Friday, August 28, 2009

Trials and tribulations...

OK, anyone who's lived in TX long enough knows how blazing hot it is here from about mid-May through about the beginning of October. It's seemed the last few years that the first real cold snap we've gotten has been on Halloween night, just in time for all those cute little costumes to be covered up with us Texans' version of a coat (compared to northern standards in coats, we're pitiful.)

Therefore, training in the heat this summer has been one of the toughest challenges to come upon, to say the least. This past week's running has been an uphill climb. Most days have been so humid that you feel like you're underwater, and putting one foot in front of the water feels just like when you're in the pool trying to run.....slow, sluggish, and pointless. The heat has just been life-sucking this week. At the end of three miles my wick-away shirt is sopping wet---you know it's hot when your shirt is dripping sweat from it. I feel like someone's standing on my chest when I try to breathe in the heat and humidity...gotta love asthma (and gotta love the new inhalers that have come out, SO much better than plain ole albuterol!)

My husband and I both faced discouragement this week training. Some days we feel like we're not doing enough to get ready for our goals, despite that we're following the prescribed plan for where we should be. Other days it just doesn't seem to click. Some days we feel so out of gas it feels like it'd be easier to throw in the towel, but we push forward to keep going.

Just when I think "is this all worth it?" we do get some good news to keep us plugging forward.... Took K's bike in today, he was concerned something was wrong with it only to find out he's SUPPOSED to air up the tired every other day, let's just say the PSI was so embarrasingly low that the tech said it was a miracle he didn't get a pinched flat and hurl himself into a nasty accident (gotta love starting a new sport and "conveniently" finding out about these kinds of important things to know by accident...literally...let's just say mama will be going into the store with him tomorrow when we go to get clips put on his pedals and some other gear, and asking lots of potentially embarrasing questions only newbies ask to find out all the things he's SUPPOSED to be doing that we weren't told....hey, everyone's had to ask them before when they started!)

Good news on my front, after searching for months to find a doctor who would truly take an interest in me, not run me through their office like cattle, actually call me back (GASP!) with test results and actually take time to talk through said results......I FOUND SUCH A PERSON!!! Can't still believe that I have, but yes.....a doctor who actually CARES about patients and is actually PASSIONATE about helping patients. She ran quite a bit of bloodwork on me, worked me over from top to bottom, got paperwork from previous doc's who were worthless....and determined that I have a condition called PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome.) I'll spare you boring details, but LOOOOONG story short my hormones are now actually being put back on the scale (I was almost at zero with them...yep, that scary) and she's dealing with the lack of weight loss. Downside is I'm essentially eating an Atkins-type diet now, but with everything she's faced with from the results, she hopes that I will start to see the pounds come off, and that more importantly some of the fat come off, thus creating a new me and making me feel so much better inside and out. Praise God! It should remedy some of the not-so-nice-person issues I have when I feel so blah, as well as make working out easier, give me more stamina for tae kwon do, and in general look better! I am just so grateful to have someone in my corner finally in the medical field who gives a flip about me, rather than just being a dollar sign.

So facing an easy 5 mile run in the morning....preparing for 8 miles next is looking to be getting under control slowly but surely. K has a ride in the morning with his training partner on his newly fixed bike.....gotta keep looking for the positives, otherwise I'm sunk!

All's well that ends well....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's The Little Victories...

While running our seven mile run this morning, coach Lea Ann said the words our little group needed to hear (and I paraphrase)..."When you're training for a half, it's the little victories that get you through it."

I couldn't agree with her more. It's those little victories I've thought about, and they are abounding around me...

This week I ran with Kevin one morning on his training program, and was thrilled to do a little less time and intervals. It was so nice to run with someone else, we were going at a nice easy pace. By the end of the run I realized that I wasn't out of breath when we finished the last interval! It was the coolest thing to see how far I've come--last January I couldn't run further than two minutes before I was ready to walk. I was actually, dare I say it outloud, proud of myself?

I find myself being able to roll out of bed before the alarm goes off. For whatever reason, I instinctively seem to be waking at 4:50am, 10 minutes ahead of schedule. It gives me the few minutes I need to wake up and attempt to start functioning, rather than doing so cold turkey. Whatever the reason is, I'm happy it happens, it's making life much easier for everyone as the day rolls on--the saying is "if mama ain't happy, ain't no one happy"....

