Dr. Kenney’s Friday 5 Spot
On Fridays I like to share experiences I’ve had during the week with patients and in my personal life that I’ve found significant. I like to share them in hopes that you might find value in them and have something resonate with you in your life.
Something I was proud of. Over the past weekend, I ran the 100-mile race I had trained since July for. Twenty-four miles in, I sustained the first of 7 ankle injuries that would severely slow me down. I trained to run far and with relative speed, but bad breaks impacted that. By mile sixty, my body had swollen and over-compensated so badly that running became impossible and all I could do was walk/hike. This was disappointing after all I’d invested in this race.
What made me proud was that I never complained or considered quitting, stayed positive, encouraged every runner I encountered on the course, and thanked every volunteer each time I saw them. Our behavior in the worst conditions tells us who we are. I was proud I remained the person I always strive to be even when things were tough.
Something inspiring during the race. During my final, 20-mile lap I encountered someone amazing. He was an older gentleman, about 80 years old. He was clinging to two hiking poles with the most awkward gait you can imagine. Think of an older guy trying to travel 100-miles on crutches and you’ll have an idea of what he looked like.
His resolve inspired me the instant I saw him. He was determined and moving with all he could muster. As I and other runners passed him, we all called him “sir” because of the respect we had for him. He spoke no words, just kept working and going forward. As bad as I looked and felt at that point, that guy had it much tougher. In a world that loves excuses, I know for certain that man made none. If I am even a fraction as tough as that guy, I’m doing something right.
Something I believe. I became aware somewhere around mile 40 that my “race” had ceased to be athletic event. Anything that could go wrong had, and what started as a race had become a journey and test of will.
Those misfortunes caused me to go to places I had never been before. The intense pain I experienced worsened with every step and yet it gave me focus. I was given an opportunity to find out who I was deep down, and liked what I found. My goal was to honor two people I love, respect, and miss greatly; and then I got the opportunity to do so in a way I’d never imagined. Rather than getting the race I wanted or expected, I got the transformational experience I needed to heal.
Something amazing. From about 1/10 of mile before the finish line to about five minutes after I crossed will forever be one of my cherished memories. I remember selecting my long elusive belt buckle that I’d hoped to earn in two previous one-hundred-mile attempts (the buckles are given to finishers of 100 milers). I could have gone anywhere and purchased a fancier belt buckle but holding that one in my hand was special and surreal.
After getting the buckle, I walked back to where I’d left my things. The hundreds of people, tents, and gear that were there before and during the race were long gone. All that remained was my bag next to a picnic table. I sat down, wept, and spoke aloud to the pictures I carried during the race of my sister and brother-in-law. Though I don’t recall every word, I remember telling them I hoped they were proud of me, that I’d given all I had to honor them, and that it was an amazing journey we’d gone through together. Since I signed up for the race in July, I envisioned the end thousands of times. None of those visions involved me crying alone at a picnic table holding crumbled and sweaty photos, yet it was more perfect than anything I ever imagined.
Some quotes I love.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Everyone is broken by life, but some people are stronger in the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway
“In the warrior’s code, there’s no surrender.” – Survivor, Burning Heart
“It’ll be too late to prepare for your moment when it arrives.” – Dr. Josh Handt
“I don’t hide my scars. They are proof I showed up for life and fought.”