Thursday, April 20, 2006


Perseverance is finishing something you started even when you don't want to because the reward of completion is greater than the struggle it takes to get there. Perseverance is pushing through pain, frustration and disappointment. Perseverance is not quitting.

For the past five months I have been focused on one specific goal… the Boston Marathon. My training schedule was set and I followed it in true Nikki fashion going to bed early on Friday nights in preparation for long runs on Saturdays through freezing temperatures, rain, wind and snow. Through joint and muscle pain, unexpected sickness and exhaustion I pushed my body through hill and speed intervals and over miles of this great city. I planned. I prepared. And yet, I kept getting the signals that my body was tired… overworked… to the point of rebellion. But I pushed forward because this was the Boston Marathon. Ten years ago the thought of doing a marathon rarely, if ever, crossed my mind. I certainly would never have thought I would do an Ironman or qualify for the Boston Marathon in my first attempt, but then I have never been known to do anything halfway. I had hopes of setting a personal best in Boston. I felt ready and trained. But sometimes things do not go the way I plan.

Boston was much more difficult than I anticipated, and I knew after the first five miles that it was not going to be an easy day for me despite how well my long runs had gone. I felt every step and was painfully aware of each passing mile. I stayed on pace to finish at my anticipated time for the first 13 miles, but I never in those 13 miles forgot I was running. Each mile after that became more difficult, each step more difficult to take. Soon I stopped worrying about finishing when I wanted to and started focusing on just finishing. There were moments when everything hurt and I wanted to stop and wished that my dad was magically on the side of the road ready to give me the pep talk I needed to keep going. He wasn't there, so I gave the pep talk to myself. I have never been a quitter. I haven't spent two-thirds of my life running, sacrificing precious sleep to not finish. I don't know how to accept defeat, so I pushed on. I finished. Was it the finish I had hoped it would be? No, but I finished.

I have learned that so many things are unpredictable. There are so many factors that go into having a good race – training, nutrition, health, energy, weather. Some factors I can control and some I cannot. The bottom line is that I did everything I could have done to prepare and I just had to do the best I could with the factors that were out of my hands. Whatever obstacles that were in my way had to be overcome through some means. I am grateful that I have a spirit of perseverance not only in my running but in all aspects of my life. There are so many factors of life that are out of my control but quitting is never an option. Obstacles make the journey more interesting and meaningful. There is always an end even when I cannot see it. I know it is there. And even when I come to that end, the pain will still linger as a reminder of the battle I just fought. Soon the pain will go away and all that will remain will be the lessons I learned, the memory of the battle and the satisfaction of triumph.

My first Boston Marathon was a humbling experience. I am not invincible. My body is not a robotic machine. It is a machine, but a delicate one that is subject to more than just a few nuts and bolts. I am lucky to be healthy and strong and to be able to do all the things I do. I must never take that gift for granted. I cannot accept mediocrity. Some might say that running a marathon hardly qualifies as being mediocre, and they are probably right. Even more might argue that qualifying for Boston and mediocre cannot be put in the same sentence, and I would generally have to agree. Finishing the Boston Marathon is an accomplishment and one that I am proud of, but I am not satisfied with just finishing...just as I am not satisfied with merely living. If I didn't do the best I possibly could or better then there is room for improvement. I decided I was done doing marathons for a while, but I refuse to accept defeat. I will conquer that race someday, so perhaps that decision is not final.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great perspective. It's true sometimes we have set backs to make victory all the more sweet. You are becoming a better athelte and person because it all.

Train hard and live smart.