By: Rachel Denler
In 2018, when Des Linden crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon and broke the tape for her first World Marathon Major win, she summarized her training approach with the phrase “Keep showing up." It was so simple and powerful and resonated with so many people that her sponsor Brooks even created a campaign around it. Of course it’s the right answer - if you never quit, you cannot fail. And it works for everything in life, not just running. The photos taken of Des crossing that finish line and throwing up her arms in the pouring rain still gives me goosebumps to this day. It’s a testament to the power of continuing to show up. I had no idea at the time how much her words would come to mean to me personally. It became my 2019 mantra; the phrase I used so much I’ve considered tattooing it on my body to make it permanent. I can’t even tell you how many times I said them aloud as I struggled to get out the door for a run. Or just to get out of bed in the morning. 2019 was a tough year for me, but in many ways running kept me going. And when I crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon a few weeks ago, it felt like I was cashing in on a big promise I’d kept to myself.
I’d been dreaming and working towards a sub-4 hour marathon for two years. I’d already had three unsuccessful attempts, including a 4:01 finish at the 2018 NYC Marathon. And even though I was frustrated it was taking so long, I refused to give up on that goal. I knew I’d have to get there eventually if I kept showing up. So I worked hard all summer, building my mileage and pushing myself in long run workouts that were far outside my comfort zone. And together with the help of my coach (shoutout to my girl, Nora Bird!), I knew I was in amazing shape and I was showing up to the start line of this year’s race stronger and tougher than ever before. When I crossed the finish line in 3:49:11, I immediately burst into tears. I was so proud of myself. Accomplishing that goal felt even more amazing than I ever could have imagined.
Right after I was handed my finisher’s medal, I snapped a smiling selfie and posted it later to Instagram with the caption “F*ck yes. 3:49:11.” It was my shout-out to another famous marathon winner, Shalane Flanagan, and it showed how truly happy I was in that moment. But I’m also aware that social media makes it hard to see what’s really behind someone’s success. We see the result; the PRs and such, but it doesn’t show the full picture of what it took to get there. And that 3:49 came with a lot of struggle and hardship. In my case, after a year of battling severe depression and anxiety and the finalizing of my divorce. 2019 tested me and made me question a lot of things about life. But through it all, I kept showing up and I’m so glad I did.
I’m also very grateful for the support and love of this team; both my amazing local Colorado birds who ALWAYS have my back, and the many other incredible women I’ve come to call friends through Oiselle. This team and this community are something truly special. Thank you for lifting me up and giving me so much encouragement this year (and beyond).
I’ll finish by saying this: if you want something badly enough, if you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t give up until you get it. And even though no one can do the work for you, surround yourself with people who will support you unconditionally in your pursuits and who will be so happy for you when you accomplish them. You owe it to yourself.