The Cheeto Puff: A bloated fluorescent orange snack that attacks your taste buds with artificially flavoured cheddar tang.
The Cheetah: A beautiful, sleek and graceful predator that is the fastest land animal on the planet.
I leave for South Africa next month to complete my final race in my goal to run a marathon on all 7 continents. My life 5 years ago was not always about running, fitness and setting big goals. In fact it was a life where I indulged in the consumption of an entire family-sized bag of Cheetos in one sitting on a regular basis. It was a sedentary life where my priority was my job and working extra hard to ensure that I could advance to the next level in my career. My spare time was spent on the couch. I was overweight, asthmatic, smoked and ate very poorly. Reflecting back to where I have come from and where I am now, I am truly grateful.
On June 22, 2015, I will complete the Big 5 Marathon in South Africa. With the completion of this race my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of running around the world for charity will be completed and I will have raised $50,000 for Team Diabetes, Children’s Hospital, Education in Nicaragua and Youth Mental Health. I’m thrilled to complete my BHAG this year. The lessons I have learned throughout this journey have been invaluable:
- Despite running being an individual sport, it takes a team/support system to get me through it all. Never take for granted your friends and family that believe in your cause and your adventure
- A marathon is hard. The distance seems like it goes on forever, but the feeling of accomplishment you get afterwards is huge and you never forget crossing that finish line. Tip: If you are a male, always put nip guards on. I use Band-Aids – easy to use and will save you a lot of future agony.
- It’s not about racing against other people; you are challenging yourself and your focus should be on completing the distance at your own speed.
- During the Australian Gold-Coast Marathon I was on my way to attaining a Personal Best when only 4K to the finish line my legs froze. As I started to slowly hobble along and feel sorry for myself, a random woman shouted “You got this!” to me as she ran past. These 3 simple words were exactly what I needed to get me to continue running those last 4K. The fact that this stranger saw me struggling and shared some positive energy with me was enough to motivate me to fight the challenge to the end. This is what the running community is all about. Strangers on the course, whether fellow participants or cheering onlookers, can make a world of difference.
- Always come back to the intention: WHY? Ask yourself each time you sign up for your race what is the deep rooted reason you are running. For me, running was always secondary to the cause. The reason why I run and who I run for is for my Dad who has diabetes, my friends and the kids. These little heroes affected by illnesses, such as diabetes and cancer teach me every day what it means to live with courage and love. All these heroes inspire me along the course and give me the strength I need to get by when the finish line seems so far away.
- No matter the hours of training you put in, you can never anticipate all that will happen on the course. Your training is the base and it will take you through 75% of the course but the other 25% is all in your head. You have to push through the exhaustion and ignore those voices in your head saying you can’t do it. Victory is often closer than you think
- Don’t overlook the power of cliché visual motivational quotes: Step outside your comfort zone; Do one thing a day that scares you; Embrace your fear of the unknown. It all helps.
For my final continent I am supporting my dear friend Rachael Bell’s campaign called Don’t You Dare Quit (DYDQ) and the funds raised will go to CHEO Youth Mental Health Services. DYDQ resonates with me. The message is simple but powerful. They are carrying words that can help us move forward in our daily challenges and live with persistence and determination. DYDQ is an integrated theme that has been prevalent in my journey.
How can you help?
Rachael and I have created a virtual 5K “Cheetah” run/walk. Since it’s virtual, there is no limit in who can participate. You can run or walk 5K to fight the stigma against youth mental illness. Our youth of today are going through major life problems such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks which put them at higher risk for suicidal thoughts. The problem is escalating but together we can make a difference. We hope you can join us during the month of May to support the “Cheetah Chase” and raise awareness as a team & support this very important cause. You also get a “real” finisher medal for participating!