An Unexpected Moment

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I love airports. They’re always bustling with activity. You know what they’re also filled with?

People on a journey.

Not just a departure and arrival journey but also a journey in life. Each and every person is on a personal journey that is as unique as the person.

I surveyed the Chili’s Too that has been in Concourse A for as long as I’ve been flying to see if there is a hostess or where I should sit to eat some lunch before I get on the plane.

“You can sit here if you’d like.”

Her words broke the silence and caught my attention. My kind waitress greeted me with a smile and gestured towards an open seat at the bar.

I sat down and began to look through the menu. It wasn’t much longer when someone came to sit next to me. I looked over and smiled at the woman. Clearly a Buckeye fan with her “365 Days We Bleed Scarlet and Gray” shirt on.

She placed her bar order and the waitress asked, “Double?”

“Why not! It’s the last day of vacation.” She said with a grin.

We chuckled together and I said, “Well, if it is the last day of vacation then you might as well end it with a bang! This opened up the opportunity to begin to share. We talked about where we were respectively from. Where we’re traveling. Why we’re traveling.

“Where are you off to?” I think my shorts and tee shirt gave it away that I wasn’t off on business.

“I’m on my way to Atlanta to help a friend and his family move from Atlanta to San Antonio.” I said very nonchalantly.

I looked up from the menu and she looked a little perplexed why my friend was having someone from Ohio help him move.  So I kept talking,

“In February he was diagnosed suddenly with Brain Cancer and has decided to move to San Antonio where his parents live. He had a seizure and can’t drive temporarily so I’m going to be driving their second car.”

There was silence. Something I had shared in my story had clearly touched this lady sitting next to me.

“You are such a great friend.” She managed to stammer out still sitting there a bit in shock at my story.

“You know, one of the kids in my class at school where I teach, his dad was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. It reminds me that life is short.”

She made some joke about making the most of every day with her double drink.

I looked at her and said, “This year I’ve learned the value of making moments count. After one of my best friends lost his little brother unexpectedly and my friend Scott being diagnosed with cancer, I vow to make the most of every day.”

She paused and I’d like to think that something I said in there resonated with her.

At this point a third had joined our group and we began to talk about work and his interesting life on the road as a truck driver.

The three of us, all unknown strangers, laughed together, shared stories, talked about our past and present, and for a few minutes all of our unique journeys intersected. We had a moment. As fast as it began it was time for us to part ways.

The gentleman wished me well in my travels and took off for his gate. The lady who first sat down stopped and waited for me to turn to look at her.

“You are a great friend. Please let your friend and his family know that they’re in my thoughts.”

She then paused and looked at me for a moment. You could tell she was contemplating saying something else so I didn’t say anything but wasn’t sure how I would react… I just waited in the moment.

“I am going to pray for him and for your travel. Be safe in your travels and on your drive to San Antonio.”

I said thank you and told her that I would pass along the message and with that the moment was over and we were off to our respective gates.

You know what I find so interesting about this small interaction? If I would have eaten somewhere else, been to the airport an hour later, not sat at the bar, not said anything to her etc… that moment would have never happened.

Was just a nice way to start my journey this week and I felt I should share it with you all.

Until next time!
John

I started on a journey

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RHYTHMinTWENTY — TheExperience from Harbor Ministries on Vimeo.

Last week I started on a three year journey with 26 other men. Working on processing everything and starting to find my own Rhythm. You’ll see more from me as the next three years progresses. Look for the Category “RHYTHMinTWENTY” here to find out more.

A ton has been going on and I just haven’t had time to write. Taking a huge road trip this week to help Scott and Tracy move cross country. Be on the lookout for those updates!

Night!
John

Gray Matters to Me

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688,096

The number of people estimated to be living with a brain tumor diagnosis in 2010

69,720

The number of people that were estimated to be diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013

2

The number of people I know personally diagnosed with brain cancer today

May is National Brain Cancer Awareness month. Gray is the official color of brain cancer awareness. Two things that I just recently learned.

