Warning: This post is going to be dorky. Anyone who actually has long-distance running heroes is clearly a dork. But whatever. I don’t care.
I think we all need running heroes. I love having people in my life that I can look up to who have accomplished way more than I ever will that can inspire me when workouts get tough or I just don’t feel like getting out the door. Or, people who are just so supremely talented that they make running look easy. Or people who take risks and go for them.
Runner I’d like to be when I grow up: Kara Goucher. I know some people don’t like her because she cried when she didn’t win Boston, but I kind of get it. You work hard for months, your family, friends, coaches, fans all expect you to do well and sometimes, even when you give it your all, you’re a bit short. Every interview I’ve read with Kara makes her seem intense and focused and willing to put in the kind of work that it takes to be the best runner in the world. I don’t think Kara quits in the middle of a workout because the speedwork seems too difficult or she’s tired. I don’t think she skips core work because it’s easier just to flip on TV. And so, when those bad habits reach out and tempt me I remind myself that Kara probably doesn’t do that and if I want to be 1/4 the runner she is, I can’t either. And I love watching her race– she’s so aggressive and strong but still fluid and controlled. I like Kara so much that my friend Kristina got me the same flag hair clips she wears for my own races. It makes me feel like a goofy 4th grader when I wear them, but I love them so much.
Local running hero: Jaymee Marty. Jaymee is fast. She is often (almost always) the first woman at local races. She doesn’t know me, but I know who she is from the couple of times I’ve placed in my age group and stuck around for awards ceremonies. I stumbled on her blog one day when I was looking for my race results and I’ve been hooked on reading about her training. She’s trying to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials (in my opinion it’s in the bag) and just reading about her training makes me feel like I’m not working hard enough! She’s amazing. But she’s also honest– if a workout didn’t go well or she drank too much she includes the details of that too. So while her workouts blow my mind, she also makes me feel a little more human when I’m not a perfect running robot and do something awesome stupid like drink too much wine. Plus, from what I can tell, she seems really funny. Maybe some day I’ll work up the courage to say hi to her. Let me tell you, not a long run goes by on a Sunday that I don’t see her working her tail off on the bike trail.
Courageous Runner: My friend Erin picked up running after having her 2nd baby and rocked a couple of 10ks. She’s not going to the Olympics (neither am I and neither are you) but the fact that she fits running into a crazy schedule full of kids, working, a house, husband and friends blows my mind. Yeah, my life is busy but at the end of the day, it’s just me. I can run when I feel like it and there’s no one competing for my attention. Erin wasn’t someone who did sports as a kid and so the fact that she started competing later in life is awesome.
Loves America Runner: Bernard Lagat. I love Bernard Lagat. We’re twitter friends and he just seems like the nicest guy! I love watching him run. His stride is so fluid and seemingly effortless and I love that he always thanks America when he wins. And he doesn’t make excuses when races don’t go his way. LOVE that!
Takes the time to answer my questions even though I’m a pest hero: My friend AlbertoJack Bowerman. Not his real name… but he runs a 2:30 marathon (and will probably go 2:28 or under at CIM this year) and is another guy that works his tail off. Although he has talent in spades, he works at it and sets an amazing example to me. Yes, you can have talent but if you don’t work hard and run hard, you’ll never succeed. Plus, when I email him with ridiculous questions that don’t matter he always answers them patiently. He’s probably taught me more about running and what it takes than anyone else. Plus, he runs with me sometimes even though I’m a turtle compared to his fastness.
Cliche Hero: Steve Prefontaine. Um, I may or may not watch Without Limits before every race. I know it’s a total cliche, but Pre was awesome. And both my brothers went to University of Oregon so when they aren’t playing UCLA I cheer for the ducks. And I don’t think I have to elaborate on the awesomeness of Oregon’s track and cross country teams. Pre took risks in his races and refused to settle for less than his best.
So those are my heroes. People who push themselves to run harder, faster and stronger. And who don’t settle for less than their best.