Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What Really Matters

Today I presented a slide show and question and answer session at the beginning of the PVHS Foundation's Cancer Survivors' Day event, before the featured presentation by Sean Swarner.

The Cancer Survivors' Day event was inspirational and enjoyable. They had a smaller turnout than expected but it was an enthusiastic audience asking lots of questions.

Sean's presentation was inspirational, he is truly an amazing, determined, focused and dedicated young man. Sean is a two-time cancer survivor, as a teenager, first Hodgkin's lymphoma, then a type of sarcoma that resulted in part of his lung being removed. He has climbed the highest peaks on all continents, and intends to go to the North and South Poles. He is raising funds and awareness for his own foundation.

He talked in detail about his climbing especially of Everest. He had some great things to say about hope, inspiration, and motivation. The thing he said at the end was what I liked best. He said, "We shouldn't worry about dying, we should worry about not living a life that matters."

Right on, Sean.

I believe it's how we live our lives, with enthusiasm, integrity, and purpose, that gives meaning to our time here, no matter how long or short that time is. Life is as big as the sky.

I presented the slide show and answered questions for about 40 minutes before Sean's presentation and got lots and lots of questions about ultramarathons. The other night I was out at a birthday party for Dennis's friend, lots of PVHS people, and I got a lot of questions there too. I love the curiosity, people are fascinated, and I love doing these presentations. I always hope that I find out later that I inspired someone to do something extraordinary, whatever that means for them.

Sean also said some other things in his talk that I found interesting. For example, his approach to visualization of reaching a goal and then making things happen is similar to mine. I sometimes think people who participate in activities that are considered "extreme" or out of the ordinary in terms of endurance and effort, are wired differently.

But I also believe that wanting to do something, really wanting something, is a factor in driving oneself to see it through to completion. I was asked what I do when I feel down, when I feel like quitting. I answered, in Badwater, I wanted it so badly, I never even questioned once that I was going to finish. And when I did finish, I didn't want it to end, I wanted to keep going.

Someone else asked me if I ever pray when I'm out there. I told her, I don't actively pray but I think there's a process going on in the back of my mind that is something like that. I told her how my friend Chris (a cancer survivor himself) says running is like one long prayer.

After we were done speaking, I talked with Sean briefly, he told me he thinks I'm crazy. I told him I think he's crazy, but I think it's so admirable what he does.

Soon my slide presentation will be on You Tube. I'll post a link to it then. I am also going to give a similar presentation this Thursday at Sharing the Cancer Journey.

I've been tired this week. I cut my mileage a bit as a result. I won't do anything longer than 20 miles at a time this week or next. I know endurance-wise I am where I need to be, having done four 50+ mile runs within the last 3 1/2 months. I heard from Mike in Florida, we are starting to make our plans for race strategy. He has a van for a crew vehicle. He's running the entire course with Bob, the race director, in a few weeks. He'll be able to update me on any changes in the course.

Mike advised me not to even think about a PR, based on the weather conditions. I am prepared to finish, and whatever additional time I have left over on the 32 hour time limit will be extra sleep time on the beach!

I'm starting to get excited about the trip to Florida and the race. I need to dig out my Jimmy Buffett tunes!


Felix said...

Good thoughts and philosophies, Alene. Looking forward to the You Tube video. Hope to see you soon!

Alene Gone Bad said...

Thanks. You would have enjoyed Sean's talk a lot! I hope you're having fun in Texas and I look forward to seeing you back in the Fort soon!

Eddie said...

Hey Alene, good stuff! I know Sean and his story. Again, really good stuff!


Rick said...

Alene, I saw the announcements for the cancer presentation and I was curious about Sean's story. Thanks for the brief bio on him. Rick