"[Name] got into running after recovering from [near-fatal disease or accident] just [random number] years ago. "I was in bed, feeling sorry for myself, [another random number] pounds overweight, and my [body part] looked like [bad food or construction analogy]. I decided the best way to beat [near-fatal disease or accident] was to celebrate the health I had one day at a time. I trained for months and completed [major race]. I'm not embarrassed about my [body part] since it gives me a chance to educate others about [near-fatal disease or accident]. I've now hooked up with [charity of near-fatal disease or accident] to run more, and hope to inspire others with [near-fatal disease or accident] and be living proof it is possible to overcome."Unfortunately it's easy to gloss over the message in these formulaic summaries. In truth, there is something very powerful at the heart of these tales. This is Part II of my long run revelations:
I've had the good fortune of losing some friends and family in the last six months. I know that sounds backwards, since the pain and loss that immediately accompanies such devastation is soul-crushing. But by embracing loss and authentically internalizing the myriad of feelings that surround it, life feels more precious. Life IS more precious. If we are living, we are survivors. We should all embrace life as fully as our formulaic heroes.
It's such a shame that most of us can easily avoid our own finality in day-to-day routine, distracting media, and pharmacologically-enhanced lives. Comfort is good, and probably necessary for some level of sanity, but it's important to regularly remind yourself not to take it all for granted. I often feel this is the reason many of us enter endurance events and push our personal limits - we surround ourselves in pain and adventure so thick that we can't escape asking ourselves the very basic questions of what makes us happy, what makes us tick, and what gives life meaning. Through the pain, we grow, and for days afterward, we cherish every breath, every sunset, and every laugh.
At the 2009 Western States, I got so deep it got scary. But the serenity that followed lasted for weeks, even months, and was nothing short of life-changing. If 27+ hours on the trail is all it takes to reach that level of enlightenment and peace, it may very well have been the easiest thing I have ever done.
Embrace your finality. Treasure the moments you have. See life in its fullest hue. It's the best way to honor those who left before you, and makes for MUCH better stories.
[You can also read Long Run Revelations, Part I - There Is No Such Thing As Work/Life Balance, Only Life Balance]