Oh, the crazy things I do for a medal and a t-shirt…
This past weekend I ran my third half marathon. My running partner and I were aware something might go wrong when a day or two before the race, the region had a stormy forecast. The wee hours of that fateful Sunday morning were okay on the drive down. However, about an hour or so before start time, it began to rain… and wouldn’t stop for the rest of the day.
The next three hours were the soggiest of my life. All of our breath-takingly beautiful beach views were cloudy and overcast. The spectators who usually line the streets to cheer us on were few and far between. At one point, the course went through a wooded area, and all of us runners were slopping through mud puddles. The canopy of trees above us only made the rain drops larger. Somewhere between mile 11 and mile 13, my body was exhausted. I could barely see through the streams of water coming down my face.
It’s interesting what comes to you when you think you can’t go on.
I used to work with a pastor who loved to quote Walt Disney. As I sloshed through the woods, out of breath and out of strength, his words began to echo in my mind:
So I did. Sometimes I ran. Sometimes I walked. With the rain getting heavier, I willed myself to not quit. Even when the last mile was nothing but hills, I kept going.
That’s what it’s all about, right?
When you can’t see your way…
When things get unexpectedly difficult…
When your cheerleaders have all gone home…
When you think you can’t stand another minute…
You have to keep going, because you can’t do anything else. Certain storms in life don’t give you an option to quit. You don’t get an umbrella. There’s no shortcut. You just have to tough it out.
Whether you win or lose, there is a reward for pressing through to the end. You will gain endurance; it is, quite possibly, the best character trait you will ever have. Endurance is knowing you can withstand anything and acting accordingly. It’s the ability to look at the toughest trial and say to it, “I can outlast you,” and it only comes when you don’t quit.
So, keep moving forward. If no one else is cheering you on, I am. Remember that there’s a prize on the other end of the finish line, and it’s worth way more than a medal and a t-shirt.