I was over at the new CrossFit gym the other day, getting ready to head home when Eric Adams pulled out a poster he had just received. It was a photo of a young girl, her face contorted in her efforts to lift the weight she had across the front of her shoulders. The poster read "You just got schooled by a 14-year-old girl." Eric explained that the image came from a CrossFit competition in which the girl on the poster, Kallista Pappas, had been cleaning and jerking, an Olympic lift that requires the lifter pull the weight off the floor and put it over head, usually in two movements. The girl had dropped the weight as she lost her balance, she had fallen backward and the weight had hit and scraped down her shin. Kallista 
then got back up and finished the workout.
What the poster doesn`t tell is that Kallista weighed 103 pounds. The weight she was using was 100 pounds. She finished the exercise, after dropping the weight on herself, putting the weight over her head a total of 25 times. While she came in dead last in that workout, the crowd, and the rest of the competitors, were cheering for her.
Young Miss Pappas is now the stuff of legend in CrossFit circles, not for her muscular strength, though that was considerable, but for the strength of her heart. When the time comes, can I act like a 14-year-old girl, or at least that one?
For the same reason, I went out this weekend and found Michael Oher`s book, "I Beat the Odds." Oher was the subject of the book and the movie "The Blindside," and felt he needed to tell his side of his own story. There were a few liberties taken by the makers of the movie that Oher wanted to correct, and the original writer could not know what was going on in Oher`s head while he was living the life we now associate with the movie.
The book tells the story, like the subtitle states, Oher`s journey from "homelessness to the Blindside." It humbles me and inspires me to see and read about such determination, and in some cases, blind luck, that get people out of seemingly hopeless circumstances to very possibly, the best at what they do. By the way, The Baltimore Ravens are currently maneuvering to build their entire offense around Oher, an offensive tackle. When`s the last time you heard a team do that?
Anyone who has paid attention to cycling, or American sports, or even cancer advocacy in the last 11 years, has an idea of Lance Armstrong`s story. Young, brash, wildly talented Texan fights back from testicular cancer to win cycling`s biggest event a record seven times. Did you know his father left when he was a toddler? That his mother raised him, more or less by herself? That he was a nationally-ranked triathlete at 16?
A name you may not know is that of American cyclist Saul Raisin. Raisin grew up in Dalton, Ga. where he rode mountain bikes. He came to the attention of American cycling enthusiasts when, riding for the French pro team Credit Agricole, he won the Best Young Rider competition in the 2003 Tour of Georgia. During a road race in 2006, Raisin crashed, bouncing his head off the pavement. Raisin should have died. He developed hemorrhaging in his brain and doctors removed some of his right temporal lobe to save him.
After a week in a coma, and another month in an Atlanta hospital, Raisin emerged alive. He lost movement on his left side and significant memory, but he was alive. Raisin went through physical therapy, spent another few months on indoor trainers and eventually tried to rejoin Credit Agricole. The team doctors could not, in good conscience, release him to race, as one more hit to the head could likely kill him. Raisin didn`t let that stop him.
Raisin is out of professional cycling, but he has his own foundation, Raisin Hope, which helps families who have been touched by the injuries Raisin has endured. In an interview in the March 2011 issue of "Road" magazine, Raisin states, "we are small with big hearts." They know they are not the LiveStrong Foundation, but they are doing good work, one case at a time.
Inspiration can keep us moving. Seeing what others have overcome can help us in our struggles and challenges. Riding for someone else, or for a bigger cause, can make the riding or efforts little easier. Find what inspires you and get out there.
Have fun, be careful. I`m going riding.