by coach Chris McClung
What’s a BHAG? We’ll get to that. We’ll also get to the epic, life-changing experience of a particular half marathon in Vancouver that I’d like you to join me for.
But first, a story. It’s a story about my journey in following sport over the last 4 months.
I love sport, and I love the purity of it. To me, sport provides the perfect crucible to test, experience, and prove the power of the human condition, to see what can be done when extremely hard work meets sweat, talent, and pressure and pain. And, when I follow a sport, I follow it all. I read every article, blog, and results sheet. I follow every tweet and post from the top-tier athletes to those looking for a break-through. I have glorified these athletes and made them gods in my own mind, looking for lessons and inspiration from them to apply in my own journey.
On October 10th, this mental construct all came crashing down. That is the day that the US Anti-Doping Administration released its evidence against Lance Armstrong. That information was since validated in last week’s Oprah interview. By now, I am sure you are tired of hearing about Lance, but this isn’t about him. It is about the subsequent mental crisis that has caused me to question my belief in all of sport.
If this could happen in cycling, where less money is at stake and the doping penalties are steeper than in other major sports, then what is happening elsewhere? What other major athlete-idols of mine are doing it? What am I really watching when I tune in with anticipation and awe to see the outcomes of any track race, marathon, or MLB/NFL/NBA game? If cyclists can’t really climb that fast up mountains without pharmaceutical help, then can that 300lb lineman really run that fast for 40 meters? Can that many marathoners really break 2:05 for the marathon? Can that many sprinters break 9.9 seconds for 100m? Is any of it real?
With this newfound cynicism in professional sports, I became more aware of the sources of inspiration all around me. To be clear, these sources of inspiration have always been there there, but I had never placed them at the top of the pedestal like I now know they deserve.
There is the story of Carey Harris. She started training in my group 5K/10K group two years ago with a desire to become more active and more consistent with her running. At the time, she told me that she didn’t really think a marathon or even a half marathon was for her. Somewhere along the way, she got hooked and has been training with Rogue ever since. About a year ago, she set a goal to run a half marathon under 2 hours. At the time, we talked about what needed to be done to make that happen. She committed to all it. For the last 12+ months, she has been doing all of the work to get there with no fanfare and no glory, just doing the work. On January 13th at the 3M Half Marathon, she did it. And, she not only did it, but she smashed it, finishing in 1 hours and 53 minutes. Carey is an inspiration because somewhere along the way she realized that her previous, self-imposed limits weren’t real and then went about obliterating them with hard work and commitment.
There is the story of coach Jennifer Howard-Brown. She trained for six months for her “A race” – the California International Marathon in December. Her goal was to qualify for Boston in a time of 3 hours and 45 minutes. On race day, she was faced with weather conditions that would have forced me to skip it altogether – sideways-rain and 30 mph winds. Many decided to race anyway, but with much lower race and time expectations. Jenn didn’t back down. She went for it anyway, leaving EVERYTHING on the course but finishing an agonizing 37 seconds short of her goal. Jenn didn’t hit her goal, but she did discover new depths of her soul. A discovery that will soon prove 3:45 to be a “slow” time for her. Jenn is an inspiration because she didn’t let external forces or self-doubt put boundaries on what she could accomplish on that day, and because even now she is still relentlessly pursuing the goal that she so narrowly missed.
There is also the story of Daniel West, whose story is better documented in his own words here. Just over 18 months ago, his doctor said he was overweight, pre-diabetic, and had hypertension, needing medication to prevent further deterioration of his health. Instead of medication, Daniel made a decision to change his life. He did a 180 and had the courage to start working with a trainer and ultimately joined a running group – the Rogue Lemons. Daniel has lost 50 pounds, completed his first 10K, and now can do something he never thought he could do: call himself a runner. Daniel is an inspiration because he had the courage to change the trajectory of his life by stepping outside his comfort zone. Changing your life is incredibly hard work, and he hasn’t let that be an excuse.
I could write about countless others that have given me inspiration in the past six months, renewed my faith in the purity of sport and given me new, unsung heroes. Not only did these athletes dream big and set Big, Hairy, and Audacious Goals (BHAGs), but they also had the courage, commitment, and determination to pursue them without worrying about the outcome. Every one of us has a story like this inside of us, if we can dare to dream.
I have a BHAG for 2013. I want to take a journey of inspiration with 150 of you.
I am looking for people of all levels who want to set big goals (like Carey, Jenn and David) and then challenge each other to achieve them, culminating in a fun, inspiring, life-changing adventure to the SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver on August 10, 2013. I want to see what happens when 150 people from Austin dream together, train together, travel together, and then descend like a life-force on a city to run together and have fun together. I want people in Vancouver to wonder what’s going on in Austin, TX and to be changed by the stories, inspiration, and community that we bring. And, I want us all to fly up together on a chartered Boeing 737, because why not?!?
If you are interested in joining me on this journey (whether you decide to train with Rogue or on your own), e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will keep you updated on the latest developments, including training options through Rogue and through our Rogue Lemons group at Lululemon.
Also, I would highly encourage you to sign-up for the race NOW as it will sell out quickly. Stop thinking. Just register. We will help provide travel options and information later, including details on the charter if we can make it happen. You can register here.
Did I mention that the average temperature for Vancouver in August is 63 degrees?!?
If you’re still on the fence, watch this video:
Chris is currently coaching a group training for the Austin Marathon and will begin coaching a group to train for summer half marathons on March 2nd (including SeaWheeze). If you are interested in that program, click here.