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"Never Quit! Right Daddy?"

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Written by Pat Curran

Posted on 17 January 2018

Last Updated 17 January 2018

DESTINATION TOUGHMAN: 34 Days Until Race Day

 

I can’t get any stronger. I can’t climb any higher

You’ll never know just how hard I’ve tried

 

Cry a little longer and hold a little tighter

Emotions can’t be satisfied

 

You look up at me

And somewhere in your mind you still see…

 

A man I’ll never have to be!!

 

 

Boston singing, “Man I’ll Never Be”

To watch music video, click here

 

With so much time spent swimming, biking, and running, my mind becomes flooded with past memories and experiences. Here’s one that best illustrates the reason why I continue to push myself to take the next step:

 

It’s the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon. There are over 35,000 race participants, many of them representing charities, individual loved ones deployed overseas or who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. Still others represent “profiles in courage” who seek to defy the odds and complete the 26.2 mile race even with missing limbs.

 

I finish the first 11 miles and am now dealing with 3 major challenges: Dehydration, a tightening hamstring, and feelings of extreme sorrow. As bad as the first two challenges are, they’re expected. What I did not expect is being so choked up from seeing others around me carrying American flags, struggling with their wheelchairs, and trying to run with prosthetic limbs. Mom’s and Dad’s are running for their children who have cancer, autism, and many other disabilities. Grieving loved ones who lost their husbands, their wives, and other family members on 9/11. Countless others who are wearing “In Memory of" T-shirts honoring those who were killed fighting the War on Terror. I am literally crying and running at the same time during parts of the race.

 

Approaching Mile 17, I have very little focus, energy, and hope left. With pain in both sides of my mid-to-lower back, I can’t decide if it’s muscle cramps or the initial signs of kidney stones. Suddenly, I come to a huge surprise. I see my brother-in-law (Greg) near a water station. He screams out my name, and I am fortunate enough to hear him. Immediately using his cell phone, he calls Gina (my wife) who is about 200 meters down the road.

 

I see Gina, her parents, and two of my girls (Elizabeth and Lauren) holding up signs, encouraging me not to give up. The signs that they made say, “Go, Pat Go! Super Daddy!!!” with a picture of Superman on it. It’s an inside joke Gina is playing on me because she knows he is my favorite superhero (Truth, Justice, and the American Way), and I occasionally wear a Superman T-Shirt when I go to workout. When I get close to them, my daughters (3 and 4 years old at the time) run up to me and give me a hug. Then Elizabeth says,

 

“Never quit!  Right Daddy?  Never quit???”

 

Both of my girls are looking up to me, waiting for my response. Through the tears in my eyes I nod and smile. In a very stern and confident voice I respond with, “You damn right, girls. Never quit!” In my mind I thought, “This is why we’re here. I want to introduce my girls to those in society who give everything toward what they believe in and who refuse to give up.

 

At that moment I am not sure how I am going to finish. I just know that I have to. With a great deal of luck, Gina is able to contact my roommate from West Point (Mark Taylor) who is a mile ahead of me on the course. We meet up at the Mile 18 marker, and he helps me through the rest of the race. Because of him and everyone else that day, I am able to stand proudly at the Iwo Jima Memorial Monument with my marathon finisher medal, a better man than when I first started.

 

What I am pulling from this memory is that when you are convinced that you’ve reached your limit, tie into the reason why that is bigger than you. In my case, the idea of teaching my daughters the wrong lesson was worse than dying. Once experiencing that, I changed the narrative in my mind from the man I’ll “never” be to the man I “have” to be.

 

Hope this helps. Until next week...

 

God Bless,

--Pat

 

www.freedomslight.org

 

Did this week’s message help you? If yes, here’s an opportunity to help other Great Americans, starting at just $25.

  • Fisher House: To donate, here
  • Tuesday’s Children   To donate, click here
  • Wounded Warrior Project: To donate, click here
  • Children of Fallen Patriots: To donate, click here,
  • USO’s Operation Care Package:  To donate, click here

 

 

Letters From Your Father –

Belief # 10: Follow Your Moral Compass! Let It Lead You Home…

 

Has our conscience shown?

Has the sweet breeze blown?

Has all the kindness gone?

Hope still lingers on.

 

I drink myself of newfound pity

Sitting alone in New York City

And I don’t know why…

 

So I walk up on high

And I step to the edge

To see my world below

And I laugh at myself

As the tears roll down

 

‘Cause it's the world I know

‘Cause it's the world I know

 

Collective Soul singing, “The World I Know”

To view music video, click here

 

Dear Girls:

 

This week, I want to share a core belief that you may already intuitively know. There is something within us that knows right from wrong. Sure there are differences based on culture, religion, and environment. And maybe there are some of us who are incapable of detecting this moral consciousness or choose to ignore it. But that does not change my belief that a moral consciousness of some sort exists. Call it what you want, but there is a force in the universe that rewards us when we are aligned to it and hollows us out when we are not.

