On Persevering

BREAKING NEWS: Verna Gass is our randomly selected winner! Please check your email, Verna, and congratulations.

Edith writing from north of Boston, where the daffodils and forsythia are in full cheery bloom and the words are flowing! To celebrate persevering to reach goals, I’ll give away an advance copy of Strangled Eggs and Ham to one commenter here today.

I moved to the Boston area the year I turned thirty. After taking up karate again (after a five year break for grad school) and earning my black belt, I started running for exercise. I also started watching the Boston Marathon on television every year on Patriots Day.

The following year, a petite woman named Joan Benoit won Boston with a record-setting time of 2:22, and the year after that, she won gold in the Olympics first women’s marathon event in Los Angeles.

Joan Benoit winning Boston for the first time in 1979. Photo from Steemit.

Joanie is five years younger than me, and in those days I was nearly as petite as her. While I didn’t aspire to running fast and long, I used to channel her as I slapped on a ball cap and set out on a six-mile run around the Mystic Lakes. I’d picture her even stride, her focused look, and it really helped me get through the distance.

Fast forward fifteen years and two children. I was running again and going longer and longer distances with a running buddy. After we finished a half-marathon in the fall, we decided to aim high and run Boston the next spring. Talk about persevering! Training to run 26 miles is way different than 13. We’d go out for ten or twelve-mile long runs on the weekends. In February I ran the Tri-State 20, a twenty-mile race one way from Kittery, Maine to Salisbury, Massachusetts – and finished. My friend and I got charity numbers (because neither of us was remotely fast enough to qualify) and each raised more than a hundred dollars a mile, me for the Leukemia Foundation, him for another charity.

Marathon day rolled around. Full of nerves, we set out. It was tough, but we crossed the finish line together, in under six hours!

Me crossing the finish line.

See? I even got a certificate! I didn’t win a thing except a huge sense of accomplishment, some needed confidence, and a set of really sore quads.

Every year I still watch Boston on TV as my annual sporting event. This year, last Monday, I was delighted to hear that Joan Benoit Samuelson was running again, with a goal of finishing within forty minutes of her time in 1979. I don’t run at all anymore, but I was rooting for her. I tracked her on the app the Boston Athletic Association provides.

And she did it! What a treat to see this lean, still petite sixty-one year old finish with a big honking smile. She ran it with her daughter, which made it even more special.

Joanie persevered to reach her goal, so she’s still my role model. We all know how much perseverance and persistence it takes for us to reach our writing goals. My Boston finish twenty-one years ago is one of the things that gives me a boost when I’m feeling challenged. If I could do that, I can do anything.

Readers: What have you persisted at? What goals are you proudest of reaching? I will send an ARC of my eighteenth mystery to one lucky commenter!

83 Thoughts

  1. I am proud of myself for not giving up on finding what skills I had to get out in the workforce many years ago, I discovered in my late 20s I had good clerical skills.

  2. I am proud that I never gave up at my current job. Believe it or not, some people who work in a church are more devious than those that don’t. I have been singing in church all my life because my mother was organist, choir director and soloist at the church that I grew up. It was expected by the priests, nuns and parishioners that her children serve in the same way. So my sisters and I sang and brothers were altar servers. I was plucked out of the group and trained to be what is called a cantor..leader of song.. in the Catholic Church. Fast forward 25 years.. now married and living in my husbands city and attending his parish church.. the pastor was persistent that I sing and serve at this parish … I started to do so and was asked to assume role of parish cantor… never have I ever encountered back stabbing and just plain nasty comments and people … I learned and lived.. jealousy rears it head.. also green with envy … hard time to live through but I now had children of my own and wanted to exemplify service and commitment … I’m now entering my 31st year at this parish not only in the role as cantor but also as director of music ministry. After completing another Holy Week and Easter .. I know I’m in the right place doing what I’m supposed to be doing!

    1. Sounds like you are! Good for you, Ann, but what a shame people are so petty. I saw similar behavior in academia – people with PhDs. Who knew…

  3. After my two children were born. My goal was to work at the same elementary school that I went to and both of them. I worked at three different elementary schools before a opening came about at Northwood Elementary.
    I applied and got the job!
    I worked there as a custodian for 28 years. I loved it. I loved working with the children and teachers very much. I’m glad I never gave up trying to get a job there. It’s been one of my best blessings to have worked there.
    Have a great day!!!

