“If you want to be an elite marathoner you have to really torture yourself and live in a very remote place and work incredibly hard, put yourself through a lot of pain and then guess what- you get 2 shots a year to have your greatest success. And if you wake up with a bad stomach that morning, tough darts, man.”- Matt Futterman on “the Morning Shakout with Mario Fraioli.
This made me laugh, it’s kind of psychotic really, especially since I feel like 2019 has been a pretty lousy year for me but at the same time I’ve never trained harder in my life. Also: I’ve never been more motivated.
5 months until the 2020 Olympic Trials. Break it down though and: I’ll be racing the Chicago Marathon on October 13th. Factoring in a 2 week break after and considering a 12-16 week training block, that puts me starting seriously training at early November. I feel like its right around the corner!
I’ve been wondering lately what all the other women are thinking as they build up to this. I was lucky to have run the standard in perhaps one of the earliest races after the qualifying window opened. December 2017 (it seems like ages ago). I remember crossing the finish line and thinking simultaneously: “Nearly 3 years until the Trials, that’s a long time to stay in shape” and “Whew, I’ve got nearly 3 years to get better and really give it my best”. Both thoughts have popped back up over the past 2 years, the first during more negative moments when I’m feeling unsure of myself, and the second when I’m motivated, working hard, and really wanting to perform to the best of my ability on the day.
I’ve heard various things about the sheer number of women competing from: “a rising tide lifts all ships” to “Why so many? Don’t they know there’s zero chance of actually making the Olympics?” I can’t help but wonder how many other women wrestle with that. I feel like I’m the exact demographic of one of the ‘ships’ that has been lifted by others. I’m a mom of two, almost 38, got into running later in life, work a day-job- just like literally almost every other “under the radar” gal who will be toeing the line in Atlanta on Feb 29, 2020. So I figured I wasn’t the only one curious.
So here’s what I’m thinking about these days.
A couple of my favorite race mantras are “Don’t count yourself out” and “It’s not over till it’s over”. This can mean something different for everyone, I’m sure. I know I won’t stop reaching until I feel I’ve tapped into the last drop of potential. Just because I don’t think I’ll be crossing the line in a top 3 spot, doesn’t mean I’m not going to run my own race and gut out my very best effort. For me, that will be closing a chapter (a chapter, not the book!) on a dream that when it started, seemed literally impossible. Along the way, so many other possibilities have opened up, and I’m eternally grateful for them. I know if I give it my best there will be even more.
I’ve learned a lot about enduring the highs and lows. The parallels in life and running have changed me and I’m a better person for it.
I’ve been inspired by the dedication I’ve seen in so many athletes but even more so, by the genuine kindness and support everyone gives to each other. The real world is missing out, this is the way life should be lived.
One of the best things that has come with running is being able to show my kiddos the world of athletics. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I don’t care what they do in life, I just want them to do their best and be nice while doing it. Having the opportunity for them to meet such incredible humans and really immerse them in the culture of dedication and love for something has been invaluable. I know a lot of parents who wake up extremely early to train, or try to make sure their training doesn’t “affect” their families. To each their own, but I’ve involved my family pretty heavily for the past couple of years and I think its been a great lesson for my kids to see the work put into following a dream. Again, drawing on the parallels of life and running, I think these lessons being learned will enable them to succeed in whatever they want to do.
“I know what you need and the secret is free, there’s one way to live and that’s furiously. …..so hold your breath, hang on tight, know when to laugh, know when to fight, cause all of life’s big questions are complicated, but the answer is simple: lean forward, paddle hard.” The 14ers
This line from a song my husband wrote has always spoken to me. The deliverance, the tempo, the urgency- what is the point of life if not to be excited by what you are doing and who you are doing it with? And just like in rafting, when life throws big obstacles at you, the best way to navigate a tough current is by leaning forward and paddling hard. In marathoning the toughest part is always the end. I often play this in my head when trying to summon everything I have to finish what I started and finish it strong. Not every day will be the best day, but its important to me to give it my best effort anyway. So yes, running has been exciting for me. From traveling, races, training, social runs, fundraisers, speaking engagements- I’ve loved it all and I think that’s the most important thing.
I hope I get to hear from other women out there running at the Trials who are just doing their best like me! It can feel a little intimidating to compete against other highly successful pro athletes, but I think the gift has been priceless, and I hope everyone else feels the same.