Coach Baisley: What inspired you to start running?
John: I decided to run a marathon just to see if I could do it. I’m one of those people who will do just about anything if I commit to it. I signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon, downloaded a training plan online, and stuck with it. I started with a couple miles per week and surprised myself when I ran up to 5 miles, then 10 miles, and the next thing I knew, was running 15+. Weight loss was not a motivating factor but I did see results in overall fitness.
Now the true inspiration... it was a beautiful sunny, cool day. It happened to be 3 ½ weeks after the 911 tragedy. Over 6,000 runners with many more spectators in a sea of red, white, and blue; signs honoring the thousands who died. It was the day the US launched air strikes on the Taliban in Afghanistan. The atmosphere is something I will never forget! It was incredible, patriotic, united, without political divisiveness. It was a snapshot in time where we were all Americans, we were all proud, sad, mad, and a combination of many emotions we all felt at that time. It was impossible not to be excited with my engine running at full throttle at the starting line next to the Metrodome in Minneapolis. I made a common mistake for first time runners of not pacing myself in the beginning.
The 26.2 miles of race scenery was amazing and the witty signs spectators displayed couldn’t help but make you laugh out loud. All kinds of music, Vikings cheerleaders, trampolines, polka bands, Hispanic, Scandinavian dancing and even someone handing out beer to runners. From that point, I was hooked and ended up finishing in 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Coach Baisley: Any experiences you want to share during your training or the races?
John: In many ways, I believe running a marathon parallels life. In life, we have ups and downs, times of physical/mental/spiritual highs or lows, times of adversity, and times when you want to give up. Just like some of the emotions I have experienced in 26.2 miles.
This is a little scary because it “puts myself out there” and exposes a vulnerable side of me but highlights the true meaning of running my race in life.
In the spring of 2012 I found myself in the hospital with extreme depression and anxiety. I won’t get into the details but needless to say it was engulfed with condemnation, fear, and wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. However, throughout the ordeal I discovered who I really am. I am dearly loved by my Lord Jesus, I’m empowered by His Grace, I’m dearly loved by my family and friends, and I’m a FIGHTER!!
A couple weeks after being released from the hospital, I ran the Minneapolis half marathon still gripped with many symptoms and without knowing beforehand, the route passed by the hospital where I stayed. I had a huge chip on my shoulder and remember shouting during the race, “screw you depression”! I ran it in 1 hour and 33 minutes with little training.
Throughout the summer, I ran like I was riding a cloud and blew through any training objectives I set for myself. Looking back it was funny seeing the look of friends I ran with previously who were thinking, “wow, what got into John?” For me, running was therapeutic. In many ways I was running to save my own life.
“What will you do? Will you fight or will you quit? Will you overcome and become a stronger person? Will you share this someday and help others?”.....Yes, Yes, and Yes. It was a time in my life that shook me to the core but in many ways, I’m living life for the first time.
In the fall of 2012, I ran the Twin Cities Marathon with a time of 3 hours and 3 minutes…shattering my own record by almost 20 minutes and qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
In 2014…my victory lap in Boston! The city was electric. Not only is the Boston Marathon the Super Bowl of marathons, it was the year after the bombing that killed 6 people and injured many others along the finish line. Security was very tight, the media was everywhere around the finish line, and make-shift shrines marked where people passed away the previous year. It was a very emotional setting for the most popular race in the world.
During the race, I was able to cheer on Team Hoyt…a father who pushed his disabled son in a wheelchair and who ran marathons for years. This was their last marathon together.
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/team-hoyt-run-boston-marathon/story?id=23288967. As I passed them somewhere around mile 18 and congratulated them, it put things into perspective and how thankful I am for all the blessings in life.
If that was not inspiring enough, two days later I got engaged to my beautiful bride in a park in downtown Boston….what a week!! You never know where the running trail will lead.
Thank you John Schmidt for your inspiring story! John also has some great information for people interested in running. I'll post that next week. To make sure you don't miss it sign up to receive my blog posts and inspirational tips by email. Just fill out the form on this page.