Last October, I had the privilege and honor of running the Chicago Marathon with Ruth, a first-time marathoner. We participated in the Saucony 26 Strong Program—a truly amazing program that pairs up first-time marathoners with veteran marathoners. Saucony, Competitor and Women’s Running created a team of 13 newbies (“cadets”) who trained to run their very first marathon and 13 coaches who guided them through their journey—all the way across the Chicago Marathon finish line.
Deciding to sign up and train for your first marathon is nothing short of impressive. It’s a big step to go from 13.1 to 26.2 miles. It takes guts to make the commitment to train for something that is unknown to you.
For Ruth, it was even more impressive.
Ruth is 59 years old. She is a mom, grandmother and works full time in her family’s business. That alone makes what she accomplished last year amazing. But even more is that she is relatively new to the sport of running. She started running only a few years ago and was content with running running 5Ks, until the 2013 NYC Marathon. She had accompanied her daughter-in-law into NYC to spectate and cheer on runners at mile 18. Seeing those runners and what they were accomplishing coupled with the excitement in the air was all she needed. She walked away from that day with the goal of training for and completing a marathon one day.
She was 57 years young at the time and decided she wanted to run a marathon. I am sure a lot of people wouldn’t even consider a feat like that at her age. Or they would have a list of excuses as to why they wouldn’t be able to. But not Ruth. Her age and minimal running background weren’t limitations to her. They were just part of the equation.
“The only limits in your life are those that you set yourself.” —Celestine Chua
She was selected for the program in May and spent the last 5 months training. Ruth’s summer was filled with runs in the heat and humidity of the northeast and long runs at 5 a.m. But she kept moving forward and showed up to the start line in Chicago trained, healthy and ready for 26.2 miles.
Ruth became a marathoner on Sunday. But did so much more in the process. She inspired me throughout the entire journey. Through her actions she taught me to never let my self-imposed limitations prevent me from daring and dreaming even bigger than I thought was possible. She taught me to always remain positive in the face of things not going your way. And she taught me that it’s never too late to chase down a dream.
“There is always room in your life for thinking bigger, pushing limits and imagining the impossible.” —Tony Robbins
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