Tuesday, November 6, 2012


("Short" story of my LIMITLESS Journey.  I have already started to write chapters of a life changing book that will be out in 2013.  This is the short version but still might take you 10 minutes to read.  Thank you very much for taking the time to read about our journey.)

It’s mesmerizing to think of what 300 miles of running looks like.  I computed the approximate number of steps one would take running 300 miles.  A runner running 9 m.p.h. will take approximately 765 steps in a mile.  That means that same person running 300 miles would come close to taking 230,000 steps!  It is equivalent to running 11.5 marathons in the 4 ½ days.  That’s right, one foot after the other, moving towards a goal.  Fighting through physical fatigue was inevitable.  But the mental and emotional fatigue was something that was in the unknown, and was uncomfortable and something that takes mad determination to fight out of.  I came out ALIVE!  Not just alive, breathing and going through life but I came out ALIVE!  Energy and momentum was created.  Passion was re-built.  Determination was instilled again.  And I want to share the message to the world because anyone can do anything!  Believing is the first step....

This was the story of Limitless.  

Creating this endeavor was challenging.  After talking to my brother Josh about this concept, he jumped on board and would produce a documentary about the entire project.  We wanted to show people that anyone can do anything!  And anyone can break limits.  And we wanted to show this through the movie.  We set up a committee of people that showed interest in assisting this project.  We would meet once a month starting in April 2012.  We would start planning this massive event.  Boy, did we create a beast of a project.  This was not just some guy running 300 miles.  This was about one man's goal to create optimism throughout a community....let me rephrase that "throughout the world".  It was about bringing together a group of motivating and positive individuals to create the Limitless mindset.  We would discuss sponsorships, route logistics, construction of brochures, posters and bracelets and marketing for the event.  What seemed like a simple idea turned into a colossal expedition of sort.  These meetings led to the creation of LIMITLESS: Life in Motion.  It would be a 300 mile run from Visalia, Ca to Santa Monica all built to raise awareness that life is what you make it.  That pushing your boundaries will lead to optimal living.  That living LIMITLESS with your Life in Motion will give you a full life.  That ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.  We would also shoot to raise $20,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation.  After months of discussion, after creating brochures, posters, and a website, the journey was introduced to the community.  

Training for this event entailed lots of time on the road.  There is no shortcut for an event of this stature (really any sports).  It's consistent hard work that takes time.  I was physically prepared and confident but running this distance brings unfamiliar territory into the equation.  I had built my endurance to a point that running 26.2 miles was just a normal training weekend.  My body adapted to the longer runs.  I had completed a number of self-supported ultra runs leading up to this 300 mile event.  Here are a few of those training runs:
Midnight to 6:00 am Visalia run - 36 miles
Visalia to Three Rivers - 35 miles
Visalia to Earlimart - 33 miles
Run in Seattle, WA - 26 mile training run - 103 mile training week
Exeter water tower to Lemon Cove and back: 26 miles
Exeter water tower to the Oak Tree and back: 26 miles 
Run in Avery, CA - 40 miles with 4000 feet of climbing - 110 mile training week
Arroyo Grande 3 day training camp: 1st day-48 miles, 2nd day-40 miles, 3rd day-27 miles, 
Total of 115 miles for the 3 days.  

Arroyo Grande Training Camp

These training days were necessary to prepare my endurance and mental mindset for ultra running.  This year alone I logged over 1600 miles of running, from January to October.  Along with running, I added in bike rides, swim workouts, weight training, flexibility work and lots of recovery to the program.  My nutrition was built to supplement my training loads.  It became my lifestyle. 

After months of physical preparation and project construction, the day of our departure was upon us.  We would meet downtown Visalia at City Hall and we invited the community out to celebrate life and send our crew on our way.  Let me say that this morning was magical.  It was everything I had imagined to the start of this journey.  It was quite overwhelming in fact to see so much support.  Approximately 50 people were out there with us for the departure of LIMITLESS.  We would run one lap through the downtown streets of Visalia.  This was an amazing scene.  The sun was just rising, the people were positive and smiling and I was encouraged.  This encouragement would be used later in the week. 

The magical morning start.

