This past Monday thousands of top athletes flocked to Boston to compete in the city's 114th annual Boston Marathon. As the world's oldest marathon, this race is considered to be one of the most prestigious competitions in existence. Each year the race attracts runners from all over the world, ready to display their superior athletic abilities. On Monday, the conditions for the race were perfect, except for one minor problem - some of the contestants were missing.

As many are aware, last week a volcanic eruption occurred in Iceland - the second volcanic blast in less than a month. The eruption caused massive flooding forcing hundreds to evacuate, while dispelling enormous amounts of volcanic ash into the atmosphere. This grounded thousands of European flights and forced many to find alternate transportation, or to forgo their plans altogether. 

Among these stranded travelers were registered runners in the Boston Marathon. Many had no choice but to alter their travel plans and made it to the city just in time for the race. A few unlucky ones, weren’t able to make it at all. The training, the build-up, the excitement of running in the Boston Marathon – all gone in the name of some volcanic ash. Talk about heart break.

Where do you even go from here? Will the disappointment and discouragement felt by these athletes get the best of them? Or will they get right back out there and start training for next year's race? I'd like to think it would be the latter.

Similarly, in the world of PR and marketing, things often don't go as planned. Unforeseen obstacles come out of nowhere forcing you to take an unplanned path. Like these athletes, you could work for months or even years on a project or campaign only to have it be thwarted by an unpredictable force. One of the most obvious examples is the recession that forced many companies to slash their marketing and PR budgets. What is more frustrating than putting your heart and soul into a campaign that will never be realized? All that work for nothing.

So what do you do? You get back out there, you adjust, and you continue to do what you do best by generating new, smart ideas. As cliché as it sounds, life is full of complications and challenges you simply can’t predict. Whether it is a natural disaster, a failing economy or a budget that is just stretched too thin, I believe its how you choose to adapt to these challenges that ultimately determines your growth and success as an individual and a company.

Oh and runners, chin up, next year's race is less than 52 weeks away.

Contributed by Jessica Boardman. Follow her @jboards