When I was in high school I was a very gifted sprinter, I loved to run in short races that were all about the straight up sprint! Our school began participating in a state wide track meet in my Sophomore year and we participated in it three years in a row to get me through my Senior year. Mr. Yost took us each time, we were so thankful for his willingness to do so because without him we would not have been able to take part in such an event! Hundreds of student athletes from around the state came to compete and excel in their respective events, mine being the 50, 100 and 220 yard dashes. I did extremely well in the shorter events, in fact, I took 1st and 2nd places each year in these. The 220 yard race was where I struggled… unfortunately, my strategy was not very good. I took off faster than anyone out there and in the first one hundred yards I was always in the lead, then the turn hit and each time, as soon as I headed into the turn, my strength gave out and I slowed down considerably and inevitably would place 3rd or 4th. There was a girl who raced against me in the first two years, she was the strongest and fastest competitor I had ever faced in anything, obviously, she took 1st place in my first two years and I was pretty sure I could not take her.
My Senior year came and Mr. Yost coached me up all the way to the competition, explaining to me what I needed to do to change the outcome in this my final attempt to take 1st place in my most difficult event. We arrived at the stadium we ran in, it was a bright and cool day in Delaware, Ohio, a perfect day for a track meet! We all got out of the bus and started warming up, stretching out, etc… I surveyed the crowd there and across the field I saw her, my biggest competition in each event had come again, her senior year as well.
We ran the shorter events first and to my surprise I was able to take 1st place in both of them, pretty easily! Mr. Yost was so proud of me and so was I, except, deep down all I could think about was the most difficult one which was coming up next. This time after taking last minute advice, I lined up right beside the girl who had beaten me the previous two years! I looked around before the start to get my reassuring glance from Mr. Yost and he was no where to be found… he vanished into thin air! We lined up, got down into our positions and we were off! I started out fast, but not 100%, I was holding off a bit, but then, she got ahead of me, not just a small lead, but a very significant one! Then came the dreaded turn. Right as we hit that pivotal moment in the race where I had failed before, I looked to my right, I saw him, it was Mr. Yost, he had been hanging out at the turn, waiting for us to get there! As we rounded the turn, he took off beside us, he was SPRINTING and yelling, ” You’ve got this Lynn, kick it in now, kick it in now, KICK IT IN!” Guess what, it worked, I kicked it in! I gained on the girl beside me, not just gained, but took the lead, just in time, this time I was able to find the finish line FIRST and so did Mr. Yost! He ran the last leg of that race right beside me in the grass and his words of encouragement pushed me through right when I needed it most!
I had not thought of the above events very much until lately, in the past few months I have recounted the whole experience many times in my mind. This whole analogy has reminded me of a few important things recently: #1 Starting off fast is good and fine, but endurance wins the race! #2 Having the right people running beside you and cheering things like, “You’ve got this, Kick it in, KICK IT IN!” can make all the difference. #3 There is no opponent that cannot be defeated on any given day.
As we go through this up-coming week, I hope that we can all learn from this true story. My prayer is that we all will have good starts and even better finishes, that we will all have the best cheerleaders and coaches running with us and that we will never be afraid of any opponent or as my friend Linda Doolittle says, “fighting the bad guys”. Each new day brings new obstacles, races and tough opponents to each one of us, it is not how we start but how we finish as we face our individual struggles.
I wish you all a wonderful week full of victories both big and small, remember to celebrate even the “little victories” because they will turn into the big ones! ( now if I can just take my own advice! 🙂 )