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Monday, April 02, 2012

Thought for the Day - David Goggins Week - An Amazing Story, A Real Role Model

I met David Goggins over a year ago when he spoke to a group of us that were visiting the US Navy Seal/SWCC base in Coronado. I have never met any one like him. He made me reassess what my limits are and what's possible in life. This is his story and this week I will have quotes and a video telling his story. It's a long post but it will be worth your time and yu don't want to miss the video on Saturday....

-- John Duffy


David Goggins is not your typical endurance athlete. This 6ft1, 195-pound competitor looks more like a pro football player than an ultrarunner.

Goggins is also unique in several less visible ways. At 32, he's younger than most of his peers, who have taught their bodies to run huge distances only through years and years of training. Goggins only took up the sport in 2005 - prior to this he hardly ran at all.

Goggins is also a Navy SEAL. In fact, he's the only person in the history of the USA to have successfully completed training with the Navy SEALS, US Army Rangers and the Air Force's Tactical Air Controller unit. Perhaps more impressively, he is also the only person to have completed the SEALS' infamous Hell Week on three separate occasions. (The third time because he felt his first two efforts were soft.)

"I'm nobody special. I've been in the military for about 13 years. I joined the military to push my limits. When I first joined, I couldn't run down to the mailbox. I was into powerlifting and weighed 280 pounds. I used to bench press 435. The guy at the recruiting office looked at me like I didn't have a chance."

Goggins would go on to complete three tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. After losing several friends in the war, he became obsessed with the idea of doing something to support their children.

"I started looking for ways to raise money for them. Someone told me there was this ultramarathon race in Death Valley called Badwater."

The Badwater Ultramarathon bills itself as "the world's toughest foot race." Competitors race over a 135 mile (215km) course that starts 282 feet (85m) below sea level in California's Death Valley, and ends at an elevation of 8360 feet (2548m) on the trailhead to Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States. Conditions in the Badwater event are severe - the race takes place in July, an intentional decision by the organisers because this is typically when the weather is the most extreme. It is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 120F (49C). In the shade.

"I didn't even know what an ultramarathon was. I had never really run in my life. So, I called up the race director of Badwater to find out if he'd let me in. He asked me how many 100-milers I had done. I said, none. Then he asked how many marathons I had done. None, I said. He said I had to have at least one ultramarathon under my belt before he could consider letting me in. This was November. I had to qualify by January to run Badwater [in June 2006]. So, I started looking for 100-mile races in the area that I could do.

I found one in San Diego and entered it. It was a 24-hour race on a one-mile course, and you had to run 100 miles in under 24 hours. I told my wife about it and she looked at me like I was crazy."

"So, I get into it and felt good for the first 50 miles. And I thought, what's the big deal? 60 miles, still good. Then after 61 miles I never felt so much pain in my life. I just hit a wall. At 70 miles my body starts to lock up. I was 12 hours into the race. I walked another 7 miles. I only had 23 miles to go, but I just couldn't go any further. But, I had to. I didn't want to have to do this again, and I was already so far into it. Somehow, I ran to 90 miles and I felt like I was going to die. My feet were broken, I had tendonitis and shin splints. But, I just kept going and got to 100, and then I did one more lap just in case there was a miscount. I finished in 18 hours and 56 minutes and my wife took me home. She had to carry me up the stairs to our home. I was peeing blood."

Goggins would go on to compete in the Las Vegas Marathon just 10 days later, and posted an exceptional 3:08 finish.

"So, I called the Badwater director again. And he said that he wasn't sure he could let me in because he had so many people on the list with longer resumes. So I decided to do one more. That was in December. I finished that one and called the Badwater director again. He let me in."

David Goggins, Albert Vallee, Badwater

Goggins would finish an unbelievable fifth in his first race at Badwater, raising a considerable amount of for the Special Operation Warrior Foundation, a charity that provides full college scholarships, financial aid and counselling to surviving children of military personnel who were killed in an operational mission or training accident.

But he wasn't done. With only three weeks training, little experience as a swimmer and on a borrowed bike, he entered the Hawaiian Ultraman, a three-day, 320 mile (515km) race held on the Big Island of Hawaii. The race is divided into three stages - a 6.2 mile (10km) ocean swim followed by a 90-mile (145km) bike ride on day one, a 171.4-mile (276km) bike ride on day two, and a 52.4-mile (84km) double-marathon on day three.

"I get to the race and I finished the swim on day one in twelfth. But, I was terrified of the bike. I had a bad blowout toward the end of the ride. I'm not a mechanic, so I lost thirty minutes dealing with that. But, I had a spare bike that I had rented from a local shop, except it didn't have clipless pedals. It just had those straps that you put your regular street shoes into. I finished that last part of the ride wearing my shoes on these flat pedals. People were looking at me like, what are you doing? So, the Ultraman was my first and only triathlon."

Goggins would go on to finish in second place.

David Goggins Daily WorkoutHe returned to Badwater in 2007, finished third, knocking over four hours off of his time of the previous year.His work with the Special Ops Warrior Foundation keeps him motivated.

"We put 266 kids through college last year. And that's what keeps me going. I'll be honest, I don't like running. I don't like biking. I don't like swimming. I do it to raise money. But, now that I'm in this sport I want to see how far I can push myself. What makes me tick is that pain you feel when you do these ultramarathons. I love knowing that everyone's suffering because I know I can suffer just a little bit more. I can take a lot of pain."

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