Friday, July 27, 2007

A real champion!

I’ve always been standing still in time seemingly chasing a fantasy that filled my mind. I have the desire, the passion and the work ethic of a champion but I do not have the ability. I may never be a champion but this past week my friend, Lisa Bliss, gave me an opportunity to observe a champion at work. I watched her stay within herself and run her own race at a very consistent pace and then explode with less than 15 miles left to win. She methodically wore down each of her competitors and then out of know where she laid the hammer down. She was in 4th place as we approached the 120 mile mark but then motored past two ladies within 5 minutes before catching up to the leader at the 122 mile mark in Lone Pine. Once in Lone Pine there was no stopping her. She stayed focused and worked hard to increase what was a 1 mile lead at the bottom of the mountain to a mile and a half over the 13 mile climb up. She never once lost her concentration and never considered the race over until she crossed the finish line which she did in 34:33. She was gracious enough to allow me and the rest of her crew to feel as though we were a part of her victory but in reality Lisa worked hard, overcame a lot of challenges and fought her way to victory while realizing a dream of her own.

The night before I left I paid a visit to Lisa to let her know just how proud I was of the effort she put forth. I told her with tears in my eyes that though we may never see one another again she left me with something I can not ever forget. She left me feeling as though I made a contribution toward her victory. She is a true champion, a humble champion, and a gracious champion. Though I spoke of her outstanding performance the only thing she took from my words is that we may never again see one another. I could hear concern in her voice and saw a tear in her eye which told me just how much of a heart Lisa has. Every one of her friends means so much more to her than a victory. Lisa is my friend and someone who will remain in my heart until the day I die.

My last duty as a crew person was to help her through the airport to make sure she found her way safely through without having to struggle. She fought me tooth and nail every time I made an attempt to carry her bags because she said the clock had stopped and my term as helper/crew was over. I told her that the clock never stops for my friends and that no matter what I would be there for her at any time she needed me. She’s the sister I never had and someone I would protect until the bitter end.

When things settle down a bit I plan to write a story documenting my experiences as a member of Lisa’s crew. It will certainly be long as I watched her run the gamut of emotions and defeat challenges she never before incurred while ultimately finding new life to win. The crew themselves also ran the gamut of emotions as 5 individuals who never before met spent over 34 hours working together as a team to help Lisa to victory. Lisa will be given the first opportunity to read my story and I will only post it publicly is she gives me permission to do so.

Dave B.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Accepting Mediocrity

Now that Western States is over and my body has healed and my mind has cleared I’ve taken some time to reflect upon my performance. I always go into a race striving for the best but I succumb to defeat easily and have accepted satisfactory performances way too often. I have already proved that I can run the distance in varied conditions but what I have not proved is that I can do so with a tremendous effort. I take pride in the fact that I’ve only gave up one time and it was my very first attempt but maybe I shouldn’t take so much pride in that fact. Maybe just maybe my goals should be set higher and I should force myself to find new limits. Truthfully I’m stalled in a position where I have not seen improvement because I’m not willing to reveal the upper spec of my limitations. At what point would I falter? At what point would I be so exhausted that my body would fail? At what point would I become so disoriented that my decision making processes would be skewed? I can’t answer these questions because I’ve never pushed myself that hard.

I have the courage to sign up and place myself on the starting line but I don’t have the courage to find my limits. In my heart I believe that I have the ability to run faster, place higher, and even possibly win some races but when the chips are down I fold. I am too willing to reevaluate my goals and too willing to accept sub-par performances and too willing to believe that a finish in a 100 mile race is the ultimate achievement. There is always room for improvement but improvement can not be found unless risk is taken and risk sometimes leads to failure. My fear of failure has been the main roadblock keeping me from further development but truthfully I’ve failed because I’ve accepted mediocrity. My definition of failure has been incorrect for many years because in reality failure can occur even in those who are seemingly successful. It’s all about effort. I’ve seen people at mile 45 of a race who’ve given more of an effort than I would give while running the entire 100 miles in the same event. That person could quit right there and be more of a success than I. I could easily say that I’m injured or stressed out or that my dog peed on my running shoes but honestly it all comes down to the fact that I’m willing to accept mediocrity.

I’m very hard on myself and I sometimes wonder why but then I remember. Growing up I had a very eccentric uncle who left a lasting impression on me. He lived alone and was not very well liked amongst our family because he was judgmental, discriminating and at times even rude. Though I was quite fearful of him I never disliked him because I understood he was a scared, lonely man. His behavior was a product of the fear that existed inside of him and truthfully I would be the bad person had I judged him. He once told me to never let anyone or anything intimidate me and always go for the win. Even as a child his statement was thought provoking and though it didn’t impact my life right away it has meaning to me as I write today. If one day God sees fit to allow me to run the way I once did I must find those limits and push towards them and see where it leads me. I must strive for something other than mediocrity while digging deep to find exactly how much heart I do have.

Today I’m shifting gears because it’s now all about helping my runner find her way through Death Valley and up Mt. Whitney. I have no predictions but I’m certain that she will teach me all about heart.

May God bless Team Slug leader, John Harper, and his family as they mourn the death of his father.

Take care

Dave B.

Friday, July 06, 2007

My Grandfather

The person circled in the middle of the picture above is my grandfather. He was born on this day in 1906 and even though he passed in 1995 he still lives in my heart today. He inspires me to face challenges head on and to overcome adversity not only in running but in every day life as well.

I carry this very same picture with me to every race and take the time prior to the start to stare into his eyes and promise I will do my best. This picture was onboard one of our crew vehicles at Badwater in July of 2006 as I was forced to walk most of the last 117 miles of the race. When we left Darwin at mile 90 I asked myself if I thought my grandfather would he be proud of me. Would he be proud that I had succumbed to the pain of an aching knee? My answer was no and because of that I made myself run. The more I thought the more I ran and the more I ran the faster I went. The thoughts I had of him not only generated strength but also tears that rolled down my cheeks.

After about ½ mile of running I asked one of my crew people to retrieve the picture I had of my grandfather that was in my suitcase. Now with the picture in hand I found the energy to sprint down the highway crying like a baby. Momentarily my grandfather came down from above and watched as I ran as fast as I could for two miles. It was a hard two miles and the only miles I would run the rest of the race but I did it just to make him proud of me to show him that I am tough and I can run with pain. It was a special moment I shared with my grandfather and once done I dropped my head for a split second to promise him that no matter what happened I would make it to the finish line. His spirit followed me throughout the rest of the course and up Mt. Whitney to the finish and when done I could feel him smiling upon me.

He is gone from this world but he will live forever in my heart.

Dave B.