The Story Is Not Over!
By Susan Strange
April, 19th, 2018
It was inspiring to watch Desiree Linden pierce through gale force winds, heavy rains, and cold temperatures to capture the most coveted win for any long distance runner; The 2018 Boston Marathon. It excited me to the point that I had to embark on my own rain soaking run to embrace the return of a woman from the USA to the podium on Boylston Street. I watched the gold leaf laurel wreath placed upon her head seeing a cascade of water fall from it as she was crowned. I immediately decided if she could endure such horrendous conditions for 26.2 miles, I can certainly log five of my own in rain without frigid temperatures. Little did I know when I left that there were even greater epic tales from this race that would inspire me as well as bewilder me to a point of reveling in the possibilities to which they could lead.
As I left my neighborhood, the infectious enthusiasm increased with each step I took and each runner I encountered. Meeting an oncoming runner, I called out “Did you hear about Boston? USA won!” Most had and we shared high-fives happy as if we had anything to do with this success. Ran up on one man who had not heard the results and immediately he became concerned another tragedy had occurred. I shared the news that a woman from USA won. He understood the significance of this and either out of relief or exuberance, he hugged me. The happiness was contagious.
Running on I thought what a much needed positive impetus we had just been gifted. In a time when some of us hang our heads due to social and political issues, surely this is one that can unite us. We can learn, benefit, enjoy taking from it what we need to challenge us on a personal level. Where can this lead, if we let it?
Upon my return home, I was astonished yet again reading the distribution of USA women in the top ten. Seven places in the top ten is the number of USA women in the past three years combined. My mind raced to the fear that this is statistically suspicious. The shadow within began taunting that a drug scandal like that which has plagued cycling was on the outbreak! I shared this with my husband and he reassured me that the finishing times were not statistically significant to warrant concern.
Feeling elated, I decide the best way to commemorate the event was to buy a new pair of running shoes. While at Fleet Feet, the running coach, Patrick, asked if I had read about the second place finisher, Sarah Sellers. He told me she is a nurse and my immediate thought jumped to ‘she must not have my schedule.’ He proceeded to tell me Sarah trains at four a.m. or eight p.m. as these are the only times that accommodates her work schedule and when she can meet her coach. Like a good coach, Patrick shined a light into a cave I need to explore; that being the limited mindset I possess that quickly offers up excuses instead of possibilities. Believing the best recipe for success is to copy someone who has laudatory status, I Googled Sarah Sellers.
I found an article from The Washington Post that at first glance painted the fortuitous second place finish as an outcome of serendipity. Sarah is not a sponsored runner but a full time nurse working ten hour shifts. She entered the Boston Marathon to join her younger brother who also ran it. Granted, she got a very sweet starting spot since she had a qualifying time of 2:44 from a previous marathon. As strong of a finishing time as this is, it was not thought to put her in contention for a podium finish at Boston. This is where I start taking lessons from Sarah believing her success was driven by action taken when she dreamed of possibilities unlimited by life’s constraints.
If I did not buy into the limitations and excuses I so easily manufacture, what might happen? The first fallacious mindset Sarah Sellers debunked for me regards my profession. I, too, am a nurse working ten hour shifts and have bought into the idea that I simply cannot log the mileage I used to run when I had a desk job. According to the article, Sarah runs over 100 miles a week. If I completed just forty percent of this, I could be in marathon shape.
There is an adage that goes something like ‘dig your well before you are thirsty.’ I take it to mean prepare and believe your dream is upon you despite reality. Sarah’s training results bought her an elite starting position putting her in proximity of national and international runners she may not have encountered previously. Where the competition may have been lamenting about the weather, Sarah may have been basking in the good company she was keeping at the start in Hopkinton. “Bad weather, what ever, just look at who I am with,” she may have said to herself.
What would my world be like if I embrace with gratitude the cumbersome necessities life deals me such as working full time and being in my mid fifties? Instead of viewing these as heavy weights that hold me back, how can I turn these into tools to bring me joy? Not looking for podium finishes or prize money, what I yearn for is the feeling I am still playing in the game. Not sidelined by inevitabilities but succeeding despite them. I choose to believe Sarah found a way to make circumstances work for her, and I shall too.
Mary Poppins sums it up best with the simple statement
“Anything Can Happen If You Let It.”
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