#4Cto5K: 400 pounds to a 5K- Let's do this!

A Southwest Airlines 737 departs MDW at dusk. Photo courtesy of Jim Wissemes via Creative Commons

A Southwest Airlines 737 departs MDW at dusk. Photo courtesy of Jim Wissemes via Creative Commons

Are you free on Sunday, September 13? Fancy yourself a fitness enthusiast, or maybe a Southwest Airlines fan? Need an excuse to fly to Chicago? Perhaps you dig great views like the one above? If you can answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, you should consider joining me for the 2015 Midway Fly Away 5K benefiting the Chicago Special Olympics.

But why? 
This will be my first 5K, it's a milestone for me, for sure. I was the chubby (fat) kid in Jr. High and High School who invested heavily in finding ways out of running the state-mandated mile. While I failed each year, I took no pleasure in completing the task. Now, over a decade after leaving secondary school here I am voluntarily signing up to run not one, but three (point one) miles. Crazy how times change!

Health's a real concern- I've struggled with my weight most of my life. In truth, I've spent most of my adult years somewhere in the 300s, fluctuating wildly from one extreme to another. In 2008 I topped the charts at a whopping 378 pounds. Shortly after I went on a strict self-imposed diet and exercise regimen and over the course of that year and part of 2009 lost an incredible 153 pounds. I share this as proof to you (and me) that I can set lofty goals and achieve them. 

In the years since I've slowly gained it all back, plus more. At the end of 2014 I topped the scales at soul crushing 401.4. Around that time I was invited to a local news station to discuss the TSA. The resulting video was a wake up call and I decided it was time to get serious about getting back on track. I began dieting and getting active immediately. Not long after, I learned of Midway's 5K and spent a number of months pondering the possibility before fully committing.

I've spent the last month and a half secretly training, hitting the trails more days than not pushing myself and slowly improving. I'd lost nearly 40 pounds over the first bit of the year, but that pace has drastically expedited given the recent intense walks and jogs. I consider this pre-work, in advance of starting a formal couch-to-5k training program which kicks off shortly.

Why Chicago? Why Midway?
As a frequent Southwest Airlines traveler, card carrying member of their elite traveler program (A-List) and SWA super fan, the Midway 5K makes sense to me. I fly to, and through MDW at least a dozen times a year. In fact, MDW is my second most frequented airport second only to Dallas Love Field (DAL.) Home airport excluded, of course. 

I have a bunch of friends who will be participating in the O'Hare 5K. While I'm sure the plane spotting would be better there, it would feel foreign running around an airport I rarely visit, surrounded by planes but with the [almost] zero chance of spotting a bird sporting the Southwest colors.

What's next?
Lots and lots of training, and recruiting others to join me. As it stands I'm flying solo. I'm okay with that, but it'd be fun to share the experience. Today is my public unveiling and with all good campaigns in the age of social media I've cooked up my own hashtag: #4Cto5K- That's 400, to 5K and also a fun derivative of the C25K program which I'll be relying on over the next two months to continue training. 

Join me, wont you? If not, consider making a donation to the cause on my page. I'll get nothing but your encouragement. The real winners here are the Chicago-area children and adults with intellectual disabilities who you will be supporting.

Make a tax deductible donation and offer some words of encouragement here.