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Which ordinary people do you admire and why?

January 13, 2008

Sometimes I have a hard time putting into perspective my perception of training, physical activity goals vs. what other people’s perceptions are. My background as a national class athlete and now associating with people who run ultra marathons regularly has certainly tinted how I view things.

I understand that for a lot of people running a mile is a HUGE accomplishment. Running a 5k is a tremendous goal. There are many many people content with the challenge of staying fit enough to run a 5k or 10k event. The thought for probably the majority of people out there (unverified of course) is that running more than 5 miles is huge and running a half-marathon or more is amazing to insane.

Sometimes I forget that I look at the running world through holographic lenses. It is not common place for people to knock out 10-20-30-40 mile training runs. Certainly, the ultra running community is growing amazingly fast (just look at the incredible sub-24 hour sell out rates for races these days). But, still, this is truly a very small minority of our population.

So, I wanted to pay tribute to real people today, ordinary people who lead ordinary lives but really are extraordinary in my eyes.

Today was a running event. Lots very ordinary people went out and both challenged themselves. One of these very ordinary people just started running a little more than two years ago. In the late summer/early fall of 2005 this person who until that moment only thought running involved chasing a child, being chased by a murderer with a chain saw, or some form of extreme abuse said to me “Hey, I think I want to run a 10k by the time I’m 35.”

Slowly, this person went out at night, afraid to be seen, and struggled. She couldn’t run a mile all at once and she just went out and run as long as she could, walked and then would run again. This process was repeated, day in and day out. Some weeks were more consistent, some weeks were less consistent.

Eventually, she evolved. Running more, walking less and the goal was accomplished. She participated in a 12k race before she was 35. When she started running, that 7 miles was an impossible goal. Even when she went and did the event, it was an implausible goal, but she did it.

She continued growing as a runner. More she would shed her inhibitions and she finally found a group to call her own. The person who used to scoff at my suggestions of finding a group of people to run with found comfort in others.

This same person set her sights on other goals. After a few other 5k and other distance races, she ran her first half-marathon. As I sit here writing this, I wonder what the percentage of our population is that as run at least one half-marathon? Think, of all the people who ran ANY race in 2002, only 6.7% of those did half marathons. So, just using logical extrapolation, it’s a very very small percentage of our population that runs a half-marathon any give year, let alone has EVER ran that distance.

So, today I celebrate the second half marathon finish of this ordinary person. It’s funny, I see all sorts of emotions out there in my contact with the running community. I’ve seen people struggle to finish a race because of many different issues. I understand the frustration and struggle when you have realistic expectations related to performing a certain way in an event. And I know it is disappointing to not necessarily measure up to your own expectations. We ourselves are our own worse critics as they say.

But, I want to talk about why I admire this ordinary person – she makes me try to be a better person myself. Running has not come naturally to this person. She’s not one of those people who is genetically inclined to be a runner. It is something that she has to work for. And, she continues to push on and keeps on working at it.

I look at how far she’s come in two years of training and I’m reminded that it’s about the journey not the goal. I can’t express how inspiring this person is to me in her continual dedication and perseverance to keep working toward her goals. She makes the time to do this when she has a million reasons to say no. Whether it be under the cover of darkness or in a blaze of glory, she keeps on trucking on.

Today, this person I admire didn’t have the best day ever. But, you know, for me I think the fact that she pushed through, fought hard to get across the finish line gives me more respect and admiration for her than had she ran the fastest and easiest race of her life. Her strength inspires me and helps me to keep perspective. I so much admire this person and I’m truly proud to call her my FRIEND! It’s so nice to see extraordinary qualities in ordinary people.

Congratulations Karen! I’m so very proud of you.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 13, 2008 6:29 PM

    Thanks for making me cry for only the 100th time today, Mich!!!

    You have no idea how much it means to have you there for me when I have days like today, and to have someone to listen to all my tears and frustrations….and take it all in stride.

    You have been more support to me than you will ever know. I certainly didnt deserve this post today – I really havent done anything extraordinary….really. It’s just me, a pair of running shoes and a silly notion all trying to fit together.

    And I hope you know, without a doubt, I couldnt have done ANY of it without you!!!! Thanks for being such a wonderful person and friend 🙂

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