The kindness I received for the first marathon run of my National Parks Marathon Project is on a new scale for me. I’m not good at asking for and receiving help, surrendering to others and not owning the details. I don’t always believe kind actions are completely altruistic. The trip to Acadia National Park has helped me learn to be more receptive and open, to allow people to experience the joy of contribution, and to be truly appreciative, not clouded by cynicism.
When I shared my project with my friend and former client Chuck Rossi, after good heartedly swearing under his breath about me leaving his organization (something about “what the hell am I going to do…”), he was truly excited for me. When he heard I was starting in Acadia he offered to sponsor my hotel and meals while at the park. In addition he and his wife Doreen accompanied me to Maine from their home in New Hampshire and acted as my crew during the marathon run.
The outpouring of support they showed me was humbling. I stayed at their home on the way to and from Acadia. They had a neighborhood party in my honor. In Acadia they didn’t let me pay for anything even though I tried. Doreen, a massage therapist who has handled the elite runners at the Boston Marathon for the past decade, gave me guidance on stretching and body maintenance and insisted I take several products that can help my body recover from the miles. It was all genuine, loving, and without expectation of reciprocation.
When you allow yourself to accept and be enveloped in kindness you find it comes to you more and more. We stayed at The Birches Bed & Breakfast in Southwest Harbor, Maine. When hearing about my project owner Susi Homer leapt into action. She genuinely wanted to help. She called the local TV station. She made sure all the guests staying there knew about my project. She took my business cards and information to share with future guests. Already there are possible contacts with Runner’s World and Alaskan guides. She wanted me to have a nice stay but she also wanted me to be successful.
After posting my Acadia plan on the Maine-based Crow Athletics’ Facebook page, Gary Allen offered to put together a course in the park for me. Gary is one of the founders of Crow and race director of the Mount Desert Island Marathon (one of the most scenic in the country crowed Runner’s World). His design was the perfect tour of the carriage roads which is exactly what I wanted. He did this having not ever met me and not knowing anything more about me than what is on my web site. For a busy man and still an elite athlete that is a true gift of time.
After connecting with the Central Maine Striders via their Facebook page one of their strongest runners, Ron Peck, a sub-three hour marathoner, offered to run with me. Oh boy am I in trouble I thought. But no, Ron shows up with a Central Maine Striders singlet, a gift from club. I was really touched. I did not expect that at all. Then he proceeds to be fabulous company for the next four and a half hours. While he could have comfortably burned through that course much faster he was cognizant that I have 58 more marathons to go and stayed with me. We completed it together in strong, steady fashion.
I left that weekend with a reinvigorated belief in people and myself. I now have more role models to pattern my life. I’m not sure who said it and I’m paraphrasing: If you believe that everyone is out to get you, then they are. If you believe the everyone is out to do you good, then they are. It is your choice. I prefer to believe the latter and I want my actions to make others believe that as well.