John and John

John and John

You see, my life (and the lives of many others) was changed this year. Not only has my friend John Looker continued to battle with brain cancer but my good friend Scott was diagnosed in March with GBM (a type of brain cancer).After a scare and emergency brain surgery in February, Scott has been undergoing radiation and chemo treatments. He just finished up his first round of treatment with minimal side effects and continue to press on as the doctors determine the next steps.

As you may (or may not) know – cancer has already taken one of my best friends from me, Katy. While her death was hard on me, I’ll admit that since her death I’ve lived with an attitude of almost, “It won’t happen again to anyone else I know.”

Me and Scott

Me and Scott

Three years later and my friend Scott was rushed to the hospital and found to have a brain tumor with no previous symptoms or warnings. Reality set in that day that no one is immune to his horrible disease and directly or indirectly it’s going to be a part of your life. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow but sometime in your lifetime I feel that we all are going to come across this horrible disease.

I’m not a doctor, nurse, researcher or medical professional. I’m just a guy. So I do what I can to help? I do my best to raise awareness about cancer and I donate money to support research to end this disease. I ride my bicycle 180 miles in two days not only to raise money and awareness but to remind myself that no matter how hard I struggle with that ride that it pales in comparison for what someone with cancer goes through. I try and support both of my friends in whatever way I can and be the best friend I can be to them (and subsequently their family, friends and significant others).

What can you do?

  • Go hug your friends, family, and loved ones and tell them that you love them. You never known in an instant when life might change
  • Donate to my Pelotonia Ride at: http://www.pelotonia.org/massie
  • Donate to help my friend Scott’s family cover medical expenses: https://fundly.com/teamscott
  • Support local efforts around cancer research and treatments
  • Wear some gray this month and let someone know about brain cancer awareness month

Together we can send this horrible disease once and for all.

All my best,
Massie

Good Friday

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His heart was broken, mine was mended.
He became sin, now I am clean.
The cross He carried bore my burden.
The nails that held Him set me free.

His life for mine, His life for mine
How could it ever be
That He would die, God’s son would die
To save a wretch like me
What love divine - He gave His life for mine

His scars of suffering brought me healing
He spilled His blood to fill my soul
His crown of thorns made me royalty
HIs sorrow gave me joy untold

His life for mine, His life for mine
How could it ever be
That he would die, God’s son would die
To save a wretch like me
What love divine – He gave His life for mine

He was despised and rejected
Stripped of His garment and oppressed
I am loved and accepted and
I wear a robe of righteousness

His life for mine, His life for mine
How could it ever be
That He would die, God’s song would die
To save a wretch like me
What love divine – He gave His life for mine

 

His Life for Mine by the Talley Trio. This song was almost always sang every Easter at church when I was growing up. The song makes me very nostalgic and to this day I still listen to it during Easter season. Just thought I’d share them with you this year. Hopefully you enjoy!

Going to Extremes: Planet Fitness to CrossFit

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So at the beginning of the year I joined Planet Fitness with the idea that I would mostly do cardio and then take some of the classes they offer to their members. One thing that I liked about Planet Fitness was its no intimidation attitude and zero tolerance policy as such. Many places have ridiculed and called Planet Fitness “not a real gym” because it lacks some of the equipment many more serious gym goers look for.

Personally, I felt like I fit right in. As a “fluffy” dude running on a treadmill it was nice not to have a ton of people looking at me judging me. Granted – I’m sure I still had that but it wasn’t as obvious. Also I didn’t have personal trainers lurking around and continually harassing me. I was able to go in, do my thing, and bolt. It was nice. Plus the few times the lunk alarm went off – it made me laugh.

So as I was finishing up Couch to 5k – I started thinking about doing some resistance training but wanted to do something efficient and challenging. I originally thought about doing the classes and forming a routine but my Twitter followers talked me into something else.

