Message from Networking Leader Mark Gutierrez

Message from Networking Leader Mark Gutierrez
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This is an email from Mark Gutierrez from Chino, CA. Mark lost 120 pounds in First Place and is now a Networking Leader in CA. Read Mark’s story in the Success Stories section. You can read his update in Carole Lewis’ book, The Divine Diet.

As most of you know, I’m in training for the Houston Marathon in January 2006. It’ll kick off the 25’Th Anniversary Celebration for First Place, a Christ centered health program. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in First Place almost 7 years. What’s even harder to believe is that I’ve become a runner. Last year after the First Place Leadership Summit, Beverly Henson ( Personal Trainer and First Place Exercise Consultant) issued a challenge to the attendees to join her in running the Houston Marathon in 2006. I immediately responded with an “I’m in!” I wanted to begin running, but really needed some motivation. Well, needless to say, that’s one big motivator.

My running journey began in the latter part of March when I began training for the Saddleback Memorial 5K run in Laguna Woods California. It’s the very first race I’ve ever been in, but if I was going to prepare for a marathon I wanted to get my feet wet on a much smaller scale. I set a goal of 30 minutes and completed the 3.1 miles in 30 minutes and 1 second. The following week I began training for the America’s Finest City Half Marathon.

That brings me to last weekend. Pam and I journeyed to San Diego last Friday in preparation for my run on Sunday. We spent all of Saturday sight-seeing and visiting some touristy parts of San Diego. I got to bed early Saturday night as the busses for the race were leaving the next mooring at 5:00am. I spent a lot of time thinking about a goal and decided on 2 hours and 20 minutes (or 2:20). To help me keep the 2:20 in mind I decided to recite Galatians 2:20 at all 13 mile markers.

They say that a big part of finishing a race is mental and about mile 6 I was truly feeling like I might not finish. I persevered and kept on. That verse helped along the way. I was doing good and actually ahead of my time until I hit the 10 mile marker. I was tired, really tired, and decided to take a walking break. After a short spell I was back to running and was even catching up to where I was before. Then just before hitting mile 12 the course started going uphill. At one point almost everyone was walking. My time kept slipping and I was feeling like I wasn’t going to be able to start running again. It appeared like the end of that hill was nowhere in sight. Then finally about 3/4 of a mile before the end the ground leveled off and I was able to start running again. I gave it all I had and crossed the finish line with an official chip time of 2 hours 21 minutes and 14 seconds. Just 74 seconds slower than my goal, but I finished those 13.1 miles!

I thank God all the time for the changes that He’s made in my life, He changed a 300+ pound couch potato that couldn’t even walk around the block into an under 200 pound runner with aspirations of running marathons. I hope this encourages you and helps you to remember that with God anything is possible. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11; “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Run to win!
Mark Gutierrez
Chino , CA