Nelson: Women athletes are inspirations

Rebecca Nelson

Two hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds. To you, this is the length of a lab, a flight home for Thanksgiving break or how much sleep you got last night. For Shalane Flanagan, every second was history. Every minute set her apart from her competition, and in two hours, she became the first woman to win the TCS New York City Marathon in 40 years.

Flanagan is not just another Olympic medalist running for money and press. She has a story, like all of you. Running Competitor stated she was born in Boulder, Colorado and raised in Massachusetts becoming a runner from the start, striving to get to the finish line. By the time she was 18 years old she was running cross country at North Carolina State winning several national titles. She then went on to assist coaching with the cross country team at Portland State University, impacting several young adults just like her, just like you and me.

Last Sunday, her life was changed, by just a few minutes. We all woke up Monday morning heard the news, read the headlines and then moved on with our daily lives. What we failed to celebrate was not just this incredible runner, but the mother and woman behind her title. After winning, Flanagan told the NY Post a list of “life lessons” she has learned, including how important self-care was to achieving her goals. After a minor set back from a back injury she decided to take 10 weeks off from running, instead going on vacation, spending time with her daughters, as well as writing another cookbook. To call this woman a runner is a disgrace; she’s a super hero.

This three-time Olympic runner is not hyped enough. Just three years ago, Flanagan finished the Boston Marathon with the fastest time by an American woman in the race’s history. Runners World reported her time at two hours, 22 minutes and two seconds, beating her time achieved last Sunday. However, just because she didn’t win, she wasn’t seen as a role model or a star. For this woman to continue to persist, to want to win more than anything is truly amazing.

So often we ignore the good in the media, and focus on the drama, the violence and the unnecessary. Even in sports, we ignore the women because they “don’t win” or come in “second.” It’s time we see that women are lighting the path for the younger generations in so many different settings. Flanagan not only represents persistence, but she represents focus, hard work and having big dreams. For men and women all over the world, all over our campus, she has made strides for all of us to continue our personal races.