Thoughts from the finish line

Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon - finish lineHaving been injured off and on for most of the last three years, I’ve sadly spent more time spectating and supporting than actually running.  As frustrating as that is, it has given me a chance to look at the sport with a different perspective.  For most of my life, running has been a personal thing for me, and something that I don’t really share much with others.  Treating it like “my thing” instead of seeing the big picture never seemed like a bad thing until I stood at the finish line of the Virginia Beach Half Marathon a couple of years ago, waiting for Sandy to finish.  Despite running races with thousands of people, I always felt alone in the effort – until that day.

It was there, standing in a sea of supporters, that made me realize just how much I love this sport.  Watching people finish, the strugglers, the sprinters, and everything in between, I felt a real sense of community.  Even though I knew almost no one in the race, I felt connected.  It sounds strange, but I felt a sense of commonality, and that’s something I rarely feel.

Watching everyone, it occurred to me that people can learn everything they need to know about themselves in the last mile of a distance race.  To me, that period of the race is a metaphor for life.  We all end up in the same place, and all we get at the end is what we put into it.  The measure of a person is how they navigate the struggle, and that’s what you see at the end of a race – people handling that final struggle.  Some with grace, some without.  Some quit, while others stumble, fall, get up and will themselves to the finish.  Some plod on to the end, while others give their all in a blaze of glory.

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