15 October 2014

The road to Iwo Jima: 10 days and a wake-up

The 39th Marine Corps Marathon. I'll shortly be in the corrals for my seventh start and currently feel the most unprepared that I have ever felt for this race. There is something baldly impressionable about this race, perhaps it's because I have always felt internal pressure to perform at a high level, as a representative of the Corps. I've never been quite able to do so and am not at a training level to attempt it this year.

The 2004 All-Marine Marathon team - Capt MK Bailey, ctr front,
won the women's race, the first active duty female Marine to do so.
A few others from that team that I am fortunate to call friends:
LtCol J. Blackwell, Maj J. Perrottet (nee Ledford), Capt K. Hunter, LtCol M. Conover & Capt B. Edwards
Hunter, Perrottet, Wilkerson
For me, the marathon has always been about the clock. It isn't about the pain or the effort, these things I am used to. It's about that infernal clock and somehow, not for lack of training or effort, but I've never hit my target time during the MCM. I've been reminding myself that, this year, the race is about start-to-finish and not about the clock. I've been in need of inspiration and a way to refocus on what it is that I am doing. Who better than a fellow Marine?

The legend. 
There was a Runner's World article this week paying tribute to Billy Mills' 1964 Olympic gold medal in the 10,000m in Tokyo. Here's the official Olympics.org video (although the announcer in the RW video has the best call down the stretch!).

What is so inspiring about Billy Mills? Not just his true-blue American story, not simply his athletic abilities but also what he has done since that race; how he took what he did and found a way to lift others up. He has dedicated his post-racing life to empowering Native American youth and raising awareness about Native American issues; he co-founded Running Strong for Indian Youth
and continues his work for that organization still, even at 76.  In 2012, he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Obama, for his work with Running Strong.*

In "Believe, Believe, Believe," the 2010 interview from Uta Pippig's Take the Magic Step coaching website, he talks about his life, his running and how he believed in himself.  His answer to the question "If you could give one piece of advice based on what you’ve learned during your incredible life what would that be?" resonated with me:

I would say that it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination. The daily decisions you make in life, not the talent you possess, are what choreograph your destiny. Ultimately, it’s the pursuit of excellence that takes you to victory. When you find that passion, it allows you to focus. In my Native American world when you are focused, then the body, the mind, and the spirit all work as one to motivate you to discover and achieve your dream.

 People make a big mistake when they say, “I need to be motivated.” You motivate yourself. I might inspire somebody, but that person has to be motivated within themselves first. Look inside yourself, believe in yourself, put in the hard work, and your dreams will unfold.

There you go. I'm inspired. Boom.

*The Presidential Citizens Medal is the second highest civilian award in the United States. It recognizes individuals "who [have] performed exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens." He is the only track athlete ever to be awarded this honor.

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