If you’ve been reading the site for the last couple years, you’ve probably heard about a project called 777.
7 ultra marathons. 7 continents. 7 schools for Pencils of Promise.
A year and some change ago, I started this project and made a big deal of it – shot a bunch of videos and ran my first race.
We’ve also raised $39,000 so far (and counting). But then…
—– Radio Silence —–
So a lot of people have been asking…
What Happened to 777?
Great question! I’ll give you the short answer first, then the long answer (as well as what I’m doing about it).
The Short Answer
Two things happened that made me momentarily pause the project for a little bit:
- I got hurt (pretty bad).
- My business got sued (even worse).
Both took a lot of time, energy and focus to take care of.
The Long Answer
Important Disclaimer: I want to note that I’m not writing this in order to make excuses for myself or for you to feel bad for me. They’re just facts of what happened. I don’t think I handled everything here correctly and I know much better how to adjust going forward, but they’re 2 of the main driving events of my last 2 years of my life that affected my training, traveling, business, life and everything in between. Stories have highs and lows and this is one of the lows.
I want to note that I’m not writing this in order to make excuses for myself or for you to feel bad for me. They’re just facts of what happened. I don’t think I handled everything here correctly and I know much better how to adjust going forward, but they’re 2 of the main driving events of my last 2 years of my life that affected my training, traveling, business, life and everything in between. Stories have highs and lows and this is one of the lows.
In the middle of my first race down in Patagonia, I ran 27 miles, and then rolled my ankle and tore my peroneal tendon. This is a tendon that goes from your knee down through your ankle and wraps around your foot. This is what it looks like:
This was incredibly frustrating because I’m not that injury prone. And if this was some normal overuse accident, I would feel way better about it. After all, when you run a lot, stuff happens.
But this was different – a sort of freak accident that I couldn’t prepare for.
I came around a corner in the race, and a 25 mph wind gust at my back shifted as I turned the corner and headed downhill. It gusted so hard that it literally blew me across the running area to the other side of the road as I was gaining speed downhill.
As I was trying to catch my balance, I rolled my ankle HARD.
Now, I’ve played basketball my whole life and know what a rolled ankle feels like. It sucks, but you walk it off and it’s fine a few hours or days later.
This was not that.
Since I was going downhill, I rolled my ankle past where my foot was – if you can picture that – and sort of cinched the tendons in my leg like a bent water hose. Not good.
I was hurting.
I changed my pace and gait and figured out how to hobble along for a mile on it, but it didn’t feel any better.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I’m more stubborn than I am smart, so instead of giving up, I ran 14 more miles on my busted leg and finished out the race. One down!
What I didn’t realize was that I was way more messed up than I thought (adrenaline is a hell of a drug). I finished the race, and the next week, I couldn’t run a quarter-mile. Not, “Oh, my legs are tired, I can’t run,” but more like, “I can barely put any weight on my left ankle, and I’d rather cut off my ankle than run on it at this point.” I wrote about that experience here + here, so I won’t recap it again, but let’s say it was tough.
Cue 6 months of rehab, mobility work, creating MoveWell and trying to get back on track physically.
A couple months before I really got going with 777, my business got sued. We didn’t’ do anything wrong, but when your company name is just one word (IMPOSSIBLE), you tend to bump into trademark issues every now and then.
At first, it wasn’t a big deal (legal proceedings are notoriously slow). But right around the time I got hurt, things started picking up with the court proceedings, and it started to get real. Like really real.
This was a HUGE use of time, resources (money and energy) and most of all – FOCUS.
Lawsuits don’t move very quickly, and if you’re not handling it well, it can take up a huge mind-share – even when you’re just waiting a couple months in court proceedings to see how things play out.
This was one of the main things holding up any progress on the project, as this was a huge drain on my time, energy and resources, and put me in a bad place for a good year and a half.
Then, when the lawsuit was finally over, I had intellectual property dispute pop-up over one of the domains that IMPOSSIBLE owns. This was another scenario where we did nothing wrong (and even won the dispute handily), but again, the time and energy it took to resolve it could have been used in several other ventures.
I’m can’t talk too much about it yet, but let’s just say after 18-24 months of litigation, discovery and a bunch of other legalese, it’s finally over.
Holy crap. Sometimes, it felt like a bad joke was playing out in front of me – for 2 straight years. I have to admit, it’s hard enough to run a business on it’s own. It’s harder still when you get sued, have insane legal bills to keep up with, and then have to somehow try to maintain an acceptable resting heart rate level. I didn’t realize until it was all over that part of the reason I had trouble sleeping for 2 years, was because of how high my stress levels were.
That said, it’s all over and despite it all, I’m still alive and still moving forward 🙂
A Few Personal Notes on 777
With all that said, 777 has taken me MUCH longer to do this than anticipated.
I remember writing when I launched 777 a couple years ago, I did so because I wanted a real challenge. I remember writing in my journal that, “I wanted to do something that might actually be impossible – something that I had a real chance of failing at – a real challenge.”
Oh, younger, dumber me.
I knew it was going to be hard.
I had no idea what it would really take out of me and how much I would have to go through to grow into the person that can actually pull it off (and I had no idea how much stuff I would have to go through that had nothing to do with running).
I’ve written since the beginning of this blog that most people don’t really fail, they just give up too soon.
Well, I’ve been chewing on my own words for the past few months.
In some ways, I think I might have needed it. When 777 started, I said I wanted a real challenge – things had gotten good (and I might have been a bit too comfortable). In other words, I hadn’t failed in a while.
With the injury and the lawsuit, I found that I was failing anew in a bunch of different areas – areas I wasn’t necessarily as comfortable failing in.
I never had a history of injuries and I definitely didn’t know anything about getting sued (at the time).
It was tough. Really tough.
One of the things ultras have taught me is that when you hit obstacles, it’s okay to stop, assess the terrain, change the plan and readjust, but you gotta keep going.
In the middle of my very long runs, I’ll talk to myself a lot. One of the things I whisper when I’m tired is, “Just keep moving.” Even if you’re taking a break, eating food or need to talk, just keep moving.
If you do that, you’ll keep it up, find a second wind, keep moving, and you’ll find that no matter how tough something is – you can will your way through most things.
So, with that in mind, I want to let you know that 777 is NOT over and I’m not done yet.
I’m taking my own advice, moving forward and finding that second wind.
Tomorrow, I’m going to be sharing exactly what’s happening next and where we’re going from here.
Stay tuned (and thanks for sticking with me).
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