Overcoming Adversity

Posted in Racing, Training by
This weekend was the 116th Boston Marathon.  For three days leading up to the race the newspapers and emails from the BAA warned runners to adjust their race plans and goals.  They were also given the opportunity to transfer qualification to next year’s race due to record high temperatures reaching 88 degrees.  The Professionals went off at 9:30 am with the rest of the field following between 10 and 10:30.  Because of a foot injury I had planned to run only the first 4 miles with my sister. Three friends met me at the 4 mile marker.   We drove a car to the half Marathon point at Wellesley, screamed for everyone, then drove the back roads to Heart Break Hill around mile 20, rang the Timex Bell, screamed some more, then ended cheering at the finish line on Boylston Street.
Waiting at the start line we were already hot and sweating.  We drenched our heads with cold water and were off!  The first memory I had just 5 minutes into the race was the song blasting, “You’re on the Highway to Hell”. No pun intended but by mile 6 many runners were thinking this.  Every inch of people’s bodies were dripping with sweat and water which had been dumped over their heads.  It was 80 degrees and climbing fast. Ice was given out by local houses along with cold popsicles to help comfort and cool the runners.  At Wellesley, I could see a change in most people’s form while their faces went from anticipation to suffering.  At Heart Break Hill the leg turnover slowed and many stopped to stretch from cramping.  Many of the once excited runners had been reduced to a walk.
I received text messages with updates of my clients, friends and sister’s race splits.  At each check point the average pace would drop.  Runners had to overcome the negative thoughts screaming in their head, beat the heat of a scorching hot sun and settle sloshing stomachs filled with fluids that wouldn’t absorb into the body.  Severe cramping forced more and more to see their dream of a PR crumble to “just survive” to the finish.
What is that inner strength that keeps an athlete going?  People ask me all the time, “How do you push through the heat of an Ironman in the lava fields of Kona?”  Earlier this week Power Bar filmed many Team Elite members.  Endurance athletes by definition are continually testing physical limits.  Everyone’s motivation comes from a unique place when faced with pain, fear or doubt.  I answered, “My Stronger” is balancing motherhood and being an Elite Triathlete and cutting 30 minutes off my Ironman at the World Championships.”  Everyone has something that drives them to do the impossible or go beyond a personal limit.At the end of the race, the dinner that followed and my airplane ride home I was engulfed in conversations of “what I should have done”.  “what I was capable of doing”. “I was ready to set a PR” today”.  After almost 20 years of racing endurance events I know those words and thoughts well.  As an injured athlete today I was given a chance to see a new perspective.  I took a step back and looked at the context of their comments.  A Greek messenger ran a field 26 miles 385 yards 2500 years ago to declare victory in the Battle of Marathon.  He made it to Athens with his announcement just moments before collapsing and dying.  The people we saw today were school teachers, salesmen, mothers, firefighters, lawyers, office workers and the list goes on.  They trained hundreds of miles with many training years and entering dozens of events just to make it to Boston.  You’re upset because you had a tough day in the heat and didn’t PR.  But in reality, it’s the warrior that fights inside of all of you that we celebrate.  Congratulations!
MUST SEE VIDEO, feel and experience a little taste of the Boston Marathon 2012 and that inner warrior!  Shawn Sandoval captured this at the race!

Hanging out with my sister Beth before our 2nd Boston Marathon together!

Most memorable Marathon even with a 15 minute slower finishing time then their qualifying time for Boston.


One Response to “Overcoming Adversity”

  1. Sara Says:

    Susanne, really love your blog reflections on last Monday. Thank you for posting this. Your words are so true, it’s the effort we must appreciate and celebrate. Every day that has gone by since that race has brought more realizations. That video brought tears to my eyes! I cannot believe the support I’ve had here at home, from everyone recognizing how tough racing in that heat was. Also, it was so great being able to spend the weekend there with you!! The cheering that you and Beth did for me when I arrived back at our hotel room (moments before this photo was taken) is so telling about who you are and why you have been placed in the role you have been with Team Timex. You are the real deal. Wonderful memories all around. We emerge so much stronger from these harder races and times when things don’t go as planned. I know you’ll be back out there soon too, racing your heart out.

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