Friday, March 5, 2010

A long dark night

Riddled with guilt and shame I laid on a cold metal bunk bed in the late night darkness of the Greenville County jail facing a terrifying future. I wondered how I was going to look my daughter in the eye again, how I was going to face my wife. I looked out into the darkness searching for hope, for anything to hold on to, for anything to protect me from the fearful reality that sunk in deeper with each passing moment. I had let my wife down. I had let my child down. I had let myself down. I had carelessly and selfishly tossed aside the sole responsibility with which I had been entrusted. I closed my eyes hoping to wake up and find this all to be a bad dream, to find myself comfortably snuggled in my bed next to Karina with the dogs laying at my feet. Instead, I opened my eyes to again find the bleak reality of the situation still hanging in the air.

I was able to arrange bail and was released at 4pm the next day. As I was being processed for release I tried to determine how I was going to get home. I had not be able to contact Karina because the phones in jail can not call cell phones and we did not maintain a traditional land line at the house. My wallet and cell phone were still in the truck leaving me with only the clothes I was wearing the night before. I assumed that I would simply walk home from jail after I stopped by the bail bondsman's office to sign the bail paper work. I slowly made my way through the never ending labyrinth of heavy locking doors and sealed rooms leading to the lobby and eventually outside. With each guard area and automatically locking door I passed through the anticipation for release grew. Even though I didn't know how I was going to contact Karina, or even how I was going to get into the house once I walked the 15 miles home, I could not wait to be outside of the jail again. I felt that once I was out of jail I could begin moving forward again, begin to deal with this mess I had made. As I walked across the lobby towards the exit, I began to deeply fear Karina's reaction to this situation. Would she leave? would she even be home when I finally got there? How could she forgive me, what was I going to say? What could I say?

I walked out the front door of the jail and into the smell of cigarette smoke and late afternoon sun. Two of the guys I had shared a holding cell with while waiting for release were standing just outside the door enjoying the cigarette they had been discussing for the previous hour while we awaited our return to freedom. I didn't have time for a cigarette. I had to get to the bondsman's office and then on my way home. It was going to be a long walk home. I thought that maybe I could call Karina from the bail bondsman's office and see if she could pick me up. Just as I was deriving my plan I looked up and saw Karina walking toward me. How was this possible? How did she know I was getting released? How is she not going to kill me? Fortunately for my well being all I saw on her beautiful face at that moment was love and caring. She walked up to me and wrapped her arms around me and squeezed me tightly. A hug has never felt so good.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How the journey began

This blog is to chronicle my evolution from a 300 lb chain-smoking beer guzzler to an Ironman finisher, noting as many obstacles and achievements as possible along the way. The journey has been fairly slow thus far, and I don't see the pace quickening any time soon. This, however, is fine by me as it has been my experience that lasting change comes slowly and these lifestyle changes I hope and pray are lasting.

After leaving graduate school in late 2004, I weighed about 215 lbs and smoked at least a pack of Marlboro Methol Lights each and every day. I also smoke other things which did not come with any sort of filter, and drank beer quite heavily given the chance. The combination of a desk job, endless movie rentals, pizza delivery and absolutely no desire to exercise caused my weight to increase to 295lbs by December 2007.

In the summer of 2008, when gasoline prices were reaching the highest levels in my lifetime, I decided that riding a bike to work a few days a week would be a good way to both save a few dollars and maybe shed a few pounds. I found a used mountain bike on Craigslist and started riding it around my neighborhood building up to the 5 mile ride to work. After two weeks I rode my bike to work. I felt like I had accomplished something wonderful and environmentally conscientious. I am fortunate that my job has a private shower in the men's room and I have a private office in which I can change clothes. Soon I was riding my bike to work up to 4 times per week, and upgraded to a new Trek 7.3 FX hybrid bike. Man, that thing was so much faster than the MTB! By October 2008 my weight was down to abut 280lbs and things were looking better, except I still had several really bad habits that needed to be addressed.

On the night of October 9th 2008, I was involved in an accident after leaving a bar where my company's softball team had gathered to watch the Clemson vs. Duke football game. That night proved to be one of the biggest turning points in my life. As the arresting officer informed me and the Judge that my charges were changed to felony DUI due to the injuries suffered by the other driver, my knees buckled and I hit the floor sobbing. All I could picture was my 4 month old daughter growing up without a father because I was in prison, and my wife struggling to provide for the family without my earnings. It was at that exact moment my life changed.