Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Kindness of Others: An MTB Tale

I started this post with the intention of detailing out a race that Sam competed in over the weekend, but I think it has more relevance at the present time to speak to the power and importance of the kindness of others. I know there will be time to provide details of the race later, so instead - here we go.

This past Saturday, Sam raced in the Alpine Odyssey 100k in Crested Butte, Colorado. He was competing in this ride to hopefully qualify for the Leadville 100 in the summer of 2013. His decision to ride was made just about 6 weeks prior to the ride, and I worried (probably more than I should have) about how he would fare during an intense ride that he had little preparation to complete. I was even more concerned because I knew that I would be unable to be there to offer moral support. Due to obligations made last summer, one of us needed to be here this weekend, and despite my best efforts to find a replacement so that I could be with Sam, it just wasn't in the cards.

As luck would have it, Chris of From the Pavement's Edge contacted me a few days prior to the race and asked if we'd like to meet up. Our families live fairly close to each other (not close by Bostonian standards, but close by non-city-people standards), but have never met in person, and I thought it was wonderful that he wanted to try to connect. I shared that I would be unable to make it to Crested Butte, but I knew Sam would love to have the opportunity to have someone to share "war stories" with before or after the race.
City of Crested Butte - looks like a lovely place!
*Photo by Sam
Throughout the day of the Alpine Odyssey, I checked the finishers page, trying my best to keep tabs on Sam and his progress. I knew he wasn't carrying his cell phone (he believed he wouldn't have coverage so it was needless weight), and I had no way to keep in touch until he arrived at the end of the ride. The only update that was available through the day was on the website at the split point. At that time, Chris was about 20ish minutes ahead of Sam. I was happy that they were relatively close together and figured that meant all was going well. As the day wore on though, I found myself concerned that perhaps Sam wouldn't be able to finish in the 8 hour cut off time. Eventually, I saw that Chris had finished. "Yay!" I thought. "That's awesome, and hopefully Sam is close behind." About 30 minutes (or so) later, Chris sent a note stating that the last time he'd seen Sam he was looking good, and that he was waiting at the finish line for him. I felt so relieved that someone was there to greet Sam when he arrived at the end. This was a pretty amazing ride to complete, and the fact that I knew there'd be no one there to congratulate him made me entirely sad, and only added to my feelings of guilt with not being present at the race.

Approximately 10-15 minutes later, I received another message from Chris stating that Sam had made it to the finish and he was in one piece. I was so relieved and happy to know that Sam had made it, and I was entirely grateful that Chris was kind enough to keep me up to date on the happenings. Certainly, it wasn't necessary for him to do so, but it provided a great deal of peace for me knowing that he was okay and had survived the ride.
Sam riding with with others at the Alpine Odyssey (Sam's on the lower left side of the photo)
*Photo credit to Mandy
After a quick phone call from Sam, he headed off to the awards ceremony where they would give entries to those who had won a spot in Leadville. Sam knew he hadn't finished quick enough to qualify, but there was still a possibility with the lottery system for those who finish in the sub-8 hour time frame, but hadn't qualified by finishing early in the pack. When Sam called in after the awards ceremony, he stated that Chris had won a lottery slot. "That's awesome!!" I proclaimed, and then he said, "I didn't get a spot." While we knew that it was a probability that Sam wouldn't qualify based on finishing time, I know how disappointing it must've been to go through the hard work and not make it. My heart dropped.

Sam continued on to say that Mandy (Chris' wife) who was assisting during the ride, spoke to a coordinator and was able to put in a good word for him.  I was truly touched (and I know Sam was as well). These people... people we don't really know other than getting glimpses into each others' lives via blogs, Twitter, etc... they're so willing to provide information to me so many miles away, and try to help Sam with the process of obtaining a spot in Leadville. The whole day was filled with selfless acts in many forms. While there is no way really to repay Chris and Mandy, or the others who offered encouragement throughout the day, I think this was such a great opportunity to practice paying it forward. I think it also just goes to show that there are good people in the world who do indeed perform selfless acts.

