16 Oct. 2015- “Respect” is one of the three values of Olympism. It is something people impose upon others or do to others. This athlete, Chirine Njeim, is the incarnation of that word.
This woman is not only an athlete running or training for competition or for external rewards. You will find out more about her in the article below. She exhibited respect by working hard in silence and challenging herself while pushing her own limits.
Chirine participated in three consecutive Winter Olympic Games as an Alpine Skier, after which running kicked in as her second sport’s passion. She took that passion into a whole new level last Sunday when she set a new Lebanese Marathon record of 2h 46min 41 seconds!
When she was asked about the psychological and physical state for the Chicago race, she replied “Preparing for the Chicago Marathon this year, was a lot different from every other year. How? I trained hard but kept it fun! Every run had a purpose. Throughout my training, I slowly built confidence and slowly learned the purpose of each run. Physically, I felt strong and that of course, came with training. Everything went as planned. I trained hard, stayed healthy and most important kept it fun!”
Leading to Chicago, Chirine had already planned the race, and she made sure she knew exactly what she needed to do and how far she can push herself. She came to this Chicago marathon aiming to break the national record of 3:00:01 held by another amazing woman, Maria Pia NEHME, since 2009.
“Yes! I definitely had a plan to break the 3 hours. But I had no plans to run a 2:46.41! I knew I was strong, and my training went great and I trusted my running, which is very important to me. I was in a good spot” said Chirine.
“Of course, you never know what can happen during a marathon. But I just focused on the things that I can control, and the rest was magic” she added.
Furthermore, when asked what did she thought crossing the finish line and realizing that she broke the record by almost 15 minutes, Chirine answered: “It was the most amazing feeling ever! Looking up at the clock and realizing that I just ran an effortless, fast and fun marathon made me feel so complete at that moment. Honestly, the first thing I wanted to do was meet my husband and friends to celebrate. It was time to RELAX!”
Now, Chirine is only four minutes away from Rio 2016 Olympic Qualifications. Her plan is “to keep training hard and hoping for the best!”
There are only few athletes in the world who were able to make it to both the Winter and Summer Olympics. If Chirine does this achievement, she won’t only be writing Lebanese history but she will also enter the history of the Olympic Games!!
“I would love to make history! I mean who wouldn’t, right? Lebanon is beautiful, and it deserves to be advertised. May El Khalil has started something amazing in Lebanon, “run for Peace”, and I would love to carry that to the world! I run for me because it gives satisfaction and PEACE. But I hope I can inspire others. Anything can be done if you put your heart and mind into it!”
On the other hand, about the competition between her and Pia NEHME she said: “Pia, is an amazing runner, she inspired us all with her records and made us want to chase them!! Yes, I am one of them, the record chaser!!”
“As an athlete, we all have dreams and goals, and we will do anything to accomplish them. Pia is my teammate and not my competition. She is someone I can always depend on for advice and I wish her nothing but the best always!!”
Moreover, I would say that sometimes, you meet people who contribute in your success and help you draw your own path. For Chirine, this particular person is Heather PREKOP, her coach and best friend!
“I met Heather while I was training with another group last year, and we automatically became friends. She is my inspiration. She helped me understand everything about running, and the purpose of it all. Why we do tempo runs, why we do easy runs, the importance of a day off etc… Most important she taught me to listen to my body and be flexible. She always said: “there is always tomorrow, just be true to yourself”. There is so much to learn from her as an athlete and a mom and I feel so lucky to have met such an amazing friend,” said Chirine.
Finally, we will have the opportunity to see Chirine once again running the BDL Beirut Marathon on November 8! Even if she needs more time to get back to her best after the Chicago marathon, she is “excited to be [here] and run the street of Beirut”.
All the best Chirine!