Posted by: Susan Loken | March 20, 2011

Run with the angels, Sal!

“Life is rarely what we expect it to be, but we need to look for the lilies. We need to do what brings us joy and what gives us a sense of purpose.”

In Memory of Sally Meyerhoff

I am deeply saddened. We lost a member of our running family last week, my dear friend Sally Meyerhoff. I’ve sat down several times to write, but it is difficult to find words that fully express just how sad her death is and just how inspirational her life was. Her death has been felt throughout the community, and her spirit lives on.

We runners are connected to one another – we share a love and a passion. Our respect and understanding for each other goes beyond that of a normal friendship. We find strength and motivation from each other. We not only feel joy for our personal accomplishments; we also feel joy for our fellow runners when they accomplish great things. Sometimes, we don’t even know another runner personally – we may have read about the person or witnessed the person’s accomplishment at a race – and he or she personally inspires us! We push harder and train smarter, so we too can accomplish more. Other runners give us hope and strength to pursue our own personal dreams. These are the ties that bind us all, as a family of runners. Yes, we each have our own immediate family, but also our “running family” –equally as important.

Runners all over the world have been inspired, motivated and touched by Sally Meyerhoff’s driving passion and amazing accomplishments. Some of us knew her personally and some only knew of her, but we all felt connected to her, inspired by her and forever changed because of her.

Meeting Sally

Sally on stage with me at the 2008 R'n'R Marathon

By the time Sally ran her first marathon in January 2008, I had already completed 21 marathons, qualified for two Olympic Marathon trials, won three USA Master Championships and won six marathons. I guess you could say I was a veteran marathon runner. Sally came to

me for advice.  I was so flattered! I knew Sally was the real deal. My personal best was simply making the Olympic Trials, but with her talent, passion and drive, I knew Sally could someday make the actual Olympics! Wow, a future Olympian was asking me for advice and guidance! I was honored. I immediately felt protective and proud of her as a runner – in a mom sort of way. She was only two years older than my son.

I ran Sally’s first marathon with her … ok, behind her. Sally placed 6th (2:42:47) and I placed 7th (2:44:26) at the 2008 Phoenix P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Phoenix. I was thrilled with my time and place; it was close to my personal best. But, for Sally, this was just a very small glimpse into what she was capable of, and she felt she should have done better. When she told me this, the mom in me took over – I actually scolded her. I told her how proud of her I was, how amazing she was, and that she should be proud of herself! Her first marathon time had qualified for the 2008 Olympic trials! She just had such a deep passion, and expected so much from herself. Yes, in Sally’s life she had already accomplished so, so much, but the marathon was a new mountain for her to kick ass on.

Her run to the top

Katie, Me, Sally and her mom

I ran Sally’s second marathon with her … ok, behind her (always!). Sally placed 20th (2:39:39) and I placed 40th (2:42:55) at the 2008 USA Olympic Marathon Trials. Again, this was just one step forward for Sally’s bright future as a marathon runner. I was so proud of her. I simply felt honored that I had the privilege to talk with her about her goals and dreams, to train with her on occasion, to watch her, and to take a play a tiny role in her life as she found her way up. We all love the energy from successful people.

Sally worked hard. She won the 2009 USA 25-K title and the 2010 More Magazine | Fitness Magazine Half Marathon in New York.  In December, she won the XTERRA Trail Running World Championship Half-Marathon in Hawaii.  Sally was scheduled to run the New York City Half Marathon on March 20 and defend her title at More | Fitness on April 3.

My husband, Bill, was always just as proud, supportive and excited for Sally’s success as I was. Last fall, she was running the Twin Cities 10 mile race before I ran the Twin Cities Marathon. Bill, like a proud dad, rushed over to the start of the 10 mile race to be sure to take pictures of Sally starting her race.

Bill also made a point of being at the end of the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon with a camera last January. It was Sally’s dream to be one of the best runners, and we knew she wanted to win that race in her hometown. Bill anxiously waited. Sally was the first female to come blaring toward him. She won, crossing the finish line at 2:37:55. She was thrilled, she was inspiring, she was on her way up and she was living proof of how far you can go when you are relentlessly positive! Let me tell you, there was not a happier person than Sally on that day.

Sally inspired so many of us live life to the fullest and showed us that with hard work, dedication, passion and the right attitude there are no limits.

My heart hurts for Sally’s family and I understand that they not only need our prayers love and support this week, but for years to come. Sally, I promise to keep in touch with your family and help to keep your spirit alive.

Let this be a reminder to all of us. Tomorrow is a gift, not a guarantee. Live each day like it’s your last. Do what you are passionate about. Tell those you love how much you love them. Be kind and helpful to everyone. Be relentlessly positive. And be confident that when it’s time for your journey on earth to end, that when you go to heaven you will have left a positive footprint on this earth, just as Sally did.

Run with angels, Sal!

First victory realized

Giving it her all for the win

 

Please support the Sally Meyerhoff foundation. CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

Sally Meyerhoff lived, inspired and made the most of her 27 years. She accomplished more than most of us do in a lifetime. She should have no regrets. She left positive changes in the world. We all should be like that. We, the running

community, need to keep her spirit alive and need to continue to reach out to

her family because they need us now. After we all get back to our lives, they still are missing a daughter/sister. They need us to support them not only today, but next year … and so on, and so on! Donate today.

READ SALLY’S BLOG to find your inner courage, to aim for dreams.


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Responses

  1. Very nice post! Sally was special!

  2. Thanks for the moving tribute. As great an athlete as Sally was, the fact that she maintained a down to earth personally and was so approachable made her a very special person. As an Arizona Road Racer board member, I can say that ARR is going to discuss how we can support the memory of Sally Meyerhoff.

  3. Susan, you have so wonderfully put into words a remarkable tribute to Sally. I know Sally was touched by you, your amazing spirit and your “relentlessly positive” attitude. Thank you for being a shining light always… even in the midst of darkness!

  4. That was beautiful Susan. You really created a touching post, made me tear up.
    Can I tell you how lucky I feel to have you in my life? 🙂

  5. Susan, your words are so thoughtful, just like you are to so many of us. I lay here minutes before knee surgery and you and Sally have me going in with relentless positivity. Thanks and hugs!

  6. Wonderful tribute Susan! I know that you will carry the spirit of Sally with you when you compete in the Olympic Trials next year! And from one that has been lucky enough to be trained by you I thank you for your inspiring words and positivity!


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