I have a picture on my bulletin board at work that I look at whenever I start to feel overwhelmed:
This is Chris Sadowski in the middle of an Ironman competition. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Ironman Championship in Kona Hawaii, it involves a 2.4 mile swim in the ocean, a 112 mile bicycle race, topped off with a full 26.2 mile marathon, all of which must be completed in 17 hours with no break.
This is challenging for any athlete, but in 2004 Chris Sadowski had an extra wrench thrown into his race. When he was 105 miles into the 112 mile cycling part of the race, his bike was struck by a cameraman filming for ESPN. The back wheel of his bike was mangled too badly to function, but triathlon rules insist you finish the cycling portion of the race with the same bike. Rules don’t require him to ride the bike, but he had to cross the cycling finish line with his bike. That meant he had to shoulder the bike and walk the remaining 7 miles of the race. Like all the athletes, he was wearing only socks for this portion of the race, so he walked on the burning hot asphalt for seven miles with no water, no break, and no shoes. Other bikers zoomed past him, but he did not give up. It took him over two hours to finish what a biker could have done in a minute or two. When he finally completed the bike portion, he had to put shoes on his aching and blistered feet and run a marathon.
Chris Sadowski finished the race. I cut out his picture from the next day’s newspaper and tacked it to my bulletin board, where it remains….a little curled and yellowed with age, but still an inspiration. There are days when I feel wiped out, drained, and a little overwhelmed. Then I look over at Chris Sadowski with that bike over his shoulder and I quit complaining. Pick up your burdens and shoulder forward.