I'm not skipping any runs anymore. I'm beginning to see how the hard work of training during the week pays off. Just that realization is worth its weight in gold.

This week I made it up two hills WITHOUT STOPPING that have kicked my backside every single day. I couldn't breathe when I got up them, and I wasn't running fast up them, but I did it without stopping. Total victory dance (in my head) when I got to the top.

I have started taking Fridays off from most activities, to give my body a good rest before Saturday morning runs. Sadly, my parts aren't as new as they used to be, and combined with sparring in tae kwon do plus all my activities, parts are wearing hip is a little elbows always kill knees have their neck is finicky....I know, I know, cue the pity party (not). I find I'm in better shape in many ways to tackle our group runs if my body's not hurting me from a pounding on Friday. Yesterday afternoon I started to notice that I was grumpy, and felt sluggish...and was getting antsy, like I just needed to 'do something'...and it dawned on me that I was MISSING MY RUNNING! This from a brain who was so convinced she wouldn't ever a blue ribbon on me, I feel like I've won the Olympics just for getting to this mindset.

This morning in our group run, as we ended down a hill, and turned left onto a flat to end, I took off! I began to think about how I'd survived the run with a smile this morning; I had looked forward to running with my coaches and teammates; I'd thoroughly enjoyed the conversations about our lives and catching up with them; I wasn't dying from the run, I actually ENJOYED IT! As these thoughts settled into my thick skull, it was as if I had my own "Sound of Music" moment on top of the hill, and instead of twirling 'round, I took off for the finish line (which also held peanut butter sandwiches and oranges there...hey it's ALL ABOUT BREAKFAST PEOPLE!) It was a joyous moment, and my feet seemed to pick themselves up with the happiness my heart was feeling.

It was a pure joy to be able to run this morning, and I am so thankful for this blessing. Little victories, my man....little victories...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gratitude Early In The Game...

So it dawned on me before I get too far into all this (and I'm still trying to remember I should be writing on this daily...I promise it will get better next week when school starts and a semblance of schedule and life comes back to the house) that I need to give gratitude where it needs to be given (I'm sounding a bit like Jason Mraz...yes, all my friends who are Mraz fans, I can hear you laughing...)

So I have this husband who is one for the books. K is my high school sweetheart, we've been together since I was 14 years old. I actually met him for the first time when I was eight and our church was helping their church build their new sanctuary. We grew up together in school activities, spent our high school years traveling Texas and the country showing animals with my mom and his parents, and went to college together. We married shortly after he graduated from school with his bachelor's, and it's been full speed since....

When I said yes to marrying him (which, BTW I planned my own surprise engagement party--I thought it was for his birthday party!) I went back home that night with my mom so I could show my friends at home and my church family on Sunday morning my ring. Laying in bed that night, I prayed that God would let me know that this was THE ONE for was one of my first physical/true connections with God moments, and I knew right then I had met my soulmate with approval from THE one who mattered most.

I've known since the beginning that K was the one for me. In fact, my friend who I rode with to feed animals before school every morning told me the day of our first date that I was going to marry this boy...I shushed her and told her she was crazy...with a smile. He has always been my rock, the person I could turn to for support, for comfort, for tough love (and he's given plenty.) He is generous, he is kind, he is the leader of our household--and I have NO issues saying that because unlike most we've both read the scripture out of Ephesians, but read the WHOLE scripture IN CONTEXT and we're in a partnership here...such a blessing...

He is the father I longed for him to be for our kiddo. As I didn't have an example growing up of what a father should be like, I knew that the man I married would be the antithesis of what I had as a child in that role. Watching K and our son together is a thing of pure joy, a total blessing in my life.

And oh my goodness, let me tell you how FUNNY he is--a very dry humor funny most of the time, but a very personal/inside joke kind of's that kind of funny that you only get with someone you know SO WELL for SO LONG that others think you're nuts...but it really is hysterical funny to you. The backbone of our humor falls completely on quoting movies/tv shows/music to one another. It's annoying to a fault to the outside world--we drive his mother psychotic when we get on a roll, she just shakes her head at us like we're nuts. It's backfiring on us now with our kiddo as he repeats everything back, and not always in the right settings or in the right context....yep, having two smartass parents will do that for ya...

