This past weekend, I traveled 120 miles south to Guam, received a complimentary room at PIC (thanks Ben Ferguson & Vicki Daniel!) and dedicated my time to a kaleidoscope of friends, who have intersected my life at meaningful connection points of time and place.
There's a brilliant quote from Anais Nin, who poignantly said, "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." Throughout the weekend, a flood of worlds whirled into my path and I pleasantly seized the opportunity to align with each.
I believe in true, genuine, life-long friendships that fulfill that acute emotional need to belong and to be accepted. I can't think of many other things that rank higher than great friends. My husband, Russ, is my very best friend! Hence, I am gratefully and humbly blessed!
|With Paula at the Powder Hound Lodge in Jan 2012.|
|A gorgeous race day!|
|Trey capturing the shots|
|After the initial pavement climb, Dan Hugo leads Ben Allen.|
|Brad Weiss & Sam Gardner race to T2|
|XTERRA Guam Championship: Brad 3rd, Ben 1st, Dan 2nd|
There's another quote from an Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore that holds true, "Depth of a friendship does not depend on length of acquaintance." I believe that through God, our lives intersected at a pivotal time, to definitely impact each other through mutual respect and friendship. In addition, I didn't realize that both men had not spent much time together previously in their hometown. This trip seemed to solidify their friendship as they traveled, trained and lived in the same house/hotel for nearly a month on this XTERRA Asian Triple Crown Tour.
We look forward to following Dan and Brad's race reports this season as they compete around the world. Their next challenge is XTERRA Malaysia in late April. They both possess that raw, intense talent and drive to propel them further in their careers. Perhaps we'll see Dan emerge as the next XTERRA World Champion in October?
|1st Place - Jacqui Slack|
In the women's race, Jacqui Slack, the 2013 XTERRA Saipan and Tagaman Champion, dominated with sheer agility with a time of 2:52:44. She is a superb athlete who possesses a natural gift to challenge herself and stay focused. She's a lovely, soft-spoken woman who is both confident and humble. Congratulations on three, impressive consecutive wins! As we say in Saipan, "Strong work!!"
|Renata finishing in 2nd!|
After reading my previous blog post about Dan and Brad, Renata sent me an encouraging email applauding my faith that profoundly touched my heart. In fact, when I was writing my reply to her, tears welled in my eyes as I rejoiced in yet another relevant connection through faith. We've been friends for several years as she's raced in the XTERRA Saipan eight times and we visited her in Davos a couple years back, but we had never broached the subject of God. Even though we see each other only on an annual basis, it doesn't matter. We simply connect and support each other. Renata Bucher is a veritable champion. Aside from her athletic prowess, she's bright, beautiful, skillful, playful and compassionate. She's also a school teacher, positively influencing those sharp, young minds and athletes back in Luzern, when she's not racing. We pray that you have a successful race season and look forward to welcoming you back to Saipan again next year!
|Jamie at the start of the run.|
|Faith binds great friends.|
Aside from racing and training to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, Jamie has her own athletic coaching business, travels as a motivational speaker and organizes her church's "Mom's program". See the video in the link below as well as her bio. http://gutzytricoaching.com/motivational-speaking/.
At a recent speaking engagement in Hawaii for Mitsubishi, Jamie confessed that she rarely remembers the words that flow through her mouth as she speaks to a crowd of hundreds. She says that she sincerely allows the holy spirit to provide her the right words to captivate her audience. At that same conference, the other guest speaker was Captain Sullenberger, the pilot who in 2009, heroically flew the US Airways Airbus 320 to crash land on the Hudson River, leading all 155 passengers to a safe evacuation. The Mitsubishi execs later acknowledged that their employees preferred Jamie's life story of trials and triumphs over to that of Captain Sullenberger's life-saving feat. Why? Well, all of us can relate to a close family member or friend afflicted with cancer or another life-threatening disease. Jamie's story affects each of us personally as we inherently realize that it can happen to us. How we are able to perceive ourselves in a particular situation greatly registers in our empathetic hearts.