My long time friend @ThisDaddys_Blog (Scott) and somewhat newer friend @DamonGocheaur (Damon) talked me into trying CrossFit. Now, just so I make this fair, Scott has been trying for about as long as I’ve known him to get me to try CrossFit. I guess Damon just helped push me to make that final decision finally.

I researched and found Friendship CrossFit in Dublin, OH not too far from where I live these days. I e-mailed the owner a few times and got setup for a “beginners” class on Saturday. Early March I went in and found myself terrified. I got there early and watched the class before me finish up.

What in the heck was I thinking?

I watched these people and all I could think was, “I’ll NEVER be able to do this.” Part of me thought about just turning around and running out the door. I am not a quitter by nature though so I told myself that I was going to do this.

After one of my classmates helped me though the warm up (which was 100x harder than any WORKOUT I’ve done – let alone a warm up) we got into the workout. I don’t even remember what my first day was – all I remember is after the workout I collapsed on the floor and wasn’t sure I was going to be able to walk to my car. You know what was funny though – I was hooked.

As the weeks have gone on CrossFit has shown me that I’m capable of doing much more than I ever thought I could. So many people (professional and non-professional) for so many years have told me I needed to start smaller or do less or not workout so hard. CrossFit had me lifting weight I never thought I could and doing movements that I only dreamed of one day doing. It pushes me to try harder and I always look forward to what the next class holds.

Fast forward a few weeks and I returned to Planet Fitness to do a run and I noticed a sign at the door that said, “Leave your attitude here.”

It hit me right then and there:

I workout at the two most controversial “gyms” at two extreme ends of the spectrum yet they share one big philosophy:

Chuck the attitude at the door.

You see – CrossFit, though it looks like it’s intimidating as all get out from the outside, wasn’t intimidating after I took the first step into the box. Everyone in my class – though MUCH more fit than I – is encouraging and accepting of me. They cheer me on as I struggle to finish a WOD (Workout of the Day) or they offer to show me movements I’ve never done before. The words “you can’t” is never used and no one acts like they’re better than me (even when we are working out against the clock or for time and I’m always last). The coaches are super awesome as well and are always helping me modify movements/workouts and helping me become a better athlete.

Plus, I’ll admit it – Doing a clean and jerk with some heavy weight (or heavy for me at least) and approaching the bar aggressively, making whatever noises one makes while trying to throw around weight and then literally throwing the weight to they ground – does feel good. I guess there’s a “lunk” lurking deep inside of me somewhere. :-)

What else have I been doing since my last post?

  • I’ve run a few more training 5ks – it’s my new “go to” mileage when going for a run
  • I ran my first 10k in 1:23 (thanks for pushing me Amy S!)
  • I’ve been on the bicycle more and as the weather improves will be out more. I’ve already exceeded my Pelotonia 2013 physical fitness.
  • I’m down about 30 pounds from December

That’s about it! More to come! Watch out world – John’s accomplishing his goals slowly but surely!

Later,
Massie

The Bench

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2014-03-11 19.01.36 HDRThis bench is very symbolic to me. Last week when I was on my bike for the first time in 2014 I decided to ride the Heritage Trail in Hilliard – a trail that I used to ride when I first started cycling in 2011.

I haven’t been on my bicycle since all this weight loss and working out business so I was curious to see what this would feel like. You see, at 224, I’m the lightest I’ve ever been on a bicycle. So I unload my bike, stretch and hop on to start warming up.

I head out on the trail toward Plain City and I find myself rolling along with minimal effort but I notice something different – I’m passing everyone. So I finally look down to see what speed I’m going. 17.5mph.

Wait.

17.5mph? With a heart rate of 155? That can’t be right… so I decided to push a little bit – get my heart rate up. I got up to 22mph and decided I’m really pushing it for a shared use bike path. I couldn’t believe how amazing I felt. I was smiling ear to ear!

As I was buzzing down the last section of the trail I saw it in the distance and then as I passed the memories came flooding back. It was “the bench”.