 

As I mentioned last week, I had some trouble sleeping at night during the first couple of years after I left the Army. What I did not write about was how those feelings were compounded by what I witnessed in the daytime.

 

For example, one of the first things I notice when working in Brooklyn during the summer of 2002 is that no one makes eye contact with each other when walking down the street. Also, when taking the subway through Times Square, I sometimes am confronted by a desperate person asking for “spare change” or see an elderly person checking garbage cans in order to find their next meal. It all seems so bizarre to me because I just spent the past 10 years in an environment where we greeted each other by rank, were in very good health, and generally aspired to a “leave no one behind” attitude in everything we did.

 

That in its self is an adjustment, but the real mental anguish comes from hearing news reports coming from Iraq and Afghanistan and receiving email notifications of friends being injured or killed in action. I find myself becoming a “closet crier.” Luckily at work, the days are so busy, that I seldom have time to think about anything else. However, on the ride to/from work I have my moments.

 

It takes a little while but by early 2006, I receive something akin to a message during a time when I am very restless. It is something like, “Pat, you can honor your friends by acting worthy of their sacrifice. Now go!  Do something positive. You’re wasting time” (for backstory click here and visit 2nd section of note).

 

This moment comes to me in such a powerful way, that I immediately accept the call. I first start by trying to be more of a positive influence to you and your Mom. After getting a new job with more financial stability a few months later, I then challenge myself to find a way to say “thank you” and give back. That’s when I come up with a wild idea for how I can help severely wounded military members and their families by running on the Fisher House Marathon Team. To help raise money for these heroes, I would write newsletters about what I learned as I trained for the race. After 3 knee surgeries and being about 275 pounds, it seems… well, nuts! But when I take this leap of faith and start, the nightmares nearly stop. I know I am on to something.

 

So, why do I share this story? During your life you will face times of crisis and doubt. If you find yourself feeling lost, here’s my advice: Follow your moral compass and allow it to lead you home! Allow this force that knows right from wrong to inform your decisions. Then, have the courage to follow it.

 

But what if you become so “spiritually hollow” from poor or uninformed decisions that you can’t feel this pull? My answer: Dedicate a portion of your life giving to others, starting with your loved ones. Then, care for the injured, the sick, and the elderly who need assistance. Spontaneously spend an extra moment or two with someone who appears lonely. Invest in others by building their self-reliance and pride so they can go and do the same. Start doing this and it will all come back to you.

 

Remember that part of the reason why we are here is to learn the value of serving others. Start small but do get started. There are no shortages of opportunity to get involved in and help change someone’s world.

 

More coming next week… Hope you keep reading.

 

Love You Forever,

--Dad

 

 

 

This Week in Training:

 

Last week had mixed results in terms of progress.   On the negative side, I had two rainouts in a row for my 3 ½ hour bike ride and 35 min run up and down Bear Mountain. I did manage to get a 1 hour and 10 min bike ride early Saturday morning before my breaks started not to work from the slick conditions. This workout of a long distance bike followed by an uphill run is a critical element of the training program. The more repetitions I get dealing with this challenge, the better chance I have for achieving my goals.

 

On the positive side, I’m far more healthy and practiced at this point in the training program than I ever have been in the 4 years preparing for this race. Most notable is that the siatic nerve and right hip pain that I started the season with is hardly noticeable. On Friday, I was able to run 11 miles at race pace with little trouble from my left calf.

 

All in all, I remain very optimistic. For the next 5 weeks, I need to balance body-mind-spirit and allow myself to grow through the challenge. If I keep trending this positively, I’ll have an excellent shot at completing the race at a personal best time and in the Top 10 of my race division.

 

Here’s this week’s training plan. My West Point Sprint Triathlon is on August 18th. This is my short practice race before the 70.3 Mile Toughman Race on Sept 8th. Therefore, I will do my 4-hour bike and 45 min run practicing on the West Point course this week just to get a feel of the terrain.

 

Monday: Swim 20 x 100m; 6 x 1-Mile Hill Repeats

Tuesday: Bike 1 hr 45 min, Run 60 min, 10 Chin-ups/100 Push-ups

Wednesday: Swim 2 x 1000m; Bike 2 hrs

Thursday: Pilates Stretch, Core Strength Training

Friday: Route 293 (West Point) - Bike 4 hrs; Run 45min

Saturday: Run 12 miles (Track – Consistent Pace/Flawless Form)

Sunday: Stretch (Triathlon Training w/Girls)

 

 

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