But I can gush on more than you care to read, but to the point.....with this journey I've been on so far to discover who I am inside, as well as who I am on the outside, K has been there every step of the way. He's been a support, my biggest cheerleader and again a source of tough love doled out when needed (more than I wish...) He has been an example of hard work--he is in the process of training for his first sprint triathalon! So it's been such a Godsend to be able to have someone who understands, someone to commerserate with in the morning after hellaciously hot workouts, someone to push me a little further when I don't think I can. He's running races with me, he's pushing me out of bed when I don't want to get up, he's giving me smiles when it's all I needed.

So this is a huge thanks to my support, my cup runneth over...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Angels Were Dispatched...Over Six Miles...

There's a movie that came out this past Friday, called Bandslam. It's another teen flick that's had the daylights advertised out of it. Being that we now have an 8 yr old who has officially (according to him) graduated from "baby TV" like Noggin (sniff...sniff...not ready for all this growing up...), we watch alot of Cartoon Network and Disney Channel now, and are bombarded with the onslaught of the kid-directed commercials.

The movie looks decent enough, I think it's a big ploy to pull a couple of the Disney Dream Team kids out of their squeaky-clean images and attempt to age them some (God love the High School Musical chick, she's always going to be Gabriella to everyone...not a bad thing considering the amount of bank she had to have made from those movies and merch...)

I digress....there's one part of the commercial that ran last week that has stuck with me. The premise of the movie is about kids who don't really belong to one particular clique in school, more like they're misfits/eccelctic/eccentric of sorts (alot like me!), and they start a band. It shows snippets in the commercial about what they go through, and one of the characters tells another to "always do the thing that scares you the most."

Always do the thing that scares you the most...I lived that in person yesterday morning.

I hate to fail. Period. I have always been competetive, I have always like to strive to do my best. Don't know where I get it from (though I know I get my perfectionism from my mom.) But I have been this way since grade school, and it's never left. I've always seen it as a good thing---it helped me to accel in my high school activities, it helped me gain enough scholarships and grants to graduate from college owing nothing, it helped me to find my first job post college. But I'm finding out I am my own worst enemy at times because of this drive...

Our running group was scheduled to run this past Saturday morning six miles. This would be my first time ever to run six consecutive miles. We train during the week according to the schedule set for us, and come together as a group on the weekends. This would normally be no big deal, we do this EVERY Saturday...but I've been gone most of the summer. I've done a good effort of trying to keep up with the schedule when I was in NYC...and CA...and in Waco or wherever else I've been. We just returned from an amazing trip to the Carribean, and despite having worked out on our trip, I felt pretty out of running. I ran last week for the first time, home for good, according to schedule and struggled every day. The heat is sapping the life out of me, even at 7am when I run post boot camp. I'm cramping in my legs, and the humidity makes me feel like someone's sitting on my chest while I try to pace my breathing.

As we got closer to Saturday, my anxiety began to build. What if I couldn't run the six miles??? What if I got two miles in and my asthma acted up? Would my coaches think I was a loser, too fat to be out there, was I wasting their time? What if I got down the road and couldn't go anymore--my cell phone's too bulky to carry, how would I make it back? Would I be the embarrassment of the group and run alone in the back? It was as if there was a demon sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear, "you can't do it...."

I decided that I would try to set myself up for as much success as I could for the run. I ate a good meal Friday night, I went to bed before 10pm. I didn't go to boot camp on Friday, to let my legs rest so that I wouldn't aggravate my hip that gives me problems sometimes, or mess with my never-ending neck issues. So far, so good...

I woke up several times during the night on Friday, and realized I was dreading the 5am alarm. The night couldn't go slow enough for me. At 4:55am, I just got up, no point in just staring at the clock. I got dressed in my usual gear, threw on a hat, grabbed my water bottle and headed out the door.

The drive to the run had to look hysterical to someone else looking in. As soon as I pulled out of the driveway, I started, sobbing's the better word. I was terrified, I guess that I couldn't do it, that I'd fail. I turned on music, and started to pray outloud that God would run with me on this run, that I needed Him more than ever, RIGHT NOW. I can only imagine what someone would have thought of me if they had listened to me praying to tell the demon to get out, that I WOULD do this...I was a complete nut case at this point.

