More than I expected

“More than I expected” is the first post in a series about the human side of dailymile: How We Succeed. As a part of this series, dailymilers write about their experiences as athletes struggling to overcome obstacles and solve problems with the help of their friends on dailymile. Being an athlete makes our bodies stronger, but having the support of a crowd of athletes makes our minds stronger. This series highlights the side of training that requires more than muscle power.

“Haven’t decided exactly how to break the news publicly on dailymile,” I typed the words with emotion, “but I lost my job and will be looking for somewhere else to serve and ride and run.”

It was the middle of the night Valentine’s Day and I was wide awake when I posted this message to four or five or six dailymile friends privately. The news was less than five hours old. I’d called my parents and my in-laws and a handful of close friends who’d insisted I let them know immediately how things had turned out. I’d sent a dozen or so emails. There were people in my church who needed to know, but I hadn’t pulled myself together enough to start talking with them. Why, then, was I telling these guys, only one of which I’d actually met face to face, the secret of this fresh wound?

I’m sure the answer is more complex than this, but, without overanalyzing, all I can figure is these particular dailymilers had encouraged me so many times after a tough workout, I just knew they’d do the same with the sad news I now entrusted to them. And I needed encouragement! Inexplicably, I needed it from them. Crazy, huh?

When I joined dailymile a little over a year ago, I had no idea how close I’d grow to the people of this virtual community. My “real” friends were on Facebook. This was just a place to post my workouts and learn a thing or two. Such a small vision! There are other places to track training. This is the place to connect, the place to build others up, the place to laugh and cry and tease and comfort, the place to belong and serve.

During the week or so between the time I talked privately with the few and when I spoke out for all to hear, I won a spot on the 2011 dailymile team. I was truly excited, grateful for the opportunity, but it was a bittersweet moment. Loss and gain mixed to form an odd emotional state. Sadness dominated, but joy was mingled with it. Sometimes tears would stream down my cheeks as I ran around a town I knew would soon not be my home. On other days, I laughed and pumped my fist in the air with happiness. On one ride, I’d mash the pedals and sprint up hills to burn the edges off the anger that came uninvited to my heart. During another I’d thank God for his faithfulness and my spirits would soar. I hinted at my pain and pleasure in my dailymile posts. In a few comments, I spoke cryptically of the impending change.

I broke the news publicly on dailymile eight days after I sent those first private messages. I’d had a chance to heal a bit by then. I’d been hugged dozens of times and heard kind words by the thousands. I’d announced the decision to my church, but I hadn’t found the words for a dailymile post yet. I’d tried to start two or three times. Nothing sounded right. Normally, a wiz with words, I was tongue-tied.

Then one day, I woke up and the words flowed. In a matter of minutes I had a post. I clicked “Submit” and shut off the computer. I knew the support would come. I smiled and walked away.

Mike is a biker and runner from Kansas. He’s been a dailymiler for a year and a half, and he loves encouraging others, especially when they’re down in the dumps and ready to call it quits!

About Mike N

Mike Neifert is an avid runner and cyclist who lives on the plains of Kansas. He works out mostly in the early morning hours before the sun comes up. He drags his wife and kids along on runs and rides whenever he can. He's run a 50K, but not a marathon. He wants to ride 200 miles in a day sometime soon and plans to run 100 miles in less than 24 hours in November 2012.
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