  4. I guess I whimp out at persistence except when I flunked out of college for a semester I was determined to be a librarian and went back to school and graduated . I worked for 7 years as a school librarian and loved working with kids. I then reaied 4 readers of my own and homeschooled them.

  5. How inspirational – I had no idea that Joan Benoit was running in this year’s marathon. I am thrilled. And congratulations to you, Edith for having completed as well. I’ve been a runner since I was in my 20s but I’ve never, ever, attempted a marathon.

    Perseverance? Oh yes, finishing that first ever publishable book – and it took a village of writers like you encouraging me. Thank you, ma’am.

  6. I’ve spent several years working on a family tree. Along the way I’ve gotten in touch with a cousin I knew about but had no contact information for and gotten in touch with several other cousins I didn’t know about.

  7. Wow! What a great story to start out a Monday! This is why I love reading this blog! I’ve always loved to write and have a minor in creative writing. This past March, I finally finished the book I had been working on for ten years! This summer, I’ll be part of a writers group and I’m excited to see what happens. Thanks for always updating us about the process of writing for the Wicked authors. You wonderful women have helped to keep me inspired!

  8. I have stuck with an exercise program for over two years. It is the first time I have stuck with any sort of exercise for longer than a few weeks – I hate exercise. Some days I have to talk myself into it, but when I’m finished I am glad I did it.
    Love this series and looking forward to reading Strangled Eggs and Ham!

  9. I had been faithfully exercising and then stopped so now my goal is to start again and keep up with it. I feel so much better when I do! I want to be around to see my grandchildren grow up!

  10. When I go to book events, people stare at me when they ask “How long did it take you to finish this book?” and I say, “It was four years from conception to acceptance and another eight months to publication.”

    I also stuck it out and earned my second-degree black belt. I would have loved to reach third, but while the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak – specifically my knee, which wouldn’t put up with the pivoting any longer.

  11. I have struggled with addiction over the past 10 years and it has not been an easy journey. But through the 12 steps, faith in the God of my understanding, the support of wonderful friends and family–I’ve been clean for a little over 5 years. I am now able to sponsor women and carry the message of recovery to others.

    I’ve read all of the books in the series so thank you for the chance to win Strangled Eggs and Ham!

  12. Hi Edith,

    Sometimes persistence consists of reposting my comments on the Wickeds website until I can convince the password manager that I really am who I say I am. Sigh.

    I’ve always firmly believed that those who run marathons should be screened for mental illnesses. Persistent? Undoubtedly. Wise? I’m not so sure.

    I have a dear friend who regularly ran marathons. Every year he’d come to Sacramento to run in the California marathon, and I’d come down to the finish line at the State Capitol to cheer him home. But the way he looked after running 26+ miles only served to confirm my belief in the link between running marathons and impaired mental health. He’s now an elected public official in San Jose, which only goes to prove my point.

    But to get back to the topic of persistence, clearly nothing requires more persistence than writing. Actually the analogy between running and writing is truly apt. With both, you really need to do it each and every day. If you skip a day at either, it’s all the harder to get back into the routine. The “muscles” you use for each become stiff and sore when you try to resume, and the longer you stay away, the more likely it becomes that you’ll never go back.

    For me, Lord knows it’s required persistence to keep working on this book, beyond all bounds of good sense, most would say. In fact, I’m certain most of my friends would agree that it’s evidence that I’M the one in need of a mental health screening.

    But to be serious for a moment, congratulations, Edith, on your achievement. You have every right to be very proud of that accomplishment!

    In New York, on his way to Malice next week, recovering from a serious injury but still going to the theater religiously and reveling in the theatrical wonders Broadway has to offer. Actually, I guess it’s another good example of persistence!

  13. I persevered to finish college after my mom died my freshman year. Legallyblonde1961 at yahoo dot com

  14. Congratulations, Edith, on doing the Boston marathon! I ran a few 5ks in my youth and those were sufficiently brutal for me to conclude that I was not suited for running. The thing which I persisted in is the practice of law. I was admitted to the bar in 1983 and have been mostly in sole practice since. I had practiced criminal defense for several years until I came home one day and the kids announced they didn’t want me working 80 hours a week anymore. Okey, dokey. So now I represented injured workers who are being screwed over by insurance companies and I love being able to help people.