Although it is still quite possible that Sam won't make it into Leadville, I think we were both in awe of these individuals who were so giving, kind, and generous, and while it may appear on the surface that this has little to do with the typical posts here, I think it's an excellent lesson that there are always ways we can help others (big or small, seemingly insignificant or major life-changing necessities), and it was a perfect reminder to live with the spirit of giving - especially in regard to those we don't necessarily know as well. Both Sam and I do our best to be kind to others, and offer help when it appears to be needed, but I know there are also times when it feels as though there are so many more people who are unwilling to offer assistance. The reality is, however, that there is always an opportunity for kindness... even, and perhaps especially, in those unreciprocated moments.

11 comments:

  1. That was no easy race. Everybody that finished it earned a spot in Leadville. Unfortunately there were only a limited number of spots.

    In his pre-race speech this year Ken Chlouber spoke of the "Leadville family." As you and Sam will continue to see on this journey, it really is like a big family. I'm just glad we are in a position to help him out. Mandy asked me why I wasn't jumping up and down excited when I got my lottery spot, and I told her, I didn't want to do a happy dance until I knew if Sam got one too. I hope this works out for him, and if it doesn't then we'll cheer him on in another qualifier, or WHEN (not IF) he gets in through the lottery or through volunteering sometime in the future.

    You guys are a part of that Leadville family now. Its a truly amazing thing. People know it means something big, and people who have done it, or tried it, will appreciate that you're a part of the whole big thing too.

    I was so glad Sam did so well considering his late decision. He did phenomenal! I'm so stoked for him. If he did that good yesterday with so little preparation he's going to be a force to be reckoned with in Leadville with almost a year of training under his belt.

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    1. Thank you for being around for Sam (and me), Chris. I know Sam is excited about what is coming, so it should be an interesting 9ish months coming. I am always amazed at what Sam can do when he sets his mind to the task. I couldn't be more proud to call him my partner in life.

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  2. Some of the most enduring connections I've made over my life have come through the internet. I'm glad Sam finished (that's amazing!) and I'm glad you were able to connect with such kind, supportive people.

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    1. It is amazing what the web has done - connecting people from all over the world, and even those who are often in our own backyards. :O)

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  3. What a sweet story and congratulations to Sam on finishing! In my own life, my initial batch of friends in the DC area were all people I'd met online, and they're still the people I know I can rely on when I need assistance with the out of the ordinary.

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    1. I think this seems to be so common anymore, Melanie, and I am grateful that it's permitted me to speak to those who I otherwise would never have known at all. :O)

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  4. I'm still catching up with all of the weekend festivities, but I can't say enough about Chris and Mandy, impossibly nice (does that sound right?), awesome people. GE could not be there, and was very upset about that, from the day I signed on, and there really was no way around the situation (she's in next time).

    This was truly the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, and most people I know will be hearing that phrase for the rest of the week. That being said, I'm going to attempt to make it to Leadville next summer, in any way I can. If I don't make it, I will volunteer, and I bet I'll be able to con GE into it also.

    Thanks to my better half (she's my better!), Chris, Mandy, and anyone else who has looked at my silly ramblings. You would probably recognize me as that really short guy, on the bike with really big wheels, who asked if you were "okay" while you were patching a flat in the middle of a 62 mile race. I always have to ask, because i'm really good at patching flats, and why not help?

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    1. Volunteering? Umm, I think I'm busy. ;o) Just kidding... of course, I'd be willing to help out in any way I can. You did impressively well with not much prep time, and I'm so amazed at how you continue to grow and push yourself. Truly awesome!

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    2. GE, don't forget the cardboard signs. ;)

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    3. That's right! I better get a jump start on those (they'll need pretty decorations to fancy up the boring brown). I don't know if you're a Simpson's fan, but I'm thinking about the episode during which Homer decides to start working out and the gym guys start spouting all kinds of comments like: "Max the envelope!" "Overshoot the extreme!" and so on... I think those would be great cardboard signs! :O)

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    4. Hahaha! No, I haven't seen that one. I'm going to have to spring those on unsuspecting friends.

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