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Inspired by "the athlete of the real world"

July 3, 2009 - Erik Brown
Last week was a bad one for me… running-wise that is. I missed five days in a row. As I reflect on it, I probably spent a little too much time at the office and didn’t get as much sleep as I should have. On top of that, my bad knee was giving me trouble. The result: my energy level and motivation tank were both on “E”. It got to the point that I was self-talking myself out of the running goal I had set for this year. In fact, two days ago I was sitting at my desk halfway hoping for an evening thunderstorm to wash out my planned 7:00 PM run. I needed a motivation “fix” bad.
Fortunately, I got it. In 16 short hours, my running batteries were completely re-charged thanks to a series of external motivational / inspirational sources. So, what happened?
First, I caught the Dean Karnazes interview on Leading Off - Joe Shuta’s sports talk show on WFBG (1290 AM). Joe’s guest was Ultra-runner, Dean Karnazes. For those of you not familiar with the name, Karnazes is basically a running freak of nature. Most notably, he ran 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley in 120°F temperatures, and a marathon to the South Pole at -40°F. In 2006, he ran 50 marathons, in all 50 U.S. states, in 50 consecutive days. As you would expect, Karnazes is perpetually upbeat about running, and his attitude is very contagious. But, I’ve heard him before and read one of his books, so I’ll admit to only a small motivation boost from “Karno”.
After the Karnazes interview, I headed home and then out for my run. It went better than I thought it would and afterwards, a good conversation with my training partner got me re-focused on that aforementioned goal.
Later that evening I sat down to do some reading, but turned on the TV instead for a quick click through all the channels. My timing was good and I came across this segment of Sean Hannity’s show on the FOX News Channel.
The young man in the (6 minute) video is Keith Zeier, a U.S. Marine who was severely injured in Iraq by an I.E.D. explosion underneath a vehicle he was riding in. He recently completed a 100 mile ultramarathon, and plans to run this year’s NYC Marathon wearing a 50 to 75 Lb. pack and his G.I. boots – all to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Seeing this tough Marine on TV made me feel pride, gratitude, and sympathy (although I'm sure he wouldn't want the latter). But I didn't feel added motivation to run, not yet. That came the following morning via an e-mail. 
The next morning, several members of the AltoonaPArunners discussion group (on Yahoo) were buzzing about the Karnazes interview. Then Dusty Kunstbeck chimed in to say that Karno’s amazing feat of 50 marathons in 50 days (albeit with a healthy body and state-of-the-art support) actually pales in comparison to Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. He was absolutely right, and it prompted me to dig through my closet for a 28 year-old newspaper clipping, write this blog, and generally reminded me how blessed I am to be able to run. This outstanding (8 minute) video (link above) tells the Terry Fox story much better than I can. Caution: you may want to grab a box of tissues before you click through to the link.
"All I can say is... if there's anyway I can get back out there... and finish it... I will"  - Terry Fox.
Terry Fox, "the athlete of the real world" (an altogether fitting epitaph from the UPI story) still reminds me that there is magic in perseverance. And I was worried about my knee…
Against The Wind isn’t just about running.
Happy Independence Day!

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