    1. Hi Keenan,

      And you forgot to mention that you are also busy writing an absolutely stunning new mystery series. Deadly Solution was nominated for the Best First Mystery Agatha and richly deserved it.

      Full disclosure: I have no connection whatsoever to Keenan (other than having read her book) and have never (to the best of my knowledge) ever communicated with her prior to this post. But if you haven’t yet read Deadly Solution, do so. It’s in no way a cozy (just as Louise Penny doesn’t write cozies – and the comparison is intentional).

  15. I got my Associates degree at age 63. I never wanted to go to college when I was younger. I worked at Accounts Payable for 30 years. One day I just decided to sign up and got my Associates in 18 months doing online college. It felt great!

  16. This is a cool story. I can’t imagine running 26.5 miles in what was it 2 hours and 22 minutes. I do endurance riding. My best time so far is 4 hours and 9 minutes. I can do 15 mile in 2 hours on my horse. Hahaha

  17. My mantra is never give up! (Even on the little things) I guess being stubborn doesn’t hurt either but if it’s worth doing keep trying. You can never fail unless you give up!!
    Congrats to all the marathon runners …great job. I admire your conviction and dedication.Some times just getting through the day seems like a marathon to me😂

  18. In my life there have been multiple events that helped me to become better at something that I wasn’t sure that I felt comfortable doing. In high school I found my fear of public speaking fading between signing up for debating and drama club and especially when I gave my Salutatory speech at graduation. I kept trying to overcome other insecurities in college as a business major and was chosen to work on my school newspaper which included interviewing and writing for the paper using my public speaking skills and honing my creative writing. After finding what I thought was a perfect job my husband was transferred by his company and I was was selected for a law office job in our relocation which required all the previous skills as well as total accuracy in research and writing and more plus interviewing clients and those seeking legal representation. Fast forward to a few years later and my husband and I buying and selling four businesses over a span of years with me helping to run and manage two of them specifically, plus helping at our local Chamber of Commerce to garner new members and also writing (food columns) for a few local newspapers. Without my determination to keep pushing through my young adult fears of public speaking and feeling confidant with taking charge at various jobs with each new opportunity I know I wouldn’t have had such a varied, interesting and productive life! This positive attitude and trying to better myself in all ways possible also helped me to do reasonably well with my artistic and creative skills as well as feeling confidant in entering many recipe and cooking contests and winning many of them. At my age now as long as I learn at least one new word or discover something new to me that day I feel “accomplished” in a new relaxed and rewarded life.

    I have totally enjoyed your various series, Edith, and would be delighted to be chosen for you newest book. Thank you so much.


  19. I’ve never been athletic at all–but many of my friends and my husband all said it was so much fun. I started playing and was horrible, but I kept at it an even managed to win the club championship at a small course. My skills are starting to slip now that I’m getting older, but I still love getting out there on the course, playing a few holes and enjoying nature at the same time.

  20. Great essay , Edith. You are an inspiration for sure. I’ll never be a runner, or any kind of athlete, so I’d better model myself on your writing career. 🙂 As for me, the persistence is in writing. It took me a long time to get started, and have been on and off for various outside reasons,and also I procrastinate (I am the reason for that) but I have kept doing it, or at least, coming back to it.And somehow hammered out a small but real career. Many years ago I was in a writer group. I was the only one with kids at home AND a full time job. I lost interest in the group when I realized I was the most productive member. You are right – perseverance is the game.

  21. I felt the same way when I finished my half marathon. I don’t know that I have a full
    marathon in me. Too much time spent training before hand. It would take away from my reading time!

  22. Made it thru nursing school with a husband who has crazy & long working hours & two children. I manage to be at almost all their activities & school events. Whew!

  23. Edith, you keep coming up with more and more impressive surprises about yourself. I used to watch the Boston Marathon every year curbside, but it never occurred to me to actually run in it!

    My perseverance was sticking it out to graduate from college. I started at 27, was working full time, had a family and other obligations. It took me 9 1/2 years but I made it, magna cum laude. Since then I have persevered in many things, but that’s the thing I’m proudest of.

