Lessons learned from pioneering marathon runners inspired a group of women to support and uplift one another in running and in life
Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?
— Emily Webb from Our Town
What is the human condition?
Obviously it’s the big things, like birth, aging, and death, but there in the middle part, it’s conflict and aspiration. It’s love and friendship. It’s that choked up, lump in your throat, overwhelming feeling that is all encompassing. That middle part is what makes us human; it’s what makes us feel curious and alive. Those are the things that life is really all about.
In order to truly understand ourselves, we look to the past and to those around us in the present as a way to understand the human condition.
For me, that means learning from my fellow runners.
I have had the distinct pleasure of finding a group of ladies within my running group that make me want to be a better runner and a better person. They inspire, motivate, and support me, and for this, I am truly grateful. I feel like we are a sorority of sorts, like the early pioneer running women. This is precisely what prompted us recently to recreate a photograph of the women who were permitted to race the 1972 Boston Marathon as the first official female registrants. We researched and dressed as these amazing pioneer women; it was an extraordinarily uplifting experience.
This photograph recreation served as a way for us to honor the legacies of the past, through our connection to each other as well as our connection with these pioneer women that paved the way for all of us to run with passion and joyful hearts. What better way to pay homage to them than to rally around each other in a concerted effort to achieve more?
Reading about these women’s journeys inspired and motivated us with a renewed resolve to tackle this next round of marathon training. But, truth be told, all of this respect given to these amazing women has me taking a good, hard look at my interactions with other runners.
I like to think of myself as supportive and encouraging to all of my fellow runners, but do I sometimes feel insecure about my running? Yes. Do I sometimes feel jealous of another runner’s success? Yes. Do I sometimes wish I could run the 2019 Boston Marathon alongside the best runners out there? Yes. Do I sometimes feel like I truly don’t belong on the starting line? Yes. Do I sometimes worry my days are numbered with this whole running thing? Yes. Do I wish I could run faster for longer? Yes.
What do all of these thoughts tell me about myself? Well, probably just that I am human.
I make mistakes. I sometimes say and do the wrong things. I feel insecure and unworthy at times, but I also feel happy for all of my running friends’ successes. I am thrilled for those who will run Boston in 2019. I will be the first one to tell another runner “I am proud of you,” and genuinely mean it. I want the best for all of us, but that doesn’t preclude me from feeling all of the yucky things I mentioned above.
The best thing this photograph recreation activity has done for my running friends and me is to make us appreciate and admire those pioneer women’s courageousness. It has made us strive to continue their legacy through our offers of support and encouragement for each other. We may not all run at the same pace for the same distance, but we are all out there fighting that good fight. We are all courageous in that we try. One foot in front of the other, we run. We aren’t always motivated to start, but we find a way to muster up the desire to run. We resist that temptation to quit and we keep fighting. We are inspiring to each other and to the next generation of women that are watching us juggle all areas of our lives and still train for our sport. We are athletes and athletes cheer for athletes.
Our duty is to lift each other up.
That’s why we are committed to what Sara Mae Berman (F1) said: “…We never had any animosity with each other. We just all tried our hardest, and figured the winner would be the one who had trained best or had the most talent.”
So that’s our takeaway from this photograph recreation: train hard and support each other, not just in running, but in life. Celebrate the human condition by realizing life while we live it. If we can manage that, we will all win.
1972 Boston Marathon Female Entrants:
F2 Nina Kuscsik 3:10:26 aka Ana Lira
F6 Kathrine Switzer Miller 3:29:51 aka Liz Horton
F3 Elaine Pederson 3:20:25 aka Kimberly Etzel
F5 Ginny Collins 4:48:32 aka Maria Anker
F4 Pat Barrett 3:40:29 aka Dendy Farrar
F10 Frances Morrison 5:07:00 aka Priscilla Fierro
F1 Sara Mae Berman 3:48:30 aka Ileana Sepulveda
Valerie Rogosheske 4:29:32 (not pictured) aka Anh Hunter
>You may also enjoy reading What We Seek | A Lifelong Journey Uncovers a Basic Truth, by Indira Abby Heijnen