|The Cardenas Family|
|Chatting with Courtney at the BBQ|
C.S. Lewis once quoted, “Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?” Courtney and I were able to catch up at the Horton's post- race BBQ. I really wished that Russ was there, especially that night so that the four of us could talk, share and fellowship. Courtney and Jamie are a remarkable couple, who've weathered through life's tumultuous storms. Among other things, I was cheerfully surprised to learn that they had participated in a Marriage Encounter weekend as well. As a side note, one film that is excellent which I highly recommend to all couples is "Fireproof". Yes, it will make you laugh, cry and hopefully help you realize that marriage is worth the fight. http://youtu.be/M5lSu6GkC2k. To Jamie & Courtney, I pray that our lives cross paths more frequently in the future. At the very least, we hope to invite you both to race in the 2014 XTERRA Saipan and Tagaman.
|Race Director extraordinaire, Eric Tydingco with Jamie|
Eric's competence as Race Director for XTERRA Guam radiated on race day. His race is fun, tough and well organized ~ an optimal XTERRA profile, plus the sounds of his band, Mojo, at the Awards Party extended the lively party atmosphere. A unique coincidence is that Russ and Eric graduated together from Patrick Henry High School in San Diego so they go way back!
Aside from the XTERRA race, the weekend centered around Vicki's business trip to Guam. We've been best friends through our PIC connection for seventeen years and I was so excited to see her again. I picked her up Saturday evening and we went for drinks at the Sheraton's poolside bar prior to attending the XTERRA awards dinner.
|Time with Vicki|
|Laughing hysterically after much coffee|
|Trey, Jamie, Vicki & me|
|Angie and me at a recent dinner|
Victor Hugo, the celebrated Les Miserables author once quoted, "Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face." Adding Angie to our girls' weekend tipped our laughter scale off the charts. For lunch, we went to GPO's ramen place and our conversation diverted to our sleeping arrangements for that night. Angie asked, "Are we all going to spoon on one bed tonight?" To which Vicki answered, "No, we have two double beds, but you need to choose who you want to sleep with." Vicki then divulged that I sounded like a feral cat coughing up fur balls as she obviously heard me coughing, gagging and clearing my throat for most of the night. I then mimicked my "fur ball ingested" sound and that's when we simultaneously broke out into unsuppressible laughter that must have resonated throughout the restaurant. Angie was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down her face as she crouched over her food and held her arms close to her stomach, trying to contain herself.
The three of us are fortunate to have a long history of great memories. It was maybe fifteen years ago when we took our first girls' trip to Cairns with another girlfriend, Rena. The four of us danced, partied, shopped, went river rafting down the Tully, learned how to throw boomerangs, blow on the didgeridoo and constantly drove on the "wrong side" of the road. We still laugh at the one river rafting snapshot which captured all of us grudgingly paddling down the rough rapids, except for Angie. She's perched upright, smiling straight at the camera and waving her hand like Miss America.
Since last September, Angie has been my faithful spin partner at Gold's. We started out attending class three mornings a week at 5:45am but since the Wednesday sessions started filling, we now go on Mondays and Fridays. In December, we teamed up for the Hell of the Marianas, each riding 50km and won the Women's Team division. We've also encouraged each other to eat less sweets, become more fit and healthy for the new year. We've even connected with our husbands as part of the Marriage Encounter community and I feel so blessed to have Angie as a dear, close friend.
Great friends are like bountiful treasures; they continually enrich our lives with pearls of wisdom, strength of diamonds and malleability of gold, offering grace and forgiveness when due. I graciously thank all of you whom I cherish as you've lavishly shared your lives with me. This last weekend absolutely overwhelmed my senses as all of our worlds simultaneously collided into one that I will never forget.
|Final breakfast at Tu Re with Brad, Renata & Dan|