To me, being a runner is a metaphor for life, and you write your biography in the stains, wear, tear, and worn in soles of our shoes.
The first 14 years of my life were spent running in the green hills and white winters of Minnesota. However, my running guides (i.e. parents) decided it was time to relocate to a warm-weather place where we could train year round. So we changed course and started out for Southern California. As it would turn out, my expansion west served as one of the most influential, soul-molding decisions thus far in my running career.
I was nervous about exchanging the familiar bends and curves of known paths for the unknown trails that lay ahead of me. But that fear is exactly why moving to California was so important. As a young kid in an emotionally hard time in my life I taught myself personal reliance and self-trust. I was exposed to situations where I didn’t have a lunch table of Minnesota buddies to feel safe around. And that feeling of being uncomfortable taught me the essential lesson of becoming your own best friend and, when necessary, being able to run solo. Most importantly I learned, through experience, that the more I did, the more I felt uneasy, the more new people I met, and the more bends along the trail that I self-navigated, the faster my running shoes adapted and hardened. The more things I tried the more lessons I learned. So I picked up surfing. I tried golfing and BMX biking. I climbed hot desert mountains and skied cold winter ones. I started a band and I became an Olympic weightlifter at the same time. I played football and basketball, chased California girls then ran away from them, learned to speak Spanish, played video games, and tried Jiu-Jitsu.
I retied my running shoes and headed off to college where I busted my tail to get good grades and balanced this work by having great times with my friends. Then luckily, sophomore year I followed a beast of a young man, a best friend, role model, fighter and a brother into a ghetto boxing gym. I sparred and skipped rope for 6 months, took an amateur fight, lost in a close decision, and customized my laces with blood. But having a sore nose every hour of the day and consistent black eyes made my mother pretty unhappy so I put my gloves on the shelf for a bit and decided to try out for the humble little football team down the block.
I gained a lot from college football and I was truly blessed to have had that experience and learned from such amazing leaders. I traveled all over the country, secured lifelong best friends, and exited the college football freeway as a physically stronger college graduate who balanced bashing my head on the field with a degree in music industry and business law.
Believe it or not, the purpose of sharing my story is not for you to learn about me. I’m sharing because maybe my story, my experience thus far in the race, helps you write and run yours. You have your story, your own race and it is inherently different, unique, and beautiful. My advice is to live the slogan of the swoosh on the side of our Nikes. The beautiful thing about life’s footrace is the opportunity to forge a path individually justified and personally worth following. Let’s go out and do the great things that we believe in and learn firsthand what it’s really, truly like to struggle for something we are passionate about. Let’s work to Stand Above and to make our dreams a reality.