Sunday, February 7, 2016

Second Efforts, Second Chances, Second Winds

In 2003 I ran the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon with my daughter Heather and her roommate Abby.  It was their first marathon and they brought the old man along to keep them company.   Somewhere around 20 miles it became clear Abby was struggling, at one point mistaking one of the bands playing along the route for a water stop.  We got her into a medical tent and they worked on her for about 10 minutes, pouring salt packets into her mouth and giving her water.    Shortly after, as the medical team was arranging for a ride to the finish, Abby pops up off the cot and declares she’s going out to finish the race.    And we did.

Five  years before in 1998 at the mature running age of 11 year old, a  boy named James Bonnett completed the same marathon in 3:28 winning the under 19 division.  The next year in the Across the Years 24 hour race (where you run as many miles as you can in 24 hours) he finished second running just over 101 miles.  Over the next years he was a phenon among the ultra marathon crowd placing high in the ranking of a number of 50 and 100 mile races.    By 2010 at 24 years old he couldn’t run a half mile.   Down on his luck, separated from his wife, and in a job he didn’t like, he decided to try running again.  His first day out he couldn’t make it around the block.   Three years later he won one of the premier ultra marathons, the Zane Grey 50 Mile run.

In the 1972 Olympics a Finnish runner Lasse Viren,  running in the 10,000 meter race, tripped and fell clearly ending his chances of winning a medal.  He got up and not only finished in the medals, he won the gold and set an Olympic record.   He went on to win the gold in the 5,000 meter race as well.

In 1996, a few years before James ran the San Diego marathon, I thought I had run my last Boston Marathon.    I had been away from marathon running for almost a decade but I had signed up for the 100Th Boston Marathon because…well..because it was the 100th and I wanted to be part of the experience.   It was a great experience but definitely not anything to write home about in terms of performance.     With that under my belt I was done with Boston.  Or so I thought.

I’ve learned a lot from running over the years.   Like how to pace myself so I don’t burn out, how to deal with the frustration of injuries when you least can afford them,  and motivating yourself to get out of bed  for that long run on a single digit winter morning.  I’ve also learned that help often comes when you least expect it, like the popsicle someone gave me during a 90 degree Boston Marathon, or having your sister join me to get me through the tough miles at the end of a race.  Or a friend running with you and sharing your grief after the loss of a child. 

 While running has given me a lot, it’s greatest lesson have been in teaching me to deal with life’s challenges and knowing that second efforts can lead to second chances.

It’s the reason I started Help in the Nick of Time.  To find a way to give people who are struggling a little bit of a second wind, a little boost  to help them see the other side of the near term troubles and to help them help themselves to find a way forward.   Our efforts are modest but to the people they help they mean the world.   Showing them a second effort can lead to a second chance.  For the support you have given me over the years I can’t thank you enough.  

So while I thought I was done with Boston 20 years ago, life had other ideas.   This is my second effort to give others a second chance.   A goal worth running for.

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