Speak positivity, change someone’s world

  • This was printed in April of 2015 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 99th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

We are taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say it at all. On that same token, if you have something good to say, always say it.

It is when I am most tired or defeated during a run that I remember specific moments in which people told me positive things. Their words keep me going.

When I finished my first 50-mile race I got a compliment from Australian runner Shane James, who lives with Stiff Person Syndrome. He said, “That run of yours was special, girl.”

When I was struggling on the San Joaquin River Trail during a 23.5-mile run last month, I thought back to what he said. My run is special. He saw something in me that I may not see in myself all the time.

When I’m not feeling my gutsiest, Shane’s words make me remember that I had the guts to do choose one of the hardest ultramarathon courses as my first; then I press on, knowing that I have the guts to do much more.

I think back to the day my coach told Audrey Crow and I, “This is what it takes. Everyone else is inside Starbucks right now having their coffee, but you guys are out here kicking your own butt. This is what it takes to qualify for Boston.”

When I was running the Modesto Marathon last year, attempting to qualify for theBoston Marathon, I called on coach Brad Castillo’s words when I was falling behind my pace. I knew I had what it takes because he told me so. Because he believed in me, I believed in myself, and I qualified.

At the Boston Marathon on Monday, I spent much of the race peeking over my shoulder to make sure Audrey was still with me. If she had fallen too far behind, I stopped and waited for her to catch up. After doing this a few times, another participant looked straight at me and said, “You are such a great friend.” I smiled and thanked her as she ran ahead.

I didn’t feel like a great friend at the time because I was pushing Audrey at a pace that she wasn’t comfortable with, but that woman who spoke those kind words made me feel better. She saw that I was staying with my running buddy and encouraging her.

Later I realized that she was doing the same thing with her friend. She stopped and waited for her buddy to catch up and they ran side-by-side. I regret not sprinting after them just to tell her, “You’re a great friend, too.”

It’s funny that you can regret saying something negative, just as much as you can regret NOT saying something positive.

Family, friends and acquaintances have flooded Audrey and me with words of encouragement since our Boston Marathon finish.

When I’m not feeling very inspirational I can just re-read all of the text messages and Facebook comments from people who say that we inspire them. Making a difference in someone’s life makes me want to keep pushing.

We should always offer kind words and encouragement to those around us. You never know how much your words are going to affect somebody else and you never know whether they need those words at that exact moment, or if they’ll need to recall them in the future.

I thank each and every person who hasn’t held their tongue when it comes to speaking positivity into my life.

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