Tag Archives: women

When Running Away is the Bravest Thing To Do

I was at NXN – the Nike Cross Country National Championships – with my team.
It was the night before the race.
I saw Joan Benoit Samuelson coming down the stairs.
I thought “I need to make my move. Screw all these kids. They can get in line behind me.”
I broke into a jog.
I’m a firm believer in thanking the people who inspired me. And, shaking their hand.
“Hi, I’m Chris Bennett. I made a video of you.”
My slow run combined with the weird video comment may have set off some internal alarm bells with JBS.
I thought, “at best I’m creepy and at worst I can expect a restraining order delivered to me before the race tomorrow.”
Luckily, JBS is used to people coming up to her and saying or trying to say thank you.
Unfazed, shook my hand and asked my name again
(Probably for the detective she would be talking to later I thought)
“You made The First Gold, right?”
She’d seen the video I made!
(I made videos on YouTube for my HS athletes hoping they would become fans of the sport.)
“Yes. That one! It’s about your ’84 Olympics…Gold Medal…the Marathon…in LA.”
Speaking coherently was becoming a problem.
“Thank you for making that.”
I was losing consciousness but I knew I had something to do before I did.
One of my heroes just said “thank you” to me.
But I was the one who was supposed to say thank you!
OK, rewind…Joan Benoit Samuelson was my first running hero.
And it wasn’t because she did anything superhuman.
I’m not that inspired by the idea of “superhuman”.
I’m inspired by super humans.
JBS was my hero because she took the lead 4 miles into that ’84 Olympic Marathon.
And no one went with her. 22 miles running alone.
That had to be terrifying.
And at 7 years old there’s a lot about the world that can be terrifying.
But she ran brave.
Watching her race made me realize that it’s the scary stuff that gives us a chance to be brave.
Fast forward…
I stayed conscious and I said what I needed to.
Thank You.
I was speaking for the runner and coach I had become and for that 7 year old boy I was.
She walked away.
I walked back to my team.
They had a race to run tomorrow and were probably nervous.
And I wanted to tell them a story about running brave.


Worst Runs Ever

What was my worst run ever?
I get that question all the time.
And it’s funny because the sensible companion question – what was your best run ever – doesn’t get asked very often.
Which is probably a good thing because I don’t have a single answer.
But I also don’t have an answer for the worst run ever question either.
Don’t get me wrong.
I have more than enough answers…a whole collection of worst runs.
I just don’t have ONE worst run ever.
Which means I don’t have an answer.
I’ve had runs in the sun without water and runs in the snow that ended up with me on my butt.
I’ve had runs when my ego was fit as hell but I was out of shape – those never end well.
And I’ve had runs where I didn’t believe I could do what I was so obviously already doing.
I did runs by myself when I needed to be anything but alone.
And I had runs with the group when I needed those miles all to myself.
I’ve had runs started too close to an extraordinary meal.
And I had runs not started far enough away from a very suspect meal.
Cramps. Twisted ankles. Tired. Stressed. Wrong turns.
I’ve had the halfway out and halfway home bathroom emergency…without a bathroom run.
All Worst Runs Ever.
But, I also know that I learned about myself, life, running (and even what Poison Ivy can do to your bathing suit area if you are not careful) on those terrible runs.
And if I had not started those runs I wouldn’t have learned the most important lesson of all: that I can get through them.
Every run has a purpose.
Even all those worst ones.

Dear Doubt

Dear Doubt,

I’m going to kick your ass today. 

I want you to know that.

And I want you to know that ahead of time. 

Because I want you to be ready. 

So please plan on bringing everything you got.

Bring the hurt. 

Bring the shortness of breath.

Bring the dead legs.

Bring your hills and your cracked sidewalks and your roots and rocks littering the trail.

Bring it all. 

I may not have been ready for you before. 

But I’m ready now. 

I know you. 

I know all your games and tricks.

You’ll try to tell me I’m too hungry to run. 

Or maybe you’ll tell me I’m too full from eating so close to the run.

You’ll tell me I’m not good enough. 

You’ll tell me that I’m never going to get better.

You’ll remind me it’s raining and cold.

Or is it hot and humid?

Keep talking.

It doesn’t matter. 

So go on and tell me that running is punishment.

Just let me tell you something.

I’m not running to punish myself.

I’m running to punish you.