My daughter, Kateri, completed the Athens Marathon today. I was nervous for her – running in a country she has never been before and running 26 miles! She did quite well, finishing at 4:18 – quite an impressive time. “The Authentic Marathon” is 122 years old with over 15,000 runners from all over the world running the same path that Athenian messenger, Pheidippides, ran in 490BC to share the news of victory against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon.
You might recall from a previous Sunday Inspiration post, Kateri has suffered from the occasional stress fracture and torn ligament. We were in Ireland 3 weeks ago to visit over her Fall break. She had just completed a 20 mile long run and was complaining of pain in her foot. Neither of us said out loud what we worried about – is this another fracture, another torn something? After all the training, not to mention the travel plans, would she be able to compete in Athens in 4 weeks?
Goal Setting keeps us humans moving forward, ever learning and growing, helping us be an even better version of ourselves. It is so challenging to be making progress only to miss the final objective when we’ve gotten sooo close.
That was what was weighing heaviest on Kateri’s mind, “What if I can’t run?” “Well,” says ever supportive mom, “you can walk it! Even walking a marathon is a huge accomplishment – most of us would prefer sitting on the couch to pounding the pavement for 26 miles.”
But a walk is not a run – besides it would take way too long to cross the finish line!
Thankfully some Motrin, Kinesiology taping and several days of rest provided the rehab she needed to run (uphill!) to the finish. I laughed when I read her text message this morning, “That sucked, hardest thing I have ever done in my life.” She rarely speaks like that and knowing her, she is probably planning the next challenge.
When you have that “FUD” feeling (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) and your goal seems unachievable, persistence is not enough. You need the support of those around you… and maybe a bt of competition to keep you going. Kateri had been competing against Margo in many of the same High School Cross Country races and finishing within seconds. The two women met at Notre Dame, realized their shared passion, connection and how small the world can be. Margo was the inspiration Kateri needed to stay committed to her goal – there was no way Margo was running that race without her; they both finished at exactly the same time. And, the two girls had strong support from other Notre Dame friends. A cheering squad at the finish line is solid motivation to keep going.
So, next time you are struggling to reach a goal, call on your community for some encouragement and support. We are all rooting for you, our fellow human, to be the very best version of yourself!
Some fun facts about the Athens Marathon:
- Sneaker company Nike has a nice connection to the earliest race. When Pheidippides arrived at Athens he exclaimed “Nike!” or victory, in ancient Greek.
- The first marathon was 24.8 miles. In the 1908 London Olympics, it was changed to 26.2 miles, the distance from Windsor Castle to London’s Olympic stadium.
- Pheidippides didn’t get credit until 200AD when Greek satirist Lucia reports that not only did he run to Sparta to ask the Spartans for assistance, he ran a total of 150 miles in two days and then dropped dead after sharing the news of vistory.
- The story of Pheidippides gained popularity over time. In 1879, Robert Browning wrote a poem about him, which likely was the inspiration for the now popular race:
“Unforeseeing one! Yes, he fought on the Marathon day:
So, when Persia was dust, all cried ‘To Akropolis!
Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due!
“Athens is saved, thank Pan,” go shout!’ He flung down his shield, Ran like fire once more: and the space ‘twixt the Fennel-field
And Athens was stubble again, a field which a fire runs through,
Till in he broke: ‘Rejoice, we conquer!’ Like wine thro’ clay,
Joy in his blood bursting his heart, he died—the bliss!”
By the way, I forgot to share, I finished the Queen Bee Half Marathon on October 13th, running a PR (personal record). And, I’ve got the next run scheduled for next Spring. I never would have ventured down this path of running, and set such goals for myself, if it were not for my little inspiration – Kateri. So, what’s your goal? How can I help?