Monday, January 26, 2015

Meeting Lauren Fleshman + Banquet Tidbits

"Don't let others define your success."

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If there was one take away from Lauren Fleshman's presentation at the Fort Wayne Track Club banquet, it was that.

For her, a professional runner of more than 10 years, it has been paramount to create her own path, one that will allow her to be the best version of herself – not only as an athlete but as a person. The harder she tried to live by the rules of the industry, the ones she was told were required to be successful, the more she was unhappy. Her world was too small. Too limited. She needed something bigger. Something more. And when she chose to open herself up to the idea and expand her horizons, she found not just joy but success.

The presentation was not about Oiselle or Nike, the USATF or athlete rights. She spoke about herself and what it took to find her place, experiencing the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. As a runner, as a mom, as a fan girl – it was captivating to hear. From social media and her pieces for Runner's World, Ask Lauren and Oiselle's blog, I thought she was refreshing, honest and, well, totally rad. I liked Lauren Fleshman, as a representative of the industry. But I didn't know why I liked her as a runner or even why I should.

"The person that's last place always has a story."

And, now, I know – but not for the list of accomplishments that were on the banquet program. It was that she shared she came in last in the finals of the 2012 Olympic Trials for the 5K. It's this emotional video of an interview taken after she qualified for said finals. It's that she still has hope, she still has the dream of going to the Olympics. Eyes set on 2016. It's that she's been injured and remained driven during recovery. It's that she tried to run at times and couldn't. It's that she had the courage to believe and she did.

I came away from the banquet with new-found respect, admiration and kinship. OK, so the last part's a stretch – it's not like we're BFFs now – but she totes showed the most relatable picture (to me) in the beginning of her presentation: She was at a triathlon, cheering on husband Jesse Thomas, with son Jude in a carrier on her back. Jesse was running, Lauren was enthusiastic and Jude was screaming. (See it HERE; I don't feel like stealing.)

It sort of reminds me of that photo post-Veterans Marathon when I'm sweaty and exhausted, Kasey is beaming and Miles has a bloody lip.

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And now, as Lauren looks forward, she insists it's not about the times. It's not about what she's done or could have done. It's where she's going and she's moving forward.

"Honor the narrative of your running."

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But should I honor my inability to take a serious photo, that is the question?

Other banquet highlights:

  • Lauren noticing my fan girl nerdiness in wearing the Fleshman Flyer shirt. I think I was a bit self effacing rather than gracious but 'tis my style. 
  • Finally getting my hands on a "Believe" journal and having her sign it. I think I'm going to save it for my post-baby comeback.
  • Celebrating and honoring the sport of running, what it has done for me and how it has expanded my world. 
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  1. I really loved how she didn't talk about Oiselle or Nike either. I also really liked how she said that when she narrowed her world to just running, only that, she was really miserable. But when she opened it up to running and marriage and business and doing road races for fun and engaging in the community she was happier AND a more successful runner.

    I also liked the cheesecake.

    And you and Tami.

  2. You seem to go to some really fun events. I LOVE the picture of you and her. It's adorable. I also think your hair looks fantastic .. random? .. yes. But still the truth. I got one of those "Believe" journals for Christmas and started using it in January. I've always enjoyed a good journal. Since having kids and being married I don't write in a journal like I used to. I underestimated how much I would enjoy using one for training. I like that it redirects my attention to focus on my intentions for the week and then looking back on those intentions at the end of the week. Make an adjustment if necessary and do the same thing the following week. Using yours for your comeback sounds like an awesome idea!

    1. We are so lucky here that the track club brings in such great speakers. From what I understand, they've gotten quite the reputation for being awesome so hopefully we keep getting fun folks!

      And thanks for the hair comment. I got it cut a couple weeks ago.

  3. ^ YES! your hair looks super cute and I love the picture of you two together :)

  4. She's just so damn REAL. That was so refreshing coming from any kind of pro-athlete. I wasn't overwhelmed by her list of achievements, I was simply inspired to go after my own.

    Also, I'm sorry you didn't get any of that cheesecake ...

  5. So fun! Love that you got to meet her.

  6. Thank you so much for this write up! I really wanted to come to the banquet to hear Lauren speak (and hopefully get her to sign my Believe training journal i was given for Christmas). The snow and ice we got all afternoon and evening made it unsafe to make the 2.5+hour trip.

    Maybe someday I'll get to meet her. She is just so REAL. And such an inspiration to me as a runner, mama, wife, coach, and entrepreneur! I'm so glad you were there.

    1. The snow was such a bummer! It seems the banquet always has stupid weather. The emcee of the night joked that we should have it in Florida. Couldn't agree more.

  7. That is so awesome you got to meet her. I have heard that she speaks really well!! I have seen her at a few triathlons. She seems super nice. (or rad maybe?!)

  8. Love this! I met Lauren this summer at a pre-race event in Chicago. It was around the anniversary of the first women's Olympic Marathon and she told an inspiring story about seeing it with her mom in LA in 1984. More importantly she reminded us that we are all role models and heros to someone for our running and sportsmanship. She is my fave! Just love her! We took silly pics, too. (You can see the post on my blog at erica finds dot com. Search Fleshman :))

  9. how awesome! i have been been loving lauren ever since i started reading her column in runners world. i especially love hearing about how she trains so hard after becoming a mom. and she is the reason for my goal to train for a 5K this year (like really train!). that's great you got to meet her! and cute pic - you both look great!!

    1. I agree about how she has trained post-Jude. She seems to have a very realistic but driven approach. She's taken it slowly and been realistic. Very refreshing.

      I can't wait to see you rock a 5K this year!