CtB Editor's Note: This is an updated post about racing and training for something greater than yourself, and the motivation that it can lead to.
In Chris McCormack's excellent book, I'm Here to Win, Macca has a chapter titled "Racing for My Mother." In it, he talks about losing his mom to cancer in a scant six weeks; the misery of trying to move forward, being lost, and then realizing the rest of the world is passing him by. Instead of wallowing in sadness, Macca instead battles forward, racing in her honor (putting the number of days she lived, 19455, on his singlet), and establishing the MaccaNOW Foundation.
The chapter reflects a fair bit of my own racing, and why I got into the sport. There is something to be said for racing for something greater than yourself. But at the same time, I don't necessarily race for something greater than myself; those people are part of who I am.
With that in mind, every race I go forward with, I'll have my Garmin on, my RoadID, a race ID bracelet if required, and then one with the following initials, in honor of the people who have helped make me who I am today.
PTB--Peter Booty: my father-in-law, whose story lines up with the chapter in I'm Here to Win that I had to put the book down for a good hour while I finished bawling. His work ethic, dedication to family, and love of the outdoors inspires me every day. It is also for him that I work with Doug of The Sustainable Athlete (who's wit, work ethics, and smarts remind me of Peter), why my bike is named Kermit. His loss got me to say, "Well, this is a dream of mine. Let's get down to it." Without him, I wouldn't have gotten to experience what I have in triathlon, and I certainly would not have meet all the wonderful people on Team Rev3.
DCT--Dale Thompson: my uncle, who I lost quite recently. His battle with addiction, and personal demons, and the fact that he held on as long as he did, motivate me. I can't think of how hard things were for him, and it puts every little thing I deal with in perspective for me.
THx2--Terry and Tom Heisler: my parents. Both bust their asses, every day, for everything. They've always put my best interests to heart. Although I'd never tell them that, face to face. They are my parents, after all, so it's my job to be a pain in their respective behinds. But without them, I wouldn't know what hard work is. I wouldn't know pushing through things, no matter how hard they may be. They've taught me the benefit of working to your end goal. It makes it so much more worth it.
HBH--Hannah Booty Heisler: my loving wife, who I have the pleasure of waking up to every day. She is an absolute treasure, and I am incredibly lucky to have her presence in my life.
Of course, there's hundreds of others that I could include, like my siblings; in-laws; extended family; friends; co-workers; etc. But there's not enough room! (After all, we have to be aero while wearing this, too.) But when the going gets tough, I can simply remind myself of who helped me get to where I am now, and where I plan to go.
There's also hundreds of different causes that you could potentially point yourself in the direction of. As an example, on the sidebar of this page you'll see the Rev3 Run Across America donation banner. Yes, my teammates on Team Rev3 are running from California to Washington, DC for the Ulman Cancer Fund. Please, even if all you can donate is a dollar, that'd be fantastic. The LiveStrong foundation has it's fundraising arm, of which I was a part of last year. And many, many more.
What can this do for you, performance-wise? Well, as I stated above: when the going gets tough, I think of the sacrifices that these people have made for me and my family. I think of all of the hard work and dedication that it took to try and honor them in a sport that I only know how. I can work myself to the bone to try and perform with their support. Above all else, it just motivates me to try and do my best, every single time I'm out there. "I can push a little harder. It's just a little more work. What would XX have done?"
It's not your sole motivation; you need to be a little greedy to want to perform your best. But it's the motivation beyond the one that you give yourself every day that I find to be incredibly beneficial, that allows you to go to the well one more time.