Just over a year ago, our family traveled from Birmingham, Alabama to Nashville, Tennessee to compete in the Eddie Ferrell Music City Triathlon. Well, some of us competed. After claiming my usual spot on a grassy riverbank overlooking the city skyline, I spread out in my folding chair, careful never to venture more than a few inches away from my cooler, umbrella, and a portable fan. With the exception of shuttling back and forth between food trucks, there was no reason to get up from my recumbent position for the rest of the day.
By the end of the race, I was exhausted. I joked with my wife and kids that next year, I might actually compete. Then, my daughter laughed, “Yeah right!” Incredulously, I asked, “What are you talking about?” Inferring that I might not be fit enough, she said, “You’re a marshmallow! You’re about as tough as the Pillsbury doughboy.” It’s funny. Even weighing 415 pounds, it never struck me that I couldn’t do something I made up my mind to do. And that it might require some change.
True change is a difficult feat. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, change is defined as, “to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.” My definition of change is simpler. It’s becoming who you were meant to be in the first place—different from who you are now.
The rut I’d dug for myself over the past 30 years was deep, but as I lounged on the riverbank that day, I was ignited by a spark. So, I set out on a weight loss journey.
I needed to get rescued from an island I was stranded on. An island of my own making. And exercise was just the ticket to my freedom. My island was simultaneously riddled with fear, joy, hope, hard work, mental toughness, and the generosity of others. That’s exactly “Why I needed 100 Alabama Miles” I made the beautiful outdoors of Alabama my new island.
Everything about the 100 Alabama Miles Challenge was a perfect match for me, being active, exploring and connecting providing a purpose every step of the way. The desperation of the swim, the joy of the bike and the struggle of the run were all waiting for me on the other side of the finish line. The freedom to be anyone or anything I want to be.
Over the past year, I was faced with all the challenges that come with change. But my new mindset changed from “I got this” to “We got this.” I not only wanted to find my own finish line, but I also wanted to help my family, friends, and others find theirs.
As Jimmy Dean once said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” The 100 Alabama Miles community has been my sail. I believe when you find purpose in others, change is within reach. Anything is possible.
I’ve lost more than 150 pounds. I have completed in many races and challenges and the high point was when my wife and daughter crossed the finish line with me.
I’m still on an island of my own making looking for rescue. The difference is now I’m maintaining balance and enjoying the ride. My finish line is the transformation in my mind that happens during being active, exploring and connecting with our GREAT STATE. It’s provided me with the mental toughness to believe that I can get through anything. I give so much credit to 100 Alabama Miles, I am so grateful to the program!
We got this.