I said that I wasn’t going to do it…
ME: My running streak turns 4 years old this Friday.
BUDDY: How are you going to celebrate?
ME: Go for a run. Maybe take a selfie.
BUDDY: Are you going to write a blog post about it?
ME: I don’t think so. I’m not sure what else there is to say.
The “anniversary” of my running streak (at least one mile every day) came and went unceremoniously. I did take a selfie, but I was standing firm on my decision not to write about it. I was serious when I said there was nothing else to say.
At my 1-year anniversary…I wrote a warm and fuzzy blog post about some of my more memorable runs over the last 365 days.
At the 1,000-day mark…I stepped out of the spotlight and wrote about the real streak runners who inspire me.
Running every day is just a part of who I am now.
In my blog post celebrating Day No. 1,000, I wrote:
“…running everyday has become so second nature for me. It’s become cemented into my daily thread, and it’s not a big deal anymore. Honestly, the only time I’m completely aware of the streak is when I have something out-of-the ordinary on my To Do List, and I’m forced to shuffle things around and/or plan ahead.”
Two days after my running streak turned 4 years old, it hit me – and I HAD to write another narrative about my streak.
And when I say “IT” hit me…I’m talking about a stomach bug that evolved from some Amazonian region of the planet and tried to devour me from the inside out. To say that I was a sick boy would be a huge understatement.
At one point, I actually told my mom and my wife to go ahead and start reacquainting themselves with my desired funeral plans. They said that I was being over-dramatic and to drink more fluids.
I won’t disgust you with all the gory details, but…
THEY. WERE. GORY.
Anything I ate or drank raced through me. The finish line was the toilet.
This probably sums it up: It got so bad that I couldn’t wipe my butt anymore.
After the fourth or fifth hour – with no hope in site – I started thinking about my running streak. I laid in my bed, whispering to myself: “I still have to run. I still have to run. I still have to run.”
NOTE: There was never a question whether I was going to get it in. It was simply a matter of when AND how ugly it was going to be.
After 7 hours spent between my bed and my porcelain throne of despair, it was time to GET IT ON.
“You can do this,” I whispered to myself as I put on my running shoes. “It’s only 1 mile.”
My head was pounding and my eyes burned when I closed them.
I knew I was toeing the line of dehydration, but I also knew it wasn’t going to get any better. I knew that I had to go run, and I knew that I had to do it right then and there.
I took one last gulp of Gatorade and walked out the front door.
The fresh air was nice, giving me a blast of confidence.
“You can do this….”
I took a deep and intentional breath and started to run – VERY slowly. I figured my pace was around 11 or 12 minutes a mile. I didn’t care, though. My goals were to finish AND not poop on myself.
“It’s only one mile!”
I took a lot of deep breaths and would close my eyes for 10 to 12 steps at a time as I ran. It reminded me of my third attempt at running a marathon – when I pulled myself off the course at Mile 24 and posted an embarrassing DNF (“Did Not Finish”).
Not long into the run, my weary mind started to wander. For the first time in a while, I actually thought about my running streak…while I was running.
I thought about ALL the times that I could have just stopped before I went a mile OR simply not run at all.
“No one would have ever known,” I thought to myself.
I felt a confident smirk reveal itself on my face.
“That’s the greatest part of this streak,” I thought to myself as that smirk evolved into a smile. “It’s not about anyone else. It’s about me!”
“It’s about being honest with myself.”
“It’s about pushing myself.”
“It’s about holding myself accountable.”
I thought back to a 1-mile run that I did on a treadmill in New Orleans – after a night out on the town. I drank two Hurricanes from Pat O’Brien’s after a number of beers at dinner. I was a mess, AND I still had to run.
I remember revving up that treadmill in that hotel workout room, whispering to myself: “Don’t you dare throw up. Don’t you dare throw up.”
I ran 5,280 feet (1 mile) and not one step further, but I did it. I finished.
That NOLA run reminded me that the phrase “no one will ever find out” is unacceptable in my world, and the thought of skipping a day OR intentionally cutting a run short has NEVER been option.
I feel that exact same way after 4 years and 2 days – my head still pounding and my hiney completely raw.
I would be lying to everyone, but more importantly…I’d be lying to myself.
“That’s what this streak is all about,” I whispered out loud. “It’s about personal integrity.”
With less than a quarter mile to go, I started to feel extremely weak, but my muscle memory in my legs took over and carried me. I just kept it slow and steady – one foot in front of the other.
I threw up a little in my mouth – Saltine crackers and orange Gatorade. I swallowed it and kept going.
When I went 5,280 feet, I stopped in my tracks. I took one more deep and intentional breath, and that confident smirk revealed itself again.
Then…I waddled back into the house and straight to the bathroom.