Archive for January, 2008

The Race of Life

I often feel like I have been running my whole life. To me, running is more than the mere indulgence of competitive whims. The steady stride of a long distance runner and the explosive speed of a sprinter vaulting from the blocks are metaphors for life. We are born with the world an open track before us, the starter’s gun unleashing its deafening sound long before our senses perceive it.

Like runners toeing the line, we all choose our own path, whether to take this turn or that, and whether to pass the opposition or simply coast and fall back. Some of us run further; others run faster. The race of the long-distance runner is often lonely, his steady gait unrelenting and his pace even. He endures long trials and has many visions, following a steady path as his endurance is tested. In contrast, the dashing sprinter barrels forth and cuts through life with swiftness and vigor.

We all confront the same hills to climb and descend; life can seem an impossible ascent or a bounding plunge as we run steadily along. We slip and falter, a sprain here or a fracture there. Some will be tested, limping forward until time slowly heals our injuries. Others will find a partner to keep our stride and help maintain the pace. A few will always run well, leading the pack of eager followers. Others may struggle, never seeming to catch their breath as they promise to run better tomorrow.
We all run against the clock, hoping to finish the course long before time is called. Some stop long before they reach the finish line, giving in to the race’s pressures on both body and mind. We run against each other, striving to beat our fellow runners. We also run against ourselves, pushing our limits so that those whose race has not yet begun will remember our feats with awe and pride.
I have not always known the right path, missing turns and struggling through stretches. At times I have run off the path, losing my focus and seeing the race as a means to an end. I have struggled up many hills and careened down many others. I have faced injuries and lost fellow runners. However, through it all I have learned from the race and found the determination not to repeat my mistakes. I have run the race both fast and slow, taking in the view along the route and the emotions of the running.

I now believe that the race of life can be examined in retrospect, but that you must always keep running towards the finish line. Sure, success in this race is important, but the experience itself is a gift. I believe that you must run a race worth running, for as running legend Steve Prefontaine said, “to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” If the race is run with heart and passion, then the finish will be victorious.

January 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm 4 comments


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