• Vanessa Seitz Midway Correspondent

Midway News and Views

“A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways as they’re capable of understanding.” Steve Prefontaine. Tenacity, perseverance and inspiring others are the themes for this week’s column. Attributes that drive the best to do better and reach the echelons of greatness that only the elite few can ever hope to taste.

Breaking through the now iconic, memorable New England morning, watching eventual female winner Des Linden in this year’s Boston Marathon - her feet rhythmically - seamlessly - blending with the relentless road in the last turn to finish the race, tears rolled down my cheeks. Never looking back. Always looking forward. Driving rain stinging her face as she powered through the miles, the rain getting ever stronger as she turned for home, wind whipping her body, clothing cold and wet on her diminutive frame ... she became for me a true heroine ... someone who came to the show ... kept showing up ... wore down her rivals ... nay, kicked on stronger as the weather worsened she kicked in harder and demonstrated that the grit and determination that marathoners can relate to. She was completing her work of art, as only a Master Craftsman can do, sculpting her own moment in history, as she became the first American woman since 1985 to win the storied race.

I’ve always said that 90 percent of running is in your head. You can train and get your mileage. You can eat right and learn the course. You can wear all the right running gear, look the part, wear the latest shoes and stand there at the start with the best preparation in the world.

But if your head is not in the game, you might as well go home. Races are won and lost on the mental game. The voices in your head that tell you that you can’t - when you know you can. The doubts when something hurts a little, a competitor says something that starts a seed of doubt that makes you not believe in yourself anymore.

When I coached cross country – and now, helping my kids with eventing or wrestling or basketball – I tell them that they need to stay in their bubble. No one can get to them if they are in their bubble. Remember the preparation, the road miles and the mental miles, and above all else believe that they can. And inevitably they can and they do - and often surpass even their own raison d’être and what they initially thought was possible.

Des Linden was in Lexington for two days last week. As part of one of my other seeming 23 jobs, we took her to Ashford Stud to see Justify – one champion meeting another. To lunch at The Stave in Millville (excellent, by the way). To a bourbon experience at Justin’s House of Bourbon in downtown Lexington. Dinner for 50-plus runners keen to meet this humble, gifted runner who inspires so many to do better. Then the next day, a bourbon barrel selection at Woodford Reserve followed by an autograph signing at Allsports and another dinner. From this whirlwind tour of Lexington and Woodford County with Des, her husband and agent, I came away appreciating her art, her tenacity, her perseverance and saw time and again how her visit and her art inspired our local runners. She loved our county and said meeting Justify and seeing Ashford was incredible! And she was in awe of our small town! Meanwhile we were all in awe of her! Some 200 runners came to her Allsports appearance – each leaving just a little more inspired to lace up their running shoes for the next run. There were runners of all abilities – those who had also run Boston in the past, young teams of runners from local schools, moms with strollers and kids, through to older runners – men and women – who clearly found her Boston run, and the previous weekend’s New York Marathon sixth-place female finish, a source of energy and drive.

She has a gift. She is an incredible runner, and she’s using that to win her races. But more than that, she’s inspiring other runners to find their gift, and to perhaps persevere when they might have given up or found that hill too much of a challenge.

Steve Prefontaine’s other most memorable quote might be, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Des Linden still feels her best is yet to come.

Local runners looking to start the New Year with a healthy challenge might look to sign up for the Frozen Rails 5k and 10k in Midway on Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. There is also a one miler and a kids’ run option. You can register atrunsignup.com.

There are several other local races at Keeneland and the surrounding area on Thanksgiving Day. Checkjohnsrunwalkshop.com Race Calendar or runsignup.com for more information on local races.

Also, at the recent Midway Business Association meeting, Zack and Riley from John’s Run Shop presented a proposal to hold the 2019 Iron Horse Marathon on Sunday morning of the Fall Festival. The members voted and agreed with the proposal.

Don’t forget the Holiday Charity Chili Cook Off Day on Nov. 17! So far 11 entries have been submitted for the contest, with around 20 entries expected. An exciting addition to the weekend’s event is that Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company will place a beer trailer at the Chili Cook-Off, near the starting point.

The holiday “Santa Claus Arrives” on the RJ Corman train is also coming up on Nov. 24, a Shop & Dine Day Dec. 1, and a Model Train Exhibition on Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. Free mini train rides will be available on the Santa Arrives date, and the model train on Dec. 8.

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