Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ultra-Marathon Man leaves his mark

When I drifted away from race-riding eight or nine years ago after having too many falls, riding too many slow horses and eating too few good dinners over the previous ten years ( !)there was a void in my life for a while. I needed a competitive outlet and a routine of self-challenge and outdoor exercise. I began to run. First a few miles at a time, then seven or eight miles a few times a week. Given the mind and body of the man in question it wasnt long before I turned to Marathon running. Thus began the first of many journeys. Most of those journeys ended with a medal, a sense of self reaffirmed, an extra lesson learned, and ended at the finish line of another 26 mile run in a city or on a mountain somewhere. There is a spirituality in the mindset of the self-improvement, the self-discipline that becomes part of the runners' world. Like the separateness that becomes part of the life of the committed cyclist or jockey. It was an odd type of separateness for a gregarious open communicator like myself, but it was part of a routine of challenge and endeavour that had been part of my life since I first sat on a horse. And I suppose I am no more or less of a contradiction of a man than anyone.
I read a book several years ago that inspired me and led me to deliver several motivational speeches about the power of goal setting. The story of Dean Karnazes, possibly the greatest endurance runner since Pheidippides. A man more than ordinary who inspires in ways that the untouchable great athletes fail to inspire a mere mortal athlete of flat feet as I indeed was; Dean inspires because as an ordinary advertising executive at the age of 30, he turned his face to finding what he looked for in life, and did so as a family man and fundraiser, with the focus, but without the selfishness that typifies many great acheivers.
Dean's creed;
Run when you can
Walk if you have to
Crawl if you must
Just never give up
I will post my speech about the power of goalsetting some time. I will also post the tale of the journey to the finish line in the Dublin Marathon 2003, my first full marathon finish.
For today though the story is of a bionic hip. The runs and falls have taken their toll; I have to have surgery to remodel my right hip joint in a few weeks. The next marathon I finish will be at a walk! Somebody famous said" Its not the years, its the mileage..." A phrase definitely applicable to me in my current broken down lame state.
But ask me was it worth it?
Every step of the way!

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