Posted by: Budger | March 9, 2008

What is a Hero?

Merriam-Webster defines Hero as "a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b: an illustrious warrior c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d: one that shows great courage".  This past weekend, I had the unique experience to spend a weekend witnessing Heroes in Action.  I am in awe, and truly blessed to be able to call these people friends and co-workers.

The Texas Independence Relay is a 200 mile relay run that goes from Gonzales, TX, where the battle for Texas Independence was started to the San Jacinto Monument, where Texas Independence was won.  It is 40 relay legs of approximately 5 miles each.  Last May, Eric told me about the Texas Independence Relay (TIR) after a co-worker of his asked him if he would like to be a runner.  Over Margaritas one night with my co-workers, I threw it out as a challenge.  Next thing I knew, we had a team, and I had been elected Team Captain.  Me – Team Captain?  I don’t run.  I don’t have a clue about training for a run,  doing a run, let alone being captain of a relay team.  But like all good challenges thrown out over Margaritas, I couldn’t say no.  Is no even an option when Tequila is involved?

In August, the P2 Energy Solutions TIR team voted unanimously to be the P2 Pacemakers, and our team name was set.  Little did we know at the time that I would soon become the team mascot.  But in October, I went from being a runner/Team Captain to a support person/Pacemaker mascot/team captain.  From October through January we worked to finalize our team, assign our legs and work the logistics of getting 12 people 200 miles while providing them with opportunities to rest and eat in between their runs.

The TIR rules forbid having RVs on the course, so the wonderful support team led by Crew Chief Denise, located RV stops that were off course, but easily shuttled to/from the course.  The final week of preparation was busy stocking the RVs/Vans and finalizing the Van Assignments that would guide the shuttling of runners from the course/vans to the RVs.  Sleep during the last 2 weeks was not an option.

Finally it was Saturday March 1, and we piled our team into the vans and RVs and head out for Gonzales at 2AM.  We had our last team meeting, and the team captain’s stress level was at an all time high.  I anticipated complete disaster after the first leg, as I could not believe that I had mastered the Van Assignments.  I had visions of runners stranded, and disqualifications or penalties for violation of the transport rules.  I figured by leg 3, the team would be over-throwing me for somebody that had a clue of what they were doing. 

Leg 1 we were off and running, and before I knew it everything started to gel.  As my anxiety waned, I found myself a front-row spectator to the most amazing event.  We had a team of 12 that represented all of our offices.  Some of our team members had never met each other before.  But as the day went on the P2 Pacemakers epitomized team work, helping not only their team-mates but others.  They ran along side providing water and Gatorade during the heat of the day.  They ran with the flu, cramps, knee pains and stomach issues.  They hit every mark and finished an hour and a half ahead of schedule.  Everywhere I turned I was inspired.  From watching my boss George, who I already have determined as invincible, running the worst leg 8 miles with the flu, to Ajay completing his legs with only 3 months of training, and never having run before.  Shannon, Lucy and Marcia were out running at night with the guys, and never showing fear or intimidation.  Lucy was on one of the darkest stretches of road I have ever seen, and just kept going.  Shannon made a buddy on the route, and made it across a bridge, while I stalled traffic behind our van.  Mickey, our oldest runner, continued to run after a hamstring injury.  And Mark, Richard and Tom all continued to run with knee pain.  Jim ran 27 miles after being talked into the race without full disclosure of information from the team captain, and Mike and Bruce kept going after getting lost and being stopped by a train.  And the support crew was alongside the whole way, most going 36 hours without stopping or sleeping.  Crew Chief Denise, Mike, Vicki – the team Mom, Richard, Tom, Erica, Robin and Van all worked tirelessly to make transitions easy and seamless for the runners, so that they could get needed sleep and food.  In the process, we shared a lot of laughs.  I got our van stuck in the mud.  But the team kept going, and before I knew it we were gathering at the San Jacinto Monument to watch the team finish.

As the team crossed the finish line, I had to turn away as I was overcome with emotion.  I have never been prouder of my co-workers or my company who supported us during the event.  My pacemaker was whirring watching our team finish together.

We celebrated over Margaritas, after all that is where the P2 Pacemakers TIR team started.  There has never been a finer example of team work on display, and I was honored to be their Captain and their mascot.  As I told Shannon on the ride to Gonzales – I have never been an athlete, but I have always admired them.  I am inspired by the athlete’s dedication.  Whether they finish first or last, injured or whole, I admire the athletes that give it their best and tried.  The P2 Pacemakers and their support crew did that.  They are heroes to me.

1288_Team with Support

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Responses

  1. Rhonda….you have made one mistake in your blog.  You too are an athlete.  I have watched/listened as you trained for the MS150.  Anyone that trains that hard and gets on a back determined to ride 150 miles is an athlete.  Then to watch you battle back from pacemaker surgery and the excitement you have over Rosa….you are definitely an inspiration to me and by all accounts you are an athlete.


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