Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The morning after...a note of gratitude (44 days to go!)

I could sit here all day, and I'd never find the right words. I'm going to try, but eventually I'll just have to hit the "publish post" button and hope you all understand how I feel right now.

On December 4, 2010, I found out that I won an entry into the Western States Endurance Run. My odds were no better than 10%, and somehow my name was drawn. Just like that, I was given an opportunity to achieve a life goal, one of those things you say (at least if you're a screw loose like me), "I'd like to do THAT someday."

A few years ago, when I first dreamed up the idea that someday I'd run the Western States 100, I also decided that I'd use that opportunity to help others. As I said in my first blog post, running is generally a self-centered hobby. But I decided that I should use the opportunity I was given to help others, and within an hour or so of learning I was in the 2011 race, I signed up to raise $10,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.

$10,000--that's a lot of money.

To put it in perspective, Dean Karnazes, the talented runner known as the "Ultramarathon Man," the man who has written New York Times bestsellers, appeared on Letterman, served as the fitness correspondent for the Regis and Kelly show, run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, and never, ever turned down an interview, just raised $150,000 over 75 days as part of his run across America. But he reached that number (and don't get me wrong, it's a very impressive number) with the help of his sponsors, regular spots on the Regis and Kelly show, and a horde of traveling assistants to record his running, update his blog, provide him with massages, organize media spots and large group runs (with entry fees) at schools all over the country, and whatever else it takes to get one of the biggest stars in running from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean while raising that amount of money for his charitable cause.

Meanwhile, I had on a poorly written and erratically posted blog and a Facebook account. The PR folks at my employer even tried to organize some media interviews about my running, fundraising, and career, and not a single newspaper bit on the lead. It was a reminder that, unlike Dean, I'm a nobody. And yet as of yesterday, the Wounded Warrior Project had received over $10,000 (and counting!) to mark my upcoming Western States run.

That's because I am a nobody with a secret weapon: all of you, my generous friends and family.

I cannot thank you all enough. From day one, you've supported a cause dear to my heart, and you've supported me. You made donations, posted links on your Facebook page, mentioned my training and the cause motivating me to your friends and family, sent me notes of encouragement, and any number of little things that brightened my day and reminded me to keep dreaming big, that my fundraising goal, like my race day goal, is not impossible.

Every time a donation is made to my page, I receive an email notification. It was mindblowing watching my inbox light up one email after another yesterday, as a final push was made to get over the $10,000 hump. But every single notification I have received over the past 5 1/2 months was equally treasured by me. It reminded me why I set that alarm each Saturday morning to head out for 4 or 5 solitary hours by myself in the woods. It reminded me why those gut-busting track workouts are worth it. It reminded me that together we can make a difference. Together, we are making a difference. I'm not stopping at $10,000, and if you've been thinking about helping the cause, I hope you still will even though we've met our "goal."

One of my favorite movies is the old Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life. There are a lot of great lines in that movie, but my favorite isn't even spoken aloud. George Bailey, surrounded by his friends and family who have just come to help him in a time of need, opens a book left for him by his guardian angel Clarence. The inscription reads, "Remember, George: No man is a failure who has friends."

I have no idea what is going to happen next month when I embark on this race that is going to cause me to hurt worse than I've ever hurt before. It is the very first time in my life that I'm not positive that I can succeed at something I set out to do. But I promise one thing: I will dig deep and give it my all. It's the least I can do for the Wounded Warriors I'm dedicating my race. And I know all of my friends-those of you I've met and those I hope to meet someday-are out there somewhere rooting me on to the finish line.

No man is a failure who has friends.

You've reminded me that I cannot fail on June 25th.

1 comment:

  1. You are way more a "somebody" than "Ego Dean" could ever hope to be Chad...what you are doing running wise is admirable enough but adding in the selfless element of raising money for a great cause elevates you to consideration for Man of the Year...incredible...and you may be the only one who has any doubt about your success on raceday