The year was 1993. I was at mile 24 of the marathon in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. I had completed the 2.4 mile ocean swim, the 112 mile bike and now had just over 2 miles to go to finish a very long day at the beach.
I monitored the progress of my friend Bill Keith Albright throughout the day. I was pleased to find myself at mile 13 of the marathon while Keith was just entering the bike to run transition tent.
You don’t need to know too much about marathon running to know that if you have a thirteen mile head start in a twenty-six-mile race there is no way that you will be caught or so I thought.
It was there at mile 24 that I heard the encouraging words echo a short distance behind me; “Keeping Going Doug, You’re Looking Strong!”
It was my friend Keith! (I wasn’t sure if I should thank him or trip him)
The one step that it took him to pass me became a defining moment in my life. Here is why…
In 1993 I was 38 and my friend Keith was 69.
I wondered how it was possible that someone “SO OLD” could have passed me when I was in the best shape of my life.
In the remaining two miles of the marathon I had in front of me, I could do nothing. I simply watched Keith’s silhouette vanish into the fading sun never to be caught.
His one step became a defining moment for me for one simple reason. Prior to that one step I believed a 69 year old person to have reached their harvesting years of life; their time better spent with leisure time pursuits, idle chatter and menial activities that included words like “puttering”.
Keith clearly did not fit into the senior citizen box that I had so carefully constructed for he and others his age. No, Keith was more than a Senior Citizen, he was a; Senior Champion, Senior Spartan, Senior competitor! Keith had aged but he wasn’t old.
I made the decision on that day that I wanted to be like “Keith” when I got older. I wanted to live an actively engaged life and maybe, just maybe inspire one or two others along the way.
The impression he left on me so many years ago will live with me forever. .Keith is truly one of the reasons why I have the intestinal fortitude to attempt a solo challenge of the English Channel in July 2015.
My friend Keith never knew he played such a vital role in my life, but he did! I have often thought “How cool is that, to live your life in such a way that it redefines how others think!”
A friend asked me today “What is driving you to do this” I simply responded “many reasons”.
One of those reasons is simple. It’s my turn!
It is my turn to be “Keith” to someone else. In three short months I will turn 60 and while the challenge that awaits me is both daunting and scary, it gives me the opportunity to carry on Keith’s legacy.
Keith’s zest for life and vitality reminded me that a fine bottle of red wine doesn’t get old, it ages. It gets better with time. A good block of cheddar cheese or Stradivarius Violin age, they don’t get old. In other words, they get better with time.
The key for each of us is to do the best job that we can to remain actively engaged in our lives for a lifetime. It is not always easy but will always be worth it.
You can do it!