For those of you who don't know, a big part of my sports obsession is golf. Before I got into long races and doing triathlons, I would typically run a 5k on a Sunday and follow it up with 18 holes, or do yoga and hit the range. This is partly because I worked at The Golf Channel on and off for almost 7 years.
The last time I worked there, I worked with a petite spitfire named Shay, who continously kept a smile on my face with her rebellious antics, outspoken optimisim and comedic gestures. Shay just read the version of my race reports that I posted on MySpace, and what she had to say was so touching, inspiring and relevant that I had to share it with all of you.
"When I was reading your " here's what was great about the race" list, I kept thinking, WTF is she saying DESPITE for... why minimize her efforts, her successes, her tenacity...
Despite is so minimizing, Meggan Ann. I mean, to me, it is. You DID these things...You COULD say, I did THIS despite racism, and I did THAT despite the fact that I'm small, or a woman, or a student, or a wife, a cat owner, a blonde...whatever. BUT- YOU DID THEM. YOU DID! If we look at the statistics of obesity, laziness, complacency and normalcy, you have and continue to far exceed 90% of everyday people. Fug if I ever see people taking walks much less being the athlete you are.
You did them. You chose to. No one forces you. YOU DO them...and you follow through. There is power in that WITHOUT your "despites".
I mean, I could say, I beat cancer DESPITE that it could have killed me. But that gives the cancer power. I BEAT THE FUGGING CANCER has so much more in it, don't you think?
YOU RACE...YOU RUN...YOU BIKE, YOU SWIM- YOU DON'T give up.YOU FUGGING ROCK- with or without despites, this is plenty powerful. And you deserve to acknowledge that and have it be acknowledged.
Give credit where credit is due, and this week, my friend, it is all for you!
HUGZ! I'm sittin on the sidelineZ watchin your crazy LegZ... LMAO!"
After reading this, I started to think . . . . no, believe . . . . that Shay is right. I can live my entire life thinking, saying, feeling that DESPITE my weight, injuries and health I did x, y, or z. I can think, "Despite a 5-minute slower time, I finished." But it really does remove a lot of the power from the achievment. I mean, sure, I could say 'there are so many people who've completed 1/2 marathons or Olympic triathlons within 10 or 15 minutes of my time, without any injuries, weather conditions, illnesses, and with more training - and it wasn't even their first mid-distance race.' But even that removes the power from my accomplishment, because I shouldn't have to compare myself to someone else to feel accomplished.
I do what I do for me. I run, swim and bike for ME. Not just despite or in spite of what is going on, but because of it. It makes me get present, live strong, feel healthy, feel NORMAL, and has made me lots of great friends. Yes, it helps me deal with my multiple illnesses, injuries, eating disorder and stress. But even if those things didn't exist, I don't ever acknowledge that I'm out there . . . . every day . . . . trying to accomplish great things. With or without those limitations, just the accomplishment itself deserves some applause.
So, this post is dedicated to everyone on the forums, everyone on the RaceAthlete network, everyone on blogspot, who is training DESPITE some great physical or emotional limitation. Know that what you are doing, not in spite of or despite your conditions, but on its own, is amazing and inspiring. The fact that you have extra battles to fight only makes it moreso.