The True Champion Exists in All of Us

By , SparkPeople Blogger
"Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character." T. Alan Armstrong

Photo courtesy of Mike Brennan

In less than 4 days I will be taking on the Chicago Marathon and to be quite frank I am tad nervous and some would say petrified--not that I will NOT finish, but that I am not ready. I have spent the better part of the week reading inspirational stories and quotes from others who have taken on this great journey to push their bodies beyond what many people never have the courage to do. Knowing that I am not alone in my doubts will be a huge factor in helping me to cross the finish line. As my former running coach reminded me a few days ago, "You have done the homework Nancy, now all I have to do is take the final exam."

Hearing this brings me an eerie sense of calm and a great sense of excitement to be running with over 40,000 other runners, including Coach Jen and a dear pal from the Road Runners SparkTeam, Jean.

As I have mentioned in many of my previous blogs, having others to walk this journey with me is what has inspired me to push well beyond the limits of my own comfort. My first running coach told me the following, "Motivation is a gift we give ourselves, whereas inspiration is a gift we give to others." Those words have been such an instrumental part of my life for well over 3 years now. Each time I read how someone has overcome the obstacles in their lives, it only inspires me to do the same.

This past weekend two members of the Road Runners Group SparkTeam, Robin-AKA KASHMIR and Kate-AKA KEAKMAN lived their dream as they ran their first marathon--the Portland Marathon. Following these ladies on the internet was so wonderful and having the support of fellow teammate, Mike AKA KAYAKID as their personal cheerleader and photographer was beyond words. I felt as though I was running with them every step of the way. These ladies went out and did what many of us want to do, but never have the courage to do. GREAT JOB, Robin and Kate! You are MARATHONERS and CHAMPIONS!

Another Road Runner member, Gary, AKA GWBACH ran his second marathon this past weekend as well. Reading his race report is precisely what I needed to read this week. And with his permission he has allowed me to share with you some of his wise words from his race blog. These words have truly helped allay some of my fears and I hope you see the true champion he is.

"Running a marathon is way more than just running 26.2 miles, it is about discovery and learning. It is ok to suffer, just understanding it will not last, it will make you stronger and discovering what you can control, how it effects you, and how you can make it work for you. As an added bonus to this year's hardware, my 20 year old son told me he wants to run next year's marathon with me. How 'bout that? So I am going to start him on a base training plan for the next 3 months and go from there. Oh and did I mention, I will shoot for my under 4 hour mark again next year, or maybe just enjoy a run with my son, or both -- any way you look at I win."

Photo courtesy of Gary

Trust me when I say this journey is so much more than a number on the scale or a size on a tag--it's about connecting with others who have walked or who are willing to walk with you through your own self-doubt. It's about learning to dig in your heels when going gets tough and being able to ask for help. It's about knowing that there is a true champion in all of us.

Have you found yourself inspired by others to take on a challenge you never could see yourself doing weeks, months, or even years ago? Do you have the quality to be a champion?

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VHAYES04 12/20/2020
Ty Report
Determination. Report
Great thanks so much !!! Report
Jack LaLanne was 95 last month and he is in wonderful health and exercises 2 hours every single day. His wife works out, too and she is 85 and is so smart and the travel all over the world. Exercise is what matters to stay fit. Report
To know that you have inspired your son to want to run with you next year has to be thrilling. Since you have motivated yourself you inspired him & others. Think of all the wonderful times you will have training together!! Report
Nancy, you are an inspiration. You'll do very well and I'll be cheering you on from Australia. Report
Nancy, I wish you all the best, and send you my admiration and thanks. I am a teacher, and I will use your opening quote about champions in my class this w!ek. I love the value for self and the work ethic in it--very realistic. It speaks to my own struggles, too. Thanks again, and take good care. You're already a winner. Report
GREAT blog Nancy! I know you will do great in the marathon! HAVE FUN! Report
Being a true Champion is not a one time event. It is all the work that led up to the one time event! I will be on the sidelines, cheering you all the way!! You can DO THIS!!! Report
Oh hey Nancy...listen to Mr. Armstrong's advice: You've ALREADY shown you're the CHAMP! :-)

Now it's time to CELEBRATE it with your run! Woo hoo! :-)

Don, Co-Leader of All Health Professionals, Binghamton Area Losers and Laid Off But Staying Strong SparkTeams Report
Each one of us is a champion in our own ways...whether we run or not. We are here to lose weight or to better our lives and health, and it is not an easy journey, but we are champions!!!!! Report
Get out there and run girl!!!! You trained long and hard for this!! You are going to do great! I'll look forward to reading your race report!

