26.2 miles through the 5 boroughs of New York. That’s what I’M doing on November 5th, 2017.
Had you told me on November 5th of any previous year that this would be on my calendar, I would have laughed in your face and looked for the drink to take away from you.
I would have called you crazy.
Nevertheless, here I am gearing up for one of the biggest physical challenges of my life. Flight booked, hotel room booked, shoes ordered, training schedule in full effect.
But why? Why am I doing this? It’s often a question I ask myself after a 14 mile training run and my football damaged knees are screaming at me. Why put my body through this and why run the risk of injury not to mention the costs and time associated with travel and participation plus the hours spent training?
One of the main reasons is that I have an opportunity to race with a team to raise money for cancer research; a cause that I am extremely passionate about. Through a serendipitous connection with former tennis pro turned announcer and author, James Blake, I have been helping to raise money for his foundation. (Donation link: richbracken.com/richmarathon)
The biggest reason is one that I’ve not really spoken much about during this process. One that should always be the reason you do anything really and should always be your driving force when taking on a new challenge.
I’m doing it for me.
As a kid, I knew I had the potential to do some great things and I heard the same sentiment from several of my teachers and mentors. “Richard has the potential for impact and leadership,” read a certificate I was given in middle school. That phrase made me proud and terrified me at the same time. You see, I was a painfully insecure kid in those years. Always knowing I was a nice guy but never seeing the same value that others would see in me. Never truly believing in myself while also knowing that there was a genuine passion within me to do great things. The idea of putting myself out there as a leader, or a guider, or an example of anything positive scared the hell out of me because it was just that: putting myself out there.
While no one could come close to ridiculing me like I did myself, I felt the fear of rejection and failure so intensely that I would rather not participate than challenge my own growth. I would forgo the opportunity to build the courageous mental bridge between who I was at the time and who I knew I had the potential to be deep down inside because I was aware of my competitiveness, but my self-doubt blanketed it to the point of suffocation.
I battled physical obstacles as well. As a heavier kid, I spent my time on sports like golf and football. Never a fan of cardio activity, I also battled asthma which took its toll on me, but also gave me a bit of a crutch at times. I admittedly would cut corners or pull up if I felt uncomfortable because I had a fall back. I regret that lost time of improvement more than I could ever say.
Now to look at the concept of running 26.2 miles, in a row, at once is a massive shift for me mentally, emotionally and physically. Running a marathon, in essence, is a perfect scenario for me to destroy any remnant of doubt in myself. It will be several hours, alone in a crowd of 50,000, competing against myself and my previous insecurities.
Throughout my training, I’ve cracked my own walls of doubt and pushed through already. I’ve gotten to a level of pride and confidence in my physical ability that I’ve never had before, simply by not letting myself give up when it gets uncomfortable. I have found a personal euphoria in leaving a trail of stress, doubt and fear on the pavement behind me as my mental focus won’t allow it to remain.
Finally, I want this to serve as motivation to others. That’s the main reason, I feel, that I’m on this earth is to help guide people through doubt as I’ve done myself. I’m running this for you all as well. To show that you can do anything you put your mind to. You can accomplish any goal if you want it bad enough and you’re willing to put in the sacrifice and time to obtain it. Do not let the demons of doubt push you away from what you know you can and are meant to do.
So what started as a fluke response to a Tweet has now become a line in the sand, a monumental opportunity and a challenge that I willingly accept…..
And will accomplish.