Dr. Kenney’s Friday 5 Spot
On Fridays I like to share some of the experiences I’ve had during the week with patients and in my personal life that I’ve found significant in some way. I like to share them in hopes that you might find value in them and have something resonate with you in your life.
**Note – this Friday night I am competing in my first race since March 2020. I’ll run from 7pm to 7am in Highlands Ranch and will likely run about 45 miles. I’ve been thinking back on some previous races as I get ready for this one and so today, I’m sharing some of those experiences but more importantly what they taught me. Runner or not, you should get something valuable from them!
Lesson 1. I did the Pike’s Peak Ascent in 2015 which is 13.1 miles from Manitou Springs to the top of Pike’s Peak. Around tree line (13,000 feet) I got altitude sickness which I’d never experienced previously. I vomited about every 10 feet for the final 3 miles of the race (which took me 2 hours) and lost nearly 10 pounds in that 13-mile race. I looked like I could’ve been an extra in the Walking Dead. The race had a staggered start, and I was getting passed by people (including my wife) that started 30 minutes after I did. It was bad, but I finished.
On the day of the race, I was very embarrassed that this happened. I’d trained hard but failed in my eyes. In the days following the race, people asked me how it went and frankly I was ashamed to tell them. What I noticed however, was that the people I told would say “I can’t believe you still finished.” It then began to dawn on me that I never once considered quitting during the race. The lesson this taught me was this – you don’t really know who and what you are until you face adversity. Getting through a tough time isn’t always pretty but that’s ok. In the end, just getting through it will tell you more, and do more for you than any race time (or anything else) would.
Lesson 2. In 2014 I competed in the World’s Toughest Mudder – a 24-hour obstacle course race featuring lots of dirt, climbing, cold water and running. The race began at 10am at 80 degrees and by midnight there was a 60 mile per hour sandstorm that brought temps down to the 20’s. Going in and out of the cold water and then dealing with these temps resulted in hypothermia for me and many other participants. The medical staff was kicking people out of the race left and right for this reason and I had to hide from them at the end of each lap to avoid this myself. Quick disclaimer – I’m not suggesting you do this, but I was fine with it!
Most of the race was the most miserable I’ve ever felt in my life – bone chilling cold, exhaustion, pain and more. The lesson that it reinforced to me though was simple – things always get better so just keep going. I kept telling myself during that race all the things I would enjoy again soon – warmth, lying in my bed, eating certain foods, playing with my kids, feeling rested, etc. This was my way of reminding myself not to quit because I felt so horrible but instead to keep trudging on because things would improve before too long. When things are bad, we can become overwhelmed and our instinct is often to quit but if you can persevere, it will soon improve, and you’ll be proud you didn’t stop.
Lesson 3. I’ve done a lot of races and many of them have been exceptionally challenging. Sometimes they go as well or better than I planned. Other times it goes far worse, and I don’t reach my goals. What I’ve learned is that it’s better to take a chance on something big and fail then to sit back and not attempt it.
I saw something last week from a businessman I respect, and he said that most people are so afraid to fail that they don’t want to act unless they know it’ll succeed. They want to go 3-0 and say they’ve never made a mistake. He said his goal was to make the best decisions he could but end up around 112-94. In other words, win more than you lose but remain unafraid to try and fail. When I sign up for something, I want it to scare me, and I want to conquer it. I’ll give it everything I have and hope to succeed but if I do not, I’ll learn from it and move on to something else. Never be afraid to fail but be constantly afraid to risk nothing.
Lesson 4. People often ask me what is my favorite part of a race? My truly favorite part is after the race when my body is destroyed and moving to do anything is a challenge. The reason for this is, when I’m in that state, I know I’ve given everything I had. The soreness and discomfort simply remind me of the effort and exertion.
The lesson this has taught me is there is no form of respect more crucial than self-respect. Deep down, we know when we’re doing the right or wrong thing, when we’ve given everything, or we have not. Personally, I enjoy any the scars associated with a maximum effort whether it be in a race or any endeavor.
Some quotes I love.
“Action expresses priorities.” – Ghandi
“Leadership is an action, not a position.” – Donald McGannon
“If you don’t invest very much, then defeat doesn’t hurt very much and winning is not very exciting.” – Dick Vermeil
“The real risk is doing nothing.” – Denis Waitley
“A lot of people have the talent to succeed but do you have the guts to fail?” – Denzel Washington
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