Miles 17 & 18

26.2 A SERIES

Everyone has dreams. Since I was about 16 years old, one of mine has been to run a marathon. When I cross the finish line in NYC on November 5th, I’ll likely do so with a recorded time of between 4 and 5 hours. In reality though, it will have taken me much longer to get there. There are things inside and outside of us that bring us closer to our dreams. There are also things that delay us, that push us so far away from our goals they are sometimes out of sight. If we are lucky, little by little, we are often able to transform those stumbling blocks into building blocks–they become the foundation for our strength, resilience, and ultimate determination. This series aims to uncover my long journey. Each week, I’ll share the people, places, and things that have brought me to the place I am at today, and that I hope will carry me from the starting line in Staten Island, to the finish line in Central Park. Mile by mile–this, is my 26.2.

Miles 17 & 18- To my Heroes, the Superstars and the Joe Schmoes 

There are less than 450 active players in the National Basketball Association. 7.4 billion people in the world, and less than 450 get the chance to play basketball at the very highest level.

Ever watch an NBA draft? If you’re not a hoops junkie you probably pass, but there is more going on there than young men becoming millionaires. I like to watch it because there are only so many opportunities to witness people’s dreams coming true right in front of them. A lot of us look at professional athletes as almost superhuman. It’s true, they can do a lot of things that we can’t. Many of them have the ability to do things with ease that others could never achieve with years and years of practice. Their talent has many of us forgetting or maybe not even realizing the hard work and determination it takes for them to get to that ultimate level, much less, succeed in it.

I love sports–they have always been a part of my life whether I’ve played them or settled in as a spectator as I’ve gotten older. As an adult, witnessing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Championship is probably one of my favorite and most inspiring sports moments. The Cavs were not supposed to win. In what became a 7 game series, they were down 3-1, which meant they had to defeat the 2015 champions and clear frontrunners in 3 games in a row to lift that trophy at the end. Coming back from that deficit had never been done before. For me what made this feat such an inspiration was one man–LeBron James.

Of course basketball is a team sport. Everyone has to do their part in order to have real success. But if you watched that 7 game series, you know that James’ performance could go down as one of the most impressive in all of NBA history. He carried the Cavaliers like I had never seen a team carried. He was all over the court. While most players excel at one thing–shooting, or scoring off the dribble, or rebounding, James was the best in all of it. He made threes, he beat people off the dribble for easy dunks and lay-ins, he rebounded on both ends of the floor, he blocked shots, he guarded every position, he dove on the ground for loose balls. You could see his willingness to sacrifice his body on almost every single possession. Yes he is built athletically like almost no one else in the world. Yes he is a once in a generation talent. But what you see most in watching that series is the culmination of everything he had worked for his entire life. He had arrived at his biggest moment up to that point–determined to win the championship he had promised his hometown, but down to a truthfully superior opponent. What I saw in every game was James throwing his teammates on his back and clawing his way up a seemingly unscalable mountain. I teared up each time after they won games 5 and 6. I flat out cried as they nabbed the championship in game 7. As I watched James himself lie face down on the court sobbing, I thought about how it must feel to have accomplished something that everyone in the world said he couldn’t. There on the floor, with his humanity splayed out for all to see, I thought about how much self-doubt he had to push through to arrive at that moment–how many times he had to keep it moving and go on to try to win the next play, when things seemed hopeless.

I’ve played this moment over again several times in my mind (and on Youtube). It inspires me because I think it shows what we have in common with these superstar athletes. Sure, talent cannot be changed–we have it, or we don’t. But GRIT is something we all have the ability to grow inside of us. Grit is a part of the human spirit–it’s not selective. If you want it, you can have it. Grit is why I am equally inspired by LeBron James–and the little guy–the seemingly un-athletic man or woman getting out there and pushing themselves to do things they’re not even sure they can.

I’m motivated by the couch to 5kers who run through insecurities, self doubt, and uncertainty. All of these people get me up in the morning. They get me to the gym and they get me up tough hills. Their grit cultivates my grit and revs my desire not to be fast–but to be the most tenacious runner I can be. I get out on the road knowing that what I lack in athletic ability can be made up for with perseverance. I’ve learned this from both professional athletes and regular people. LeBron James used to be a pretty terrible outside shooter. Pundits and opponents would say, “Just make him shoot three’s, if you take away the inside, you can beat him.” People said this for years. And what was James’ response? He got better at shooting from the outside. This wasn’t God-given talent–we saw him struggle with it for a long time. This was hours and hours in the gym during the off season and in practices between games. His improvement has been clearly attributable to hard work, repetition, and commitment. What it took for him to get better at shooting is the same thing it takes for Joe Schmo to conquer that 5k. It’s time, it’s a willingness to dedicate oneself to the goal, and it’s a belief in hard work and an insistence that we have the ability to improve ourselves.

Miles 17 & 18 go to all the athletes that inspire me everyday. I’m in awe of you talent, but I’m indebted to and taught by your tenacity. Some runners say you hit the wall at 20 miles–others say it comes a bit earlier. In case it does for me, I’ll have all you superstars in my head, reminding me that this is where I need to have courage–that this is where my strength of character needs to show up. This, is where I’ll use that grit

 

 

 

 

 

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If you enjoyed this piece, I hope you might like to continue with the series… please consider following me through WordPress or through email by using the links on this page. You can also follow me on facebook  ~all support is appreciated. thank you. x

 

 

 

 

33 thoughts on “Miles 17 & 18

    1. Wow, thank you so much!! I think that might be the biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten on here-you sharing this with your students? Wow, really so humbled. So glad you found it worthwhile. Thank you!!

