The last three weeks have been especially challenging and stressful. No matter how hard I work, I never seem to get caught up. And no matter how long I work, the day is too short. Well, this evening my appointment called and rescheduled. My evening was happily free! I had so, so , so much work to do, but instead, I decided to head to the gym to run off my stress. Gotta take care of myself.
As I was getting ready to head out to the gym I visited my "library", as I always do before a run, and during my visit I pick up my Runners World Magazine that has been sitting next to my throne for a week now. (I know, this falls under TMI - too much information.)
I read an interesting article on Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to compete and complete the Boston Marathon. This historical event took place on April 19, 1967. A mere 40 years ago, women were not allowed to run marathons - amazing.
Switzer was a college student, trained, and had her coach/friend run with her. Her boyfriend ran with her as well. She paid her entry fee and filled out her application, signing it "K. Switzer." Once the race began, the officals and press became aware that a woman was competing in the race - the horrors! Switzer was attacked, jeered, and rentlessly questioned by the press as she ran. "When are you going to quit?" was the question of the day for Switzer as she ran the race. It was never ending.
Switzer recalls the pain - the bloody blisters, sore muscles and relates her thoughts from some 40 years ago:
"My mind was whirling, but that couldn't distract me from feeling the very big blisters in my arches that soon would burst. I could handle that; pain was nothing. It was part of what made you a hero, doing this, overcoming it, relegating pain to the incidental for a higher purpose."
What a powerful statement - read it again - slowly. She made history for herself and changed the course of sports for all women with the pain she endured. Inspiring to say the least. But as I continued to read the article as I made my way to my front door - I stopped in my tracks!
Kathrine Switzer's bib number, in that historic race was: number 261...look at the above photo....261!! That photo is my bib from my very first marathon - number 261! And how ironic that my first marathon - the More Magazine marathon, was a women-only marathon! I couldn't believe my eyes. I actually teared up as I read this.
I went to the gym and as I worked out, I kept thinking about my first marathon, the bib number and how Switzer made history while enduring her pain, but never losing sight of her goal - to finish. She just wanted to finish it. How many times have you put a goal in front of you, but even with odds against you, even with others around you telling you to just quit already - you endured - and you completed it. That is your personal history. It may not make headlines or be recorded in history books - but it is your history. You know the saying: "I'm closing that chapter of my life." Or "This will be a new chapter in my life." Well...where do those "chapters" go? Your personal history book, of course.
I thought about this as I ran this evening and I realized that all my stress, worries, and hard work these last several weeks meant I was simply "relegating pain to the incidental for a higher purpose." That lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders - it gave me more focus. It made sense.
In the running world we have a term "PR" which means "personal record." While racing, most runners have a goal of breaking their personal record. To do better than the last race. To be stronger, faster, and yes, just to finish - and to accomplish this means to endure even more pain than the last race. With each new goal or ambition requires more strength and endurance than the prior goal - in other words - we are creating our personal history. Another chapter. Our own book. (Sometimes I think I am creating a novel!)
Number 261 will always have special meaning to me. And what an unexpected honor to have ran my first race with the same number as Kathrine Switzer. I am glad I didn't know at the time, the significance of the number - it would have been intimating. But knowing its significance right at this moment is just the inspiration I need and the assurance that I am simply making my own personal history - and that it all has a higher good and purpose.
Whether your goal is to go back to school, start a business or maybe own a home - know that while your endurance and pain probably won't make it in the news papers, you are making history - your personal history. May your personal history book be filled with inspirational and accomplished stories to someday share with those who have yet to begin to write their own book.
Thank you for allowing me to share a page or two of my personal book with you. My hope for us all is that when all is said and done our personal history books will be a real page turner!
From my house to your house,