For years now I've been compiling a list of things I would like to do before I die. I know it may seem morbid to some folks, but I loved my list. I kept it on my palm pilot so that I could glance at it or add to it whenever an idea popped into my head. It was a great way to daydream and become inspired.
My list consisted mostly of places I wanted to visit, traveling being my favorite hobby, but some of the things on the list are other challenges and fun things I wanted to be able to have bragging rights about. For instance, last year my list inspired me to run a marathon. Okay, some would argue that I gave myself the inspiration because I wrote the list, but there is something about seeing it on paper or in print that makes it that much more tangible.
Running a marathon seemed like one of the more attainable things on the list because it was something I felt I had total control over. I could choose to run it any time and if I worked hard enough I knew it was something I could accomplish. It also had somewhat of an expiration date in my mind since I didn’t want to wait too long for fear I may get too old and lazy to be able to finish. When I set my mind to running a marathon I decided that if I were going to put myself through all of that pain anyway, I should also run it for charity to get even more out of finishing. Why not kill two birds with one stone? I found a cause that I believed in and took the first step by telling everyone, including the press, that I was committed to running a marathon for my charity. This left me no option to back out. A person is only as good as their word, right? Well I had no idea of what I was getting myself into.
After the fifth month of training I suffered from shin splints and knee problems so painful that I was forced to stop running and seek medical attention. I was ready to throw in the towel. I could explain it to the press, if anyone ever brought it up again. Who would have blamed me? I could easily say, “I tried my best but my body was just not made for running” or “my new shooting schedule didn’t leave me enough time in the day to complete all the running that was required.” How about, “My demanding travel schedule just wouldn’t allow me to continue with the running program.” I had every legitimate excuse in the world to quit. I would have quit for sure had it not been for the fact that I had planned a huge fundraiser the night after the marathon and the new charity, I helped set up specifically timed to coincide with this marathon, was counting on me to finish. I could not let everybody down, including myself. After all, it’s on my list, too.
After about a month of recovery I was able to pick up with the running again, but this time I was going to get some help and make sure I did it right so I could get through it. It took a village, but with a lot of help from trainers, chiropractors, massage therapists, and pure will power and determination, I was finally able to cross the finish line five months later at the Honolulu Marathon on December 10, 2006 in 4 hours and 56 minutes. With the sponsors I collected and fundraising luau the following night I was able to raise over $100,000 for Reef Check Hawaii to help them jumpstart their new organization.
I was finally able to cross the marathon off my List of Things to Do before I Die, but the much bigger satisfaction came from being able to give birth to and raise money for this new charity.
For a while now my palm pilot has ceased to work and I am forced to come up with a new list. What’s on my list? Well, it’s still in the works, but one thing’s for certain, when it’s all done I’ll be posting it for the world to see so that I can be sure to accomplish everything on it no matter what it takes.
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