Thursday, March 19, 2015

Giving Back Pay It Forward

It is often said that "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

I believe that as a group, endurance athletes... runners, triathletes, swimmers, cyclists, etc. are one of the most giving bunch of individuals I have ever met.

A helping hand, an encouraging word, a piece of advice, these  are never far from the will of these athletes. They're every where, you're never truly alone, if you find yourself in need, someone's there to help. I know this first hand. Over the years, I have been the recipient of much of these. I am and will forever be grateful to each and everyone that came to my rescue, to answer my endless questions, to push me and to give me a swift kick in the back of my head when needed. And lord knows I've needed this.

Giving back should be second nature. Paying it forward should not be an option. I believe that everyone that has received should reciprocate. I also live by the mantra that "What I Have Learned and What Has Been Given Me is Not Mine To Keep". I understand everyone lives in different circumstances and conditions, everyone's priorities and goals are not the same, and they shouldn't be. Therefore I speak for myself, never for others. I don't judge anyone's decisions to or not to. However, I will always encourage you to give a little.

All this I say to bring you to the point of this writing.

About three weeks ago, the mother of a young man with some challenges posted on our running club's facebook page information about a Foundation she had started: RUN for ME Foundation. The premise is simple: She matches young people (pals) with physical disabilities that cannot run, or exercise, for themselves, with athletes (buddies) that are willing to do this (virtually) for them.

She doesn't ask for much. When you run, swim, bike, etc. dedicate your session to your match, your pal.  Post something on her Foundation's facebook group page.

After reading the information she provided on her website, I immediately signed up! I wanted my "pal". I wanted to run for someone, someone that needed me. However, immediately I found that this was a two way street. I found that Running For Caleb, "my pal", added that extra bit of motivation to get out and get it done.

I have had the opportunity to meet Jamie, the founder of RUN4ME, and as it happens to be, she's also Caleb's mom. She's a tremendous person, with so much "give" in her heart. I was honored beyond any explanation possible when I was introduced to her and her mission. I have embraced it and I am committed to helping her make this succeed.

And then I met my pal Caleb. This put it all together.

As of this writing there are 16 matches; sixteen pals have their buddies running, swimming, cycling, etc. for them. All this has been accomplished in a matter of about three weeks!

I encourage anyone, everyone to find out a little more about this. You will be glad you did. If you know someone, or know of someone that may need a buddy or would like the idea of being a pal, share this with them.

Our goal today is to double the number of matches in the next 30 days. You can be a part of this, you should be a part of this.

To find out more about the RUN4ME Foundation, click here to access the website.
To join the RUN4ME facebook group, click here.
To follow RUN4ME on facebook, click here to "like" the page.

To Follow my "Journey Beyond Ironman" facebook page, click here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Find Your "Fight"

I may not be able to tell you how to find your "fight". But I can certainly tell you how you'll know when you've found it. Days will turn into weeks, weeks will run into months, months will turn into years without ever having to start over, you'll just keep moving forward. You won't complain about the struggles, you'll embrace them, because you know that your ability to push through is what will ultimately separate you from the rest of the pack.

There will be no more New  Year's Resolutions, only daily ones. And sticking to them will no longer be an option... it will be a necessity.

You will not find excuses. You'll find ways. You'll stop looking for short cuts and quick fixes, because you'll know that a worthwhile mission lasts a lifetime.

I'm not telling you this is going to make the road any easier to travel. Excellence is never easy - That's the point. There will be ups. There will be downs, adversity and setbacks. There will be days where you will absolutely want to quit.

But when you know what you're fighting for, you will find a way to persevere. This is YOUR life. The obstacles are never-ending. That's why it's imperative that you find a true reason to keep going, not some make-believe, self-induced one.

It will not be easy. It never is.

"The brick walls are there for a reason.
The brick walls are not there to keep us out.
The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show
how badly we want something."
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture 

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Direction of the Wind is Changing

"I can't change the direction of the wind
but I can adjust my sails"
 ~ Jimmy Dean

Up until recently, my annual racing schedule had been decided by this time of the year. I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to my plans; I need to know where I'm going and most importantly, I need to have plans to get there.

After Ironman Chattanooga last year something changed; something drastically changed. Immediately after crossing the finish line, I knew things would be different, I just didn't know why, or how. I had to figure it out.

Crossing the finish line at Ironman Louisville in 2011 was magical, a feeling that to this day, I can still remember and feel. I get somewhat nostalgic when thinking about it.  I'm not sure what happened but this same feeling escaped me at the finish line in Chattanooga. It was somewhat of a disappointment. I expected bells, whistles and fire works. There were none. With all due respect to all other races I've done, it felt like it was "just another race"

Had it not been for the fact that my daughter Juliana had already finished and was waiting for me with the rest of my family, this finish line would have been a total disappointment. Again, I'm still not sure why!

Don't get me wrong, I loved the journey. I wouldn't trade it for anything, nor would I do it any different. All those laps and miles, lots of them alongside my daughter, I will never forget.

As time passed, I found distancing myself more and more from a triathlon schedule for 2015. At the same time I found myself more and more rediscovering my love for running, after all, this is how it all started.

So I put this to the test. I started a running streak. I wanted to see what would happen. Would I totally love running every day, for an undetermined number of days, or would I find myself drifting back into the triathlon world?

As the streak grew, I found myself looking forward to next day's run. As it turns out, the streak lasted 101 days.

And then, just like that, it came to me. I knew what I had to do.

Every race I've run, over 70 of them (all distances combined), I have raced with only one goal in mind: To finish strong. To give everything I had that day. To leave everything on the course. To be able to come home and say that I gave it all. Looking back, I think I did this each and every time.

With one exception, I never ran with a "time" in mind. This was at the Middle Half Marathon in 2013. I trained and raced with the goal of breaking the 2 hour mark; I had never done this before. And this I did. My time was 1:57:51.

Looking back at this phenomenon, I can safely say that this was my "safety net". I did not want to commit, so I didn't. There would be no disappointment, there would be no let down.

And then it occurred to me. What if, just what if I trained to achieve something "specific"?  What if I trained to meet a time? I honestly don't know what I have in me, because with the exception of the before mentioned race, I never ventured to find out.

So I have this year's goal. I'm training to run a 4:25 marathon. My best time is a 4:51:27. Soon I will select a fall marathon in which I will attempt this. I have a couple in mind. This will be 26 minutes faster, or one minute per mile quicker than my best to date.

And what will happen after I reach this goal? Perhaps time to set a new, more specific goal. Perhaps it could be a return to a tri venue to challenge courses and times. Perhaps more specific and aggressive running goals. Only time will tell.

I have by no means given up on triathlons. It's just time to take a little break. I will volunteer at both Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga and Ironman Louisville this year. I have close friends racing both. I am sure that my coach will find time in my schedule to do some swim and bike cross training along the way.

"When the winds of change blow
some people build walls, others build windmills" 
~ Chinese Proverb