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  1. oh my, you did an amazing job at putting emotion (and grit) into this piece. Very few people are natural athletes when it comes down to pro-sports. It is hard work and harder work. That quote ‘the only easy day was yesterday’ comes to mind. I saw evidence of that emotion you spoke of this week. First was Larry Fitzgerald. It wasn’t a championship, but a tough game and the winning touchdown took Larry down to his knees which is so uncharacteristic. He is usually pumped up and running back down the field. I thought he was hurt, but truth is I think emotion got him. Then Archie Bradley hit a triple at the NL wild card game last night. If you recall he was the picture that got hit by the line drive in the face. Hi expression told everything. (Oh gosh getting wordy here). On a final note. I visited the Cardinals training facility last year, and while so many people wanted to see the players, I wanted to talk with the trainers. I met Olympic Gold Medalist in the hurdlers 84,88, Roger Kingdom. It is he who perfects the running game. I was completely humbled by the tiniest details they incorporate into the training to make them better, stronger, and faster. That was my highlight from the night. Sorry to get to wordy. Keep gritting …. Cat.

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    1. Ok, you already knew you were one of my faves–now I’m learning you’re a sports fanatic? I had no idea! Your response and others’ to this post has made me really happy. Sports are such a big part of my life-I learn so much from athletes of all levels. Glad to know I am not the only one!!

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  2. Didn’t know I’d be reading an ode to LeBron. He’s my favorite player and the GOAT. Yes, better than MJ. 2016 was so great! You’re right about what we can share with the greats and elites, even more so with elite runners. The pain is the same.

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  3. This was everything!!!!!! I love Lebron and totally agree,we all see the highlight reel of athletes no one ever shouts out to how they got there! I can’t wait to read about you smashing this marathon!

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  4. Love the parallel between someone at the pinnacle of his chosen profession and powers and the average person who just decided to knuckle down and achieve something – each of them brilliant in their own way. I was fortunate enough to help out at a race our club organizes for the first time last year and watching some of the people crossing the line in both the 5km and the 21km races at the absolute limits of what they could do and within seconds of the cut off time was perhaps even more inspiring than watching the elite guys close up as they sprinted home. Even if grit could be taught I doubt you’d need any lessons – keep your toughness, your spirit and your enthusiasm and keep inspiring us.

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    1. Those people making it in just under the cut-off are my favorite people to watch at races too Nik–I’ve had enough people in my life tell me that I couldn’t do things or I wasn’t good enough–but there are some people I see who I know just from looking at them have probably heard that WAY more than me. Watching people overcome self-doubt and all those other voices is what gets me through a run and a race–but also through life. That grit is so inspiring. It makes me love people. Even on days like yesterday, when I want to hate people–that grit and that human way of doing more than we think we can–makes me really love people.
      Thanks for hanging with me Nik!

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  5. Inspiring article, Cat. A few comments. One of the overdone and very appropriate sayings about most things being 5 percent inspiration and 95 percent perspiration. Yes, we all need the inspiration, and the rest comes from grit and the willingness to stay with what is often a long and challenging process.
    Now, about your line concerning “settling in as a spectator as I’ve gotten older”. Really? And here I thought you were training to run the NYC Marathon next month. Give yourself credit here, you are an athlete!

    Cheers to you!

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    1. I don’t even know how to answer your comment Steph. It’s ironic, because the next mile by mile post that I am working on is sort of supposed to be about being who I say and show that i am–so if I say I’m a writer, and I write, than I AM a writer. I think athlete and writer are the two I have the hardest time saying that about–the two things I have wanted to be most since I was a little person–but have never gotten to that place where I felt like i deserved the title. I’ve started that post hoping that I am finally there, and I think I am close–but you calling me an “athlete” and me shrugging to myself makes me realize this journey might be even longer than i thought. There you always go making me think…and feel. Thank you lady. x

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      1. no need to apologize, there are a lot of things to get done in the world, like work, train, family. And then reading and commenting on blogs–i’m often delayed by a day or 10 from where I would like to be.

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  6. I started running about 4 years ago and felt so insecure about who I was and who I was trying to be but I was motivated by seeing my “fit” friends move. Their example paved the way for me really and gave me hope. Now I see people who are in the exact place I was and I am awestruck by them. We all start somewhere. We are all on a journey. And we all need support and encouragement!

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    1. I am so glad you said this–I had not really thought of this in terms of newcomers but it’s SO true. Old timers are great, and sure, there is plenty to learn from them. But I def take the most everyday from those struggling and or coming back or just starting to get it. (The just starting to get it are THE most inspiring to me, so exciting!).
      I needed your perspective on this today–this Monday is beating me up a little. Thanks girl!! x

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    1. Wow, that’s amazing!! You must be in your first few weeks of training then? So exciting–will it be your first or are you an old pro?
      Thanks so much for your well wishes and thanks for checking out my blog as well, happy to have you here!

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    1. So sorry you missed out this year but def don’t let the dream die–I was doing the 9 +1 two years ago to be able to run with my hubs last year and I got injured. But I recovered and got in through the lottery this year, so you never know. I am sure your time will come.
      Thank you for following along, so happy to have you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You gave me goose bumps! And you have perfect timing! I was just saying that doing another race was mentally tough right now, and you had the perfect post tonight to inspire me, so thank you!

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