Saturday, July 16, 2011

Here We Go Again ...

On June 22, 2010, my size would not allow me to fit into all five harnesses of the Space Shuttle simulator at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Although I was able to continue and enjoy the incredible experience, it was without a doubt the most embarrassing day of my life.

Today, I could fit in those seat belts with room to spare. As of last count, I have lost 66 pounds and eight inches off my pant size. Although I'll never be a fitness guru, I started this journey and stuck with it.

I have entered what will be my fourth 5k, and second actually attempting to run a bit. This one is scheduled for Sept. 24, and will benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C. As important as it has been for me to get in better shape over the last 13 months, the camp established by Kyle and Pattie Petty in memory of their son, Adam, is every bit as special for several reasons.

*I was in New Hampshire on that terrible day that we lost Adam Petty. It was hands down the worst day of my professional life.

*Less than a week later, we found out that Jeanie and I were expecting twins. One of them is named Adam in honor of the kid with one of the biggest grins I've ever seen.

*Our other twin son, Jesse, has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, which is a mild form of autism. There are programs for youngsters like Jesse at Victory Junction, and while he has not yet participated, it meant the world to Jeanie and I that he was invited to do so by none other than Kyle Petty himself.

*Finally, Jeanie is a thyroid cancer survivor and I lost both of my parents to cancer. It is a deeply emotional issue for me, and Victory Junction has gone a long way in helping kids with the disease to cope.

That said, I have set a couple of goals for this year's Victory Junction 5k. First, I participated in the event last December, when it was in the low 40s and raining hard the whole race. I walked the whole way, and finished in about 51 minutes. This time around, I'm going to jog as much as I can, and plan to finish in 40 minutes or less.

Olympic quality, that's not. But it would better my last VJ5K by more than 11 minutes, and my best-ever time by more than two minutes. It's doable, although the hilly terrain around the compex is very challenging. Don't worry ... I'll do it.

Finally, I have set a fundraising goal of $1,500. If you can possibly contribute, thank you. If not, please know that I fully understand. Here's the link:

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