Nine years ago I came to the University of Michigan to play football as a kid with a head full of big dreams. So many great players and great games followed.

It seems like just yesterday when I was suiting up in the Freshman locker room for the first home game against Syracuse.Yes it was quite a thrill running out and touching the banner in front of 100,000+ people although we got our rear ends handed to us that day by a guy named Donovan McNabb (I wonder what became of him?)

Then there was the first time I actually saw the field which was against Northwestern in the closing moments of a one-sided win or when Michigan somehow came back and beat Washington in a nail biter or that great overtime win against Penn State. Just a few of many experiences in ‘The Big House’ and yes along with the many victories there were heartbreaking losses too. Regardless of the outcome, each experience was certainly incredible in its own right.

You may be interested to know that my finest moment in Michigan Stadium didn’t have anything to do with football – and it happened last night.

For some crazy reason I got the urge to run stadium steps. Not sure why, either, I hadn’t done that for over three years. During summer conditioning, we would go run the steps as a team and few guys could make it through. It was as rough an experience as they come. It had been a while and I didn’t exactly have fond memories of running those steps during under the blazing summer heat.

There are 73 steps from field level to ground level and starting at the bottom, they get progressively higher, doubling in height roughly every 15 steps or so.You start out easy as pie but around step 50, you really start to feel it. Anyhow, fast forward to the present.

Again, I have no idea where this urge came from but with the goal of making it around the stadium with nothing but the moon and the wind accompanying me.

I began.

The first flight was easy ‘This will be no problem, I thought.”

Halfway through flight number 2 it was as if I had run into an invisible wall.

My heart was pounding, the sweat was pouring off of me and with the 10 degree weather, each breath felt like a knife in the chest.

“Uh Oh, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.”

At this point I had two choices: I could finish, or I could quit.

I decided to finish, even though I had to walk the last three flights. It took me just over 23 minutes and was a far cry from days gone by when I could do a whole stadium in less than 15. When I was done, I sat there by myself staring at the field for what seemed like an hour through in reality was only a few minutes.

With all the grand history and tradition that has gone on in that stadium, I had made my mark, though no one will ever know.

There wasn’t 100,000 screaming fans cheering me on, no strength coach cracking a whip, making me do it either. Nope, I ran that stadium for no other reason than because it was a personal challenge that I set and when it was ‘do or die’ time — the time when its either fight or quit, I chose to fight.

See, I though I was in shape but there’s being in shape and then there’s being in “stadium shape.” I have no doubt that I’ll get back even better that when I was as a player. All its going to take is time and effort and Ive got plenty of both.

Last night will be the first of many, but last night was special. As you travel through life, you’ll come to that point quite often and you’ll have two choices:

1. You can quit, you can run away, you can shy away from your dreams and live a life of regret for the things you ‘shouldda’ done when you had the opportunity.

2. You can move forward, despite the fatigue, despite the obstacles, even if you don’t feel like it, even if it isnt the easiest thing to do, even if you would rather do something else.

I made my choice, what are you going to do when your time comes?

Train hard,

John Wood