One of our favorite sayings is that “Steel Sharpens Steel”. Hang around hard working people and you’ll probably work harder. Run with fast people and you’ll likely run faster. We think the same holds true with toughness. Associate yourself with strong-willed individuals and…well…you get the point.

But toughness can take many forms. It might be the ability to withstand a punch as a fighter. Or hit as a football player. Or to ignore your screaming muscles and keep moving forward as an endurance athlete.

One of our elite athletes tried to describe what it was like toward the end of race. She said, “Imagine that you have placed your hand in a pot of hot water. Very hot water that is getting hotter. Now leave it in there. That’s sort of what it is like toward the end of the race. Your muscles start to scream as the water inches toward the boiling point. A voice in your head starts to try and convince you to stop the pain. And you can take your hand out anytime you want. Just drop the pace a little and the boiling water cools. No one would ever know. Well, except you of course. And that’s why you don’t do it. Because of everything you’ve sacrificed to get to this point. Because you don’t want to let everyone down that has helped you get here. Because you don’t want to let yourself down. Because you’re tough!      

No matter how you define it, toughness is on display in abundance with women in endurance sports.  Especially with the Coeur Girls. We knew going in that some great and very disciplined athletes had applied to be on the team but even so, we are still in awe of the seemingly daily examples of fortitude, determination and iron will.

Here are a few examples from the last couple weeks.

Kelsey is triathlete, a mountain biker and a road racer. Two weeks ago, she took a bad spill and picked up some serious road rash but that didn’t keep her from racing last week. Then, during a 30 mph decent, a distracted driver turned right in front of her and Kelsey impacted the side of the car. She t-boned the vehicle and smashed the windshield. She was airlifted to the Stanford Hospital where she spent several days. So, guess what Kelsey did today? She went outside and tried to run. Tough? Yeah…pretty darn tough.

Kelsey Withrow Bike Accident

Kelsey after a distracted driver turned in front of her

Katie is an ITU racer and Olympic hopeful. We met her at the Super Sprint in Las Vegas last year but she couldn’t race because of a recent crash. We hit it off with her though and were thrilled to be able to sponsor her this year. She’s won four ITU races in her year and change as a pro and was in the pack on the bike last week when she went down. If you’ve seen one of the Tour de France type “yard sale” wrecks, you’ll have a sense for what we’re talking about. Katie not only fell but was literally run over. She received cuts, road rash and bruised ribs. So what is she doing now? She’s on her way to Japan to race of course. Tough. Yep. Very.

Katie Zaferes injury

Does the universe demand balance? Matching scars.

Finally, we’d like to talk about Marison. She’s a friend and one of the nicest individuals you’ll ever meet. Recently, she was diagnosed with cancer. Because of her treatments, she couldn’t make it down to do the Braveheart Brick workout (one of the hardest in San Diego), so she just put her bike on the trainer and did the workout by herself in her garage. Nails…absolute nails.

Marison getting Chemo

The absolute toughest.

At Coeur, we love to celebrate a lot of things but “tough” is right up there at the top of the list. So, do you have a story of toughness to share? It can be yours or a friend’s. We’d love to hear it and we’d enjoy sharing it with others.

Because after all, Steel Sharpens Steel.