I was there with Mike at the Portland Marathon cheering Robin and Kate well as volunteering at the 25.75 mile as the last of the runners and walkers came in.

It was one of the most gratifying experiences ever, watching the faces of the runners as they approached their last 1/2 mile......I would have given anything to listen to all of their stories....some were almost 80 years old, some had leg braces on, some were limping, some had tears....but every one of them did it!! It inspired me enough to do a marathon in the future.....

I wish I could be there to cheer you on too!!! I will be there in spirit :-)

Have a great the end you will be a Marathoner!!!

Kim Report
I'm proud of you to see all the effort you have put into this, you are inspiring more than you will ever know - hold that thought as you hit the challenging miles. Good Luck, Can't wait to see your pictures from the finish line!
Frances Report
YES! My friends talked me into a sprint triathlon this past summer, and even though I didn't know how to swim and hadn't done any running in a decade - I signed up and, after swim lessons and a begin-to-run plan, DID IT! Report
I know you will do great. Just training and entering a marathon is a big undertaking and you have what it takes to finish. Way to go, cheering from Canada. Report
Nancy, good luck to you in your marathon. You are such an inspiration. I know you will do well. Report
Nancy, you have "Sparked" an interest in me for running. I have asthma and arthritic knees, but I think I can do it. Not going to attempt marathons anytime soon, but I am inspired by you to up the pace on the treadmill at my gym to a running speed and take it from there. Good luck with the marathon! Report
I know you'll do great, looking forward to hearing from you to see how it went. Good luck! Report
nancy, you will be great. you do realize that is partly your fault that i plan on doing a marathon in 2010. take it all in it will be an experience of a life time.
bobby Report
The opening statement by Mr. Armstrong is so true. My husband was an amateur athlete and international medallist at many Games for 30 years and I know first hand how much time and training he performed every day (not to mention the financial costs). And this was fit into a working man's schedule. I didn't see much of him, but I took great pride in his accomplishments. Report
This is SOOO inspiring - thank you!! I always thought that 13.1 miles would be the most I would ever feel the need to run...but...there is something about doing the big one. I am so excited for you, Nancy!!! It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it! (Maybe I shouldn't do a marathon - I'd be bawling the whole time!) (Then I'd have to do another...) :D Report
While I won't be running, I'll be there cheering you on. Let me know your number and I'll keep an eye out for you. I hadn't even thought of it till now, but I wish I had Spark Gear to wear and will totally keep a look out for any out there. Report
My favorite song to run to or spin too is " WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!"
pj Report
Good luck Nancy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Have fun too!
Good Luck Nancy!

Since running my first half marathon recently, I have been in complete awe of marathons and everyone who puts their mind, body, and soul into training and preparing for such an event.
You are ready for this, nerves are to be expected.
I look forward to your race report! Report
Nancy!! You are the best! You don't need luck, so I won't wish it for you. Luck has nothing to do with all your hard work/training. But do know my thoughts, prayers, and excitement are with you!!!!!! You will prolly be nearly finished with your marathon while many of us "California Dreamers" are starting our half and full Marathons in Long Beach. You know we will be talking about you. Listen for your ears to ring! It's all good! XOXOXOXOXO, wish you the best!
Denise Report
Don't doubt your abilities. If you've loosely followed the schedule and done the long runs, you are ready. it's amazing what the body can do. Look back at your recent race times and check Jack Daniels running calculator to get an approximate marathon finish time. Then use that information to make sure you don't start out too fast.

You will surprised by the journey and the reward at the end! Report
Nancy, you will do awesomely in this one and first marathon of many! I've followed your wonderful articles and blogs and just love the good reads. I hope that you continue with these. Good luck to you in your run and most of all have a WONDERFUL TIME and ENJOY the day!!!! Report
Good luck to you . I have only ever done a 5k, and a gym sponsored triatholon. I have always wanted to try a marathon, or at the very least a half- marathon. You have inspired me to quit chickening out and try the half marathon in May in my area. Can't wait to heat about your experience Sunday. Report
Good luck! I felt the same way the days before my first half marathon. I didn't think I could do it. But I remembered the goals I set for myself and had so many inspirational people cheering me on. I did much better than I thought I would. Report
I started running in races last Thanksgiving in the 10K Turkey Race in Cincinnati. My 19 year old son encouraged me to do and he ran with me. Since that time I have been in 3 other races 1 10K and 2 half marathons. This blog has inspired me to look at doing the 26.2. I have enjoyed reading this blog. Thanks for the encouragement. Report
Good luck Nancy and have a wonderful time. Report
"Motivation is a gift we give ourselves, whereas inspiration is a gift we give to others."

