Running Uphill

November 17, 2017
So there I was, sitting on my bed thinking, “What am I doing with my life,” when I suddenly got the urge to get up and make a change for the better.
Hi, I’m Nick Crompton. I used to have a luxurious job as a model making quite a sufficient living. I had short black hair and I’m around 6 foot 3. I worked out 7 days a week, and life was great. Then, my whole life changed.
I recently had my sister pass away due to brain cancer that spread uncontrollably, and it took entire family by surprise.
“I’m so sorry I have to bring you this news Nick, but I’m afraid that she won’t make it any longer than 5 more weeks.” Those were the words that still ring in my head to this day, and kept me grounded for all this time. That fateful line of dialogue was said no less than 10 weeks ago, and she passed away 3 weeks after. To nobody’s surprise, that took a toll on my mental and physical health. Hour after hour I sat in my bed, either eating, sleeping, or just laying there staring at the ceiling. My job went straight out the window, so did my social life. So as you can tell, I’m not the most physically fit guy around, and today is the day I decide to do something about it.
I read recently online that there was a 5k coming in my area, New York, dedicated to raising awareness for brain cancer.
Perfect! I thought to myself, but then I realized, I can’t run a 5k! And worse than that, the 5k is in 4 weeks! How will I ever prepare in 4 weeks? I scrambled to my desk and opened up my 2011 Macbook that runs like it went through a hurricane, and frantically searched for a personal trainer to help me prepare. And then I saw his name pop up on my screen, Len Johnson.
His bio says that he can change anyone from out of breath from walking up the stairs to running a mile in 10 mins without even breaking a sweat. His picture shows a 7-foot tall man with blonde hair and tan skin, who if you saw in any other picture, you would be, . . . well . . . absolutely terrified of, but in this particular picture, he is pictured with his 2 daughters, his wife, and their 3 puppies. On his page, he even had his own story, complete with images of before and after he decided to go the route of fitness. He had gone through a similar situation that I had gone through, except his was even worse than mine. He had his mother and sister died in a tragic car accident that was caused by drunk driving, and how that caused him to gain over 60 pounds in 6 months. He even shows his diet plan, showing that you can even eat the foods you like while getting fit at the same time. His diet plan, however, strictly said that you are to drink no alcohol, but I see why he put that in there.  I immediately picked up the phone and dialed his number. He picked up and I described my situation to him, and he made it one of his goals to get me to be ready to run that 5k in 4 weeks. I book my session with him and I’m ready to get to work, starting tomorrow.
I wake up at 6:00 am to prepare for the first workout, as instructed by Len. I was set to meet him at 7:30, but he instructed I wake up, take a quick jog, take a shower, then come over. As soon as I walked in, he showed nothing but support. It didn’t take much time for me to feel a lifelong friendship coming on. We would work hour after hour in preparation for the big day. It takes so much for a person to get up every day, brush of the pain, and return to working out. It takes real strength to do that. Working out has not only helped me physically, but it has also helped me mentally. I have renewed an old hobby and now have a reason to get out of my bed. I would wake up at 7:30 every morning, take a shower, then bike over to the gym where Len worked. We would do crunches, run on the treadmill, push-ups, planks, and weightlifting.  This process repeated for every day possible for 4 weeks straight, but it wasn’t all motivation.
I have a friend named Stan. He was also not very . . . let’s say . . . bright, . . . or fit . . . or much. So of course, on my one free day, he wants to go get lunch.
“C’mon man,”  begged Stan, “It’s only 1 burger.”
“No! The race is tomorrow!” I furiously snapped back.
“They’re the best burgers in town! And they have tomatoes and lettuce in them so
that means they have to be healthy right?” said Stan waving his burger in my face and licking his fingers.
“Stan, this place is literally called Fatty’s Burgers! You cannot possibly think that 
burgers are healthy!” I scolded him.
“Suit yourself,” Stan remarked.
Stan tried this multiple times over the next 2 weeks, then, it was the big day.
“Wow, it’s finally here,” I whisper to myself on the day of the race. I hop up out of bed and look at my clock.
“IT’S 7:58?” I say cursing and rushing to my shower, “The race starts in 15 minutes! I’ll never get there on time!” I take a quick 3-minute shower, throw on any outfit I can find, and forget to take the lucky shoes I got from my sister before she passed away. She knew I ran quite a bit before she died, so she got me these flaming red Nike Air Maxes for my birthday. I swore never to wear them until the day I ran a race, and that day was supposed to be today, but I guess not. This whole day has been a disaster, let’s hope the race doesn’t follow that pattern.
I arrive at the race at 8:10, there’s only 5 minutes until the race starts. Len has been blowing up my phone with calls, texts, voicemails, all wondering where I am. I finally meet up with my trainer, who got himself a spot in the race, to motivate me while racing. He is a man that never quits and shows real determination. I hear my name in the distance, “Nick Crompton, please come retrieve your number tag at the main pavilion.”
“Whoops, probably should have gotten that,” I joked to Len.
“Haha! I did that at my first race too!” Len responded.
I have now gotten my tag, and the race is about to begin. I’m nervous but determined. I had a goal, and now is my time to prove to myself that I can overcome anything to reach my goal.
I’m lined up, my shoes are tied, my socks pulled up, my phone fully charged, and I’m am excited. 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . GO! I blast off across the starting line with Len at my side. The cool autumn breeze is flowing through my short hair, oh yeah, did I mention I got a haircut? Vivid colors of the bright autumn leaves sprinkled across the ground like puddles of yellow, orange, and red. I look up from the sea of colors and gaze upon the towering concrete jungle of Manhattan. The route took us from Central Park to a location a couple miles from the World Trade Center.
My family is here to support me, my trainer, and most importantly, my biggest supporter is myself. I have had so much determination to succeed in this moment, and I don’t want to let myself or anyone down.
I’m pushing through with endless determination and nothing can stop me . . . yet. Mile 1, my time is 13:39. I’m unsure if that is too fast or too slow, but I brush it off and keep pushing. When I get to mile 2, I am so tired and every muscle in my body is aching, but that doesn’t matter to me, there are other, more pressing matters. The race was ending in 5 minutes, and I was only halfway from mile 2 to mile 3. I’m way behind all the other runners, even Len is missing. I knew that at this moment, I had to push myself harder than ever before.
I couldn’t give up, not after I’ve gotten this far. I have cramps everywhere, and I have no more water remaining. I turn up the music on my iPhone, it was playing “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. I turn up my pace and keep going. 2.7, 2.8, 2.9, 3.0, with only 50 seconds left, I have .1 of a mile to go. I go faster than I ever have before, and with only 10 seconds left, I finish the race. I. Finished. The. Race. I can’t believe it!
After running through the finish line, I see my trainer, and my family, cheering for me and holding up signs, that say, “GO NICK!”
I thank everyone, and go home, and go straight to my bed, except this time, I don’t feel depressed, I feel very accomplished and proud. It’s been a long day, and I think I deserve this victory nap. No longer, will I celebrate with junk food, I cannot return to that lifestyle, and hopefully I will not, with my trainer by my side, and my name tag collection just starting out.






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