This is a guest post by Atlanta’s Jacob Austin.
Thanks for sharing Jacob….& congratulations.
Everyone always talks about the inspiration athletes can bring, pointing to guys like Jason McElwain, the autistic team manager that scored 20 points for his high school basketball team on their senior night.
Soon enough, they may say the same sort of things about the USMNT’s heart-on-sleeve wearing striker, Charlie Davies.
I already am.
A couple of years ago, during a routine checkup, a doctor told me that I needed to either get fit, or run the risk of diabetes.
I was 20 years old, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and weighing in at 230 pounds. I did nothing about it, went on living my life, playing the random game of pickup basketball or soccer, and eating when I wasn’t. I grew to love soccer, and became passionate about it quickly. That passion led me to Washington, DC to see the Yanks play Costa Rica in their final World Cup Qualifier. As my brother and I turned off I-395, onto 14th street, and into traffic, I saw the news about “The Accident” on my mobile.
I was in the crowd at RFK, holding up my #9 sheet, and saw the inspiration the players found late in the game that night. How the two could have possibly coincided never really occurred to me.
This Christmas, I was looking at the pictures from my family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas activities, and decided it was time to take the doctor’s words to heart. I was going to get fit. I started by running a little bit on the treadmill each day, and trying to eat less. It worked, and the pounds started dropping.
After being at it for a little while, the notion of “just needing to get healthy” started to wear off in it’s effectiveness of driving me to the treadmill each day. As I was scratching and hurting my way through the end of a long run to nowhere (how I was starting to look at that blasted machine), my iPhone chose to shuffle to Weezer’s “Represent”, the unofficial World Cup anthem about never giving up, no matter how hard it is, how much it hurts, or futile it feels.
That’s when it registered with me: If Charlie Davies could get back to playing shape after the damage done to his highly tuned body, what excuse did I dare come up with not be able to just skinny myself up a bit?
The man known as CD9 has a foot-long scar down his stomach from a surgery to repair an organ.
Me? I just had a giant stomach.
And then a few days later, it was reported that my adopted MLS team DC United was in talks to bring USMNT player, and recently found “health hero,” Charlie Davies into the team’s preseason fold.
Not long after that, I started approaching my exercise like a soccer player does training.
I kept track of my heart rates, calories, starting taking an ice bath every other day to keep my legs fresh. I started practicing with the high school I graduated from and still work at as a side job. I was running, starting to do some isometric workouts. I looked at my goal of getting fit like a player might look at making the 18, like an injured striker driven to reward those who believe in him and vindicate himself in front of those who didn’t.
My dedication felt fresh and honest, every day.
The news of DC officially signing Davies came the same day I broke a weight loss goal. Everything was “fitting together.” I bought a DCU “Davies 9” jersey to celebrate them both.
The two most rewarding moments of my efforts so far were buying a pair of 36- inch waist jeans, after my mother had bought a pair of “42”s” for a Christmas gift, and getting to share a high five and a moment to tell Mr. Davies in person that he’s been this inspiration to me last week in Charleston after the Black and Red’s 2-1 preseason win over the Battery.
It was my first time I’d seen my favorite, nay, most inspirational player in person. I even got a picture out of it, while wearing the jeans.
My family set a “safe” estimate of my weight at 235. I didn’t want to make a weight number the goal in the beginning, as I wanted to loss to be all about how I looked and felt, not what the scale was telling me.
In the not-quite-three-months since Christmas (starting on my birthday, December 28th, to be exact), I’ve lost nearly 40 pounds.
I weighed in at 197 the morning of my first 5K.
About a month ago, when I left the treadmill for the asphalt, I knew I wanted to find a race to run. Three weeks ago, when I signed up for this race, I set my time goal at 27:00. After training for the race, I dropped that to 26:00. Yesterday–Saturday, March 12th 2011–I ran that race, in 23:18.
Did I celebrate? Damn straight I did.
Back at you Charlie. I see you knocked one home in the preseason Saturday evening. Seems only fitting, like these “36s.”