Monday, February 22, 2016


Motivation can be hard to come by this time of year. Being mid-February in Chicago, Spring should be right around the corner. But we all know that Spring is skipped and we usually dive head first into summer. For those of us who thrive on sunshine and flip-flops and a sweaty run, this can be the worst time of year.

I can say with 100% certainty, I am a creature of the sun. From the road to any body of water, it's hard to find me anywhere but outside in the summer. I will even admit that during the summer I prefer to go grocery shopping or run errands once the sun goes down because time spent inside is wasted daylight. Having a desk job on a gorgeous lake with a perfect view is a struggle for me like you wouldn't believe. 

The saying "the struggle is real" couldn't be more applicable to me in the winter months. Once the temperature dips below 40 and the snow falls, I find myself always some sort of sad. Not being able to run outside any day of the week hurts my soul. Leaving work and going to the gym takes a great deal of effort. Because the weather has me in the mood to go home and lounge on the couch with my latest Netflix obsession. With a bowl of chili. Followed by some homemade chocolate chip cookies for desert (warm out of the oven, of course). But that's not going to get what I want in a few short months...

Instead I find myself at the gym for a 3000yd swim and a 7 mile tempo run. Or locked in my basement on the bike for an hour and a half (watching Netflix, duh). And on the weekends, my computrainer and myself practically become one in the same. And lemme tell ya, Saturday brick workouts are really fun when you step outside in 20 degree weather to run a couple miles off of the bike while you're dripping in sweat.


I've been pretty lucky to have some amazing role models in my life. Over the years, I've been able to watch their habits and the success that follows. And I've taken notes.

  1. Cousin, Scott Hode. Anytime I get asked about dedication and work ethic, he's always the first person that comes to my mind. Growing up together, Scott wasn't shy about displaying his passion for 4 specific things. Playing baseball. Kicking a football. Playing his flight simulator game while he pretended to be a pilot. And Disney. Things he's achieved within these categories: Played baseball for the University of Arkansas as their starting short stop for 4 years and going to the College World Series. Being drafted by the Chicago Cubs and playing for the Boise Hawks for 1 season. Played Arena football for the Georgia Wildcats. Currently flies private jets for Walmart's most important corporate employees. And, he visits Walt Disney World on an almost semiannual basis since the age of 4. Did I mention he's only a few years older than myself? Yep, quite the resume for someone who isn't even 33.
  2. Brother, Mark Hode. The day my brother was born, my father took his oldest Cubs hat and put in a Ziplock sandwich bag and practically long tossed it into the basinet that they put babies in as they are headed into the nursery. (note: this Cubs hat was probably close to 20 years old and dirty and stained beyond belief) The nurses were in shock. This kid was destined to play baseball. And that he did. Mark played baseball for 20 years with a passion that most people don't possess. He finished his career at King University in Bristol, Tennessee. He had every opportunity in the world to quit when his coaches didn't believe in him. When his team let him down, on and off the field. When his defense wasn't behind him. But he continued to throw that baseball. And damn did he throw it hard. 
  3. Best friend, Kait Comiskey. Now a days she goes by Kait Eggers. Originally a soccer player that ran a few seasons of junior high track and field, she turned to the volleyball court and played for 4 years at Bradley University. After her volleyball days she started running again and qualified for the Boston Marathon on her first try. She ran the Boston Marathon. After struggling with a few injuries she decided to enter the Crossfit world and has taken the bull by the horns and ran with it ever since. Everything she does, she excels. As long as I've known her, she's had the most amazing washboard abs. And she's got a competitive drive unlike any other. "Can't" isn't in her vocabulary.
What is it that these 3 have in common? They constantly work around the clock for what they want. It doesn't matter if it's the off season. Or the weekend. Their longterm vision is never fogged. 

I can remember visiting Scott when he was playing baseball at Arkansas. During the game, he had an error and missed a ground ball. Afterwards, we were all ready to meet up for dinner. Scott showed up towards the tail end of the meal because he decided he had to take ground balls as extra practice. That might have been one of the last ground balls that got past him. 

As a pitcher, your time on the field is quite short. Once a week, twice if you're lucky. Three times if you're a reliever. During the winter months when most of the guys were trying to find some sort of trouble to get in, Mark took pitching lessons. He coached kids camps for extra exposure. He was always one step ahead of everyone else. He did everything he could to make sure he had quality time on the mound. 

Kait decided to enter the Crossfit scene when she was struggling to find her way back to the road after a few injuries. And I can't think of a better fit for her. She's the strongest I've ever seen her. Because her overall fitness is at all time high, she practically wins every road race she enters these days. We were able to race downtown Baltimore together this past summer. Guess who was the first overall female to cross the line? In an all out BRAWL with 2nd place, non the less. Kait. She signed up for a 10 mile race in Ocean City, Maryland on Halloween and walked away with the first place hardware that day too. Her fitness is on fire these days. There isn't much she can't do. 

So to answer your question, these are the kinds of things that keep me motivated. I've watched my family and friends follow their dreams while the rest of the world was sleeping in and heading to the bar every Saturday night. Because in the end, it all came down to this: 

Each of them were fearless. They wanted something more than most. Over the last few years, I've had to learn to become fearless. I've had to step outside of my comfort zone. And I've discovered a new athlete in myself. And trust me, there are days when my body feels like this: 

But you find a way to do this: 

Because like my good friend Walt Disney, I personally agree with this: 

So I dare you. Go ahead, be fearless.