In The Book of Joy, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama tell us that you must struggle in order to feel joy. IOW: you’ve got to be down before you can be up.
So, let me tell you about how my girl, Cameron MacLennan, qualified for Boston at the New York Marathon one week ago.
Cameron, at the finish. That smile is pure joy! I love it. But Cameron did not experience that joy without first the struggle.
She honored the struggle.
While runners of all shapes and sizes from across the world lined the streets of New York last Sunday to run one of the greatest marathons on the planet, I sat comfortably on my couch in Charlotte, shouting cheers of encouragement at my iphone. Why? Because it’s 2017 and you can track your runner friends straight from an app on your phone! You would have thought I was watching the World Series Game 7, NCAA National Championship, Kentucky Derby. Nope.
Don’t mind me, just following my friend Cameron’s marathon splits over here.
Cameron needed to run a sub 3:35 to qualify, but she really needed to run a sub 3:32 to ensure registration for Boston 2019.
I one hundred percent believed that Cameron would qualify last Sunday. Shoot, I’d been training with her since July… literally since the day I stepped foot in Charlotte. Over the past four months, I watched Cameron grow stronger and faster. I knew that she was up for it, ready, her time.
But the marathon is bigger that you. It’s a beast, no matter how many times you run it. You could have a near perfect training season and then screw up your fuel on race day, or it is pouring rain, 90 degrees, your left calf decides to cramp on mile 19. There are so many factors!!
Cam ran her first marathon in 2014. By October 2015, she ran her third marathon in Chicago with a goal to qualify for Boston. On race day, Cameron was targeted to meet that goal until about mile 20. She had a nasty cold, couldn’t get the fuel down that she needed, oh yeah, and it was 78 degrees. When she fell short of her goal in Chicago, she turned around and ran another marathon, December 2015 in Kiawah, SC, hoping this would be her race. Alas, race day brought a record high of 80 degrees. Cameron ran with the 7:45 min/mile pacer for the first 18 miles and then burned out (literally). She was hot and over it and walked the last two miles.
New York would be Cameron’s first marathon since December 2015, and she was chasing the Boston qualifier goal more than ever. With the help of Coach Jamey Yon of TriYon Performance, Cameron tackled each week of her training plan, one run, one workout at a time.
But in mid-August, Cameron began to feel pain in her right hip. There were days she had to quit a run early or not run at all. At one point, we were talking about winter races she could enter if the goal wasn’t met in New York.
Cameron went to our favorite, Green Apple Chiropractic, for weeks. She frequented the physical therapist and the orthopedist. She did dry needling, completed her PT exercises religiously and even bought resistance bands to strengthen her glutes and support her hip. Not to mention the blazing summer temps through October. Then, 10 days before the race, Cameron got a cold. She stayed positive, listened to her body, did not quit.
Cameron set a goal back in 2015. She was patient and had faith in herself, in her body’s potential. She did not give up. I can testify that my friend is stronger, faster and better as a result of the struggle.
I’m using an example of a runner. But we all experience the struggle in different ways throughout our lives. Do you have a struggle right now? It may be your job, a relationship, a friendship, a family matter, your health. Whatever it is, remember that if you’re down, you will be up again. You’ve got to struggle in order to feel joy. And if you’re up right now? Be up! Enjoy and appreciate every moment.
So how do you honor the struggle?
Y’all know I love making lists. Here we go:
- Acknowledge the struggle. (Acknowledgement is always the first step.)
- Work towards overcoming the struggle – what can you do to move forward? We so easily get stuck when times are hard – frozen in place without a plan to pull ourselves out of the physical or emotional pain. Do what you need to do to move forward. Remember that it is a process.
- Be patient/have faith – this is important. As long as you are moving forward, you WILL get where you’re going. But I can’t promise it will be quick. Be patient and have faith in yourself and in the process.
- Don’t give up – whatever your struggle, please promise me, promise yourself, that you will keep going and will not give up!!
^^ Our last run through Myers Park before the big race day.
“Go, Cameron!! Come on. Keep going!! This is it. You’ve got it!” I shouted into my phone as her 40K split showed up on my screen. “She’s doing it! She’s going to do it! Cameron is going to qualify!!” And then, she crossed the finish line in 3:31:25. Amazing. So proud of my friend!
AND Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to WIN the New York Marathon in 40 years, a goal she’s been working towards literally her entire life. Talk about patience.
So, when you meet the struggle, face it head on, honor it, overcome it. And when you reach the top, your goal, experience that joy to the very fullest. Know that you are stronger and better as a result.
Keep going. You’re doing great.