I spent this past weekend tracking one of my closest friends as she raced the Marquette Marathon, and really, chased a dream she’s been working toward since 2016. Amy is my definition of resilience and strength and basically anything else that represents determination. I was clinging to my phone all morning and grateful for good friends for sending me continuous updates.
Twenty years ago she qualified for Boston, and her goal was to get there again.
She crossed the finish line with a time of 3:35.
She needed a 3:50.
Here’s where I need to back it up a bit, because there is more to this story and more to this woman than just these 26.2 miles.
Amy is and always has been a gifted runner. When she wrote down the goal ‘qualify for the Boston Marathon’ on her 2016 Declare It Day declaration, one could have assumed it would be a relatively straight shot toward reaching it.
It was anything but easy.
She spent three years getting her heart broken over and over again with injuries. Every time she would progress in her training, she’d face a devastating setback. At one point, she had to completely take a break from the sport. (When she couldn’t run, she even trained for the famous Birkebeiner ski race.)
When you witness your friend working through an injury, it’s a helpless feeling. You want them to stop because it’s so hard watching them struggle, and yet, you want them to find a way because you know how much it means to them.
I’ve learned you just have to take their lead.
If they are willing to fight and push through, you just need to be there for them. You don’t have to save them from the pain or heartbreak, you just have to let them know you’re there for it all.
And, let’s be honest, there are enough balloon poppers and nay sayers in the world.
THESE JOBS ARE TAKEN.
So ladies, ours is simple.
Be the friend who supports the crazy dream and the person brave enough to dream it.
Be the friend who says WHY NOT YOU and how can I help?
Be the friend who is there without judgement, just love.
Because when your friend is trying to light her match in the wind, you have two choices – tell her she’s crazy for trying or be the one who blocks the wind.
Amy is also the first person to block the wind for a countless number of women in her life, including me. She shared this Mia Hamm quote with me before her race, and it sums up her day perfectly:
“I am building a fire,
and everyday I train,
I add more fuel.
At just the right moment,
I light the match.”
– Mia Hamm
Amy lit her match during this race.
After three years of building the fire, watching it get ruined, and then building it again, she finally got to light her f’ing match. She wanted it that badly, and she wasn’t going to stop until it was done.
If you’re trying to light your match for the thing you love more than anything, just stay patient. It could take three months. It could take three years. It could take longer. But if it’s worth it to you and it makes you a better you, keep going. It’s your journey, and you decide the path forward.
I bet Amy would tell you that as hard as it was to get to her finish line, she wouldn’t trade any of those lessons for an easier path.
And if you have a friend who is chasing a hard dream and she keeps getting challenged, try not to be the balloon popper. Because remember this – she’s going to do it anyway because her heart knows no different, so you might as well make damn sure she’s got you in her corner.
Stay with her.
Be the one who blocks the wind.
And Amy, gaaaaaaaah. I’m so freaking proud of you. You lit that match and burned it down. You raced with your heart on your sleeve and with everything you had. You’ve made me stronger for being part of the journey. You’ve helped me recognize the difference between giving up and embracing pain, and you’ve made me want to build a new fire.
I can’t wait for ALL THE MATCHES to come.
P.S. This is Amy’s declaration from this past year! I LOVE when I see these goals fought for and accomplished. xo