Thursday, June 13, 2013

H140: Endurance and Winning

In less than 48 hours I will attempt to ride my bike one hundred and forty miles in one day. Don’t worry – you’re not alone in thinking I’m crazy. I also will not be alone as I will be riding with two of my also crazy sisters. But you already know all of this. In preparation, we have shared with each other some movies and books about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

“Crossing the Ice,” the true story of two Kiwis who attempt to go from the coast of the Antarctica to the South Pole and back – with no other crew support.

“The Heart and the Fist,” by Eric Greiten, where the chapter about boxing has inspired us to in turn be inspired by the song, “Fighter.”

“Bicycle Dreams,” documents what has been labeled a race harder than the Tour de France, the Race Across America, or RAAM. This is a bicycle race that goes from San Diego, California to Atlantic City, New Jersey with a time limit of 12 days. I’ll save you having to do the math yourself – to compete for a finishing time, riders must ride an average of 340 miles/day. To just finish, riders have to conquer all sorts of obstacles of the physical, mental, logistical and emotional variety.

From that movie I gleaned the following quotes worthy to be cross-stitched on some over-achiever’s wall:
  • You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse, but you’re not staying the same.
  • There is no plateau.
  • The only way you’re ever going to know how strong you are as an individual is to put yourself in an extreme situation and see how you handle it.
  • Magic is our heart, our desire, our passion.
  • You get in touch with yourself by getting away from the ego.
  • You need to leave normal behind.

(I will say that last one actually applies to my whole life, not just extreme sporting.)

The thing about endurance activities is that I think they’re crazy. I see no reason to push yourself to the point of physical harm and danger just to prove you can do something. Everyone has their limits, and while I do believe that we shouldn’t set our own limits based on past experience, but go and set new ones through ongoing, reasonable experiences, based not on ability but capability.

So yes, this is crazy. No, I don’t have to ride my bike 3,000 miles in a ridiculous time frame. Yes, I will be pushing myself up against my own predefined limits. No, I may not finish, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to win.

Winners aren’t necessarily the ones defined by blue ribbons, trophies, or a medal around the neck. A winner is anyone who does more. Better. Exceeds expectations. I plan on doing all of that.

Most importantly, I'm doing this to raise money so that someone can have hope. Cancer used to be a death sentence, but it's not anymore. I'm doing it to prove something to myself, yes, but that doesn't matter.

There are many battles to be fought, and there are always winners. I hope I can help someone win their battle against cancer.

Here's hoping for a good tailwind, See you in Salt Lake!

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