TGIF: Finding Inspiration

Hey guys,

Hope y’all have had a great week! I’m sure some of you are celebrating Valentine’s Day with your significant others. I hope you’ve enjoyed your time together. For me, it’s been a pretty boring day, other than my usual night of league bowling. Proud to say that my valentine for the past 25 years has been my mom 😂.

So for this week, I thought I’d talk about my inspiration. Whenever I start a journey, I think about many things. What are my goals? What’s my plan? What are my timelines? What resources will I need? However, the most important question I ask myself is…why? Why am I doing this? What’s my inspiration?

For several years, my inspiration has been drawn from tragedy. It was around this time, the year 2016. I was watching a family friend’s house for the week. It was a Friday morning, around 9:00am. I was waking up to a phone call from my dad. I joked with him, wondering why he thought I’d be up this early. The silence that followed after I said that was deafening. My dad would normally have no trouble playing along. Nine times out of ten, he’d say something funny and sarcastic right back at me. This call was different. I heard him trying his hardest to contain his emotions. It’s worthy to note that my dad is far from an emotional man, especially when he talks to his kids. He was trying to find the right words to tell me, knowing damn well it wasn’t going to help regardless. It was at that moment, he simply stated, “we lost Jessie this morning.” I couldn’t believe it, I had to hear it from him in person. My only response was to tell him, “I’m on my way.” I hung up the phone, drove to my parent’s place, and ran inside to find my father leaning over the kitchen sink in tears. We couldn’t say anything. My mom came over to me soon after to embrace me. My older brother and sister weren’t far behind. We were all a mess. We had just lost my oldest sister, their oldest daughter, a mother to my two nieces, and a wife to a heartbroken man. All of this was unexpected, she was 38 when she passed.

I took a lot of time to really find myself after this took place. I never thought that losing someone so close to me so soon could ever happen to me. I took the time she had on this earth for granted. I was completely lost, searching desperately for answers to the millions of questions I had in my head. One question that kept popping into my head was how I’d live the rest of my life in remembrance of her? What could I do to honor her day after day? That’s where running came into play.

At this point, I was far from athletic. I was in the worst shape of my life. You’d be lucky to see me run down the block, let alone a mile. One day, while I was at my old job, I received an email from some of my bosses. It was about our partnership with a local marathon race that was coming up, the Air Force Marathon (Half Marathon, 10k, and 5k). Because of our partnership, we had free entries into the race for those that were interested. It was almost as if my prayers were answered. I hesitated at first to commit to it, given the physical limitations I had from being so out of shape. However, I didn’t let it steer me away from what I felt was right in my heart. I’d run my first 5k race in honor of her. And so I did. It wasn’t pretty, I had to stop several times during he run, and I ran across the finish line trying to contain vomit in my mouth. My time was horrible compared to what I’m able to run now, but that wasn’t the point. It was from my experience dealing with the grief and loss of family that I became inspired to start something new. The picture you see in this article is her gravesite in Olivesburg, OH. I laid my shirt and finisher medal right by her side as my way of showing her gratitude for the presence she had over me during these challenges. 25 races later, things still haven’t changed. She continues to push me through every moment of every race, especially when I want to give up.

Death is certainly a part of life. We all know that, and yet when it happens, it completely shocks us. I’ve never seen a person truly prepared to handle losing someone close to them. I guess, to be honest, it shouldn’t matter how one looks at this type of situation. Going back to what I’ve said in past posts, it’s all on how you respond to it. In this case, I didn’t want to carry on her legacy negatively. I told myself that I’d live out the rest of my life showing everyone the type of person she is, through my actions. Now, as I’m 8 months away from running my first marathon, I think about her more than ever. A lot has changed from four years ago. My health is as good as it’s ever been, my job has been nothing short of being awesome, and I have some of the most genuine and caring friends and family to support me in everything I do. One thing that hasn’t changed is the inspiration behind it all. When I cross the finish line come October, I’ll look up to the sky with tears rolling down my face and say, “I did it sis.”

In loving memory of Jessica Nemeth Schroeder, 1977-2016.

-Matt

P.S-Quick Injury/Diet Updates:

Injury is close to being all healed up. I feel confident enough, after completing three OTF workouts this week, to resume my trail runs starting this Sunday. Might have to start with 8 miles but I’ll be sure to post my stats from that run. Braces will help support the weak areas around my quad/knee. I’m just excited to get back into the swing of things after taking time off. My diet has been going very well! I’m almost two weeks into this vegetarian diet. I really struggled to contain my urge to break the diet at day 5 but I got through it and have been feeling great since. I’m noticing a difference in my energy all around with work and workouts since I started. I’ve been able to find great alternatives to meat that have stuck with me well. If I’ve been able to stay away from the endless amounts of chicken that are in front of me at work, I’m beyond confident I can keep this going. Here’s a cheer in hopes that I can keep this good progress going.

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