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Culture and Values, Optimism


For those of you whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting , my name is Amy Burry and I started with Tschetter Group a couple months back. It has been wonderful to meet so many of you either over the phone or by email since I arrived. You have made me feel welcome. My goal is to connect with each of you in some way by the end of the year. Building our relationships during this time is incredibly important as it is more difficult to meet in person. It’s time to be creative and try new ways of keeping in touch.

As we begin to work together, I would enjoy learning more about you. You’ll learn about me as well. I grew up locally, lived in Redmond, and went to school in Bellevue. I remember when Bellevue Square was an outdoor mall and you walked outside to go between Frederick & Nelson and Nordstrom –that would mean I was a child of the 70’s!

Some of you who have spoken with me have wanted to know more about my interest in endurance sports. It’s something that developed over the course of the past decade through a very difficult time in my life. Sometimes wonderful things can come from challenging seasons. Here are a few factors that set my path from casual runner to Boston Marathon finisher in 2019. I believe these points are of value for any type of pursuit.

Surround yourself with people who believe that you can achieve your goal. When I remember this Boston Marathon dream first entered my mind – it seemed ridiculous. How could my 5k, 9:00 minute per mile pace in 2014 turn into a 26.2 qualifying time of 8:38 minute per mile pace in 2018? I had this overwhelming curiosity to figure out how to make it happen. I had friends and athletes in my life that believed in me more than I could. They could see my potential, drive and desire to make my dream a reality – they never doubted I could do it! While it was hard to believe my run paces would ever drop enough for a BQ time (Boston Qualifying Time) I kept listening to my cheerleaders and believing in their encouragement rather than my own feelings of uncertainty.

Break down the seemingly insurmountable into small goals. What is the one thing you can tackle today that will put you a step closer to your goal? It’s not always the big changes, but the small ones that make the difference. On my journey, I hired a coach after running a Boston qualifying time in 2017, but missed the race cut off time. Boston seeds the race by fastest in gender/age group, and in 2017 that meant I had to run under the qualifying time by 1:35. The race time entries have become more competitive each year. My coach restructured my running to less volume overall, but maintained three key running workouts – hills, track and distance. Mixed in were a day of swimming and one cycling. It was these small tweaks and better focus, that dropped my times. The takeaway is to ask the question, what is it that I can do today to move one more step in the right direction? Trust in the small, consistent steps.

Stop the negative self-talk. We all do it – the self-sabotaging thoughts that enter our mind when things get difficult or challenges come our way. When I first started running, I struggled mentally with getting dropped by runners who were faster or on long runs over 14 miles where my energy would deplete. I’d get overwhelmed and stuck with feelings that I just couldn’t reach my goal. What happened was that my running would breakdown the few moments after my thoughts turned negative. Over time, I learned that those thoughts were a natural part of the challenge – to reach the point that you think you can’t continue, and to learn how to refocus your effort to positivity. Most of the time I can redirect my thoughts to something along these lines: maybe I can’t today, but I’ll find a way soon. What am I doing well right now? Focus only on the mile you are in. Try practicing kindness and patience with yourself – you might improve your outcome, and if not, your enjoyment.

Ask for help. Swallow your pride and look to others who have achieved the same goal. Be willing to let others inside your weak spots to help you get better. I had runner friends that would help pace me on a few practice runs down the same course that I would eventually qualify on. They were there to help push me through the tough spots and challenge me to stick with it. I think most people who know the struggle of chasing a dream, enjoy helping others attain theirs. Helping in this way brings everyone joy!

Put all the ingredients together to fight for the finish! Trust you closest advisors, be steadfast in tackling your incremental efforts, redirect negative thoughts toward inner kindness, and ask for others to come alongside.

Running the Boston Marathon was a whirlwind of emotions. It is a huge event from the elite field to the everyday amateur who has dreamt of running this historic course. The energy starts building over the course of the weekend. Race day begins many hours before your preassigned wave time, which is based on qualifying time. For me this was Wave 3, around 11 AM. You walk about a mile to the actual start line in Hopkinton. There with your fellow 30,000 emotionally-charged runners, shoulder to shoulder, you walk cross the start line and begin to make your way through the small New England towns. The same narrow road that all the world’s best have raced.

My own race unfolded not as I’d envisioned. More prepared mentally and physically than ever before, I was ready to take on this challenging course with over 600ft of uphill gain (even though it is a net 1077ft downhill course). The hills are unrelenting, requiring the shift from uphill running to downhill running for most of the miles. After the warm rain ended and eventual humid sunshine broke through, this NW runner slowly melted.

Somewhere around mile seven I decided to change my focus from racing to simply enjoying the moment I had been given. High fiving the spectators became more fun than chasing my goal time. At mile 20 the crowds lined the street to yell “go runnah”, to encourage us to run the top of Heartbreak Hill and then begin the final 6 miles into Boston. The final 90 degree turn that leads you to the finish line is a famous saying. “Right on Hereford and left on Boylston”. It’s one of the few turns you will make on the point to point course. No matter how tired, and depleted you are, once you round that famous corner, the final straight shot down Boylston is lined with roaring crowds. The runners alongside of you are exhibiting emotions from tears to shouts. It’s a once in a lifetime moment for so many who have chased their Boston dreams for years – mine included.

We all have these things, big or small, that inspire and challenge us. Next time we talk, I’d love to hear yours. Whether it be a passion, interest or a unique adventure you pursue – please feel free to share!

Even though the race itself is a fantastic experience I can’t possibly forget, it was the journey that remains most special. It was the disciplined work in terrible weather, the faith to believe it was possible to achieve the goal, the people who encouraged me, and all of those many, wonderful miles of running that brings me the biggest smile.