is the most compelling aspect of our human nature: all great
adventures begin and are interwoven with the story.
It's the personal story that motivates the adventure,
fuels the journey and focuses the fortitude needed along the
way. And unless a person walks through their days with reckless
abandon and a complete lack of vision, she/he has just such
a story worthy to be heard.
my case, I can't truly pinpoint the opening paragraph of my
story, but I know that several chapters down the road, it is
story that is still unfolding, even as I prepare for my next
weekend marks the fourth annual Fargo Marathon in Fargo, ND.
It is a variety of races - from kids race to the grueling 26.2-mile
marathon - that have witnessed all weather formations from snow
to sunshine. It is also a gala event that in 2005 witnessed
2752 runners and presently, in 2008, has grown to over 11,000
runners. And each of them with their personal story
come from all corners of the United States, neighboring Canada
and worldwide to run what many runners refer to as a course
that is "fast, flat and friendly." However, beyond
fathoming all the calories burned, miles pounded, Gu gel consumed
and blisters popped, family members and friends of all these
runners (including my own) continue to pose the question, “Why
do it? Why come all this way to put yourself through this grueling
question into why one would engage in running is a personal
inquiry that needs to be answered by each trail and highway
sojourner... and it's written between the lines of their story.
Some might surmise it is the subconscious need to run away from
one’s personal dilemmas, obstacles and challenges of Life.
Others might theorize that is the conscious act of substituting
the physical race with those emotional/social “races”
one cannot seem to overcome in Life. It has been along the quiet
road of the thousands of miles I've logged in the past five
years alone, where I came to the realization that my fellow
runners/storytellers and I are running because of those
personal challenges and emotional races of our life. It's an
integral part of our personal story.
come together to run because of loved ones. And personal challenges.
And difficult hardships. And glorious dreams. But we run to
face them head-on; to apply the seed of our accomplishment that
germinated in a particular race on a particular day to so many
other areas of our life. We run in spite our personal challenges
and despite our difficult hardships. We run to ignite our glorious
dreams and loved ones. We run to again redeem that youthful
spirit that remains nestled in each of us. This is our adventure,
our gauntlet, our cause and our legacy. For all these reasons
because and so many more, perhaps, along all these miles, we
were simply seeking a small morsel of personal redemption on
this day, one of my most endearing stories is that of a middle-aged
male runner from Hawaii. He took the time to sign up early in
2007 so that he would be registered and adequately trained for
the January 2008 Disneyworld Marathon. But with all great stories,
the plot usually changes... and often times, without our permission...
in his marathon training, this gentleman, I believe, was the
victim of an automobile accident that left him without legs,
from the knees down. For many people, this might well be the
last chapter of their story. But for this gentleman, it was
the beginning of another chapter of a story that is far from
over. He lined up on that early January morning in 2008 with
all of his fellow marathoners. For he had committed himself
to enter the Disneyworld Marathon and finish it. And finish
it, he did, while captaining the racing wheelchair that took
him across the finish line. That is truly a story of determination,
fortitude and faith - and a story that must transcend into so
many areas of his life and the lives of those with whom he shares
recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a gifted and optimistic
middle-aged teacher at my son's elementary school who has signed
up to run the Fargo Half-Marathon this weekend. Her story is
that of optimism, perseverance and hope. Following a community
training run, she shared with me that her goal is simply to
finish the half-marathon; just finish it. How many
half-marathons had she run before? None, this will be her first.
No, not her first half-marathon. It will be the first race
she has ever entered. And her running partner? It will be the
multiple sclerosis that has taken hold of her body. What a glorious
and hopeful story that will continue to unfold in this teacher's
life this weekend... and beyond...
friend, you don't need to sprint, run or jog in order have a
story. Your daily actions and journey are already penning
the words. Each day becomes your legacy. Each challenge becomes
a climax within a paragraph. Each crossroad becomes the opening
lines in a new life chapter. Whether you realize it or not,
that personal story is already being authored by you.
the marathon or half-marathon race, pace is everything. Start
out too fast and you won't have enough to see you through. Start
out too slow and you're out on the course for too long and wasting
too much energy along the way. It's a lot like our personal
life and our personal story. This week I am re-reminded of a
wonderfully short quote that simply states, "Life: It's
a marathon, not a sprint." In that spirit, take your time
to become more familiar than you ever have of the story that
is unfolding within and around you, my friend.
I line up again on the starting line of the annual Fargo Marathon,
I will quickly remind myself of the glorious - and mostly unspoken
- stories that are gathered around me. Pressing against one
another on University Drive in those early morning brisk temperatures,
I will almost be able to hear those stories speak. And when
the gun goes off and the race begins, a new page will turn for
each of us and the story will continue - built on all the chapters
those of you standing on the sidelines and sidewalks cheering,
watch carefully, and you may very see the runners' story
in their eyes and determination.
all my fellow runners and authors of their story, Godspeed
and success in your journey.