April 3, 2010

Always Remember

Yep. Did it. Busted out my 10th Umstead 100-Mile finish last weekend. So much help from Potts and Amy Leigh "Flame" Brown. So much good juju from so many others. Equal parts humbling and hard-to-believe-all-aimed-at-me.

Potts crewed me throughout the day and paced me from 50 to 75 miles. He saved my race at the end of Lap 5 by making me eat when I was totally outta gas, and then making me feel as if it was MY decision that we get up and get back out there. Flame jumped in @ Mile 75 @ 11:45 p.m. and dispensed her charm, fantastic compassion, expert ultra knowledge of what it's like to be "out there" all the way until we crossed the final line. At 7 a.m. the next day. Incredible. Not sure I could have done this without those two.

I really thought I'd have something moving to write about as the magnitude of this thing sets in. Truth is I don't. What I do have is a snip from a mid-week this-week e-mail to my dear friend Bobby G ...

When I was 9, my “other” dad, University of Tennessee men’s swim coach and legend Ray Bussard (my dad Sam’s best friend since the ‘50s), said this to me through a serious Jack Black haze: “Bill, listen to me. Never forget this. Dedication is the simple virtue that separates the extraordinary from the ordinary.” Heavy for a 9-year-old but, dude, I took it to heart. Never had a ton o’ talent in the running or the writing, really, but I’ve always recognized that sheer will gets you a long way.

Ray is early 80s and memory loss is kicking his ass right now, but he’s still around. Anyway, when I got to the Mile 11 pie plate on my final lap Sunday morning and me and Flamey were kinda quiet for the lone moment in the final 25 miles she paced me, I looked up at the sky and said, quietly to myself, “I heard you, Coach. And I promise to always remember.”