I’m a Man…

gundy

Coach Gundy screaming 'I'm a man! I'm 40!'

Kara Goucher’s is “be courageous’“.   Meb Keflezighi’s is “He who strives will succeed”.    My mantra is ‘I’m a man!  I’m 40!’

This all started out as a silly little joke.  If you saw Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy’s rant last season, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  (If you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here.)  Coach Gundy, angry at a reporter’s comments towards one of his young players, berates members of the media during a press conference.  He screams that if the media wants to pick on somebody, they should pick on him because, you guessed it, he’s a man.  He’s 40.

You have to understand me and my buddies.  We take quotes from everywhere and incorporate them into our daily lexicon.  For example, if a project manager explains his project plan, and my friend Bill knows said plan is destined to fail, Bill might lean over to me and say, ‘Your men are already dead’, using a line from the movie,  The Matrix.  If we’re in a deathly boring meeting, he might turn to me and whisper, ‘Larry’, referring to a scene from the film, Reservoir Dogs .  If someone makes Bill angry, he might tell me, ‘I want to punch him in his head’, a line taken from my girlfriend’s infamous quote at a concert.  Any quote that captures a feeling might find it’s way into our routine, to be pulled out and utilized whenever the moment is right.

So sometime shortly after Coach Gundy’s rant was televised nationally on ESPN, I began working the quote into the rotation, usually associating the line with some running goal of mine, like so: ‘I’m going to break 21:00 in Saturday’s 5K.  You know why?  BECAUSE I’M A MAN!  I’M 40!’  And my buddies – most of whom are men, and 40(ish) – laughed and started working it into their jokes too.  It stuck and became a regular. 

When my running pal Dean and I paced Bill in the Dowd YMCA Half Marathon on his 42nd birthday last Saturday, our plan was to run with Bill for 10 miles then accelerate to our marathon goal pace for the last 3 miles.  Just before we sped up, we turned to Bill and yelled, ‘You can do this!  YOU’RE A MAN!  YOU’RE 40!’ 

But here’s the thing.  What started out as a joke has evolved into a real-life mantra.  When I was struggling late in the Greekfest 5K, a race in which I set a goal of breaking 21:00, I said to myself, ‘You can do this!  YOU’RE A MAN!  YOU’RE 40!’  I made myself laugh.  I made myself relax.  I quit struggling and started performing.  I broke 21:00.

Somehow the silly phrase works.  Maybe because I’m a man.  Maybe because I’m 40(ish).  Whatever the case, I’m sticking with it.  So Saturday, in the Richmond marathon, I’m going to break 3:21.  Why?  BECAUSE I’M A MAN!  I’M 40!  

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