(Lainey: we’ve heard from many of you who are also training for the Boston Marathon or your own races this spring. Keep sending your messages about your training and stay strong through the final push!)

I get asked a lot where my motivation comes from when I train and race: what is it that I think about while I am competing and how do I stay motivated? Most of the time I am focusing on my technique, my pace and sticking to my training and race plan but when I am at a point in a run or a race where I am so tired that I do not know how I can possibly continue I will think about three very influential people that have profoundly affected me.

One individual that I think about is my mom’s best friend Marilyn Konan. They were best friends from high school so needless to say she was a big part of my life growing up and I loved her dearly.  About five years ago she began her fight with cancer.  We thought she was going to beat it but unfortunately she did not and she lost her battle in June of 2009, the day before one of my very important competitions.  Throughout her entire fight not once did she complain and she fought harder than I have ever seen anyone fight for anything, keeping a smile on her face and remaining positive.  She was not angry that she was about to lose this battle; she and her family knew that they had done everything that they could to try and win the fight against cancer and she passed away peacefully.  So, when I am in a race or in a tough training run and I feel like giving up, I think about how hard our bodies can fight and what our bodies are able to do when we challenge them.  In those moments where I feel like things could not get any tougher I put a smile on my face and think about Marilyn’s strength and if I can just exude 1/10th of what she did nothing will stop me.

I also draw much of my motivation from Terry Fox, a small town boy who decided that he was going to run across Canada in a pair of cotton shorts and a cotton t shirt and sleep in a van along the way to raise awareness for cancer.  Although I was not alive when he attempted this amazing feat, like all Canadians, I feel like I knew him. I watched a documentary on him before I attempted to run a personal best in a race a few years ago and one thing stuck – he would tell himself that no matter how terrible he felt as long as he did the best he could each day he would be proud.  I take that philosophy with me everywhere in life, especially when I am training and racing.  I know that as long as I do the absolute best that I can in each training day and in each race then no matter the outcome I will be proud.  And each day my best is different.  Some days I’m tired and stressed, some days I’m busy, some days I am hurt and some days I am sick but as long as I do my best for how I feel that day then I am satisfied.  That is why when people ask me if I’m nervous about the Boston Marathon I tell them no.  I cannot control what will happen to me out on the race course but I do know that I have done my best and I can overcome whatever obstacle is presented to me in 3 weeks.  

Another person that I draw my motivation from is my very good friend Don Konantz.  Don is currently battling cancer and I have never seen an individual so determined to beat this terrible disease and inspire so many along the way.  Don was diagnosed with prostate cancer last December and since then he has completed countless competitions, including a half ironman, a 122km bike race from Vancouver to Whistler and the Berlin Marathon, just to name a few.  While he was going through his six weeks of radiation treatment he set a goal of hiking what we in Vancouver call the Grouse Grind (for those of you who are not from Vancouver it is a hike that goes straight up a mountain and takes the fittest of people 45-60 minutes) every single day after treatment.  So, rain, shine or snow, energized or exhausted he would hike to the top of the mountain, sometimes with his family, sometimes with friends and sometimes solo.  Just this past weekend he ran an 8km race that is an annual fundraiser for prostate cancer.  What did Don do before the race started?  He walks up to one of Canada’s best distance runners and tells him “I’ve spent the last year outrunning cancer…maybe next year you should be careful, I’m raising my sights”.  (The photo is attached.) He then tells me his goal for next year is no drugs, no cancer and no mercy.  I told him of my favourite saying of Terry Fox, “Just do the best you can” and he told me that to him doing his best means just getting to the start line.  In the last year he says he has learned that you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.  

So, don’t be afraid to set a goal, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, don’t be afraid to fail because as long as you do your best you will be nothing but proud of yourself.  Our bodies are amazing machines and can overcome incredible obstacles and with a little determination anything is possible.  I am coming off of an easy rest week this week and I have 14 days of hard, intense training until my one week taper before I run the Boston Marathon. People ask me if I’m ready and without hesitation I say yes I am.  Like I said last week, I am not going to win – I won’t even come close, but that doesn’t matter because realistically I have already won.  I set a goal and I wasn’t afraid to fail; I made a plan and I stuck to it, I overcame obstacles and I sacrificed; I stayed positive and didn’t complain; I did my best and as soon as my foot crosses the start line in my mind I have already finished.