Shouts of encouragement

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We’re coming around the back curve about halfway through a hard workout. And the doubts are starting to pop up. Then one of the guys gets right in our sightline and yells encouragement. It’s in that forceful way, that snaps me out of the pity and makes me listen, and know that they care and believe we can keep at it. And suddenly all I can think about is how freaking thankful I am for that person at that moment. That was @evanjager today.

No one was there to take a photo. So this is an old one by Jordan Beckett.

Into the woods

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I read this poem today, and it made me think of my team and my friends, and that made me smile.

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.

– Mary Oliver

Photo from @talbotcox

WWSD

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The feeling of pressing the mental and physical limits has been bliss. I’ve gone to bed with a giant tired smile on my face and woken up with the same smile. – Shalane

This quote is from @shalaneflanagan retirement announcement. I can’t think of anything better than the feeling of hard, good work in pursuit, and in service. Thank you for modeling that. There’s a reason I put WWSD on a post it on my bulletin board in 2016 before I even knew you. What would Shalane do.

The BTC website has an aggregation of articles on her career and retirement.

Letter to the Runner on Race Morning

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I usually cringe if I read things I wrote a few years ago. But recently someone sent me this one, from October 2016. I still like it after three years, I even felt a little inspired re-reading it. It reminds me of that Olympic year mindset.
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So here’s a part of my “letter to the runner on race morning,” in honor of all the people preparing for this weekend’s Chicago Marathon ( @chimarathon )!

You did this. You. Look back at the months, years even, of preparation, and feel a warm satisfaction rising through your body. You woke up to run on cold mornings (or hot days!). You pushed through crazy long runs when all you wanted to do was stop. You rose to the challenge of workouts. You said no to shiny temptations, to nights out or extra time on your feet. You surrounded yourself with supportive people, or had the hard conversations when a relationship was causing issue.

“Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years that they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance is merely the demonstration of their championship character.”

Things may be hard, but you ARE the kind of athlete who does hard things.
Things may be scary, but you ARE the kind of athlete who faces fear.
You have proven this to yourself, again and again.

Think of all of that hard work, all of that time, and be proud. Let that fill you. That is your work, your opus, and it is an achievement. Know that we are proud of you. Now, go dance at your party.

Relentless
Undeniable
I Believe
Not Alone.

Congratulations on being amazing, I guess

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Watching world champs from the sidelines is a mixed bag. Of course I love cheering on team USA and Bowerman. But in my specific events, the 800 and 1500, there is also this sense of regret and sadness.

Running from the moment you start on your first school team is a mix of personal and group mentality. You have training partners, or teammates if you are scoring points for a group competition, but the focus is primarily on the individual performance. Everyone in that sense is a competitor.

From the beginning there is the push/pull of supporting teammates, and also fighting to win. How can someone be authentic in both? I think part of the solution is acknowledging that it’s okay to be competitive.
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Sometimes I feel the “women supporting women” platitudes imply we all have to be peppy and loving all the time. In my mind, anyone in a competitive environment who doesn’t want to beat everyone else is either lying or a saint. Or maybe I’m just the worst. But no matter how enlightened I’m feeling, I’ll sometimes see a successful person and find myself searching for something wrong, some flaw. I don’t know if that will ever go away. But I don’t see what good comes from pretending it’s not there. My competitiveness is a strength in many ways. I think I can be more authentic in my support of others when I don’t try to hide it.

What I can do is acknowledge my competitive nature, and then move past it.

And how does that happen? Through practice. Saying good job to someone after they beat me. Or wishing them well and really meaning it. Practicing “loving kindness,” as they say. That’s why handshakes after competitions are so important. Sometimes it doesn’t feel authentic, maybe it isn’t at first. But it actually does get easier, more genuine. It even starts to feel good. I do believe that we can and should practice kindness like any other trait, like our lives, our happiness, our community depend on it. Because in many ways, they do. ⠀ ⠀

Photo from @idly_drifting_crackerjack