I kept thinking about that the thing that scares you the most...well, ok, here I go!

Got to the run and was greeted by coach Angie. I had expressed on Friday that I was worried, and she assured me nothing to be worried about...not so much doing so that morning, I'd already been sick once before I got there. She again assured me we would finish. I panicked when I remembered Kristi was out of town--ACK! my running buddy wouldn't be there!!! We warmed up and stretched, met as a team, and headed out for the run. I usually wait for the mass of the group to get out front, so I'm not in anyone's way, I am not the fastest runner out there. All I knew to do at this point was put one foot in front of the other and go...

The good thing about starting to run at 6am is that it's dark. You're still sleepy and you're asking your body to get it in gear, quickly. Everyone's just rolled out of bed and put on whatever is grabbed, so we're all looking a little worse for the wear. At 6am, you're completely forcused on yourself and just getting your joints to stop aching, the bones to stop cracking, and the muscles to get warm. So as I began in the dark, the reality set in that no one was watching me, or paying attention to me except coaches to just keep an eye on who was where.

The first mile and a half are usually rough. You have to get yourself to get it moving, and once you can get over this your body warms up and resigns itself to this "torture" you're going to make it endure. As we reached the water stop at 1 1/2 miles, I realized that I'd run it with no issues, no stopping! Who hoo, a big praise went out then! I walked long enough to drink and catch my breath, and met up with coach Lea Ann and friend Kristin, who I had worked out with in the BGO program last spring. We began to talk as we got ready to start running again, and I discovered that they had both returned from completing the Chicago Half! I was excited to learn Kristin had finished her run in 2:47--WOW!!!! She talked about her challenges, how she had ran and walked, and her experiences with the race itself. As I asked hundreds of questions, I began to realize that this was going to be a doable feat, everyone on the course from her description seemed to be runners like us! I was seeing I was setting myself up for failure with unrealistic expectations--the tiniest of the running population consists of the speed demons who complete races in times that make you look twice---when everyone else out there running was doing the best they could, like me.

We talked the rest of the run back about challenges with running in this Godforsaken heat, our weight, our families, our home repairs.....and before I knew it, WE WERE BACK TO THE STORE! I HAD RUN SIX MILES!!!!!

When I returned home, it dawned on me that my prayers had been answered in the form of angels. When I desperately needed support that I would get through something that was scaring me the most, He sent friends to carry me through.

So thank you Lea Ann and Kristin, for being there when I needed you most, even though you didn't know it...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

19 months later...

This first post is a book...get a cup of's how I roll...

So...I'm 19 months late on starting this blog. Call it laziness, call it fear, call it denial, call it being overcommitted, call it being flat tired...I've got an excuse if you come up with a reason for not starting more excuses...

I'm not sure if I expect anyone to read this--and that's ok--this is for me, but having done a blog for Casey before blogs became the rage, I found it cathartic then...I'm hoping I will find the same sense of peace I did then, now.

In a perfect world I would have started this in January 2008 when my journey began. I'd been home a couple years from DC in helping to care for my brother Casey when he was at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), and came to the realization over a succession of eye-opening experiences that my life needed to change. I had become a recognized comfort eater while living in the Fisher House at WRAMC--food was my complete comfort when I was stressed, when things weren't going with with Casey, when I missed my boys at home...and how could you pass up fresh baked sweets that church ladies were continuously bringing into the House, because there is NOTHING better than church ladies cookies under cellophane.

It had gotten to the point I had gone up yet another size in pants, and I'd had it. I'd caught too many glances in the mirror of this person I didn't even recognize anymore. So it was time to put action to my goals.

I wanted to set out to lose at least 50 start. Thanks to friends I was working with, I started on Weight Watchers. I learned what a portion size was (talk about an eye opener--Americans are pigs, that's all I've got say about know what I mean) and started to drop alot of my comfort foods. I made the plunge and hired a trainer--I put my money up for grabs so that I'd be held accountable to get to the gym. It was hell to start with, but I remember standing in my closet one morning, and saw a glance in the mirror that I was beginning to resemble my former self, that I had some shapeliness to my waistline again. It was working, and that was enough motivation for me.