What a great quote. I wish you the best of luck in your race. I use to think I could never complete a 5K let alone a marathon. but with training and dedication, I managed to get myself up to a 5K and then a half marathon!! Your post resonates with me oh to well. My goal is to do a marathon next year and just like when I thought I couldn't finish a 5K, now I can't imagine even finishing a whole marathon. People like you are going to give me the inspiration I need to keep up with my training and accomplish this goal. Thank you (anyone that finishes a marathon is on my hero list) Report
at 260 lbs, it was all i could do to walk to the car. after losing with sparkpeople, i started with water aerobics, then increased my walking, and now i am up to walking the treadmill ( incline) with a 20 min mile for 45 min and also walking about 2 miles per day outside. that to me is a big achievement. next week i am going on a small ( 3 miles ) mountain climb in the smokies. Report
This website has inspired me to run. I will be 55 in a few days and have never run before in my life. I started about six months ago running a few minutes here and there on a treadmill. This summer I started running outside and on the gym track. I was surprised at how quickly I could run farther and farther without stopping. Last Sunday I ran my first 5K and though I thought it looked awfully far on the map, I ran it without stopping without much difficulty in just under 33 minutes. I knew I could run 4.5 miles, but it just looked so far! Yesterday in the gym, my goal was to run for one hour straight and I did it! Next will be a 10K! It's amazing that I can do this!! Report
Thanks Nancy!! Reading all of the DailySpark blogs about running has actually inspired me to try, for the first time in my life, jogging. Something I never thought I could do. Reading about others who struggle, just as much as I struggle, inspired me to take a chance and see what I could do. And surprisingly enough, I've done better than I ever thought I could. I have a wonderful husband who jogs/walks with me and he helps to push me when I want to give up. I jogged for almost a half a mile last night! I am so proud of myself! Now, I'm looking forward to trying a 5K. I can do it, I just have to remember to take it one step at a time :-) Report
I've never been as psyched about a sports competitor as I am about you, Nancy! There's not only that energetic spark of optimism and wisdom in you, but a deep reservoir of kindness and gentleness, too. You're the best, and I can't WAIT for the 11th!!! All the bestest, always - Susan Report
Nancy, you truly are a champion and an inspiration to us all. You have come so far and now you are encouraging so many others on their way. You and other SparkPeople have shown me the importance of setting goals and working towards them. Consistently doing this--setting and working towards goals-- means we ALL have the power within to become champions. Knowing this can apply to all parts of our lives has been so empowering to me. Good luck in Chicago. We are all cheering for you! Report keep us all inspired.
You go Girl ! ! !
Looking forward to reading the 'after race blog'
Have a great race.
Nancy, I am sure you will do great in Chicago. Have FUN!!!!! Report
Good luck and I can't wait to read your race report. I'm still flirting with the idea of marathon. I think it's not so much whether but when and where!
-LL Report
Nancy, You are going to Rock chicago! I would come and take pictures - but I don't have that on my schedule.LOL thanks for writing this! It really hits a cord with me. I want to get back to running and I have run 5 10k's this summer and love the racing. Report
Nancy, I am so proud of you, and in awe of your great goal ahead. You will be in my thoughts, I will be cheering you on!! Report
Good Luck and have fun Nancy! Report
you all inspire me to motivate myself, i am going to start small but I will...

You will do great!! Have fun while running the marathon!! Report
Rock that marathon Nancy!! I'll be cheering for you from Kelowna. Report
I hope during the last few miles, you hit a stride and hear us all cheering you PAST the finish line...... It isn't just the preparation, but also what comes after... Report
I ran my first 10K thinking of my friend's mom who will be going through a mastecomy and radiation in the coming months. She will have the courage (and not much choice) to get through the pain she will endure. Thinking about this gave me the courage and strength to run a meesly 6.2 miles Report