  24. I’ve always wanted to work with disadvantaged youth. I wasn’t able to make a career of it, but I’m now a part of a coalition that works through the court system to be advocated for these youth who are stuck in bad situations. It’s very fulfilling work and I’m so blessed to have found this avenue to help these kids.

  25. I think we all do every day…going on when all you want to do is stop. Not crying when it takes your all to not do something that simple. Going to a crappy job everyday because you gotta pay the bills. Learning and training for a better job! Taking care of our parents everyday when they no longer can because they did it for us.

  26. My best perseverance has been with a problem dog I adopted and was afraid I could not keep. His reactive aggression got worse before it improved, and I spent many hours wondering if I had and would fail him like others had. Almost 12 years later he died from cancer, but what a joyful life we had together!

    1. That’s a lovely story, Gloria. Aren’t you glad you kept going? Wicked Liz recently adopted a problem dog, and she’s sticking to it, too.

  27. I persevered through a two year divorce and was able to keep my house. During that time I found out how strong I could be and that I can accomplish my goals.

  28. What an inspirational post! I’m going to persevere right now and make progress on my WIP, which has been a bit of a slog. Thanks for the motivation!

  29. Being a nurse. I wanted to be a nurse since I was 8. Then as I was getting ready to go to hospital school, my dad decided I needed to go to college for a BSN. Then he decided I shouldn’t be a nurse. He decided I should be a teacher. I think he thought I was the malleable one. Wrong! I was gonna be a nurse no matter what!! And that lead me into learning about being a midwife. And deciding that’s what I was gonna do. And I did. Delivered over 14,000 babies. And learned to love doing all the GYN/well-woman stuff!!

  30. I am proud of never giving up after having five unsuccessful back surgeries. Between the pain and the rehab and the inevitable pain again, I tried to keep a smile on my face and I ended up learning a lot about myself. I found strength I never knew I had and a perseverance that has kept me going and has kept me from giving up. I know that one day there will new technology that will make the pain go away!

    Congratulations on running the marathon!

    1. Now THAT is perseverance. What an inspiration you are. Good luck in finding relief.

  31. I’m very persistent when it comes to photography. I keep striving to get in a photo what my mind’s eye sees. When I reach one goal, then I set another. There’s always that brass ring to reach for and perfection isn’t the end goal but rather to always try to do better whether it’s luck, new technique or better equipment I keep at it.

    I’d also have to say weight management is something I struggle with, fight with sometimes winning and sometimes not. It’s partly in the genes and will never be something I overcome. I’m one of those that can look at food and gain while my wonderful hubby can out eat anyone and never gain an ounce. Age and health problems add a different dimension to the problem. I’ve been way up the scales and way down the scales – more than a few times. When I can get my body to a healthy point, I have better luck. However, the last few years I’ve not been so lucky health wise. Walking use to be my greatest advantage. However, now I have problems walking a straight line and use a cane most times which limits my walking. I may on the heavy side of the scales at present, but I’ll never give up. I’ll make it down again – slow and steady like the turtle with a few detours along the way. 🙂

    Thank you for the chance to win an ARC copy of “Strangled Eggs and Ham”. Love you books and can’t wait for the opportunity to read and review this one.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. i hear you on the weight thing, Kay, but health is the most important part. As long as we keep moving – even at turtle speed – we’re ahead.

  32. My proudest moment was taking a long distance trip by myself driving. I had a habit of getting lost.
    Also getting back into writing some poetry.

  33. I live in Boston and watch the Marathon every year…usually at the top of heartbreak hill. My daughter has run Boston probably 12 or more times and I stand at the top of that hill and watch the incredible grit and determination on the runners’ faces and marvel at them. I find it very emotional, especially when she comes running up to us with a smile on her face and even a bounce in her step. I admire them all so.
    Persistence. Sober 27 years. Lost my husband suddenly at 7 years sober and through family, the program, and my higher power stayed sober. A day at a time. Truly a gift

    1. Congrats on 27 years of sobriety. I’m going on 18 years and know how hard it can be.

  34. I am proud that I played clarinet from 4th grade through high school. In 8th grade I was first chair first seat clarinet in the County Honor Band!!

  35. Rrandom.org picked Verna Gass as our winner of the Strangled Eggs and Ham ARC! Congratulations. Please check your email, Verna. Thanks to all for your comments – I wish I had a book for everyone.

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