Little did I know when I booked a trip home to Baltimore about six weeks ago that the day I would be leaving was also the day of the 17th Annual Baltimore Running Festival. Staying in a downtown hotel right in the center of the festivities was going to make it impossible to get out of town without leaving the hotel a lot earlier than originally planned.
So in spirit of “if you can’t beat ’em – join ’em” I left the hotel early and walked, rolling suitcase and all, among the crowds gathered to watch the runners as they began their trek. I couldn’t help but think of it all in the context of what this means for the runners and for those of us watching and cheering from the sidelines.
The goal of the marathon is to get to the finish line. Of course, for the elite runners – like Jordon Tropf who won the Baltimore marathon – their goal is to finish first. He did so in a total time of 2:28:06. For the majority of runners, the goal is the challenge. “I can do this” is the mantra they hear replayed in their heads from the moment they start to train until they cross the finish line. Whether you are the first person to finish in under 3 hours or the last person who finishes in 8 hours – it is a huge sense of achievement.
Whether you are 15, 25, 52 or 80 years old, whether you are fit or disabled, whether you do the 5k, the half marathon or the full marathon – the goal is the same – to push yourself and accomplish the task at hand. We are inspired by the participants in the hand cranked bikes or those pushing disabled children or friends in wheelchairs.
Those of us watching and cheering from the sidelines or at home while watching on TV play a very important role in providing support and encouragement to those in the marathon. How many times might a runner have given up but for the encouragement of friends and strangers along the way.
We should look at our lives as a marathon. Set a goal and work towards achieving that goal. Don’t look at the finish line as some place that is so far away we will never get there. Put one foot in front of the other, train, practice and keep moving forward – you can do this! We can do this!! We can encourage others to cross their own finish lines whether it is getting that high school degree, going to college, getting a job or just making it through another day when facing incredibly difficult challenges. It is not always a race in the sense of a run or walk but could be just working towards our own goal – sometimes a more difficult marathon of sorts for many of us. Look around you and find the people whose day-to-day marathon you can cheer on, someone you could lift up and help across their finish line. Look to those who are lifting you up and helping you achieve your own goals and cross your own finish line. It may be difficult but it is so worth it!