The 2016 Chicago Cubs: More Than Just a Team and a Game

It took 108 years.  Those 108 years included goats, black cats, Bartman and the Chicago Cubs themselves.  After all of those obstacles, the team finally did it and won the grandest title of them all – the World Series.  But this isn’t about the team that came back in the World Series after they were down 3 to 1.  How their backs were against the wall and they managed to turn it all around at the right time.  No, this is about the people outside of the organization.

Let me tell you a couple stories.  So the Cubs finally made it to and won the World Series.  As a lifelong Cubs fan, I thought that was special, and so did my dad.  I grew up playing baseball with him and both us enjoyed watching the Cubs play.  He was at the playoff game in 1984 when the Cubs hit a then record number of home runs in a game, 5, which would be broken by the Cubs last year.  He had tickets to the World Series that year, when all hell broke loose and the Cubs started to remind everybody they were the Cubs.  He never got to use the tickets.

Then there was 2003, four outs away from advancing to the World Series.  My dad and I were watching, I was in fourth grade and my teacher said we wouldn’t have homework the next day if the Cubs won.  Then Bartman happened, and the Cubs couldn’t pull themselves up.  We had homework the next day.

The years rolled by with other promising teams but nobody who could pull it off.  The lovable losers would continue to “try again next year.”  Then 2016 happened, the Cubs became the best team in baseball with 103 wins in the regular season, several astounding comebacks and heart attack provoking games in the playoffs and the Cubs finally made it to the promised land – the World Series.

Now back to the beginning.  This was history being made, and I was happy, but that happiness grew to elation the next day.  My dad and I were talking about the game the day after they made it to the World Series and he said something that hit me right in the heart.  When the Cubs won the series, he teared up.

This made me realize, as good as the Cubs were this year, who knows when or if they will make it again.  This may be the only time my dad and I will ever get to see them in the World Series together.  So I went home and surprised him so we could watch game 4 together.  The Cubs may have lost, but it was special for both of us and, in the end, the Cubs pulled it off.

One more story and then I’ll wrap this up.  After the Cubs won, I still had work the next day and I wanted to show my pride like many other Americans.  So I donned my dad’s 1984 Chicago Cubs National East Champions shirt and went to work, not aware of the conversation I would encounter.

I went in the kitchen to get some water and a coworker walks in, smiles and says she loves my shirt.  From there we recapped the game and then the unexpected happened.  I watched her glance start to leave mine and her eyes to slowly turn glassy.

She told me her uncle, a lifelong Cubs fan, passed away on July 26 after battling illness.  She turned and looked me in the eyes and said some of his last words were that he would never see the Cubs win the World Series.  A sad reality for many loyal Cubs fans in this world and it took everything within me to keep myself composed.

She continued that during the game, after Davis hit the game tying home run in the 8th inning, she couldn’t do it anymore and had to leave the room because it was too much.  Her daughter followed suit and went to listen to the remainder of the game on the radio in her uncle’s car.  I can relate to that as my heart was racing through the entire game.  She said she woke up the next morning to a note from her husband that said, “Cubs won, this one was for him.”

A wave of relief washed over her and as she got in her car to drive to work, she turned on her uncle’s iPod.  Of the 2,000 songs on his iPod, the one song to come on was John Fogerty’s Centerfield.  Anybody who knows the song knows it is about baseball, a sign from above, perhaps?  She is a diehard Milwaukee Brewers fan, but she said that day the Cubs gained a new fan.

I thanked her for sharing such a touching story and we went on with our days, but I just couldn’t shake her story and my dad.  I know others have stories like mine, and I am not saying because I decided to watch game 4 with my dad or because her uncle was up above watching over his beloved Cubs that they won.

What I realized was this postseason and championship was about so much more than just a game or a team.  It was about the moments they created, the closure people received and the hope this championship restored in so many people.

 

My Half Marathon and What It Taught Me About Life

So yesterday I ran six miles for the first time in about four months without even thinking about it (yes, my legs are killing me and I’m 99% sure I tasted blood for the last three miles). BUTTTTTTT it got me thinking about my half marathon I ran back in August 2015. While on my run (and dying from oxygen deprivation) I remembered my training and the half marathon itself and how it truly parallels many aspects of life and I want to share with all of you why that is and why you should all run one.

First, because I’ve established you’re all like me, when you hear a person say they’re running a half marathon you think, “Why would you ever want to do that?” Wellll a little background, in July 2014 I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t breath, it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. It eventually subsided and I went to work the next day but it happened again and I called my mom and we went to the hospital. It turned out I had pericarditis, an inflammation of the outer layer of my heart, my heart was basically squeezing itself. I had to stay the weekend in the hospital and have numerous tests done until I could be released.

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Needless to say I was not happy, especially after the news I received when I was discharged. They told me I couldn’t do any vigorous activities for three months and no competitive sports for six months. To a person who tries to be as active as possible like me this was devastating. But I did my best to eat well and maintain my figure and I said to myself after these six months I would make it up to myself; I would run a half marathon.

So we’re up to speed now and I’m beginning to train for my half marathon and during my training I learned the first thing that parallels life:

Dedication

To train for a half marathon you need to be dedicated to running, working out, and eating healthy, and the same thing is true about life, the dedication that is. If you’re trying to be an athlete you have to put in the dedication to train but you have to do the same thing if you want to be a lawyer, doctor, or teacher.

Anybody who has accomplished something in their life will tell you they had to make sacrifices to fully dedicate themselves to reach their goal. For me it was cutting back on beer and start eating kale and other green vegetables I cringe to think about (seriously, who thought a plant that tastes like dirt was a good idea to ingest?) But for others it means cutting back on going out with friends and spending more time with your books or job to reach your goal.

Dedication gets you this far but in most cases you will experience:

Apprehension

The training was over, the race day was here, and I was running. I felt pretty good and kept telling myself I could do it, but I hit the wall around mile 9 and immediately my thoughts changed to, “You idiot, why are you doing this to yourself? Stop I beg of you!” I thought that was going to be it and in many aspects of life you will experience similar apprehension.

In the pursuit of your dreams you will feel you’re on your way and then suddenly you will hit a road block and think the train is derailing. Whether this is relapsing and going out to the bars again or ignoring your responsibilities for a momentary second of bliss.

Anxiety and apprehension happen when you think you’re missing out on “important” life experiences in pursuit of your dreams but what defines a person is:

Perseverance

Although I had a moment where I didn’t think I was going to make it, I pushed through all the pain, remembered all the work and dedication I put in, and finished the race (This wasn’t easy either, they made the entire last mile UP HILL! WHAT?! WHO DOES THAT?!) But I did it, I crossed the finish line and I’m still here and I’m damn proud that I did it. I felt better than I ever did in my life and that’s the true power of perseverance.

Half Marathon

No matter what type of apprehension or anxiety you experience in life, so long as you remember the reason you started in the first place and push through the pain, you will persevere. Although we all wish things would come easy for us, I believe the victory and reward is much sweeter when you experience adversity.

What I want you to take from this post is running a half marathon requires dedication and perseverance to push through the adversity you WILL experience along the way and life is no different. I want to challenge all of you to run a half marathon at some point in your life. It will be one of the most mentally and physically challenging things you will ever do in life, but the outcome will be so rewarding. It will help put all of these points in perspective and help you enjoy the journey to your goal.

*Why a Half and not a Full?

As with anything in life you need to recognize your limits. I knew I wasn’t the strongest long distance runner at the time so I chose to do a half first. In life never be afraid you admit you aren’t ready for something because it’s past your experience.Recognize your own limits and never take off more than you can chew.