Yes. I needed a positive thought to counter the mind games. One never knows when the games will start, but somewhere along my 26.2 mile trek through Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe my brain would start playing tricks, emit negative thoughts and make the time and miles slow to a snails pace.
I struggled for days to find my mantra.
Finally the night before Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona, it came to me via text. Just like his bat when he played baseball, Clint Hurdle had perfect timing.
I actually had an thought earlier in the day when my sister-in-law Lynnette and I were riding a packed light rail back from the race expo in Phoenix to our hotel in Tempe. We boarded the train with a dad and his young son with multiple disabilities. Once we were seated the father leaned his head on his son’s wheelchair and closed his eyes. Dad looked exhausted.
What happened next would make anyone smile. Out of nowhere, the son extended an arm as best he could towards his dad. Without opening his eyes, his dad grabbed the gnarled hand and held it tight.
I thought, when the going gets tough tomorrow, think of this moment. Run for the boy who can’t. Run for his dad who loves him.
Later that night a text crossed my phone and put the heart warming image into two words.
Every day former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle texts inspirational messages to a large group of people. For some reason I’m fortunate enough to receive them. My husband also gets them and we marvel at how often one of the quotes he sends along applies directly to something going on in our lives.
The text was a lengthy quote from our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge. It talked about persistence, talent, education and determination. It was the last sentence that got me:
“The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”
I found my mantra almost exactly 12 hours before race time.
I dreamt about the saying all night long. Press On, Press On, Press On. When mile whatever got tough I would say “Press on. Because you can.”
I told myself to think about the sweet boy in the wheelchair and his loving father. I’d think about Clint’s daughter Maddie who was born with Prader Willi-Syndrome. The chances of her running a marathon someday, while not impossible, are not likely.
Armed with my manta the next morning, I crossed the start line with one main goal: finish the 26.2 miles. I had been fighting a tweaked quad muscle for two weeks prior to the race and had my doubts if it would hold up.
I felt a little pain in the first couple miles, but once it warmed up, my leg felt good. Sometimes it would bug me but I’d think “Press On.” What was a little ache compared to how those kids feel every day? Nothing.
For the fun of it, I had written down a few checkpoint times on my wrist to coincide with a 3 hour 55 minute marathon pace. Finishing was my main goal, but if at all possible I wanted to finish in less than four hours (my first marathon was 7 seconds over four hours).
When I crossed the 5K, 10K and 13.1 markers, I was ahead of the times on my wrist. Press On.
Unlike my first marathon, many of the miles melted together and the mental game I was prepared to play never really surfaced. Every time a negative thought entered my mind, I recited my mantra. Press On.
I did have one more goal in the back of my mind, something Lynnette brought up the night before: if I finished in 3 hours and 50 minutes or less, I would qualify for the Boston Marathon. It’s the Mecca of marathons and while I always hear about people qualifying, I never thought I could be in that group.
Well, turns out I am a part of that group. I earned a BQ (Boston Qualifier) in AZ with a finish time of 3 hours, 49 minutes and 5 seconds and set a new personal record (PR) shaving 11 minutes off my first marathon. Press On.
The next day, I texted Clint to thank him for the mantra. He replied back with a congrats and “Will tell Maddie ‘Susie Wargin’ did good today”. Maddie always uses my last name which cracks me up and makes me smile.
Susie Wargin did do good… but it sure didn’t happen alone.