Monday, 6 July 2009

In my workday world I am a full-time bicycle technician. As such, I guess I'm supposed to be all fired up about "the Tour". With apologies to all those folks setting their alarms to watch the race on television, for me, it's just a bunch of dudes riding their bikes. Then there's the whole Lance thing. With apologies to those who worship the guy, I'm so over Mr. Livestrong.

Don't get me wrong. What he has accomplished in his life has been nothing short of amazing. His refusal to give in to cancer surely inspired others facing similar and even greater challenges, helping them power over their hurdles. But, when it comes to riding his bike...not so much.

Lance is kind of like ultra runner, Dean Karnazes. They're both stunning athletes. But they're also, in my estimation, pseudo-freaks of nature. They are not normal. They're not just regular guys who turned themselves into the monsters of their sports. They got extra helpings of genes most of humankind does without. I have learned from their accomplishments, and have applied nuggets of their training philosophies to my marathon adventures, to positive ends. But, I have not been inspired by either of them. I turn to "regular" folks for that.

My most recent experience of "inspiration" was during Rock and Roll Seattle, two weekends ago. As I approached mile 22, thinking just how hot and tired I was, wishing the last 4 miles would just be over, I saw, going in the opposite direction, at his mile 14 or 15, a very large man, plugging away at what was quite possibly his first marathon. He was showing no signs of being anywhere close to packing it in. For some reason I am inspired whenever I come across those who've taken it upon themselves to battle the plus-size they've become in an effort to release the runner within.

Speaking of first time marathoners; they are an awesome bunch. Deciding to run 26.2 miles the first time can be an exciting, heady experience. Sticking with it, pushing through the pains and progress of training, to the point where one actually "gets" the distance, and then tearfully shuffling across the FINISH line...for me, that's inspiring. That's why I follow so many runners online. I love finding a new person whose profile says "just hoping to finish my first marathon". They get me at "Just hoping...". Then there are those who finish their first marathon...and decide to do ANOTHER. Holy smokes!

Lance doesn't have to hope he'll finish the Tour. Karnazes doesn't have to hope he can run 50 marathons in 50 days or all the way from Napa to Santa Cruz. They just do what they do. Former Manchester United star Ronaldo doesn't have to hope he can slam a ball into the back of a net. He just does it. He claims he's worth the 90 MILLION euros Real Madrid just paid for him, and he may well be, in a business sense. He sells team jerseys, not hope.

I'm thinking genuine inspiration is born, in hope, at ground level, with life's minnows. Very seldom does it come from the top. Those who've got it at the pinnacle have a tendency to keep it for themselves, while they figure out a way to sell it. I like the free, amateur stuff way better.

Gotta run!

14 comments:

Laura said...

Yet again, I love your post. As you know, I am a recent 'first time marathoner' AND Tour de France junkie who is looking forward to completing my(gulp) second marathon (with someone you may know...ha ha.) I couldn't agree with you more that the notions of inspiration come from ground level, life's minnows. While Lance impresses me with all that he has achieved in his life - and all that he does in the name of Livestrong - but I agree that the free stuff is way better. Many people would agree with me that you inspire many peopple - and I've had the same said of me. The really cool thing is that neither of us decided to enter our marathoning lifestyle with the pupose of drawing attention to ourselves, or gaining notoriety of any kind. You hit a homerun with this post! Way to inspire! (and, btw, I still love the Tour!!)

Laura said...

Okay - and I guess I'm not quite done. I think my inspiration comes from the fact that I want to be the kind of parent to my kids who is active and fit - not sedintary and lethargic (although there are days!) I not only want them to be proud of me, but I want them to see role that healthy living and self-challenge plays in life. Lance Armstrong can't do for me what my kids do. (I can't wait for you to meet them)

RoadBunner said...

I totally agree with all of this. While I am in awe of elite athletes I admire the "common" folk much more.

I LOVE when I get to run for a bit with a first time marathoner during a race. Their excitement just fuels me up and I love to be able to congratulate them even though it is just mile 5 or 10.

See you at SFM!!

CewTwo said...

I am a common folk, what else can I say?

I watch few and listen to few events on TV , the radio or the internet.

I do try to take in as many live events as I can. Is it to see those out front? No... It is to see those at the back of the pack...

My second marathon? WDW 2011!

TP said...

Great post...thanks!

Limaruss said...

I agree Great post! When I started this running thing a Marathon was not in my sites at all. I just needed to lose the weight and walking the mile just took too much time. So I started running. I was not people like Lance who inspired me to run. I was first inspired by my wife and my neighbor who already ran. Then I met Laura. Then she introduced me to Michael and Kari. You are all my inspiration to keep going. I have met so many others along the way that also prod me along. I have also been given the opportunity to inspire other new runners along the way. That is way cool!

Michael B said...

russ - i am honored to have even a small part in your adventure. thanks!

Gina Harris said...

Great post! I'm one of those you will see plugging away at the back of the race, but determined to finish! I love what running has done for me and I love all the running friends I have met on the internet. I would not make it without all of you.

Thanks so much.

kch said...

Agreed. I'm very impressed--but not necessarily inspired--by the likes of Armstrong and Karnazes. But ordinary people that have overcome obstacles to pursue a sport? That's inspiring.

jillwillrun said...

This is a really well done post. For me, I can be inspired by the super-human-athletes as well as by common folk. I have never once looked at Karnazes and thought, "Yep, if he can do that I can do it too!" but he has given me some good mantras about keeping moving and pushing the body beyond what you may think is the limit.

But being in contact with other runners through blogs, twitter, Daily Mile... those also have a huge power to motivate me. From the person who can crank out serious speed to the person that makes finishing their goal, it's all motivating to me and there is something to be learned.

Again, great post!

Laughing Through the Tears said...

It's those people who work a full-time job AND run that are the most inspiring! You know I think you're great:)

Guillermo said...

You didn't run NY yet??? I'm doing it this year!!!

www.nosvamosany.blogspot.com

onelittletrigirl said...

This post is wonderful, and I am so glad I came across your blog. I am running my first full this Novemeber and I am also taken by the "regular" inspirations. I am awed by the people who just do it. The ones who work and/or attend school and/or raise families and still do it. It isn't their job, but their passion.

Seriously, you nailed it!

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