“Dude, sweet buckle!”
This was the comment from the teenage cashier at my local grocery store this weekend. I looked down and confirmed that I was wearing my recently acquired Leadville buckle. I simply said thanks and took my groceries home. When I told my wife about the comment she said I should have replied, “You don’t even realize.”
I seriously doubt he had any idea the significance of the buckle and instead thought of it as just a fashion statement. That is just fine with me. In fact, it's what I prefer. While it is without a doubt the most expensive thing I own, except for my house, it represents something so much more that that.
It took me three years of training, three trips to Colorado, two years of coaching, one hypoxic generator, countless energy gels, a few trips to the doctor, who knows how many pairs of shoes, and a shit load of AAA batteries. There's no doubt I spent more to earn that buckle than my car is worth. (In my defense, my car it not that nice.)
But that’s not why I wear it. I don’t wear it to brag. I don’t wear it to start conversations about running or Leadville. I don’t wear it to show off. I don’t wear it because I want other people to know that I ran Leadville. (That’s what this freaking blog is for.) In fact, I struggle with wearing it for all those reasons. The part of me that still worries about what other people think about me is worried that people will think I’m wearing it to show off or brag. Nope. Not it at all.
All of my medals, buckles, plaques, rocks, etc. from years and years of racing are in a dusty box on the floor in a corner of my office. Except for my Leadville buckle.
I wear it because it reminds me of the experience. It reminds me of one of the most challenging, difficult, and rewarding experiences of my life. I cannot look at the buckle without thinking about my two failures and what it felt like to see my wife on the final stretch this year, with tears in her eyes as we held hands and finally finished something it took three years of my life to accomplish. I wear the buckle because looking at it makes me smile and reminds me that sometimes life is shitty and things don’t work out the way you want. But, if you really want something and go after it, ignoring all the naysayers, then sometimes you can reach what seemed unreachable, and that makes me smile.
So, if you have a buckle that you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into, wear it. If you have a buckle that reminds you that you can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it, wear it. If you have a buckle that makes you smile when you see it, wear it, and to hell with what anyone else has to say about it.