"Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility." -- Saint Augustine
I'd like to take a moment to call out two friends who have big races coming up this month.
The first is Maria Dalzot, a graduate student in Nutrition at West Virginia University (WVU). I met Maria and her coach/partner Tad Davis last year through school. It wasn't too long afterward that we went out for our first run together. Both are great runners and, more importantly, great human beings. I won't bother citing Maria's running resume here as a Google search will yield all that. Suffice it to say, she definitely had success running cross country for the WVU women's track team.
Unfortunately, Maria incurred a foot injury that required surgery at the beginning of this year. Shortly thereafter, she received an invitation to join the USA Mountain Running Team to compete at the NACAC Mountain Championship to be held this coming Sunday. Lucky her?!?! While it seemed almost inconceivable that she would be able to go from no running at all to running at an elite level in several months time, that is exactly what she has done. Fortunately, I've been blessed to be a voyeur to her determination and to Tad's wisdom and support. After a month of literally and figuratively getting back on her feet, she was cleared to run by her doctor. As I had/have been training many months on the challenging Laurel Highlands Trail for my race next month, Maria and Tad decided it would be a good idea to come out with me every Sunday to do a mile or two. My God, in a very short time (several weeks?) I knew Maria was race-ready when one Sunday on Laurel I watched as she exploded UP a huge hill and dropped me like a sack of flour. Without exception, Maria is the most talented female runner I have had the chance to interact with. I undoubtedly am guilty of wrapping my arms around the sense of simpatico and kindred I feel with Maria due to my own injury problems last year. Nevertheless, it has been inspirational to see this dream all come together ... through the pre-dawn deep water running at the pool, fighting through the aches and pains, and hot, muggy tempo runs on Laurel. You've already "won" in my book, Maria and Tad, but I will be watching and waiting for the Twitter update this weekend.
|The most embarrassing photo of Maria I could find :-)|
The next person is Michael Levy, whom I met at a party last year. I recall our conversation as being an intense, passionate dialogue on just about everything from career choices, and academics, to alternative energy. This dude is smart (he's working on an MS in Biology at WVU)! During the course of our conversation, I came to discover Mike is a triathlete so it wasn't a surprise that we developed a nice rapport. Periodically, I'd see Mike in the course of a race; the Mason-Dixon Madness 50K and the Run-to-Read 1/2 Marathon come to mind. Mike and I have had some "Panera Summit" lunches whereupon he told me he was training for The Vineman Ironman out in California to be held this July 30th. His commitment to training is quite commendable; I know I've learned about swimming techniques and nutrition (e.g., Paleo Diet). In fact, it seems like every time I hit the organic section at Kroger, there's Mike :-) While this might perhaps seem out of place in a blog post on athletics, Mike is a passionate environmentalist who is active in stopping mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia and is currently researching the effects of fracking in shale drilling on ecological community diversity. Some people bitch, and some people do. Make no mistake, Mike is a "doer".
What is it about my two seemingly very different friends that ties them together, outside of the fact that both of them have races this month? It is my observation that both of these friends, these athletes, seem to be training in a state of humility. If they have displayed a hint of overt ego, then I have yet to see it ... no glitzy sponsorships ... no constant Facebook posts ... no letting it conveniently slip in casual conversation about their upcoming races ... nothing. Just quietly, quietly, quietly training under the radar all for the love of their passion. How honorable! You two are wonderful! Now go get 'em!