This I Believe

Michael - cloudcroft, New Mexico
Entered on August 26, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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This I believe:

..we are more than we imagine, and that greater self is found most easily through sharing our challenges with others.

Some years ago I was approached by a young woman who wanted me to train her… unfortunately, it was in the same sport that I trained my wife, who had recently beat out the young lady in a state final competition. I had to decline… but I offhandedly said I would train her in another sport, if she wanted me to do that. Her desire to be the best was so strong that she accepted that challenge, and we began the long, hard process of working from scratch to define her skills and adapt her body to the task.

I can not easily describe the effort and dedication and sacrifice that she met with determination. In the end, the challenge that she took on was to become the first woman to ever qualify for the Race Across America… a 3,000 mile non-stop bicycling event, which at that time only had an open class, all previous qualifiers being men. To qualify, she had to go head to head against a large field of men, the rules stating simply that the top 12 finishers of that 760 mile race could move on to the 3,000 mile event.

She looked so small lined up against that field of men on bikes.

Months later, that year of pain and sacrifice ended with me standing on the beach in Malibu, just moments before she departed her 3,000 mile race, the first woman to ever qualify to attempt that challenge. I thought of what lay ahead for her, and what she had put herself through. I thought of her focus and dedication and determination. I thought of her expressions of gratitude to me for getting her to this point of accomplishment…

…we had made the trip together…

I thought also of the privelege I had been given to share in and through those hard days, and what she had had to teach me over that season of training.

Tears poured down my cheeks as I stood in that moment of what had been… and what was about to be…

I knew then, as I know now, the greater growth that had come from sharing challenge.

…, twentyfive years hence, i still believe in the power of the gift of sharing challenges…

…and, just so you know, that year there were only five guys crossed the finish line ahead of that little girl with the big desire on that 760 mile qualifying race…