Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The End of Your Arm

"If you need a helping hand, there's one at the end of your arm."

I arrived home from Brazil jet-lagged and bloated from eating airplane snacks in another time zone. I also arrived home to my brothers Alan and Mark, Al’s wife, Carrie, Mark’s friend, John, and Al’s friend, Vern. There were airbeds across the living room floor, sheets on the futon and carbohydrates all over the counter.  They were in town to run the Cascade Crest 100 Ultra Marathon.  Well, three of them were running; Carrie, running her first 100 miler, and Mark and John who have run Ultras but not the Cascade Crest “Trail from Hell” Ultra. Al was going to pace for Carrie. That means that at mile 53 he is allowed to run with her. Vern was here to “crew” for Carrie and Al. For the uninitiated, to “crew” means that you drive ahead to various aid stations to meet your runner and have things they might need; different shoes, a dry shirt, their headlamp for the night part, duct tape for blisters or personal snacks that make them happy ( how can these people be happy after putting in double digit mileage?). There's a picture of Al all geared up and ready to pace.
If you did the math you figured out that Mark and John did not have a pacer or a crew.  My son was supposed to crew for Mark, but had to bail when he realized his school was starting a week earlier than he thought (duh). So I said I would crew for Mark. Saturday I was up early and off to the mountains. It was a grind, but I could find a silver lining here and there; I occasionally had cell service, I was thrilled I only got lost once, I didn’t miss Mark at a single station and I had remembered to bring a flashlight. I also got a workout in, hiking 3 miles downhill to an aid station and then 3 miles back up. Best part was that I got to walk the up part with Mark and provide some conversation. He was running without a pacer for the first time. From mile 73 to 76 I could distract him from his self-inflicted misery.  I think I got about 3 hours of sleep that weekend. Here's a pic of my dirt-and-muck covered car for all of you non-believers.

Why you ask? Why did I do it? I could have whined and claimed jet-lag and that unpacked bags were calling my name. I did it because I know without hesitation that they would have done it for me.
How did it end? Carrie crossed the finish line at 29 hrs 39 minutes. Mark at 31 hours. John dropped at mile 68 with a hip flexor that flared up. Still not too shabby in my book.  As I watched them remove their shoes and limp around in their flip-flops, saw grime in the creases of their knees and elbows, heard comments about the hornets that went on a rampage,  I was amazed by this incredible group of people. There are numerous books written on the mental and physical fortitude of Ultra Marathoners. I won’t be writing about that silly stuff. Instead I will offer this – it felt great to help. Even those times when I had driven an hour and half to a station only to spend one minute watching Mark refill his water bottles and squirt some GU in his mouth, my just being there with a smile and encouragement meant a great deal to him. And I thought about those times when we don’t let people help us. We are sabotaging a win-win situation. Helping is mutually beneficial. Otherwise we make win-lose or lose-lose situations. Those aren’t nearly as much fun.

Here I am with Mark. Why am I the one who looks like I've run 100 miles? Maybe because in some way (in my own head) I worked almost as hard.

And here's Carrie, looking adorable as always - ready to go run again. Note: Carrie said that the Cascade Crest 100 was the hardest thing she has ever done. She may not run for a while ...we shall see.

And for those of you waiting for more tales from Brazil, they are coming. Pictures are being organized, thoughts aligned, energy restored.  Thanks for reading.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Campo Grande medalists

Brazil continued

Got some pics off of Facebook! I continue to learn what every 5 year old can already do.
At Campo Grande the children all signed this banner. I posted a picture earlier of coaches holding it up, but this is a close up of the signatures. I also add my thank you to Hyperfly, Kent Sport and Spine and the Carly Stowell Foundation for helping support this effort. Their logos are on the banner.
The second picture is of a future world champion, Eduardo Lima who we sponsored in the Rio Festival Kids tournament. He has so many victories that at age 8 (I think he is 11 now) his portrait was painted on the wall of the Canto Galo community Center.  I have a photo that I will put up when I get access to my camera pictures. He won gold at this tournament also. You can see him in his new Hyperfly with the Carly Stowell Foundation logo patch. Really delightful kid. He tried to speak English with me and wanted a copy of my book which he had already started to read before I saw him again. This kid is going places. To the left of Eduardo is assistant coach Kaynan Matos. He was instrumental in the coordination of the sponsoring effort, getting the kids registered and organized. He is only 16 but well on his way to leading his own team one day.Too bad the gi I brought for him did not pass inspection for competition ... the kimono length was too short (it wasn't a Hyperfly btw). So I owe him one :-)
More to come... 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Well, my blogging hasnt been as easy as I thought, but fortunately one of the coaches from Campo Grande sent me some pictures. While I was more prepared for this trip than I was when I came to Brazil last year, I can see now that I still didnt think of everything. I guess that is traveling for you. 

Campo Grande is one of the largest favelas in Rio. Rio is quite large ...most people think only of the beautiful beaches, but most of Rio is spread out and is not beautiful beach. We were told there would be about 48 kids at the gathering, but as you can see, there were many more. Most of the people there, including the adults had never met anyone from America. And for the most part, they told me that Campo Grande seldom receives any sort of assistance - certainly not from the government ....that is all broken promises. I know that the coaches, most whom live there as well, pay out of their pockets to help the children. 
I have been thoughtfully reflective and suppose that I will continue to be for quite some time. I can~t put it all into words right now. But I wanted to send some images of the work we are doing here and thank everyone for their support. 
The biggest detriment to getting everything written down and posted is the intermittent availability of internet and / or a computer and the amount of time spent on the road just trying to get places. 
Please know however that I want to share as much of this experience as I can and plan to do so. Some will have to happen after I return to the US. 

Please share this with others. Love, E

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tomorrow Part 2 of GGG begins!

Tomorrow phase 2 of this project begins.
Bags are packed, got the passports and visas, plane snacks, books (inlcuding Portuguese Idioms for some last minute cramming), got some Brazilian reais through AAA so I don't have to feel helpless about that, camera has a new memory card, activated the global phone ... what else ... sunscreen - check!

Here are 4 bags of donated gis and grappling gear. See, this project is very real. When traveling, the second part, the part beyond the planning, often doesn't seem real until you step on terra firma. I have my plans and my expectations, but know very well that one must be flexible and patient. Especially with internatonal travel. Anything can happen - and it can happen in another language - so keep the mind open.
Thank you to everyone who has helped and who continue to help. I have to give a special shout out to Sonia Silan and West Seattle Fight and Fitness for not only a gi donation, but a recent donation of t-shirts and shorts also.

Please continue to check back and follow the progress of the first Give the Gift of a Gi program. People ahve suggested to me that this trip may provide fodder fo rmy next book. Who knows. I know that it will be meaningful and purposeful. That's a great start.