Monday, May 21, 2007

My Why

What we do takes time. For the bloggers and other triathletes out there, it usually take a lot of time. And effort. And sacrifice.

It usually seems worth it for the shrinking waistlines and low resting heart rates. It's an amazing lifestyle, full of challenge and successes and constant activity. We rarely lack reinforcement and we are exceptionally patient with our rewards.

And even with all of that -- all of the monstrous benefits and personal improvements -- it can often leave you wondering why. Not the little why. Not the easy answer of "well, because it's fun" or "because it makes me healthier/faster/stronger."

No...the big Why.

Your Why. My Why.

We each have one.

And sometimes you just gotta connect with why you do all of this. Why it's important to you. Why you love it so much that a 4:30 am wake-up call is fine and spinning on the trainer at 10:00 at night makes perfect sense.


I haven't mentioned much about my involvement in Team StayPut yet, mainly because my participation hadn't yet made it past opening up the cool box-o-team gear and passing out the occasional product at the occasional ride. But this last weekend I was able to join up with two other endurance athletes -- Cheaper than Therapy (who rode with me at the Taxing Metric a few weeks ago and has a great blog in her own right) and Meredith (who is an ultrarunner with 50 milers and 100 milers tucked tightly under her beltbuckles) -- and head to the Baltimore area Girls on the Run 5K.

Meredith and I, with two very proud GOTR runners

Girls on the Run is a great program that works directly with young girls who are "at risk" for the myriad of pitfalls that face kids today -- truancy, early sexual encounters, drug and alcohol use, and dropping out of school. To counter the negative and confusing messages they receive from peers, older kids, television, and (often) at home, Girls on the Run serves to build up the girls' self esteem and confidence through mentoring. Part of the mentoring program is preparing for a 5K running race. The girls work every week together to try new things, talk about their body image, talk about making good choices, and learn about their own futures in a positive light.

And then they go on a training run.

And each week they can see themselves building towards a larger goal and putting one step in front of the other -- all to make it to the final "race."

If that's not a valuable program, I simply don't know what is.

On Sunday, about 20 girls both started and finished the Girls on the Run 5K race in under an hour. And they were proud, you could see it in their faces. They felt accomplished. They had finished! All eyes were on them! They were superstars in their own world for that one morning.

Victory cheer!

And Meredith, CTT and I were lucky enough to be there to share in their success, as well as let them have-at-it at our "goodie" table. They snatched up Goody hair ties and Sharpies, putting the later to good use signing their names on each other's tee-shirt in indelible ink. Memories that would not be washed away any time soon.

Permanent mark

This was a little piece of My Why. A little piece of why I find it so important to serve as even a small example to young women. A reinforcement that -- yes -- you CAN do all those things that you think may be impossible. You can find solice in your own reflection and peace in your own plans for the future. Hard work does pay off, in ten-fold. And doing it together makes it all that much better.

There was one girl in particular who I got a chance to talk to, just briefly. She seemed a little stunned at it all -- kind of wide eyed and surprised, but very excited. But smiling. I asked her if it was her first time running a race. And she beamed and said "yes." And did you finish? "Yeah, but I came in almost dead last." I told her how I always seemed to come in almost dead last, but I always finish, just like she did. And that it doesn't matter because she got up this morning, came out in the rain, and finished. I told her that I sometimes do long races with lots of people, and finishing last still means finishing.

And she smiled, looked me straight in the eyes and said thank you. And then hugged me strong and, beaming with new confidence, she wandered off to be with her new friends.

This is My Why.

Meredith, Cheaper than Therapy and me with very happy finishers!


Comm's said...

The WHY is the single biggest question and discussion I have with people.

It not just to ask WHY do you want to do something, you have to also, sometimes, explain WHY you want to do something.

What a great post.

stronger said...

a very worthy why!

Jeremy said...

You should be very proud of your why. It is a noble cause.

John said...

Great post and WHY.

Laurie said...

Awwww, I got teary for those girls. Thank you for volunteering to be a part of a great organization and influencing young girls. There are so few positive role models these days. Thank you for sharing your why.

LBTEPA said...

That post put tears in my eyes. Thanks for being a great role model :)

Duane said...

Good job! Great post and great "Why"!

Bolder said...

outstanding post!

thanks for sharing some of your 'why'!

quoting Thoreau, beautiful posts... you keep moving up to the top of my 'must meet' at Wisconsin!

Spokane Al said...

It is good that you are able to figure your your Why. Many go through life not knowing the answer to that one word, let alone even considering asking the question.

ShirleyPerly said...

Awesome post. I have yet to figure out the real WHY for myself, TBH. I do know that it has changed though as I have changed. Maybe one day it'll come to me now that I've read this. Thanks!

Tony said...

My Why,

I am doing this to be healthy, get outdoors, challenge myself, spend quality time with my friends, and meet some new great people like yourself. That is My Why.

TriJack said...

great job, great role model! way to go able...

Benson said...

very nice post. you and those girls are GREAT! never give up. you're a good role model.

TriShannon said...

What a great cause. I have a fiend here in Denver that is involved with Girls on the Run. She loves it!

You are such a positive role model for all of them!!

JohnnyTri said...

You have a great Why!

funny thing about Why.. those that ask just dont understand our why's even while explaning it to them..
Why is That?


Charlie said...

yesterday I saw the guy who encouraged me in my first 5k 16 years ago.
The gratitude for that experience is still very fresh for me. The influence of that experience on my life is huge.
I am sure you are making great change in this world with your WHY.
Keep it up.

tri-dogmom said...

What an incredible thing to be a part of.. You've got me thinking now. I think I need to come up with my own "why" post...