Saturday, February 20, 2010
Motivation and Inspiration
Whenever I tell my non-triathlete friends what I've been up to for training, one question inevitably comes up every time...."where do you get the motivation?". For me, that's an easy question to answer. Whenever I don't feel like crawling out of bed at 4:30 to go freeze my ass off in the pool; when I don't think I have the energy to go run; when the thought of riding my bike for 5 or 6 hours makes me cringe - I go back to 2007, laying in bed at my parents house, and remember how I wished I could wake up from the nightmare I was in and go outside to ride my bike, run...do ANYTHING but lay in the same spot hour after hour, day after day. I made a promise to myself then that I would never again take for granted my ability to do the things I love. I remember how quickly things can be taken away from you and that I need to appreciate what I have, while I have it. It's the same now. Sure, I'm healed and able to do most everything I want without limitations. But at the same time, I know deep down that I'm NOT 100%, there's still some occasional - yet nonetheless painful - reminders of the damage that was done. My doctor told me when it happened that there were no guarantees how things would play out over the years and that I should actively pursue the things that I love to do while I still have the ability to do them. I know it sounds crazy...but I consider myself incredibly lucky in so many ways and I would not change one thing about my past, because everything that has happened - good and bad - has led me to where I am now, and I'm pretty darn content with the way things are going! There are no guarantees in life, and it seems like the worst things that happen to people happen in an instant, while the best things take years to achieve. Look at Lance Armstrong....all those years of training, hard work and dedication, stripped away that fateful day in October years ago when he learned he had Cancer. Or Saul Raisin, a former professional cyclist who suffered a traumatic brain injury while racing in Europe that ended his very promising professional career and nearly ended his life. I have had the pleasure of speaking with Saul, who is an amazing person, and I am amazed at his ability to remain a positive and enthusiastic person who, like me, will never give up. I often think of Ricky James, a young, up and coming motocross racer who became paralyzed from the chest down after a racing crash in which he broke his back - don't think for a second that that fact doesn't send chills down my spine every time I think about it. I've mentioned Rudy Garcia-Tolson before, a young man who recently became the first double above the knee amputee to complete an Ironman when he finished Ironman Arizona last November. His story is one of unmatched courage and strength - if you have not read it yet, do yourself a favor. Grab a box of tissues (you're going to need them) and learn all about one of the most inspirational people out there. These are only a small sampling of the people who inspire me on a daily basis. Anyone who has lived through a tragedy and has come out on the other side still smiling and moving forward is an inspiration to me. I consider it a great honor when people tell me that I inspire them, because it means I am, in some way, succeeding at trying to be just a little bit like the people who inspire me. There is a common theme among the people I've mentioned here. Lance Armstrong went on after recovering to win 7 straight Tours de France, something that will most likely never be matched by even the most talented of cyclists, let alone one whose life was nearly ended by Cancer, all while launching LiveStrong, a global campaign to find a cure for Cancer. Saul Raisin is still riding his bike, competing in triathlons, and inspiring others while looking for new and effective treatments for traumatic brain injuries through his foundation, Raisin Hope. Ricky James went on after his injury to complete both the Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Clearwater, Fl and the Ironman World Championsips in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. He has also raced again in both cars and back on the motorcycle in specially modified equipment....truly amazing. Rudy Garcia-Tolson, as I already told you, became the first bilateral above-knee amputee to finish an Ironman last November. What I didn't mention that he did it just over a month after trying to complete the Hawaii Ironman, where he missed the bike time cutoff by mere minutes. I cannot imagine the courage it took to work so hard at something and fail, only to rebound and try again in just weeks....he may have no legs, but his heart and courage are absolutely something to be admired by us all. Leading up to the Hawaii race, I heard Rudy say something in an interview that really touched me. Essentially he said "I have no legs and I'm out here doing this, so what's your handicap?". So I ask you, when you think something is too hard to do; when you look at a task that seems impossible and decide to not even try; what's your handicap? Don't wait until you have something taken away from you or you suffer a great tragedy to find out what life is worth to you. Go out now, get up off the couch, stop reading this blog and go do something that you never thought you could. The hardest part is getting out the door, but once you do, you'll never want to go back....I know I don't.