Sunday, October 27, 2013

Inspiration and Albuquerque Fit

Yesterday evening I had the honor of being the guest speaker at the Albuquerque Fit end of season banquet.  I met a lot of fantastic athletes who had represented Albuquerque Fit at races all over the country this year.  Many people had race shirts and medals on, and all were proud of what they'd accomplished.  Everyone was excited about their successes and progress, and also seemed optimistic for what the future held...many were planning their next races.  Albuquerque Fit has about 250 members and encourages both first time runners and experienced veterans.  Their motto is "Change your life, " which I think running does for us all in a way.  I was asked to speak a little about inspiration, and here is what I came up with....even if it's little cheesy reading through it again :)

"I am not a natural athlete.  I'm more of a self proclaimed nerd.  My natural talents lie more in speed reading than coordination and athletic prowess.  I spend a lot of time face down on the pavement, having tripped over nothing, and I'll never be able to touch my toes or kick a soccer ball straight.  Im not a natural athlete, but i am a runner.  We are all runners here!

The only reason I'm here with you today is because I've worked hard and i didn't quit when the going got tough.  My dream is to qualify for the 2016 Olympic marathon trials and be the fastest female dentist in the nation, maybe even the world.  I want to run ultras, up and down mountains, and travel the world for races.  I'll get nothing from that but something to tell my grand kids, and an incredible journey full of memories and friends along the way.

Albuquerque Sunset
Gary asked me to speak about inspiration.  For me this is a hard topic. So many things get me out the door everyday....sunsets, spectacular views wherever you are, the changing seasons, incredible performances and hard work paying off that we witness and hear about, self meditation both positive and negative, good conversation with friends...but when trying to think about what really INSPIRES me...I'd have to say the relationships I’ve cultivated with other runners, and the people that I've helped inspire to be involved with or improve in running, something I feel so passionately about...that's my number one.  When everything comes full circle.

To me, this translates to a lot of things...friendships, teammates, even just passing interactions with other runners we meet along the way.  But I'd have to say the most notable to me is the story of my dad.

Stew, my dad, is not a natural athlete.  He's a beekeeper, a woodworker, a chef, a genealogist, an excellent golfer, and in his free time practices medicine in my hometown in Maine. So, he has a lot of hobbies. Running was never one of them. I started competing in the 100m dash back in high school, my first ever athletic didn't end well.  The distance coach took one look at me and said, “Well.  This will never're a two miler, NOT a sprinter.”  Life changed from there.

Weekends became cross country and track meets all over the state of Maine, for both my younger sister and I. High school came and went, college athletics took over.  Races all over the country gave way to marathons after graduation.  All through this journey we had our number one fans...our parents. But somewhere along the way, a little switch clicked for stew...”I'm going to run a marathon too.”  I think he wanted a little attention after all.

So At the age of 56, he started to train for, and ran his first marathon, Chicago 2010. So When Gary asked me to speak about inspiration, this is what came to mind, knowing that somewhere along the way, I'd inspired one of the people closest to me to be a part of something big; the running community.
Disney 2013

Since then, he's started and completed six marathons in five states, training through humid summers and frigid Maine winters.  When we run with my dad, my sister and I both wear shirts that say "I'm with Stew," with those little arrows that point at him.  Stew wears a white tech Tee I made him with his name on it.  It's too big for him now, but he still wears it.  Underneath his bib number, there is a tally of how many marathons he's completed. Every race, we cross another one off.  He used to be embarrassed when it said “First Marathon,” but now he's proud to have a bunch of slash marks on it.

Maine Coast 2013
I've had the honor of pacing him though four of his marathons, but this last was where I was the most proud.  Stew signed up for Twin Cities, which was three weeks ago now.  I was supposed to compete, but due to a number of things going on with my health i didn’t race.  Running isn't always easy.  This became his day.  I jumped in at mile 16, pacing him through the last ten. With four miles to go, he said "I don't think I can keep this pace."  the hardest thing we face as athletes is the battle with our own heads.  When the mind goes that way, the only hope is to get your focus and belief back. "You can" I said, "you will. This is your day."  That switch clicked. I saw, "yes I can yes I will."  His last two miles, the fastest of the race, five minute PR, 4:27:32.

Post Twin Cities.  Number six.
I've never been so inspired, watching him believe in himself and conquer a goal, and knowing that in some way, I'd inspired him too.  Everything comes full circle.

Everyone pulls inspiration from somewhere, and I think it's important to reflect on that from time to time....reflecting on these inspirations is one of the things that I have on my little list of rules...

Here are a few more, in no particular order.

-Never forget your Body glide.  Its preventative. Buy in bulk.

-If there is no line at the port o potty. Use it. If there is a line, well, it's ok to pee your pants. Really.

-Keep a cowbell in your car. You never know when you may need it.

-Remember that you get out of your body what you put in. Food is fuel and you're your own science experiment. Treat it well, and it will treat you well back. That doesn't mean you can't thank it with a beer or two every now and then.

-Find The right shoes for YOU.  I’m a Saucony girl.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the same model for 20 years.  Keep what works.

-It's ok to be starstruck, no matter what level you are at.  Desi Davila autographed my bib before the Boston marathon. I knew it would be a good race with her on my side!

-Non-runners will never fully understand you.  They probably think we are all nuts. They may ask you how your jogging is going these days. Just smile, say great, and continue to wear your race t shirts to work. You're not the crazy one...they are.

-Be nice to yourself. This is something I struggle with constantly. Self doubt is your enemy, especially in running and endurance events.  From training to racing, we spend a lot of hours out there. There is plenty of time for negativity to take over, but there is plenty of time for positive thoughts to push their way past that.  “I can't I'm not strong enough I didn't train enough” HAS to become “I can I am strong I own this day.”

-Lastly, remember that you are NOT alone out there, any day.  You are part of something HUGE.  The running community, both in Albuquerque and worldwide, grows closer and larger every day, and includes everyone from volunteers to spectators to the athlete them-self.  Look around you!  These people are your inspiration, your friends, your enrichment, and your keys to success and happiness.  Appreciate them, and appreciate the journey they take you on.

That's all I have for now. A lot of races on the horizon, and a lot of work to do.  Thank you everyone for all your support, for being my inspiration, and for being part of something big. I'm excited for all your current and future successes! 

Just remember to keep dreaming, even through the tough times, and you'll become exactly what you want to be."