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Tribal Observer: Has there been a time you felt like you were not going to finish a race? What was your motivation to finish?
Dirk Whitebreast: One of my personal running mantras that I tell myself when I am out there is that you are only in competition with yourself and that is what gets me through. I will run and I will get passed or I will pass someone. Say for instance I get passed by a 70 year old. It definitely hits the ego, but you have to remember there is a reason why he is out there running, or he is committed to running beforehand. Do what you do and don't worry about anyone else.
Just focus on finishing. If you're set on crossing the finishing line in a certain time, you know exactly what it takes to get there. You know the training beforehand that it takes to get there, the mental preparation, the physical preparation and even things like emotional preparation. Everyone is out there running for different reasons.
Tribal Observer: Some people call you a hero, have you had any one come up to you and say you have really inspired them?
Dirk Whitebreast: I have been speaking since last year and this is a new endeavor for me as well. I have been able to share with people things not only in regards to suicide prevention but also in regards to sobriety. I have been sober for nine years and I think it helps. I am thirty two and I know I still look young and when young people see a young face there is a commonality, a bond and they start to think that I am not different from them. When they hear me talk about the things I have experienced and talking about the alcoholism that I have dealt with not only my own but also my family, I think that brings people closer to me. They know that I have gone through the same exact thing they have gone through. I made choices in my life to be strong and I have run into some amazing stories along the way. A lot of people don't feel comfortable sharing them until I share my story which is good. My story is beneficial to them because it makes it okay for them to be open with themselves.
I was in California recently and I talked for two breakout sessions at one of the universities and afterwards one of the chaperones came up to me and was about the same age as me. He expressed his support and thanks. He said that we were both alike, and we have a lot of similarities. The only difference between us was that I learned to accept what I have gone through in my life and he hasn’t done that yet. It was really empowering for him to see me in front of a hundred people and being open with my personal life.
Tribal Observer: What is the next marathon you will be participating in?
Dirk Whitebreast: I will be participating in the Paatuwaqatsi Run, Water is Life Marathon which is a 50k or 30 miles in Polacca, Arizona. The run will be in the first mesa and will take place on an ancient system. The trails that we will be running on are hundreds of years old. There is a lot of power that comes with that and there is a lot of honor and respect. Just going to a community like that and being given an opportunity to run on land that is scared to them. I think that is a great gift and I am really looking forward to that run because those are the types of things where you do not worry about medals or fast times, it is about running with a purpose and that is the way I try to carry myself these days.
posted July 11, 2012 9:20 am edt
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