Do you see the women in the middle of picture at the top of the screen? She looks quite intimidating, doesn’t she? Her name is Danielle Todman. Not only does she work for the US Airforce as a service journeyman and personally coach over 25 athletes last year she represented the USA in the Military World Games for the 400 m hurdles. Ok fine- she actually does sounds pretty damn intimidating, and she would probably scare the bajesus out of me if she wasn’t just good ole’ plain Danielle from Bucknell.
Danielle is more than a committed athlete; she is a vivacious woman who knows the meaning behind friendship, acceptance, humility and hard work. It’s been nearly 10 years since I’ve seen Danielle at Bucknell but I am often graced with (and motivated by) her Facebook updates of her personal journey to better herself through serving her country, her faith, her friends and her fitness. I recently reached out to Danielle to write a guest post on what has motivated her to stay focused on her goals throughout the last ten years. Here is her story….
You are alive, hence you are able
~ Danielle Todman
On October 6 2015 I represented the USA in the 400 m hurdles event at the Military World Games held in Mungyeon, South Korea. This was a day I never would imagine myself to be. If you asked me back in my Freshman year at Bucknell University, “Do you want to go to the World Games?”, I would have told you that the Games are a dream but simply not possible. But then with time, maturity and restless fervor the impossible became possible and my dreams became a reality.
When I look back at to what let me to this opportunity I wish I could say it was something great and profound, but it wasn’t. I wish I had a “against all odds, Danielle the underdog” inspirational story to tell you all, but I don’t. I have always ran hard. I have always wanted it BAD. But I have always been plain old number two on the team. In high school I wasn’t a stand out; I was number two. I ran in college- again number two. Sure, I scored at conferences and different championships but I could never dig deep enough to get to that next level.
I look back with a smile because back then I ran with one purpose in mind: I wanted to be famous. I wanted everyone to know my name and I wanted to be on TV. I know it’s not endearing to admit these things, but therein lies my point. At the time I was young and foolish. I wanted to prove to all the people who told me my dream was petty that they were wrong and more importantly that I was good enough.
Now I look back on my college self and laugh because I am 10 years older, stronger and faster than I was when I was 21. How is this possible? Because I have changed inside and out. Success is more than simply being strong and fit. I recently realized that for far too many years I ran for the wrong reason. In college I ran to prove others wrong and to be seen and known by all. Ha! Things have truly changed. Now I run solely for a prize that cannot be worn. I run to better myself.
I run against three hard competitors: time, fatigue, and myself.
As I look back at this opportunity and reflect I realize that it was never other people that kept me from this dream becoming reality: It was me. For many years I stood in my own way. Crazy huh? I allowed other’s words and opinions get the best of me. In the past few years I have realized that running represents life: I have to focus on myself and stay my own course. It doesn’t matter who was to my left and to my right, or what people were doing or saying I had to stay in my own lane and run the race I trained hard for.
It’s never been easy to stay focused. For a time I was in an abusive marriage where I was constantly put down as I tried to balance the military life. My beautiful family and friends kept me on track as they reminded me of who I am. They never allowed me to give up. With these things motivating me I no longer allow negativity and doubts be chains around my feet and garland around my neck.
Now I run for the sole purpose to be better and inspire. I have this crazy mindset to push hard all the time. If I elevate myself, the people around me (teammates, coworkers) will be elevated. I am humbled because a dream became reality. I raced at the 2015 Military World Games and finished the 400 m hurdles with a 59.69 seconds (a far cry from my Bucknell PR of 64.29).
It didn’t happen when I wanted it to happen, but it happened. This is for anyone who doubts that they can do something: YOU CAN DO ANYTHING! You are alive, hence you are able. To anyone who had dreams deferred, keep working hard and keep on pressing, it may not happen in the time in we want, but it does happen!