was only 8:30 am and I was already getting emotional (you really do get ‘softer’ as you get older, huh!?). I know this took a lot of courage for my buddy, and it melted my heart.
The next moment was right before lunch when the teacher of the classroom I primarily work in, presented me with a huge chocolate cupcake as her class sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. It was so touching that she thought to set that up with the class, and it was really neat to see all of the students genuinely wishing me well. She is a great teacher (not just because she gave me a cupcake! ha-ha), an even better person, and I’m so fortunate to be able to work with her every day.
During lunch is when things really got awesome. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when…. The entire cafeteria sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. As I was really digging into my lunch, I heard ‘can I have your attention, please!?’…and I knew. The educator running the lunchroom/cafeteria could have just said, ‘It’s Mr. Shane’s Birthday’ and the kids could have just sang quickly. But that didn’t happen. She mentioned how I’m a person that ‘we all look up to, respect, and admire’…and then she led the cafeteria of 50+ students/faculty, in a ‘Happy Birthday’ sing along. As I looked around, every single person appeared to be singing and looking directly at me. They were all invested and it was obvious that they cared. It took a lot of will-power for me to not tear up at that moment in time. I felt so many things at that moment, but most importantly…I just felt loved! Also, my transformation story recently became known (through the news story) to many of the educators in the school I work at, so I’ve been receiving a lot of attention in that regard.
That was all in one day…it was a lot to take in, a lot of attention, and I probably could have made the excuse to not run- ‘it’s my birthday, I can take a day off’. But I didn’t make an excuse…after work I hopped on the treadmill and completed my easy 4-miler. This week was a ‘rest week’, and I took full advantage of it. I ran the mileage I was scheduled to run, and didn’t do much (exercise wise) outside of that. I still struggle with the concept of ‘train smarter, not harder’, so I was really proud that I was able to follow the schedule this week and not push myself too hard. Rest is important, and this week I rested plenty. Now we are getting into some serious mileage, and I look forward to the challenge. I did 8 miles this past Sunday, and for some weird reason…I cannot wait to hit 14 miles next Sunday. Of course I’d like for Mother Nature to hook me up with 40+ degrees/no snow/no wind, etc…but either way, I look forward to the challenge. There’s just something so rewarding, so intoxicating, when you push yourself further and further and just continue to get better!
Oh, time to talk about cheesecake! After my 8-miler on Sunday I had an amazing dinner courtesy of my roommate’s Mother. Her Son and I went to school together, now we live together, and she treats me like her second Son. Every Sunday we have dinner at her house, and it’s always a great time. She offered to cook whatever I wanted to eat this past Sunday for my birthday, and it did not disappoint. We had chicken alfredo, corn on the cob…and cheesecake for dessert. Cheesecake is my absolute favorite dessert, and probably my guiltiest pleasure of all time (its close between cheesecake and Reese’s PB cups). It was so good, and please believe that I enjoyed 2 pieces of it. Heck, after dropping 180 pounds, and running 8 miles that same day, I earned a couple slices! I figured I’ve shared some running pictures, so why not share a picture of delicious cheesecake?
The next two weeks are going to be interesting. I’ll have to cut back on the cheesecake, and up the mileage. With my long runs stretching to 14, then 16, miles…I’ll have to really focus. I need to stay on track, follow the program, and believe in myself. I’m sure I’ll face some struggles this next week as the mileage gets higher, but that’s okay. I knew going into this that preparing to run 26.2 miles would not be easy. But I don’t want it to be easy. I want to test myself, push myself…and just get better. I feel as if preparing for this marathon is helping me get better in more than one way. There is the obvious physical changes and improvements…but it’s helping me become a better person by challenging myself. I’ve changed so much for the better in the last 2 years, and I think the next 2 months- with this challenge directly in front of me- I’ll continue to do just that. 26.2 miles, 4+ hours of running, as tough as it sounds…also sounds beautiful. Why? Because… “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Make em’ count!