On Running: Dreaming Big Dreams
Dreaming Big Dreams
Every competitive distance runner dreams about standing on the podium in the Olympic stadium. We can almost hear the anthem play as the medal rests between our heart and our hand.
Deena Kastor remembers exactly how that feels. She won the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Last weekend Kastor won the 2008 women's marathon trials, and now she dreams about the podium in Beijing.
One of Kastor's Olympic teammates will be Blake Russell, who placed third. At the 2004 marathon trials, Russell led for most of the race, but as her pace slowed in the final mile she lost the lead to Colleen De Reuck, the eventual winner. A moment later, Kastor went by her, and as Russell struggled to hold her place, Jen Rhines passed in the final moments to steal the third and final spot on the Olympic team.
Imagine for a moment how hard it must have been for Blake Russell to recover from that disappointment and then find the resolve to stay focused for another four years in hopes of another try. Then, imagine the sense of urgency she must have felt in the final miles of this race, as she struggled toward the finish line hoping no one would catch her from behind. Finally, imagine the exhilaration she must have felt when she crossed that line, a spot on the 2008 Olympic team secured.
In total, 185 runners competed in the women's marathon trials. To qualify, they had to run a sanctioned marathon faster than the 2:47 qualifying standard.
Most experts gave only a handful of those runners a legitimate chance of making the team. Twenty-eight year old Tera Moody must not have been listening to the experts. She qualified for the trials by just twenty seconds when she ran 2:46:40 at the Chicago marathon this past fall. Last weekend, she bettered that by nearly thirteen minutes for a remarkable fifth place finish.
If you look beyond the results and into the lives of the names on the list, you'll find that most of the runners who qualified face day-to-day challenges much like the ones you and I have. Chris Kimbrough, for example, is a thirty-eight year old mother of four young, active kids. She found time to train seventy miles a week in between errands, cooking and cleaning.
Thirty-five year old Emily Levan almost gave up on running in the trials when her three year old daughter, Maddie, was diagnosed with leukemia. After some soul searching, she decided to continue with her plans to run.
Forty-six year old Brenda Graham-Gray is an elementary teacher and a mom to three teenagers. She still found the determination to qualify for this her third Olympic trials marathon.
So, what is it that allows ordinary people to accomplish such extraordinary things? I bet it has something to do with keeping dreams alive. I bet each one of the185 Olympic trials runners could close their eyes and feel the soft, cool medal touching their hand.
I bet it has something to do with courage, and discipline and believing in yourself. What do you think?
Dave Griffin writes a bi-weekly running column and offers coaching to high school and adult runners of all levels. Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.