In June 2008 I added in tae kwon do to the picture. My son had started lessons, and the instructor kept telling me "Why just sit there when you could be doing something during that time?" Combine this with the factor that I am all about working towards some kind of goal that has some kind of tangible reward, the appeal of earning belts and moving up the ranks made my mouth water--I've always been a competetive gal. I began to work out in the dojang, in total embarrassment of my body as I had to wear a white uniform...felt like the Michelin Man in the pants as big as I was, but I did it. But blessings abound, as I met a group of women every shape, size, height, weight, and age who were all there for their own reasons. No one made fun of me when I was red-faced and panting, no one laughed at me as I fact it was the opposite. I was offered help in learning forms, I was given extra instruction with a smile when I tentatively asked, I was asked out for coffee with the girls--I belonged! And isn't that what we all want in life, is to be accepted? Never in my WILDEST dreams would I ever consider myself a martial still amazes me and I am honored every time I say it...but almost a month ago I earned my red belt, and am two belts away from the high honor of black. I stay on track by next fall I could earn my BLACK. Just wow....

As the pounds kept dropping and I began to buy smaller sizes, I kept a niggling thought at bay in the back of my head. In October 2005 Casey completed the Marine Marathon in his hand-crank bike in about 2 1/2 hours. I was in awe of his determination, his hard work, his skill and his ability to overcome adversity. And I kept thinking to myself, "If he can overcome ALL of that, if he can do it, what's my excuse?" I'd come up with excuses, of course...but they all kept disapating one by one...there really wasn't any excuse I couldn't run.

I started to talk with my husband about this, did he think I could run? His usual supportive self, he told me I could do anything I worked hard for, he'd be there to help. I talked to my trainer, did he think I could do it? Both he and my former trainer told me I could do anything I set my mind to and worked at. But the issue became did I think I could do it?

My trainer started to work with me on running, just small distances and we built up from there. I will never forget the day that I ran my first mile in 30 minutes and DID NOT STOP. It was slow, it was steady but I got there. There were shouts of joy and high fives, he was so proud of me, and I was proud of myself. I cried in the bathroom minutes later, praising God that I was able to make it. If I could make the first mile, I could make more.

I started talking about this desire to run with my friend Steve. Steve is the ultimate runner. He is lean and wiry, he has the runner's physique with probably 2% body fat (if that). He runs marathons with a glee that I found myself oddly attracted to, and wanted to know where that desire came from. He has set forth a challenge for himself to run a marathon in every state in our nation, and is working on it. We would talk at length every time I would walk into our local market and I'd see him there on his lunch break. He'd let me talk until I got all my thoughts out, and he'd add to them, conjuring up more for my mind to ruminate on later. Being we are in the same Sunday school class as Steve and his wife, Kristi, I naturally began to talk with Kristi about this, as well. She had some of the same desires as I did, as she'd love to be able to run with her husband. We kept talking...

In November 2008, Kristi let me know about a local 5K race one Saturday morning. She, Steve and their young daughter were going to sign up to run, why didn't I join them? I'd been working hard in the gyn running on the treadmill, it was time to pound the pavement instead. The race was in support of the local library, how can you go wrong giving money to the library? So I signed up, scared to death, but I signed up...better news was my husband also signed up, so I wasn't alone!

The morning of the race I was terrified. How was I going to survive 3+ miles?? We stretched, said hello to all the familiar faces who'd come out to run, I started praying I wouldn't embarrass the daylights out of myself. Good news was it was a small attendance so I wouldn't be too much the laughing stock of the race. The gun went off, and Kristi and I began to run. We made it further running that I ever imagined, we walked when we needed to breathe (which was often). We put one foot in front of the other.......and before we knew it we were pushing hard and crossing the finish line in under 40 minutes! I was thrilled, I was shocked, I was over the moon! I was hoping for an hour, but under 40!!! Biggest shocker of them all was when I checked Kristi and I's times...I WON A 2ND PLACE MEDAL!!! Talk about all the motivation I was realization that this was a sport you could work towards another tangible reward for in the end...oh baby, I was all over working for medals!

