This is the post that I've been looking forward to, but also dreading at the time. My "40 Miles for 40 Years Challenge" has come to a successful conclusion. After starting my challenge back in March, now in early September it comes to an end.
During these past six months I've learned a lot about myself. As corny as this might sound, I've learned that I can accomplish just about anything that I set my mind to and work towards achieving. It is corny, but it is true. I hated running and couldn't run a mile back about 15 years ago. But now I just finished a 40 mile run. It still has not sunk in, and it probably won't for a while, but this is something I'm incredibly proud of and will remember this achievement when I'm old and gray and showing the media clips to my grandkids!
This was not easy, and I intentionally wanted to do something incredibly hard to accomplish. The only way to be able to run 40 miles was to work at it, and stick to a plan, and show perseverance through challenging times. I wanted to challenge myself and I wanted to struggle to learn about myself and push myself.
I've also learned about others. I've learned how many generous people there are in the world. Over 120 people have donated to the Circle of Champs program through this challenge. It's been such a wide range of people from my family, to friends, to neighbors, to colleagues, to acquaintances, to friends of family members, to former high school teammates, to complete strangers. I simply can not believe how many people took the time to make a donation to support me, but much more importantly, to support the children in the Circle of Champs program. People are willing to step up and help out and this challenge proved this to me time and time again.
Another thing I've learned is that I have the best family in the world. Actually I didn't really learn that, I already knew it, but it became even more clear to me over the past six months. I need to start by thanking my wife Christy. When I'm out for hours hitting the pavement, she's either home managing everything at the house, or running her awesome healthy snack business, or keeping my ego in check! Or all of the above! This doesn't happen without an amazing partner, and I have that. I want to also give a shout out to my girls, Ella and Grace. When I was planning out my running partners for my 40 mile run, the first people I plugged in were Ella and Grace for Mile 39. I wouldn't have it any other way! When you girls have your version of "40 at 40" I'll be the first one to sign up.
There is also no way this would happen without my parents, and my brothers and sisters. They have been there since day one for me. When I say day one, I mean September 4, 1981. Literally, day one. I could go on and on about everything they've done to get their friends to donate, to make signs for the course, to run parts of the 40 miles with me, to STILL working to get more media coverage and donations. They are relentless supporters of me and my activities. It started on day one and has not let up one bit. Thank you to all of the Venter clan for going out of your way, for taking time out of your busy schedule, to support me. I owe you all big time!
I also need to thank my extended family from helping to setup an awesome after party on Saturday, to checking up on me during the late stages of my 40 mile run, to just being supportive at all times. Thank you to the YMCA for creating this great program, allowing me to serve as a volunteer, and having great staff to assist me with my tons of questions along the way. Also - thanks for the hydration at mile 30 of my run!
Thank you to the best group of running partners in the world! One of the best decisions I made in this entire process was having running partners with me for the final 30 miles. Your conversation and encouragement was irreplaceable. I couldn't have asked for a better group to guide me to the finish line.
So many people have asked me - "What's next?" Sorry to disappoint, but I really have no idea. Many ideas have been swirling around in my head from "50 at 50," to an Ironman, to running the Boston Marathon, etc. I really don't know what will be next, but for now I'm going to take the time to enjoy what happened over the past six months. I don't really feel the need to rush into something else at this point. Eventually yes I will, but I'm going to take at least the next week off from running and give my body the time it needs to recover.
While this might be the "end" of the 40 miles for 40 years challenge, people can still donate as it would be AWESOME to hit the $10,000 mark, and folks have until 9/25 to make an online donation. I have so many thank you's to give out to those that gave recently to help us pass the $8,000 mark. Thank you to Anonymous, Reid and Elise Prinzo, Brian and Stephanie, The Murphys, Sue and Jim Donohue, The Turners, Bliss in Delmar, Cottage Street Apartments, Terry Daley, Pat Hughes, Rich Komulainen, Anonymous, Bryan and Nicole Jones, Perfect Blend Cafe and Bakery, and Susan and John Murphy.
Finally, thank you, my reader, for being a part of this journey. At the beginning stages of this, I was lucky to have maybe six or seven people read my posts. More recently, I have 60 or 70 or even more people reading my posts. If this is your first post you've read, or the 100th, thank you for checking out a piece of my life. It's been a heck of a ride. See you out on the roads!
I didn't know how to pick a photo for the final post, but since I started with my family, I'm ending with my family! Nothing is more important.