Supporters in Visalia - Thank you!
What started out as just a "run" would quickly turn into an experience of a lifetime.  We would run through Exeter, Porterville, Bakersfield, down the Edison Highway to Tehachapi, through the desert, through Lancaster and Palmdale, through the Angeles Forest and into Los Angeles.  Then re-routing and starting in Camarillo, running down Highway 1 through Malibu and into Santa Monica.  It was epic.  I had no clue the powerful impact it was going to have on myself and everyone involved.  Each night I would check my phone and the messages on Facebook and the texts I was receiving was encouraging and kept me going each day.  I truly mean that everyone's support whether it be through running with us, praying and thinking about us or crewing for our team, it was needed and was greatly appreciated.  I couldn't have achieved this lofty goal without the support. 

Rocky taking care of me
Running in Visalia at the start

As the run progressed, so did the emotion.  Physically this run tested my body, but I was unaware of the mental anguish I was going to go through; this tested my heart.  Sleep deprivation, hunger, physical fatigue, mind games and emotion all played a part in this journey.  But this trait called DETERMINATION is powerful.  It continued to lead me forward closer to my goal.  No matter how weak I felt, how tired I was, my determination and the determination of our team kept us moving.  The human spirit is one of the greatest and most powerful components in humanity.  I witnessed first hand the impact the human spirit has on people.  My pace runners broke barriers.  They encompassed  this optimistic energy that enabled them to push way past their initial personal limits.  I was motivated just watching.  This wasn't about me.  It was about developing a mindset to believe in yourself and break down your walls.

Praying for strength on the 3rd day
Running at 3:00 am; notice my brother and sister there with me

(Excerpt from my book - This was a pivotal part to the story)
"Right at this point is where we made a decision to all rest our eyes for an hour.  We came up to the RV, Josh Hickey made the announcement, I didn't even say a word.  I rushed to the back of the RV, took my shoes off and quickly laid my body down.  It felt good for a little bit.  But my mind was racing.  I knew that resting was not moving forward and that if I wanted to be done by noon that I needed to keep running.  After battling myself for a few minutes, I soon got up.  I used the restroom and stared at myself in the mirror and said outloud, "You son of a bitch.  Finish this."  I then put on fresh running clothes and started making my way out of the RV.  Quickly everyone heard the noise and saw it was me getting ready to leave again.  This is such a pivotal point of the journey.  As I was eating, we will call it breakfast, I looked around the RV and outside.  Everyone was so tired.  And everyone was slowly waking up from a depleted nap.  I felt so bad inside.  I thought to myself, "Everyone is sacrificing for me, this project, damn, I feel bad."  But I managed to move outside.  I was cold, my body was now beyond sore, my feet were beyond achy but miles needed to be ran.  A goal was waiting to be accomplished and my determination kept me driven.  I stood out on the road as I battled inside my head.  "Go, rest, go, rest, go."  This was going on in my head.  My brother Josh came up to me and with a weary voice I said, "I'm at my brink.  I am at my brink."  I looked out onto the road, my arms were crossed, Josh came up to me, put his arm around me and he was crying.  Crying hard.  It was such an emotional element we had come to."  

Taking advantage of the smiles
A deep moment to collect my thoughts

As I look back at this exponential run, I am humbled.  I have a greater appreciation of the people in my life.  Waking up feels better.  Complaints are thrown out the window.  Inspiration has been developed.  As I begin to write my book I constantly stop and I realize the life lessons I learned on this 4 1/2 day adventure.  I wanted to share a few of them with you:

1.  I was deep in the trenches of running.  I had ran 200 miles so far but I still knew I had 100 miles left.  This was a tough moment as I focused too hard on the end goal and it played tricks in my head.  I needed to stay focused on the present moment.  What was I doing at that time to make sure I would stay on path?  I allowed my mind to wonder and think about "how much I still had", instead of "I have come a long way".  I remember quickly changing this thought process and told myself to focus on each step rather on the end goal.  Each step would allow me to eventually reach my end goal.  Each step would give me motivation as it would creep me closer to this huge achievement.  Each step would be the focus.  This is what I encourage you to do as well.  Don't focus on the big goal ahead.  It will lead to frustration.  Instead focus on each step.  What are you doing daily to be healthy and reach your fitness goals.  Keep your mind focused on these little steps, be consistent and the big goal will eventually get accomplished.