I went into our local running store that next week, Luke's Locker of Colleyville, I was determined now to seek help. I am blessed with a best friend who is the research queen, and it's rubbed off on me over the years. Again, I was blessed when I walked in and greeted by female store staff who were actually thrilled when I let them know I was just starting out running, and could they help me with shoes, answer my questions which we limitless, help me with staff member actually clapped for me, threaded her arm through mine and showed me through the entire store, step by step. I wasn't treated like a piriah, I wasn't treated like the fat girl with necessary pity to be doled out....I was treated like...and I still tremble when I say it...A RUNNER! I was fitted, I was taught, and I was introduced to a program that was starting up right after Christmas through the store that would teach newbies like me how to put one foot in front of the other---BINGO, PRAYERS ANSWERED!! I told them my story of how far I'd come, how I'd lost so much weight, and that I secretly had a goal to run a long distance in honor of my brother...before I knew it the entire store staff is around me listening, and asking what else they can do to help me. It was one of the best days of my life.

Fast forward to January 2009. It was a cold Saturday morning, 6:45am. We met at the store again, all of us new and experienced runners in one spot. We stretched, and were introduced to our coaches. We'd gotten a flurry of emails the week before from our coaches, the store staff and so on about joining The Beat Goes on program through Luke's Locker, so at least I knew I was in the right spot, now putting faces to names. That morning we began slow....10 minutes walking, 10 minutes running (or as long as you could), 10 minutes walking. We got a chance in these first few weeks to talk to our coaches, and they found out what our goals and objectives were. Again I shared my desire to run a race in honor of Casey, I really wanted to run the Marine Marathon....I thought. We began to increase our distances, shortening our walking times, increasing the running. We had homework all week of how long to run, how to was not easy. I went through ups and downs, good and bad weather, getting hurt, healing....but it was getting easier week after week! I began to enter 5K races on Saturday mornings with my teammates, and looked forward to them. Again, being that I am Miss Work-For-The-Gold-Star like a kindergartener, I loved starting to collect race shirts and bib was a sign of accomplishment! My times began to get better, and I was feeling on top of the world.

I decided to finally actually look up the Marine Marathon--this meant I would actually have to take action---GASP---was I ready???, and what about if they had a half marathon? I was quickly discovering 26.2 miles was probably further than I wanted to run and moreso to train for, but a half....this was feasible! It was a commitment I could stick to, could train for, and I think...dare I say, wanted to do?

I remember googling the run, finding the site, and discovering that the Marine Marathon is the only race held that day in October, they do not hold the half the same day...and it is in MAY, coincidentally on my son's birthday weekend. Being that I was a month from this AND it was sold out, but more importantly I was SO not ready for this, where to go now?

I talked again to Steve, my marathoner friend. What should I do? He suggested finding a half locally for my first. I wouldn't have to travel, I'd know the climate, it would be less stressful. Why not do the White Rock Half in Dallas? It wasn't until December, which means I'd have more than enough time to train. Good news was with the Beat Goes On (BGO) program wrapping up, Luke's Locker was offering marathon and half marathon training starting in June--BINGO, ANSWERED PRAYERS AGAIN! Again, I went into Luke's to ask a million more questions about the program, and they answered every one of them until I knew all I needed. I signed up on the spot, and was thrilled to find out my coaches from the BGO program would be my trainers again, as well as my friend Angie from church! Prayers were being answered right and left, God is good, people!

Best part of all this...while talking to friend Steve about all this, I was also talking to Kristi again, as well. She was on the fence about doing the half program, and we'd all encouraged her to try, but it was ultimately up to her. I am THRILLED to say she did join, and she's my running buddy on Saturday mornings when we start training at 5:45am!

So here I am.......and it makes me want to cry when I say it........AN ATHLETE! I am a runner, I am a martial artist. I never, ever in my right mind thought I could say that about myself. No, I'm not a stereotypical looking athlete, but I bet you a million bucks I have the heart and willpower of one.

I am in boot camp four mornings a week. I am at tae kwon do 4-5 times a week (soon to be more once school starts.) I run 4-5 mornings a week. I am eating well, splurging every once in awhile. I'm at a plateau in my weight, not losing as much as I thought I would have by this point, but I'm ALL OVER finding answers right now as to why I've seemed to stall out.

So I send this out into the void, not sure if I really want anyone else to read this, other than it gives me the pressure to post so that I have a journal of this path I've taken. Maybe someone else will read it and get it and realize they aren't alone in their struggles, too?

My favorite quote about running is from a marathon runner/inspiration speaker named John Bingham. He says, "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." That's me, in a nutshell.