What’s happened in Boston this week has defied explanation and reason. The images that came out of the city were horrific. Through the uncertainty there is one thing that is clear, we are runners and we will prevail. One act of cowardice, will not keep us down or afraid to take our next steps. If anything, it has made us more resolute.
There is one image from Boston, though, that has stayed in my mind above all. This picture has stayed with me since first seeing it on Monday and it has given me hope and happiness during a time when there seems like there should be none.
It’s taken on Saturday, in the calm days before the marathon at the race expo. A friend and amazing Momthlete, Margaret, was in Boston to run the marathon. Her husband and three kids were there with her to cheer her on. In the picture were Margaret’s two young daughters each holding their own autographed poster featuring Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher and these girls were beaming. In the poster, Shalane and Kara are standing, strong and proud, with a quote printed that reads, “We train together to make each other great.”
At once, I felt moved by so many things in this photo.
I love how happy these girls looked. They looked completely starstruck by the experience….and it wasn’t from meeting a member of the latest boy band or from getting the autograph of the hottest Hollywood starlet. It was from meeting their running icons, strong, fast, successful female runners. It’s just so refreshing to see young women idolizing women who are actually worthy of their respect.
I was also completely struck by the quote. “We train together to make each other great.” It’s so moving to me. I have found that women in triathlon, especially, can be very catty with each other and immediately suspicious and hostile to other women who they view as competitive. I am not proud, but I have fallen into this same trap myself.
I know I’ve said, mostly joking, “who is that Bitch?”, when I’ve seen another fast woman on the trail riding or at a trainer session. I have seen friendships tested and broken under the pressure of competitiveness. And this is just among weekend warriors. The most I could possibly gain from a great triathlon performance is a glamorous No Expenses Paid trip to Hawaii or Vegas. On the flip side, here are two women whose livelihoods are at stake, where the difference between 1st and 2nd place is $75,000. Yet, they still realize that by training together, pushing each other, supporting each other, their own chances of winning and being successful are greater.
It’s just a great reminder of how it’s possible to conduct yourself. It’s a reminder that being competitive and being supportive of other women are not mutually exclusive characteristics. This lesson goes well beyond running as well. It can be applied to business, to running, to politics, virtually every facet of life.
It’s a reminder to learn to be successful because of each other, not at the expense of each other.