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June 14, 2006

Thank You Notes

I’ve got just a couple more Dipsea-related items before we close the book on this years race. The way I see it, if you’re still sore from the race, that justifies continuing to talk about it. I'm figuring my soreness from this year’s Dipsea will be pretty much gone by tomorrow, so it will be time to move on.

As for today, the two remaining things. First, I received an e-mail yesterday from one of the Dipsea Race directors, after he read my blog posts about the race. He was incredibly kind, actually using the word “entertaining” to describe my writing. He didn’t even take issue with my griping about the color of the this year’s race shirt.

Then he wrote this:

As for not knowing anyone at the finish: Next year just watch for me and say hello. I will introduce you to a number of other crazies and you can recount your tales of the trail.

The Dipsea is a family so stop being so anti-social and join in.

See you next year.

I mean…how cool is that? The Dipsea really prides itself on the whole “family” concept, which is quite evident when you hang around the finish area and see that almost everybody knows everyone else, and when you know that many people have ties to this race going back 40 or 50 years.

Now after nine years, I feel a lot more welcome in that family. And all it took was a little e-mail.

However, in the interest of full disclosure, I felt somewhat obligated to warn him about me. I wrote back and said that using the family analogy, I would probably be the strange, introverted cousin from out of town who only shows up once a year at the holidays and makes everybody feel a little awkward in conversation.

But you know what? Next year I’ll take him up on his offer to say hello. And for me, that’s a good start.

As for the second item…I was totally blown away by a comment that Drew left for me last Friday, encouraging me before Sunday’s race. It impressed me so much that I felt it deserved to be a post of its own. So I wrote to Drew and told him if he didn’t post it on his blog, I would post it on mine.

I actually thought of the words a few times during the race, especially during the first couple minutes (when I was terrified) and during the long climb to the highest part of the course. While I can’t prove that it helped me run faster, it certainly didn’t slow me down any. At the very least, it gave me something to ponder besides my own despair.

And now since it’s been more than 72 hours since I wrote to him, and since I try to be a man of my word, I’ve taken the liberty of posting the majority of the comment here:

I've been meaning to write something about the Dipsea, but haven't been able to put the right words down. Fact is I don't understand what this race means to you. I haven't been through the grinder you have described so eloquently and I haven't experienced the anticipation and humiliation of this rigorous journey, I'm left feeling inadequate to wish you luck or Godspeed because I understand that this race means more than you can adequately describe. I understand what it's like, but I don't understand what it's like for you.

Have an excellent race. Push forward when you want to step back. Run harder than you think you can and faster than you think you're able. Blast through the weeds and the boughs and the sticks and the runnners when you have to. Twist your ankle and move on. Scrape your legs and your arms and your face and jump forward faster and stronger. Lean forward on the uphill and swing your arms and breathe deeply of everything that brought you here. Lengthen your stride and fly on the downhills.


Run faster when it hurts and forget about what you can't do. This is your race.

Do not have fun.

I do not wish you luck.

Fun and luck have nothing to do with it in the end. You'll be pushing yourself through miles of discomfort and pain. Let the fun come afterward because come race time you'll be ready for nothing less than a battle.

A battle you won't win.

A battle you can't win.

You won't come in first, or second or 100th. You go to battle assured of loss, but you will lose less this time. And you will lose less next time. And if you lose enough, you may come to appreciate how little you've lost, and how much you've gained without ever winning.

Champions always show up for the fight.

Most champions never win.

Godspeed Donald!

Again…how cool is that? I really don’t have anything else to add here, other than some thank yous. To Drew and to the Dipsea director and to everyone else who contacted me before and after the race.

You all helped to make an already enjoyable week even more rewarding.


backofpack 6/14/06, 11:13 AM  

Drew's words were so inspiring, that my husband printed them out to save, my son asked if he could post them on MySpace (I said, no, not without permission) and Olga posted them in her blog. Those are words to use not only in racing, but for life in general. Wow.

jeff 6/14/06, 12:41 PM  

you know, i sit here reading your race reports, where we get to experience just a small taste of what the race was really like, and reading the director and drews comments and i'm grinning.

grinning like the cat that just gobble the canary. isn't the running community and on a more personal level, the running blogger community an amazing thing?

i can easily see why drew (who obviously is a pretty gosh-darn amazing guy) gave you such a great ata-boy. you've challenged all of us, donald, you've motivated all of us, donald and you've made every single one of us belly-laugh at one time or another.

you've earned that admiration and support, in spades, my friend.

Deene 6/14/06, 1:38 PM  

wow! very sage.

DREW 6/14/06, 1:44 PM  

Permission is hereby granted to post my comment wherever anybody would like. The words were meant to inspire, so by all means use them in whatever fashion you wish.

Remember, though, what inspired my words and what inspires all of our writing and running. Words are only a feeble attempt to describe something much more powerful: our running. Every week we slog through miles of training. Every weekend thousands of us toe the line and push through to the finish. That inspires me more than any words can.

Anonymous,  6/14/06, 2:04 PM  

Donald, I consider myself fortunate to have this opportunity...an opportunity to go along for the ride with such running and writing talent. Stopping by to offer a little encouragement is the least I can do.

From one introvert to another, I hope you accept that invitation. Something tells me that you will fit right in with the family.

- matt

Darrell 6/14/06, 11:28 PM  

After my comment on the race report, now I read that the race director contacted you. That is very cool.
I was disappointed a little that Kevin and Bean had nothing to say about Dipsea (at least not on my drive to work)8-)
Rest well and get back out there. Thanks for all the inspiration.

Robb 6/15/06, 7:15 AM  

I think it is only appropriate that you continue to write and think about Dipsea. Drew's comment inspired me as did your own thoughts Donald.

It's all cool.

Susan 6/15/06, 10:04 AM  

You're posts are always inspirational Donald - I love coming by here to get my daily smile!

Kim 6/16/06, 2:50 PM  

Wow. What a great comment! Of course your post is too...but....wow.

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