Sunday, December 4, 2011

Turning the arrows out

It’s true that “what I did” in 2011 is a pretty good list, but why I did it I believe, or at least hope, more accurately defines who I am.

What started as a personal goal grew to be something truly larger than myself.

Years ago, probably more like decades, I had this awesome poster with a picture of a runner, running in the dark and snow, silhouetted by the light of a lamp post.  Superimposed on the poster was the inscription "I used to think people that ran in the rain were nuts, when I started doing that I decided that people that ran marathons were crazy.  So here I am, it's five o'clock in the morning, it's snowing, and I'm out here training for a marathon..." 

So goes, so very often, the tale of runner turned marathoner.  It certainly was my story.

I started running in the 6th grade because I was tired of being “the fat kid”.  In fact, when I started running laps around my block, some of the neighborhood kids would mockingly sing the Rocky theme song as I passed.  Something you don't forget.

The week before the ultra, I got to speak to the Runnin' Gear Thursday group and this story of how I started running connected with one of the attendees as her son was dealing with issues that I remembered all to well.  Hopefully our conversation was a blessing to her and will prove beneficial for her son.

Another woman was inspired to train for her first marathon - something she had wanted to do for a long time, but just didn't have the impetus. She is well on her way to completing her first marathon.

My sister set up a Facebook site for me to use to raise awareness and funds for RA Research through the ultra season, and we ended up with 272 likes and eventually raised over $2k.

My son distributed cards throughout the neighborhood to help spread the word.  We received the following on the FB site:  "Chuck, you just dropped off one of your postings to my house. My husband, at the age of 41 in April was diagnosed with RA in March. We are early in treatment but it is frustrating all the same because he can't work as he is a precision machinist. You have our support and I would love to know how I can help and be involved as well"

This neighbor and my inspiration (and RA Sufferer), Lorrie, began chatting regularly with her and Lorrie proved to be a huge help in getting them grounded and prepared for the road ahead.

Shortly after the race I was invited to speak to the Brighton Optimist Club and used it as an opportunity to encourage them in the mission and vision of the Optimists - to use their time and talents for the benefit of the community.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I had the honor of being the guest speaker at the annual Turkey Waddle for the 2nd graders at Spencer Elementary.  The theme here was discipline and dedication.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold the attention of 80 7-year olds, but we had an absolute blast and believe we learned from each other.

Shortly after I received the following snippet of an email one of the parents sent to the host teacher:  "I had to get pulled out of the mud tonight.  I had both girls with me.  I jumped back into the car and said I was so muddy and gross and was freezing to the bone.  [my daughter] replied 'Can you imagine having to run 100 miles now, mom?'  Kind of put it into perspective.  Please pass along to Chuck that he was an inspiration.  [my daughter] has decided to collect rocks for each race she does now.  He touched 75+ lives in his 15 minute talk, not too shabby."

(Note: I used a bag of glass rocks as a visual aid and then gave each kid a rock to remember their Turkey Waddle, and to be reminded they could do whatever they put their mind to).

Then through Daily Mile I got this message:
"I have been following you over the last several months, beginning shortly before your 45 miles on your 45th birthday. That run challenged me to think about running 50 miles on my 50th, which will be in May. At first I thought no way but was in the beginning stages of my training for my first marathon and put the thought on hold for a while.
Now the marathon is behind me and I still am motivated to take the plunge and train for the 50 on 50th run. I have been in contact with an organization that works in the Central African Republic helping local tribal communities through well digging and maintenance to bring and maintain clean fresh water supply where none had existed previously. They will handle organization of fund raising effort attached to the run.
As I launch out on this chapter, could I ask you for training tips and execution of the solo run?"

My reply?  "Get ready to walk on water!" :-)

Finally, last week I was invited to be the guest speaker at the Howell Rotary, using the ultra as the backdrop and chose the theme of "It's not what you do, it's who you are."  Based on the response, I believe this was a huge hit.  My point about living for a cause bigger than yourself seemed to really resonate with this group, who are also committed to working to improve the community and world.  Purely from a running perspective I had conversations with several about starting again, or improving their commitment.

So yes, the ultra was my goal, my finish line, my belt buckle.  But truthfully, the belt buckle reminds me of many aspects of the journey that have little to do with running.

May you also find how to turn your passion into a blessing for others.

Press on friends.


Suza said...

It sounds like an awesome year! I'm looking forward to seeing what more good things you do in 2012, and how far you'll go with your running :)

Chuck said...

"What's next?" Yes, that is the question. I'm not sure I know the answer yet, but am prayerfully considering a few things. Hope your 2012 is as rewarding as my 2011!

ultracassie said...

Awesome post, Chuck!