“My Victory isn’t crossing the finish line. My Victory is taking the next step after I want to quit.”

It’s been a couple days since I crossed the finish line at Buffalo Run 100 and I’ve had a chance to reflect and think about the race and everything leading up to it. I still feel like a stone wall. I’ve had some smiles here and some light tears there, but all in all, I just can’t get that feeling of accomplishment to come out…

I freckin’ finished a 100 mile race! I should be so proud of myself. I did it. Against all the odds in the world, I pushed through setback after setback after setback… With all the distractions in my life, I still did it. I have achieved what most people would consider beyond impossible. I have gone from 400 pounds to 100 mile finisher in 4 years.

Ok, bragging time is over. Buffalo Run 100 is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was even harder because I am in the worst physical condition than I’ve been in in a year. I missed more workouts, cross training activities and ran less than I did for my 50 mile race last summer. I was so scared going into Buffalo Run that I wouldn’t be able to make it because my physical condition was too weak. But if there is one thing I know about myself is that I am mentally strong. I know I can handle more pain and suffering than most people. I know I had my eye on the finish line and I refused to take my eyes off of it. I lost the love of my family, my wife, and my kids. I lost friends and my work suffered immensely. I refused to let anything get in my way of crossing the finish line of my first 100 mile race…

Some people believe you’ll never be good enough for others so you’d might as well be the best version of yourself. I agree! The problem is I don’t fit in this category… I’ve done something that is near impossible. I’ve done something that people look at me in awe and they don’t believe it. What I’ve done in 4 years has been nothing short of spectacular. I don’t say this because I’m cocky and arrogant. I don’t say this because I think I’m better than anyone else. I say this because I am good enough for everyone else but myself… It doesn’t matter how hard I work, what goals and dreams of mine I accomplish, it will never be good enough for me. I always want more.

Because I’m not good enough for myself I push myself harder and farther. I am willing to put myself through absolute hell to prove to myself it’s possible and then when I’m done, it wasn’t hard enough, long enough, or it didn’t cause enough pain. It doesn’t matter what I do, I know I could have done better. I’ve spent my entire life burying my feelings and covering up the pain I feel inside. From family problems when my parents were getting divorced and I moved across the country to being made fun of, bullied, and ridiculed because of my weight growing up to never being smart enough to get above a C avg in high school and college to watching my mom fall apart because the love of her life and my favorite person in the world died instantly of a heart attack while away on business.

I’ve never been good enough. When I was growing up I never made the “A” team in sports. I always fell short in anything I tried because I wasn’t willing to put in the effort needed to get better. I passed on a college football scholarship because I was lazy. I can sit here and blame everyone else all day long but in the end, my unhappiness with life is all my fault… To this day nothing I’ve done has been good enough for me. What scares me is I’m not sure I will ever find the happiness inside myself to ever believe I’m good enough… I don’t know if I will ever get over this fear of being mediocre and normal. But for the time being, running has given me something to focus on and work toward.

Through all the pain and disappointment in my life, I’ve learned how to bury my feelings. I’ve learned how to stumble and fall and pick myself up. I know how to stare in the face of rejection and keep moving forward. Without the shitty lessons of my life, I would have never accomplished my goal of running 100 miles right now. If I wasn’t mentally tough, I wouldn’t have even started my race let alone finish it. I would have quit before I drove to Utah. I would have let the 3 months of IT Band issues give me a reason to quit. I would have let the lack of training stop me from showing up at the race to begin with. People ask me how I was able to change my life. The most truthful answer I can give is: I got comfortable being uncomfortable. Get used to doing the things you don’t want to do. Cutting out anything that distracts me from my goals. Make peace with the fact that you aren’t going to get even a small fraction of the things you want. This is how I accomplished going from nearly 400 pounds to 100 mile finisher in 4 years. I gave up everything I wanted to accomplish one goal. When I reached that goal, I was already moving toward my next goal while I steam rolled the first. I refuse to take no for an answer if I’m the one asking the question. I refuse to set limits on myself. I will endure the highest amounts of physical and mental anguish, give up anything and everything that makes me comfortable and push obstacles out of my way that I don’t feel will get me to where I want to go…

To most people this makes me an absolute maniac… To others it makes me a complete jerk. And to the few that understand or envy, it makes me a hero. When we can endure so much pain that most people would quit, and we keep moving forward, we accomplish everything we’ve ever wanted. Building mental toughness is not something that comes quick and easy. It isn’t even something we plan for… Mental toughness is only developed through experience… You can’t buy it and you can’t wish for it. It only comes from the experience of pushing yourself to the edge and continuing to go on. It comes from devastation and defeat. The will to move on after your whole world comes crashing down on you is how mental toughness is built…

Run Epic my Friends!

Buffalo Run Race Recap (Part 2) To Be Continued…





Published by Gary Stotler

Gary Stotler is a father, running, fitness, weight loss and personal development addict. Formally 400 pounds, Gary has naturally lost 200 pounds, created a coaching & speaking business and has become a 100 mile ultra-runner. Holding a degree in Psychology & Sociology, certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer, mindset & behavioral modification coaching, a certification in DISC personality assessment coaching and he is a certified speaker, coach & mentor with the John Maxwell Team. Gary firmly believes, if we take One Step at a Time, nothing is impossible. He is determined to let his actions show people what is possible and hopes to help you shake up your thoughts, change your actions and create your future.

Join the Conversation


  1. Oh man you have no idea the nerve you hit in what you wrote.I had a good cry after I read it because you have just described me and my life.I too started running 2years ago and have lost a fair amount of weight and have found running is my release from everything .A running truck driver now that us an oxymoron statement .Even in my job good is not good enough for me.I think now I understand why my wife left me.I have done things,seen things and been places on this planet that are hard to fathom for the ordinary person.I get the fear of being normal and mediocre it haunts me every day.I am telling you all of this to let you know you are not alone in how you feel.Never forget that it is people like you and me and all the other not so normal people to keep this world moving one step at a time.Congradutions on your race you were epic .
    Take care Peter Reuser


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: