A few weeks ago, I packed up and traveled with my running group to San Antonio to run the Rock and Roll half Marathon. I just knew I would SMOKE last year's half marathon time, and I couldn't wait. My feet were itching to get out there and do something spectacular. The trouble was, they were also itching to walk the San Antonio riverwalk and the huge race expo the day before.
The morning of the race, it was COLD, and we had to wait over an hour to begin running, due to an unscheduled train crossing the race course. I spent that hour jittery from the coffee I had downed, and shivering from the cold. By the time I began running, I was already a little worn down.
So, there it is, my list of excuses. These excuses relentlessly coursed through my thoughts for the first six miles.
HOWEVER, around mile 7, I passed an older man wearing a shirt that said something about Parkinson's disease. What initially caught my attention, though, was his unusual "stride". He looked to be in his 60's, and ran with short, shuffling steps. He was actually barely moving forward at all. As I came up beside him, I noticed his neck was cocked a bit to the side, and he was drooling. But, he had a look of stellar focus and determination on his face. I teared up, realizing what kind of effort it took for him to take thousands of those shuffling steps all the way to the finish line, which was still 7 miles ahead of us. I wanted to say something, but couldn't find words, nor could I have gotten them over the lump in my throat and out of my mouth.
Around mile 8, I passed a younger man, who looked to have cerebral palsy. He shuffled along, with a lop-sided sort of skip, with the same look I had seen a mile back, eyes on the finish, ignoring everything around him. A few moments later, I passed a man in his mid 50's who was more than half way through this challenging race, WITH A WALKER!
I was incredibly inspired. Inspired enough to push on- through sheer exhaustion, three miles of leg cramps, and a much needed stop at a dirty porta potty. I kept going, feeling completely honored to run alongside these strong, brave, determined people. I thought of what it took for them to get here. The stares they must get on their training runs, maybe even a few laughs and mocking from teenagers passing by. Who was I to feel sorry for myself or make excuses?
I really expected to shave 15 or so minutes from my half marathon time, and did end up beating my time from last year by 6 minutes. I was a bit disappointed, but I felt extremely fortunate to even participate. Seeing the determination of those runners made an impact on me, and I have to honestly say that I am truly grateful to have witnessed their accomplishment. I only hope that I can make this kind of impact on those around me!