Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Those Guys

Thank you dear readers for the various solutions posted in the comments for how this Mac user could indeed watch the U.S.A. men's Olympic marathon trials after all. It's taken me about four days of watching it for minutes at a time in the corner of my screen while working on other things, but I'm finally through it.

Those guys. Words like "dedication" and "mental toughness" will be thrown around by me and others about some of the performances on Saturday, but I don't know if they do justice to the efforts of those runners. Seeing the wives, children, family and friends surround and embrace these runners, and noticing how much they seemed to admire and respect their competition probably had the greatest effect on me.

Those guys. Aside from a sub 2:22 or better on the racing resume and possibly a spot on the starting line in Beijing, we're not so different. We love our families and we love our sport. Every time we lace up the shoes and head out the door we give ourselves the chance to make ourselves better and stronger, just like those guys. And just like those guys, none of us are immortal.

I didn't know Ryan Shay, but I admired him the same way I imagine most runners did- From afar through news stories, second-hand accounts and message board posts. I saw him only once, at the inaugural Phoenix Rock and Roll marathon where he won the half in 1:04. He looked fast and intense, that's all I remember. Reading about him after the tragedy made me admire him more, which sadly is often the case.

Shay's death at the trials occurred the same day the gallery I work for held a memorial service for an artist I've known since I began working there in 1989. Unlike Ryan, who was in the prime of his life, this gentleman was in his mid-80's and had suffered heart problems over the past few years. He knew the end was coming for months (perhaps a year), and he was able to make peace with and say good-bye to most of his friends and family. It was his request that we had a "party" for him after his passing instead of a somber memorial, but like most of these events it was more somber than it was joyful as we remembered this remarkable individual.

Various speakers at the service commented on how their wish was to be remembered in the same way this artist was, in a room full of friends, family and admirers. The first few times I heard this I thought it sounded incredibly selfish, but the more I thought about it I realized this wasn't the case. They were simply stating that their lives had been touched and made richer for the experience of knowing this man, and that their wish was to be able to give the same experience to those they know and love.

I could not sleep Saturday night as I thought about these two men. While each was so different from the other, both had great passion for what they did and both men should be admired for working so hard to achieve their dreams. Those guys.

Training: am., 14 miles, 1:36:55, 6:56 pace
pm., 5 miles, 37:30, 7:30 pace


Michael Jay Dotson said...

It’s cliché to say something like Ryan Shay’s death puts life and running in perspective, but it does exactly that for me.

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Events like this show us all why we should all strive to do the things to bring us and our families happiness now...because tomorrow is guarenteed to nobody. If you aren't happy with life, change it now. Don't wait for happiness in some far-off future than may never happen.

Great post, Mike.