The weather for the Boston Marathon was harrowing this morning. It was very cold (38 degrees for most of the race), runners were bombarded by high-speed winds, and it wasn’t just raining, it was pouring. The racers were freezing, wet, and exhausted — in conditions that left them wondering if they could finish, let alone win. Even professional runners, who had put in months of high-intensity training, considered dropping out.
That was the thought running through 34-year-old Desiree Linden’s mind as she ran. Quitting.
“Honestly, at mile two, three, four, I didn’t feel like I was even gonna make it to the finish line,” she told NBC Sports after the race. Dropping out was a serious possibility for the two time Olympian, who had completed five previous Boston Marathons. That’s how rough it was.
But instead of dropping out, Linden found the inner strength to power through, and then — with a time of 2:39.54 — she became the first American woman to win the race in 33 years. It was an incredibly emotional finish, and we dare you to watch her cross the finish line and not get a bit teary.
The historic win in combination with Linden’s perseverance and general positive energy has taken the internet by storm. Everyone is losing their collective minds. Because Linden has never before won a marathon. In fact, in 2011, she lost the Boston marathon by just six seconds. Yet, she just doesn’t give up. For so many of us, it’s the inspiration we all needed to remind us to never give up on our goals or dreams. No matter how impossible they seem.
With both her actions and her mentality, Desiree Linden embodies the spirit of running. She works her butt off to beat her personal bests while never letting her own success stand in the way of helping a friend. Halfway through this race, it looked like she was giving up the possibility of medaling when she stopped to wait for a friend, Shalane Flanagan, to use the bathroom.
It was a stunning act of friendship and sportsmanship that would put them way behind, but Linden stopped anyway so she could help Flanagan catch up to the pack.
And then, like a boss, Linden passed everyone by to get to the finish line with no one else even in sight.
Part of the reason that this win was so inspiring is that Linden’s time is far slower than the normal marathon winner. The conditions simply weren’t conducive to being the fastest. So it wasn’t a race about pure speed today, it was a race against the elements, and a race against our own mental roadblocks. Linden’s victory was a win for anyone competing against that voice that tells you it’s “too cold,” or “too wet,” or just “too hard.”
She battled everything in her that said she couldn’t do it, and then lifted herself above those doubts to claim victory in the race that had eluded her five previous times. She believed in herself, pushed past the challenges, and ran through the finish line.
It’s more than a little inspiring. And it has everyone freaking out. Oh and ugly crying…we’re all ugly crying.
Linden is an inspiration to every runner because she reminds us that so much of running is just putting in the effort, and refusing to give up.
“I think it’s finding out how good I can be,” she told Running Competitor only two days ago (as she prepared for Boston), “I like going out and testing myself, seeing what I can do. It’s one of those things where, you think you’re right at the edge and you say, “hey, try it one more time. Keep showing up, try one more time. I always have a little more in me and I love that part, and it keeps me running happy.”
The advice feels so poignant after her big win. Just. Keep. Showing. Up. Find that little bit more of yourself to push yourself further. Lift the expectations of your own ability, and chase your dreams. It pays off.
As one runner put it today on Twitter:
“This is inspiring me to get out there,” he said. “If #deslinden can slog through freezing conditions in the rain and become the first US woman to win the Boston in 33 years, I can run today.”
We can all run today. We can all run tomorrow morning. There are always things that will be in the way, reasons we can give for why we can’t run. But so much of being a runner, of succeeding in our goals, is just…showing up. And there’s no better inspiration for that than in today’s historic win. Because when the odds are stacked against us, and mother nature is throwing everything in our path, and the finish line looks so far away that it might as well be…26.2 miles, we just have to remember: None of that is in our control.
What’s in our control is lacing up our shoes and putting one foot in front of the other. And Desiree Linden is the ultimate proof of that.