Monday, November 5, 2012

What are you waiting for?

”It’s impossible” said pride. “It’s risky” said experience. “It’s pointless” said reason. “Give it a try” whispered the heart - Anonymous
I have never understood why people put others on a pedestal.  Don't get me wrong - I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who achieve great things.  The important word there being ACHIEVE.  I admire their accomplishments and the drive and determination that allowed them reach that goal, but in the end, they are human just like me.  I guess that's why celebrity status has never impressed me.  Yes, someone might be a great actor, and because of that may give thousands of folks a way to escape reality for a bit and unplug.  I definitely respect their abilities and appreciate their contributions, but I have never understood why people get weak-kneed when in their presence.  They have something they are good at.  So do you.

I think many times, people idolize someone who has done what seems to be impossible because they doubt their ability to do it themselves. And yes, I realize that I am no Meryl Streep or Pavarotti, but they are no Edie Riedel either :).  We are all blessed with strengths that make us who we are.  Fear and self-doubt are what keep many of us from fully realizing those strengths.  Every single day we have to conquer those fears.  It is not a one and done proposition.  Fear of failure is what I believe keeps many people glued to their couches.  It is impossible to fail when you never really take a chance right?  Wrong.  Not taking chances, not trying something amazing - that is the biggest failure of all.  I would much rather fail gloriously than remain in a little safe bubble where failure can never reach me.

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7  

I am blessed to have many fantastic people in my life.  A dear friend, and someone who I greatly admire, John Fell, just had a career performance at IM Florida.  He performed better that he ever imagined in the race.  And while I am blown away by what he has achieved, I know it is not because he is super human or greater than anyone else (John knows this too.  He is phenomenally talented, but also incredibly humble.  He, like me, doesn't completely understand why people are in awe by what we do.  It's just what we do.).  What makes John so incredibly successful athletically is his willingness to risk failure.  That is what makes him stand out.  The bigger the risk, the greater the chance you will fail gloriously.  But, one inch away from that potential failure is a glorious victory.  The degree of the failure and the degree of the victory are directly proportional.

Maybe it is easier for some to believe that athletes like John are superhuman. "Well, he's JOHN FELL.  There's no way I can do that."   Can I do an Ironman?  With the proper training, I could probably complete one.  Can I do an Ironman as well as John?  Hell no.  He has worked his ass off for years to reach the point he is at now.  Very few have the dedication that he has, and very few are willing to make the sacrifices he has made.  It is not by accident that he has reached this point.  This doesn't make him superhuman but quintessentially human.

John has worked for YEARS to get where he is now.  That is inspiring... to see someone who is willing to give up so much in pursuit of their dream, to give up nights out with friends because he is training, to give up eating all of the amazing food we have down here because you want what is best for your body, to live in a constant state of fatigue because you are working full time and training up to 20 hours a week - that is inspiring to me.

I love to see people get inspired by normal people doing great things. Does it have to be an Ironman or a 100 mile run?  No.  I am much more impressed by someone running their first mile nonstop or completing their first 5k than I am with my own races.  When I was working in running specialty, my favorite type of customer was the one who came in and said that they wanted to start running, and needed some advice.  From that point on, they had my undivided attention.  The amount of courage it takes for someone who is not currently an athlete to walk into a specialty store is HUGE!!  You never know what you will be faced with - impatience at your lack of knowledge?  Scorn at your lack of skill?  THAT is courage.  Taking that first step towards SOMETHING.

I guess what all this boils down to is that I want people to realize that there is nothing inherently special about what I do.  Like with anything, I have worked for years, putting in the work to achieve a goal.  I didn't wake up one day and go from zero to ultrarunner.  Believe me, there is no genetic gift here, unless you count stubbornness as a genetic gift.  What I don't want is for people to feel like their efforts are belittled because of what we do. We all started at the same point.  Don't base your achievement on whether you can do better than someone else, but if you can do better than yourself.  Whether it is walking a 10k, or joining a gym - DO SOMETHING.

I'm going to let you in on a secret that most experienced athletes know, even if they won't admit it - We are not more talented than anyone else.  The only difference between us and those who have not achieved what we have is that we never gave up.  We kept pushing toward our goal, despite setbacks, and times when we seemed to make no progress at all.  We got up each morning, laced up our shoes and kept at it, and - I'll be damned - one day we reached our goal.  Did we stop there?  Of course not - we just realized that this was the first of many goals to be reached.

Look at others' achievements, and realize that they are no different than you.  They started out where you are, and if you get moving and stick with it, you can do what they do.  My favorite quote right now is "When your life flashes before your eyes, make sure you've got plenty to watch."  Take that inspiration and turn it into determination.  DO SOMETHING GREAT!!  It is within you waiting to get out.
Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right - Henry Ford.

That's it for today.  Now I guess I need to go do something. :)

Happy Running, Y'all!


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