I can’t say enough how inspired I am by all who race. Be it running or triathlon, swimming or biking, there is a special place in my heart for those who go out and try. Racing means different things to different people — for some, to compete in a race means crossing a finish line. To others, competition is with themselves and a personal best is the prize. And then there are others who race everyone and everything: they race against other athletes; they race against themselves; and they race against the course.
I am moved by all kinds of racers because no matter what your goal, or who are racing, I see the beauty of determination. It’s a very public way of putting yourself on display for all to see and cheer (or judge) that really is rare in other areas of our life.
That’s probably why I was filled with emotion watching yesterday’s Boston Marathon. I, like many, wanted Shalane Flanagan to win the women’s race. Her story, her determination, her ties to Boston, I connected with all of it and I wanted her to win more than I have ever wanted someone to win a marathon before. And she wanted to win. She made that very clear for all the world to know and then she had to live up to the hype and hopes and dreams of all those who now followed her.
She attained a personal best (by 3 minutes) but she did not win the race and you could feel her sadness along side her joy. She raced the other elite woman, the course and herself and on that day, she was not the best amongst others but she was the best that she could be.
Then there was Meb Keflezighi on the men’s side. Meb and I are less than 1 year apart in age. I cheer for him for many reasons but truth be told, I like seeing that you can continue to compete at any level, including the top elite level at age 38. He ran his race yesterday and when it looked like he might be caught, he dug deeper. My legs ached watching him. He went to the depths of his physical being and demanded more. Some days you demand more and your body does not respond. Some days you demand more and you summon the strength to continue. Yesterday, Meb put on a display for all athletes to see the true meaning of trusting your body and digging deep. His joy was my joy when he crossed that finish line.
I think both the win for Meb and the loss for Shalane were some of the most beautiful things I have seen lately and one of the reason I love these sports so much. I see it as a microcosm for life itself where the greatest joys can come from sharing your dreams, daring to go for it and allowing the rest of the world to cheer you on and in the end, the courage to try matters so much more than the final result.