Living the dream is not supposed to be convenient
We all have them.
Ideas and inspirations forged in the heart that may end up placing us in a particular place or on a specific path.
But following your dream is not easy.
It requires conviction, courage, tenacity, focus and a lot of resourcefulness. Qualities that define Marquis Bowden, who decided to pursue his dream of running a marathon in the US Olympic qualifying time of 2 hours and 19 minutes.
A decision that meant he ultimately had to leave the only home he knew in sunny LA, along with his grandmother’s warm family embrace, for the heights and frozen temperatures of Colorado.
That was two years ago and the basketball prospect from Compton who started running seriously in 2011, has gone from strength to strength.
”LA was always home, and I had never thought about moving away. But running and cycling is the thing in Boulder and moving away was clearly the catalyst to my running career. Not knowing anyone there was the hardest thing. Home is where the heart is, but it also holds you back. It was really scary, but it all fell in to place and now it makes complete sense, but it’s a process that takes time.”
Marquis’ ability to endure may be the foundation of his athletic skills, but his motivation and work ethic has been shaped by many people along the way. Basketball was all-consuming in his early years and even as his coaches mentored him, they could see something extra. The beneficiaries were the 3rd to 7th grade kids who he was asked to coach at an LA community center.
Despite a full-time job and a greater focus on elite level running, which meant running before work and training the team after, he would regularly take his team all around the States on weekends giving them the opportunity to compete in basketball tournaments.
“I had some great coaches and mentors in my life. People can be your North Star, they can give you direction. I just want to be a positive person. And I honestly feel the kids helped me more than I helped them.”
Speak to Marquis for any length of time and you will quickly realize that the guidance of one star shines significantly brighter than others. His mother and father were absent for his upbringing, which meant he was brought up and mentored by his Grandma, or as he calls her, ‘G’. And leaving LA and ‘G’ was the hardest part of moving, but it also turned into blessing.
“My Grandma is my Everything! With a capital e and an exclamation mark. She taught me how to be good to people, to figure things out and work hard. And without words she taught me love. Our relationship has developed in a way which is amazing. We have a new sense of peace and freshness which came from my move. Not being there everyday has made it more meaningful and complete. And it’s the reason I get up and do the things I do.”
And getting up - very early - is a thing he does a lot.
He may have embedded himself into the running and cycling communities in Boulder and put himself on a path to achieve his dream. But being a semi-pro athlete means a great deal more sacrifice than the average professional or amateur.
Waking each morning at 5am to run his required distances, before heading in to work with bike wheel brand, Hunt, and then dealing with planning, nutrition, recovery, or more training is hard. Especially when it’s day in day out, no matter the weather.
“I want to get to the Olympic trials, and this is what it takes to get there. There are days when the grind is heavy, but then you have to catch yourself and change the way you think. I am living my dream it’s not supposed to be convenient. Life is hard sometimes, but I need to focus on being the best version of myself in the good days as well as the bad. Just do a little bit of something each day and soon you will build something big.”
Marquis is twenty minutes away from the time that would enable him to achieve his Olympic dream and run in the Olympic trials.
And those twenty minutes are the hardest twenty minutes.
But following your dreams isn’t going to be easy.
As he would say; “You’ve just gotta get it done”
And he will.
Photos by: Matt Trappe