What attributes lie within you? Have you ever thought about that? In 1983, a few days before my fortieth birthday, I ran a marathon. For those of you who may not know, that is a race of 26.2 miles. I decided to do this because I wanted to show my 13 year old son you can do anything you set your mind to do. It just about did me in; I could not talk when I finished, but I did it. However, I never ran another marathon.
A few years after my injury, I started talking in local schools about inner strength, commitment and positive attitude. After one assembly a young student named Tyler Kellogg came up to me and said I had inspired him, so he had decided he was going to run an Ironman Race. A traditional Ironman race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and then a 26.2 mile run. It was a major undertaking for a 17 year old kid. I thought to myself “Good Luck.” We kept in touch while he and his Dad, who had decided to do the Ironman too, were training. Neither one of them had done anything like this before. Not only did they do it, but Tyler was the youngest finisher out of the 2208 who finished the race. Roles had now been switched and Tyler had become my inspiration. Now when I struggle to do something, I try to remind myself of what Tyler did just because he had the desire.
I have thought a lot about these two events for a long time. I have come to the conclusion that the benefit of accomplishing feats like these lies not in the accomplishment itself but rather in the knowledge that you can, when you want or need to, marshal all the physical and mental strength that lies within you in an effort to attain a goal.
We have all run our own “Ironman Race.” The demands placed on us by our disabilities are far more difficult than the stresses and strains experienced during the most punishing athletic event. Even the most grueling challenge is limited in time (Tyler finished in 14 hours, 36 minutes, 25 seconds) and there is always the option of dropping out if need be. You cannot say that about a disability. So understand what you have already done and are doing everyday. Know the strengths that lie within you. And if you remember this you can draw upon those strengths when needed. That is the power of knowing.