Adversity makes us stronger. This is true for everyone but possibly more so for runners. Running is about building upon yesterday’s accomplishments, adding miles, cutting time or simply getting back out there to tackle the day anew. As our 10 runners prepare to take on one of the biggest race in the world, the Boston Marathon, we asked them to share with us another challenge in their life that they’ve tackled.
Jay focuses on a time when he conquered a race nearly twice as far as Boston. This helps make the current challenge feel more approachable: “One of the toughest deals I’ve endured was a 50-mile trail ultramarathon—nearly 11 hrs of “ouch.” But I got it done. Makes a marathon seem… pedestrian?”
Our expert Joshua Holmes provides an alternate perspective–that the challenge for each race is not just represented by the number of miles. “People often say to me when I’m doing ‘just a marathon’ that it must be easy or a piece of cake in comparison to the long ultramarathons I run. Nothing could be so far from the truth,” says Joshua. “For me the shorter the distance, the higher the intensity during the race. I’m often more exhausted after a 5K than I am after a marathon or 100 mile race. 26.2 miles might be shorter than 50, but you can still spend the same amount of energy if not more throughout the race. The mental insurance that comes from having finished a tough 50 provides confidence that you’ll finish the marathon even if it goes south and gets ugly before it’s over.”
Louie reflects on one of his own hard-earned victories and shows us that patience and determination can not only get you to the next mile, they can also pay off by finding you the love of your life! He says, “Another endurance challenge that I experienced in my life was waiting three years for my future wife to actually notice me. It took stamina, focus and a deep well of patience – all skills that will help me with the 26.2!”
Donna, now surrounded by four beautiful children, shares her very personal struggle with infertility. She reminds us that life’s challenges, full of great pain and great joy, can give us perspective and reveals the strength needed to never give up. She says, “When I was about 25 years old, my husband and I decided we were ready to start a family. We battled infertility and a miscarriage over the course of three years before I became pregnant and gave birth to my oldest son, Benjamin. Two years later, we started in-vitro fertilization again, and I became pregnant after about 6 months. Unfortunately, this time, I had a very painful ectopic pregnancy. It was at this time that my husband and I decided to try adoption. After countless hours of research, writing, and legal paperwork, we were approved to adopt a baby. My second son, Kendrick, has always felt like he was meant to be our son. Two years after Kendrick was born, it began to feel like our family was not complete. So, we attempted IVF again. I had another miscarriage, and then, I became pregnant with my wonderful twins, Jacob and Emelia!”
Nicole recalls the struggles that come with being a military wife. She takes on each challenge like she tackles miles in a marathon, one at a time. She states, “The best way I’ve found to face a challenge is to break it into smaller “chunks” so it doesn’t seem as overwhelming. Sometimes it comes down to thinking of one week at a time, one day at a time, or even one mile at a time. When my husband has been deployed in the past for long periods of time, thinking about it in terms of months seems incredibly overwhelming. Having smaller pieces to get through can really help. I would plan outings, special treats for myself and my children weekly which helped us get through some difficult times.”
Robin reminds us that sometimes what we struggle with in our youth requires the wisdom that only comes with time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily make the struggle any easier, but it does makes us more determined. Robin confesses, “I was smart and able to do anything I wanted when I got out of high school and went to college. But I didn’t apply myself at college in the engineering program and dropped out after a year and a half. Then I spent about and 7 years working in construction, doing hard physical work, and realizing this was going to be hard for the rest of my life. So I got myself together finally and went back to college at age 27 and finished my degree. I had to work twice as hard as everyone else to get finished because I had a lot of catching up to do. I finished 3 years worth of school in 2 years, but I got it done with honors. I’m not proud of the route I chose, but I really felt like I had conquered a huge obstacle when I finally graduated. This challenge I had to complete my education is similar to running a marathon in that the finish line is so far away it seems impossible to reach when you begin. But with steady hard work and determination I was able to complete my college degree much the same as running and completing a marathon.”
Not every achievement in life has a visible finish line, and not every obstacle has a defined path through it. Though the Road to Boston has been tough, crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon is a clear moment to cherish, an acknowledgement of all the work that has come before and a celebration in endurance, both in running and in life. We have no doubt that all of our runners have earned it.
Tackling life’s challenges, like a marathon, sound familiar? Join the conversation at #HylandsFYFL.