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Here's to the ones who persevere!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I volunteered at a marathon yesterday. The race takes over our city each year with all sorts of folks in phenomenal shape. This year over 18, 000 participants started the race. Generally the race is pretty much over as far as news coverage is concerned when all of the "firsts" are in. The first runner to cross the line, the first woman, the first wheelchair. There will be a few impressive back stories.

The runners begin at 7:45 a.m. As I was leaving for work at 3:45 p.m. I had to cross the race course about a block from the finish line. Volunteers were beginning to take down some of the road blocks. I looked up to see a man in his early 60's chugging along (God bless those who were still on the sidelines cheering the last runners on!!). Not far behind him was a girl of about 16 who clearly had Down's Syndrome, along with a companion, also trotting towards that finish line. By the time they finished the race, the bulk of the racers had finished, recovered, had a beer, gone back to their hotels to clean up and taken a nap to prepare for the evening festivities.

I was moved. Wow! These people had been at it for 8 hours and were going to finish that marathon NO MATTER WHAT.

Hundreds of racers drop out each year and they too deserve praise for even trying. But these last few folks spoke to me about the power of perseverance. About not caring what people think.

I recalled being on the junior high swim team and being put into the 500 yard race, which believe me, goes on forever when you're last. I was last. This wasn't my event and I was not a distance swimmer in the least. I was embarrassed as I continued to feel hundreds of eyes on me while I dutifully finished the laps required, but I knew if I didn't I would be off the swim team.

These people had a different motivation. They just WANTED it. Enough to keep going. I can't recall the last time I had that kind of inner strength and commitment, but now that I have seen it in action, I have been inspired to try harder. To remember those faces. To remember that sometimes just the achievement is worth it. So, when I am tempted to skip another workout, to eat outside of my plan, to stop trying, I have those few faces to recall. Of those who just don't quit regardless of pressure, being tired or just plain wanting to quit.
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