IT’S HOW YOU RUN THE RACE
The New York City Marathon has taken place outside my window all day today. I heard them setting up the barricades and podiums at five am and twelve hours later there are many hours to go before the last people will cross the finish line.
While I’m not a runner myself, I see the lessons in the act of running a marathon as well as the metaphor of the marathon itself.
Fifty thousand people set off this morning to run twenty-six miles and three hundred and eighty-five yards. Now those three hundred and eighty-five yards may sound like a fraction when you tack them onto the 26 miles; but my guess is they may be the hardest part of the race for many people.
I actually know they are, as my view is at the end of the race, and right now I am watching people stagger and stumble in the dark to make it across the finish line. Some are limping, some are being held up by friends but they are finishing what they set out to do. And I find that heart warming, awe inspiring and a great life lesson.
The first people to pass by my window today were those in wheelchairs. For me they are the most stirring of the group. They get an hour lead on the others, but when you think about the hurdles they have to cross an hour does not seem like much. And when I see them motor down the street I start to cry. I think so many of us whine and pout and lament that things don’t go our way, and here are fifty people who cannot walk, yet they enter and compete in the most challenging marathon in the world.
I think damn it Tracey, next time you think it’s hard for you to do something or there is a challenge you don’t want to face just remember those people hunched over running a race when they can’t walk across a room.
And then there is the sheer fortitude of those who complete the race. And that is something we can apply to our lives. Of the fifty thousand people, forty-nine nine hundred thousand know they don’t have a chance of winning. But that does not deter them. It’s not about winning the race – it’s about running the race.
There is a small group of runners who win the race year after year until their limbs give out.
Today I watched as Mary Keitnay of Kenya won the women’s division for the second year in a row. She was so far ahead of the pack it wasn’t even close.
And she is running for a different reason, in many ways she while she running the same race, she is running an entirely different race.
And that is true in life, we are all running our own race in conjunction with the race of life. And it’s how we finish, it’s that we finish, that really counts. It’s that we set a course and we stay on it even when others are ahead and often better or more equipped to succeed. It’s that we run the race, how we run the race and that we finish the race that matters for our own sense of self and accomplishment.
So the people I see out my window now, in pain, blistered, dehydrated, exhausted, cold and many dizzy, keep going, knowing they are eight hours behind the winner, that they will never be Mary Keitnay, but they can proudly say, “I finished the New York City Marathon.”
While it’s not an original thought, it is an important one, it’s not the time in which you finish, it’s the fact that you stay the course. It’s that you keep going even when you know you may not be first or even 46,000th. It’s remembering we are all running a different race for different reasons with different skill sets and most often it’s personal bests that we are seeking.
Right now they just announced the race is over, yet hundreds of people merely moved to the sidewalk in order to cross the finish line in their own personal marathon.
So set the goals. Keep on track. Keep going no matter how tired and far back you may fall.
And when the going gets really rough think of those fifty people who cannot walk across the room to pick up their shoes, yet they can say they ran the New York City Marathon.
And because I am so blown away by them I am putting a link to their names here.
Remember them. Honor them. Emulate them. And know that even if you don’t know how to do it something inside you does.