This bench is one of the last places to rest before you get to the end of the trail. Many a days I would take a pause on this bench to rest, eat, and/or hydrate. I once stopped at this bench a wrote an entire blog post on my phone (though for the life of me – I can’t remember which one).

Just a few short years ago there wasn’t a time that I didn’t stop at that bench and here I was today just flying by it like it was nothing. I did stop, one last time, to snap this picture as a reminder of how far I’ve come in my journey.

It reminds me of a quote that I saw on Pinterest -

“Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go just remember how far you’ve come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won and all the fears you have overcome.”

So that bench is just that for me. Though I know I have a long way to go with my fitness goals – I have come so far.

So that’s it! More later this week.

Until next time!
Massie

Goal – Run a 5k

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Shamrocks and ShenanigansWow, it’s been a while since I posted! Sorry to keep you all in such suspense waiting for my next post… :-)

Well, Sunday, March 9 I got up with my friend Jen and we ran a 5k in Ann Arbor, Michigan – Shamrocks and Shenanigans. It’s what I’ve been training for since January. It’s part of the reason I started out on this whole health kick.

John and JenSo the day arrives and as we drove to Ann Arbor I was downing cough drops to help combat this cold I’ve been fighting. We get to Ann Arbor and as we’re driving I realize – Ann Arbor is not flat. AT ALL.

You see, I’ve only been running on a treadmill and then did a “practice 5k” once at the park near my house with zero elevation. It was also about 20 degrees… much colder than my practice run. I put all these thoughts behind me and we went to go seek out some sun and to start warming up.

BOOM

The gun goes off and it’s time to get this show on the road. We take some time getting over the start line but once we do we take off into a decent run. Now, being the second time I’ve run outside, I have no way of pacing myself. So I’m just trying to keep up with the pack and my friend Jen.

Suddenly we’re going down-hill. Which, being a cyclist, I knew this meant we’d have to come back up a hill at some point. Which we did, not too long after. I made it up the hill at a jog and kept going.

Then we got to the part I like to refer to as “the long eternal climb”. It was this slow climb all the way up to Michigan stadium. I had been running up to this point (over a mile) and finally my body was having none of this hill and I had to walk.

I did intervals up the hill to the top and then jogged down. I kept seeing the pace clocks and wasn’t taking into account that this was from the start and it took me two minutes to get over the line so I kept pushing myself to make up for a two minute deficit that I didn’t actually have.

Between mile two and three I kept doing intervals because there were more hills. Finally I round the corner at the bottom of a hill and I can see the 3 mile sign. As I’m approaching the 3 mile sign it is then I realize the finish line is .1 miles away – up a hill.

So I round the corner at the 3 mile sign and dig deep and just push up the hill at a run. After almost taking out a few people who bailed and walked right in front of me I made it to the top to see my friends waiting to cheer me on! Jen (who finished ahead of me) ran back out to cross the line with me.

I did it – I finished my first 5k in 39:49! My goal? Finish a 5k. My real goal? Finish my first 5k in under 40 minutes. I barely did it – but I did it!

Finishers!

Finishers!

Strava reported almost 200 feet of elevation in 3.1 miles. I kept a 12:50/mile pace which is almost two minutes faster than what I typically do on the treadmill and was a PR for me. It’s hard to believe that just two months ago I was starting Couch to 5k and struggling with just the 60 second jog intervals and I now am running a 5K in under 40 minutes. My first treadmill 5k took me almost an hour on December 28th – just to get some perspective what the program can do.

I have some posts to make up about other things but wanted to get this out there while it’s fresh on my mind! More to come this week!

Also, I know I say this almost every post but THANK YOU to everyone who is supporting me. I’ve struggled with weight loss/fitness my whole life and for the first time I actually feel like I might actually conquer it once and for all and finally be healthy! I could not have got this far without all the support my family, friends, Twitter friends, and Missy Fit Facebook support groups have given me! So thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

More soon!
John