Thursday, September 24, 2015

No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a radio program and they mentioned a trivia question regarding a particular saying that I was very interested in learning more about.  Eventually, they told the story of William Borden, the heir to the Borden family fortune.  He graduated in 1904 and at his young age, was already very wealthy.  His parents even gave him a trip around the world for his sixteenth Birthday.  While abroad, he saw the poverty and needs of the people in other countries and spoke of his desire to become a missionary (which his parents were very much against).  Instead, he came back to complete college, but not before writing in the back of his Bible the words “No Reserves.”  He went on to lead college Bible studies and eventually turn down several high paying jobs before writing the words “No Retreats” under the previous saying.  He died at the age of 25 after contracting spinal meningitis on his first missionary trip to Egypt and shortly before wrote “No Regrets.”

 photo credit: Aaron Palaian

I’ve been thinking about life lately.  The amount of selfishness that’s required to be a master at one area is sometimes stifling.  It’s the job description, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel right.  I’ve so enjoyed the pursuit of mastery that this part of my life has involved.  There’s only one way to see how good you can really get at something, and that’s to devote yourself to it fully and without reservation.  I’ve ridden thousands of miles this season in preparation for racing, some of which were in the searing Texas sun.  I’ve learned countless lessons about myself and my ability to dig deeper and deeper which has brought me to a new level mentally and physically.  I will stand on the starting line on Sunday at Ironman Chattanooga 100% prepared, no excuses, no reasons to doubt.  There is nothing else I could have done to become a better athlete for this race, I did it all.  It’s a good feeling when you get there and I think that’s why the story above spoke to me.  It’s amazing to see someone find their calling in life.  I believe using the gifts we have for a purpose that exceeds our own is the ultimate goal of any endeavor.  I’m hoping that the time I’ve spent mastering this skill set has done just that at times for the friends I’ve met along the way and those of you who have read my blog or met me in person.  When I race, I feel God smiling because what I’m doing with my gift is to honor him and his magnificence.  That can’t just happen on the good days, it has to happen every day, regardless of the outcomes.  

I often describe to people that doing the Ironman is like peeling an onion.  You start the day whole and full feeling like you can do anything that comes your way.  As the miles tick on through the 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike, layers begin to peel away.  You start questioning why you’re doing this very difficult and painful thing.  You start feeling exposed and vulnerable and your emotions about your past, present and future all start rising to the surface.  By the time you hit mile 18 of the marathon, you’re raw and stripped to your core.  If you aren’t careful, every negative thought you’ve ever had can come back and haunt you, sapping your energy and shoving you down into submission.  Each foot strike becomes more painful and quitting would make all the pain go away, but in the end it really wouldn’t.  The pain is there to remind us that we are real living human beings and the questions that we have to answer out there about why we came to this place and who we are must be very clear in those moments.   

To succeed, you must train your mind and body to work as one unit to harness every ounce of strength and silence the demons that are swirling deep inside.  Once you’re peeled down to the core, it’s very apparent who you are and you had better know that person intimately and be ready for when that time comes. It's going to take every bit of everything you have inside to keep moving forward despite your body saying it wants to stop.  My physical capabilities bring me to the starting line and will only take me so far, but my mental capabilities make all the difference.  They’ve taken years of polishing and working through the questions.  Now that they have all been answered, I always feel when I reach that dark place, I’ll be ready to meet it head on.  

On Sunday, I plan to honor every person that’s made a sacrifice and given of their time and efforts so that I can race once again.  That includes too many people to count on this one document, but you know who you are and you have given me more than I deserve.  I’ll be wearing some special initials on my arm of three people who will join me as I race this one – LC, JD and TM.

I plan to peel the onion piece by piece and in the end, fulfill my purpose once again with whatever is in store only focusing on giving my best to the day.  In the words of William Borden, “No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.”   I think that says it all!

See you out there on Sunday and thanks for all the virtual cheers on and in person!   A safe, fun race to one and all stepping up to the line! 

Thank you to my 2015 sponsors! You help me chase this dream and I do not take that lightly!

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