Sunday, November 12, 2006

Reality check...

It's going to take a number of posts to recap this past weekend. Let me start at the end.

I flew from Tampa to Providence this morning at 10:40 am. While I was waiting to board Southwest flight 880, I saw a fellow triathlete enter the waiting area with his parents. He looked familiar. I thought I remembered seeing him on a telecast of the Hawaiian Ironman in 2005. Now here he was about to board the same flight as I. Out of lycra and bereft of bicycle it is possible to mistake someone, but not this time. His Ironman hat was the giveaway. So was his wheel chair. So was his Dad feeding him his Coca-Cola with Lime. His name is Johnny Blais. He has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He is going to die.

I was pulled from a moment of self pity, yanked back to reality. Knowing I would never again have this opportunity, I went over and introduced myself and tried to say something that didn't sound too stupid. I'm not sure I succeeded. I did say that just seeing him reminded me that it's not all about splits and ranks and overall place. He looked at me and sort of smiled, "Yes it is." If I might be so bold as to interpret his response, other than his being a wise ass (which is probably how he intended it!), I think the point is that placing and ranking, measuring yourself against others is part of the experience. It was okay for me to be pissed off about the drafting debacle at the World Championships.

I don't want to overstate things here. I didn't meet Ghandi or the Dalai Lama. However I met a man who does have a perspective of life and competition that I don't have.

Incidentally, I also met a man who is trying to make a difference with the days he has left. Maybe I (we) can try the same. (You can learn more here.)

Blazeman Oct. 2005 Posted by Picasa

Me and Blazeman Nov. 2006 Posted by Picasa