Going the Extra  mile

I share his story not just because of what he has done, but to also unwrap the secret that took him there.

This is a true story about a friend. I share his story not just because of what he has done but to also unwrap the secret that took him there. Brady is a young man who is soft spoken and genuinely humble so you’re not going to hear him walking around town telling you of his latest accomplishment. So, I will. I want to capture Brady’s mindset in honor of his recent victory.

Brady is 28 years old, smart, good-looking and very athletic. He was raised in Vermont and is the youngest of three siblings. Since completing his Master’s Degree a couple of years ago, he moved to Southern California to be with his girlfriend, now fiancé – Jennifer. He aspires to find a truly inspiring position within his profession, but for the moment, he is underemployed working at a local High School.

The Racer

Brady recently completed a grueling race, finishing third in his age-class, with a time of 6 hours and 14 minutes. Not everyone can run a 50K. That’s not a typo, it is a five followed by a zero – which is five miles more than a marathon. Two thirds of the 112 runners starting this event won’t even finish but that didn’t stop the entrees coming from all of over California and Mexico.

Running this distance, even on flat service, is brutal. Not that I know, for as far as Brady’s concerned, I’m one of those once-in-a-while lightweight 5K runners. What intrigues me, is his mind. I am deeply fascinated by what motivates people and their desire to achieve the extraordinary.

In getting the facts, Brady hasn’t run before. He has no coach. He doesn’t run with anyone else – friends or even other co-runners. He’s never competed or even attended a race. He’s never read, or studied, any other kind of ultra athlete experience. In his words, “I wanted to do it on my own.”

So, I asked, “Brady, why do you run?”

“I’m interested in finding a low to go to a new high.” Continuing his thought he said, “Some people run to get a ‘runner’s high’ but I wanted to find my new low and see what I could overcome. I wanted to separate myself from the norm. There are lots of people who run a 5k, 10K or even a full marathon, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to tear down and strip everything away – to find me.”

On some level I could comprehend Brady’s answer, but the more I learned of his event, the more it seemed like a torture test rather than a race. All the athletes signed up to run 31 hostile desert miles including; a 7.5-mile decent from 3,500 feet to sea level, 6 miles on sand and then back up 3,500 feet for 7.5-miles on a rocky incline with a pitch as steep as 12%. There would be water stations but many very sparsely spaced apart. Brady described one particularly hard area of the course.

Hitting the Wall

“I ran out of water and was in tremendous pain. My legs felt impossibly heavy and numb. I determined to stop as soon as I came up to the next aid station, which was about two miles ahead. When I got to that milepost, there was no aid station – no water. Fortunately for me, another runner stopped and gave me a drink from his bottle.”

What kept you going? I asked.

“Jennifer…” he said. Then he continued, “I knew she would be waiting for me and I wanted to finish.”

“Certainly you know Jennifer would support you whether you finished or not?” I inquired.

“Yea, I know. But I wanted to finish… I wanted her to see me finish.”

I responded, “When someone is severely distressed, usually in a life threatening situation, the human mind turns from ‘what it can’t do’ to ‘I’ll do anything it takes.’ The fact, that you consciously created this, on some level, is what intrigues me most.”

Brady’s laid-back response was, “Huh, I never thought of that.”

I politely said, “I didn’t think so. It is ‘this part’ that enables you to create anything. Have you ever thought of that?”

“Honestly, not really.” Brady said still contemplating.

In Search of Love

Maybe like the many other millennials of his generation, Brady started running in search of something. Perhaps, he was testing his limits to determine what he’s made of so he can apply himself, in whatever means he chooses. In any event, Brady will have his life’s desires in discovery of this all-powerful energy –love. I think, in finding his new low, Brady has also found a new inner secret in his ability to create anything.

There’s something very special in going to the edge of our individual perception and going beyond it. An extreme athlete is created in the mind of anyone willing to go the distance. It is not just the event but also the whole process of integrating the spiritual and the physical. This is done to break apart the pieces of the old perception to create and form the new thought of what can be done.

Going the extra mile is not confined to sports. In becoming enlightened you must be willing to break apart what isn’t real to understand the truth of what you can do. If you tell yourself, “it’s impossible,” so it is. Once you experience this other extraordinary part, you may be like Brady, who said; “I can’t wait to do it again.”