What if we all just said a simple “Yes” to any new opportunity that came our way? When we look back over Rainier’s history, the turning points in our growth have come from saying yes to new opportunities and jumping into the unknown; new varieties, organics, blueberries – we said yes. In fact, “fear of the unknown” and being afraid to say yes can run the real risk of stagnation – both in business and in life.
Member of Team #RunWithRainier, Ryan Brazell, embodies this philosophy, but not without some bumps along the road. When approached about running cross country during high school, he initially scoffed at the idea. However, years later that “no” turned into a “yes.” At 21, Ryan was feeling lost and had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. Being a local kid, the Boston Marathon was omnipresent, and to him, represented the pinnacle of success – it was a way to prove that he was worth something as a person. Then the realization hit him that it was a lot harder to run Boston than he’d thought — he knew nothing about running and didn’t realize how hard it was to qualify for the event. So he just started training. At the same time, Ryan was going through a lot with his family. His younger brother became addicted to heroin and he lost contact with his mother. Running became more than just qualifying for the Boston Marathon. It became his escape.
While the Boston Marathon has always been the ultimate goal, running opened Ryan’s eyes to a world of endurance events that he never knew existed. Running eventually turned into triathlons and cycling as well. Since that first year of running, he has raced almost everything from track cycling to participating in 15 – 20 marathons, which included starting in the famed Barkley Marathons, a “fun run” of 60 miles or the full course of 100 miles.
Along the way, he has suffered setbacks, but he persisted. For example, he came close to qualifying for the Boston Marathon a few years ago, but had to withdraw due to an injury. For a different type of adventure, Ryan participated in a 500K across Tennessee in the July heat. After two days of running, he had to withdraw with an injury, but intends to try again in the future.
While Ryan’s outdoor pursuits still give him an escape and allow him to test his limits, there are now other things that drive him. Chiefly, he wants to be a role model for his three children, and show them – not just tell them — that with hard work, anything is possible; it may not always be fun, but you have to do it. Last year, Ryan lost his brother and several childhood friends to addiction, so they are always in his mind and gives him a renewed focus on training and racing for those who no longer can.
When Ryan passes the Wellsley Wall, Heartbreak Hill, and runs down Boyolston to the Boston Marathon finish line, his life will have come full circle. What started as a dream in his early twenties is now his for the taking, but it has become more than just one race. By overcoming fear of the unknown and saying “Yes” to new opportunities, Ryan is living life that is #WholesometotheCore. Running has become an integral part of who he is, and has had a positive influence on all aspects of his life. He has a beautiful wife and three great kids that love him for “being him.” He approaches life with a sense of integrity and mindfulness – be honest with yourself, be honest in your relationships, and look after yourself through healthy food and exercise.
Thank you Ryan for continuing to remind us to always say Yes to new opportunities while we work to be our best selves and Good Luck to you and all of the Boston runners as you run toward your dreams.