Saturday, September 26, 2009

After that line was crossed, it was never the same again.

This past Thursday evening, a group of 40 runners stood behind the Nike Runner's Lounge listening to the one and only Joan Benoit Samuelson. It had been announced earlier in the day that she might join us that evening but once we all arrived and there was no sign of her we started to lose hope. Her Nike handler was nowhere in sight and there didn't seem to be the official "celebrity station" that they usually erect for such appearances.
Suddenly and quietly a tiny woman in jeans, t-shirt and Nike Lunarglides appeared in the back of the store. She seemed to be shopping and not to notice or care about the giant wall poster bearing her image from 25 years earlier. With little hoopla or ceremony she joined us outside before our run and gave a few words of wisdom.
She recommended NOT checking out the course beforehand - it will only make you more nervous and not knowing what to expect makes it easier to keep going.
She also advised NOT running with your running partners - they'll only slow you down or make you feel bad for speeding up.
She said to run your own race. Don't worry about those around you, run for you and run your best.
Did I mention that I love this woman?

Apparently she's on a fall marathon tour and after this will also be making stops in Chicago, San Francisco and finally New York. Which means we get to hang out in two other cities include MY MARATHON!
Yes, I'm excited.

I'm glad that I was able to snag a pic on Thursday even if I was all sweaty post-run and even though I had to interrupt her shopping spree in the Nike store, it was worth it.
Next time we meet I'd like her to sign either my shirt or my bib or my person. We'll see. How cool would it be to finish my first marathon with Joan Benoit's signature on my back?
This is probably one of my most favorite video's about the 1984 Olympic Women's Marathon. The soundtrack could have something to do with it, whatever it is I always end up in a ball of tears by the end. It finishes with the statement "After that line was crossed, it was never the same again". And it's true. I won't get into the history of women's running (many others have done that more eloquently than I could), but the very idea that the first women's marathon took place during my lifetime is very hard to fathom. Prior to that some sports officials believed a long distance female runner would lose her uterus - insanity. It's not that I EVER imagine myself in the class of elite female athletes, but the very idea that I am allowed to run and can run my own race is in very large part due to this lady and those ladies that helped push for a race of our own.

The one question I wish I had asked her the other night - does she still have that wicked cap? 

1 comment:

  1. The hat - that would have been an awesome question. In my mind she's always wearing it. Please ask in San Fran and report back.

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