43. It’s important to have heroes … and (s)heroes!

Running tip #43

Once, in college before I began my pro career, I ran a road race against 5-time Olympian Francie Larrieu Smith.  Well, it wasn’t really a race against her;  it was more like I was Little Bear following behind her mother in Blueberries for Sal:

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After the race, I eagerly asked for Larrieu’s autograph (and she graciously complied) but my older/wiser? teammate scolded, “Don’t ask for someone’s autograph if you ever intend to beat them.”  I can see his point;  you don’t want to let anyone “own” you or beat you before the race even starts, but I also believe it’s important to have heroes.  Little bear needed her mother to show her the way to the best blueberry patches on the hill and I needed my running heroes to inspire me to keep striving UP that hill.  What does Jack Black sing in School of Rock?  “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.”

I had many heroes along the way (including Francie) but one person stands above all the rest as the matron saint for women runners in the 1980’s:  marathon gold-medalist, Joan Benoit Samuelson.  Here is a (blurry, sorry) photo of me with my 1985 running log where I had clipped and taped the following Benoit quote from The Runner magazine for inspiration:

“Just yesterday in Maine it was windy and snowing hard.  I was in the middle of a run when I said to myself, ‘Do you still want to do this?’  Maybe if a car had gone by at that moment I would have taken it, but I said to myself, ‘Hey, this is what you thrive on, this is what makes you the person you are.'”

Photo on 2-12-15 at 1.11 PM

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