Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Morning with Dean

Getting older is never fun.  But birthdays can be!

Our school district sponsors a fundraiser every year; a 5K to benefit the education foundation.  As an educator, I worked to help raise funds for the foundation because it does such wonderful things for our students and teachers.  I had decided that I would "probably" run the race this year so that I could support the foundation's mission again.  However, that all changed when I walked by a poster two weeks ago.

The "probably" changed to "definitely" when I saw a poster hanging up at Quinn's school advertising that my hero, Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes would be at the race.  I ran home and logged into Facebook to see what the details were, and almost spit out my Americano; not only would Dean be at the race, but for a mere $100, you could actually RUN with him.   Run...with Dean?  Yes, please!

Notice the $100 part.  A bit about me:  I'm cheap.  I do not like to spend money, especially on myself.  I don't do designer clothes, manis, pedis, etc.  I'm a frugalist.  However, I didn't think twice or even feel guilty when I clicked that "Register Me" button and shelled out $100 (plus a $7 service fee!) to run a little old 5K.  Cus it was happening on My Birthday!

It's not like I've known a whole lot about Dean for a long time.  I happened to pick up his book, Run, at a book store last year, on a complete whim.  After reading it, I was hooked.   Dean isn't just a runner, but he does 150 milers, across a desert, without stopping.  He has these crazy ideas about pain and running, things that I completely relate with.   While I don't think that I'll ever achieve his level, the message that Dean sends is pretty big, and pretty much sums up my Get A Grip mantra:  We, as humans, are designed to move.  So MOVE

When I woke up Saturday morning, I was more anxious than I have ever been for a 5k. I was up at 4:21 a.m., even though I didn't need to leave the house until 7:45! 

Once I got to the race site, I learned that there were only 12 of us who signed up to start this race with Dean!  At the start line, Dean shook my hand and introduced himself, as if I didn't know who he was.  Dressed in a toga, he didn't exactly need the headband that said, "I'm a Greek God" because the man...looked the part. 
 The "Run with Dean" crew got a 30 second jump start on the race.  Below is...5 seconds into the run.  There's Dean, another Fast Guy, and another Fast Guy.  That was the last time I saw Dean, or the Fast Guys.  They flew!
 Even though I lost them within .05 miles of the race, I still had an amazing run.  I ran harder, stronger, and better than I've run a 5 k in 4 years.  I was able to place 12 out of 83 in my age group.  I'll take that!

When we were done with our race, we had the chance-in-a-life opportunity to sit down and talk to Dean.  He took pictures with us, and signed our bibs, photos, and book.  He was so down to Earth, and easy to talk to.  He didn't rush us, asked us questions, and was very open.  I told Dean about my best-running-partner-in-the-world and he autographed a book to her!  What a treasure for Isla!

 I left the meeting with Dean feeling higher than a kite!  I'd started feeling down about my running again.  The chronic pain in my joints has had me a little worried, and uncertain about what's going to happen.   Yet, it doesn't seem like there's a real clear cut answer, and every part of my body feels GREAT when I'm running, so pulling some of Dean's wisdom, I'm going to keep on going!

"Running causes pain, but it also cures it.  Modern society- in particular the massive pharmaceutical industry- tells us that pain is bad and needs to be eliminated.  I'm not so sure...Pain is inevitable.  Suffering, however, is optional.  Instead of seeking comfort, runners approach the very edge of chaos..."
Dean Karnazes, Run!, 2011

 I felt so inspired and motivated.  I am so thankful for the chance I had to meet this exceptional athlete and role model.