2.  After running 300 miles I am sold that rest and recovery are crucial components to getting desired results.  I went through nights with very inconsistent sleep.  This didn't help for the next day.  Yes, I managed to get through the day but for long term and longevity, rest and recovery are so important for overall health and wellness.  You have to ask yourself each day how your sleep quality was the night before.  On a scale of 1-10, if you gave yourself a 5, then you shouldn't go push yourself too hard in the gym.  If you are an inconsistent sleeper but yet you push hard in the gym, your results are probably stagnate because you haven't allowed the body to regenerate.  Do this for weeks or months, this leads to over-training, injury, lack of motivation and lack of results.  So pay attention to your recovery habits.  We all have jobs and families and social responsibilities so there are other stressors in our life that play into this recovery.  Don't just keep "running".  If you need a break, take it.  If you need some extra sleep, get it.  You will reap the benefits by focusing on this aspect.

3.  I witnessed some unbelievable events during this journey.  But something that stands out were how my pace runners were able to bust through their own barriers.  Every single one of our runners broke their own personal records of running distance.  The human spirit is powerful and contagious.  This goes to show you that if you surround yourself with positive and motivating people, optimistic energy will be spread.  We had one runner join me for the final 56 miles of the journey.  This individual does not have a running backround, in fact he has only ran 6 miles a few times in his life.  But something took hold of his human spirit.  It was inspiring.  Now, I don't recommend running 56 miles right away, but I do recommend challenging yourself.  By surrounding yourself with a great group of motivating people, you are set up to challenge yourself.  You have the support, the energy and you will build the confidence to believe in yourself.  This is how big things happen! 

In another world.  Fighting through our barriers

Levine Boys running Angeles Forest - Something we will never forget!

I'd like to thank the following people....
Ira Jr Zermeno for running the last 56 miles with me. This is a guy that has no ultra running backround. In fact, he has only ran 6 miles a few times in his life.  He stepped up and helped a friend!

Rocky Cisneros was in constant control of my vital signs and physicality. He was there to ice my legs, stretch me out, tape my blisters and keep me moving forward.

Joshua Hickey ran 220 miles with me! He was my wing man and his ultra running experience paid off at crucial times during the trip.  His selflessness to aide this project was remarkable.  
Jim Barnes, was on a bike by my side every mile! His contagious positive attitude tremendously helped me stay in the zone to keep moving forward.

Stephanie Levine was the rock by my side the entire time. She stayed calm, took care of me and was willing to do anything for our team.
Jamie Hickey, her constant positive attitude and contagious smile gave us great encouragement at each stop. Thank you Jamie for being there to support us runners.

Robin Twitty, leading up the the actual run, Robin did so much administrative work for the project. These are things that needed to be done to make this event successful. Once she joined the crew out on the run, she helped in anyway she could. She cheered and high fived us along the course.

Dave Edwards, Dave the "video guy" was out there doing what he does best...shoot awesome video. His work will make for a legendary documentary.

Josh Levine, my best friend was out there supporting me the entire way. He ran with me at times when I needed my brother. He is going to put together an inspiring film.

Ron Levine, my pops was there the final 3 days to support us the rest of the way. He even ran with us in the Angeles Forest with my 2 brothers. Something we will never forget.

Suzin Levine, my mom followed us the first 3 days making sure we were safe. She would give us wet towels when it was hot and took care of the pace runners when they needed rides back.

And to all of my pace runners, You were my team and a team does perform with one individual.  All of your efforts were greatly appreciated; Your energy and drive motivated me to accomplish the goal: Sean, James, Steve, Salina, Eric G, Eric B, Tyler, Kimmie, Kelsey, Lindsey, Landon, Raul, Antonio, Jason L., Tiffany, Jesse, Chad, Jonathan, Sarah, Casey W., Ryan, Elizabeth L, Dad, Josh L, Ira, Josh H

I'd like to leave you with a message...
No matter the hardships, the obstacles in your life, the physical restrictions you might have, YOU can break those LIMITS.  You just have to create a belief system and a positive day to day life.  And you must have work ethic, determination and the desire to achieve your goals.  Life is waiting to be lived so set your goals high, go get 'em and be the person you were meant to be!! 

Past writings