“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved a good comeback story.
“Nadia” was my childhood icon. I watched her story unfold, on replay, again and again and again – until the tape on the VHS literally broke!
I followed the story of Muhammad Ali through the eyes of my father. We watched the fights, replayed from the 1970’s, using a rabbit ears antenna on a staticky tv screen with frequent interruptions, in the 1980’s.
On April 21st 2014, just one year after the horrific bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, I watched in awe and absolute ecstasy as Meb Keflezighi made that left onto Hereford and right onto Boylston. With his chin and chest up, eyes focused forward, he ran with every ounce of strength he had left, crossing that finish line as the first american male to win the Boston Marathon in over 30 years! The “experts” had already counted him out, saying that he was too old, too slow, and had suffered too many injuries to even be considered a possible prospect for this win – but he was not deterred. He knew he was healthy. He knew he was strong. He knew he had trained well. But, most of all, he was humbled and grateful for the opportunity. He laced up his shoes, wrote the names of the deceased victims from the 2013 bombings on the corners of his bib: Martin, Lingzi, Krystle, and Sean – and he ran.
On May 6th, 2017, I held my breath as Eliud Kipchoge came so close, yet ultimately failed, to break the 2-hour barrier in running a full marathon. He crossed the finish line at 2:00:25 and I was deflated. How crushed he must be to have tried so hard, come so close, yet ultimately fail! His post-race response blew my mind. With a smile upon his face he looked at the camera and said, “Today I have learned that the impossible is possible. Now we are only 25 seconds away.”!
October 12th, 2019, Eliud returned to this attempt on the streets of Vienna. As the world watched, myself included, he not only succeeded in breaking through this previously perceived human barrier, he shattered it into a million pieces with a blazing fast time of 1:59:40! He proved to himself and the rest of the world that, no matter what Doctors and Scientists and disbelieving mortals may say or think, “NO HUMAN IS LIMITED!”.
Needless to say, I am a firm believer in this concept as well. So, there I was, just 36 hours after having undergone spinal surgery, making a decision and completing my registration. I committed myself to a goal – one which, in my current physical state and at this early stage of the recovery process, may seem completely absurd… but it is far from “impossible”.
I know this. I believe this. I intend to prove this.
Not for you, but for me. Not for the ones call me “crazy”, nor the ones who just can not seem to believe. I intend to prove this to myself – because I want to, because I feel the need to and, when I think about the future and envision the day when my chance finally comes, simply because I can!
I shared this goal with a friend of mine – a friend who loves a good comeback story just as much (if not more) than I! His response contained the most encouraging words ever bestowed upon me:
“In Muhammad Ali’s book “The Greatest: My Own Story”, Ali tells the story of when he returned home after he got his jaw broken and lost the Norton fight. Ali relates that every old friend he saw congratulated him on a great career, expressed sadness that it was over and that Ali would never be the champion again. Ali said that his jaw was wired shut and he could not talk but he kept telling himself “the comeback will be huge”. Later that year, 1973, he beat Norton in their rematch and, in 1974, he beat Frazier and, a year later, knocked out Foreman to regain the heavyweight championship of the world. The comeback will be huge!”Joe Guilyard, August 4th, 2022.