The Connection Runners + training

In Pursuit of Perfection, or Something Like That

Want in on a fairly awesome secret?

I have something in common with Desiree Davila.

Hold on. I know what you're thinking.

"Isn't Desi Davila a world-class elite amazing-in-every-way runner? That one runner who broke the American women's course record in Boston in 2011, and only lost the race by a mere 2 seconds? The one who more or less came flying out of nowhere who'll soon be competing for a spot on the 2012 Olympic team? What in the eff do you have in common with her?"

Well, you got me there, at least on a few counts. Elite I am not. Average is much more like it. Davila rocks a marathon PR that's nearly twice as fast as my own. While she's in Houston this weekend vying for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Marathon team, I'll be burrowing deeper into my couch, dreaming about the day that I won't be 39-weeks pregnant and can run farther than three feet.

Despite those key contrasts, we do live on some common ground. You see, we're both in pursuit of being the absolute best that we can be.

Though I'd heard tons of post-Boston chatter about Davila, I (like most of the world) didn't know much else of her life, training, or pre-Boston accomplishments until I received my February issue of Runner's World earlier this week.

The issue contains a 7-page spread on the California-turned-Michigan native (woo-hoo, Michigan!) and how she rose from a not-exactly-exceptional running career at Arizona State to a second-place Boston finisher in a matter of years.

In brief (because you should really just buy the issue if even for this one feature) - Davila was a good runner in college, but - to be a tad honest - she wasn't great. According to the article, the highest she ever stood on the podium was for a third-place conference finish in the 5000m. Not exactly making waves, eh?

After graduation, Davila knew she wanted to keep running, but offers weren't exactly pouring in. She ended up joining the Brooks-Hansons project (an Olympic development training club located in Rochester, MI) in 2005. With Hansons, she trained hard, but still failed to stand out in a pack of women like Paula Radcliffe, Deena Kastor, and Kara Goucher.

By 2009, however, her hard work began to pay off, and she ran her first sub-2:30 race in Berlin, finishing just behind Goucher. And then, in 2011, came her record-breaking finish in Boston.

What I love about Davila's story is that she didn't give up in those first few difficult years. She persisted - kept training, kept running, kept improving - until it all paid off in Boston. Sure, she was on an elite level to begin with, but her tale proves that even elites are constantly chasing down PRs, logging tons of hard, uncertain miles, and dealing with the pressure to be their absolute best.

As a runner (yes, I'll call myself that again someday soon), I found so much inspiration in Desi. I love that she's come so far as an athlete and proved that hard work can equal great success.


I can only hope that in my own pursuit to be my best self that I don't throw in the towel or feel that what I've done is good enough. There's always room for improvement, room to be a better, stronger, and faster runner.

Just need to remember this post when I'm slogging through an 18-miler this summer.

What do you think about Desi Davila's story?
Who else inspires you to be your best self?


Want some more inspiration to be your best self in 2012? Check out Megan's post, and join in #OperationHardcore today!

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