There Is No Finish Line

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Few things liberate the soul quite like a good run. For myself, four miles is the “Zen zone” – the magical point at which surroundings fade and stress melts. And this is how I was enticed to run my first half-marathon. Only 9 more miles, right?

I prepared myself as any athlete might. Morning and evening stretches. Ice after long runs. And caffeinated GU – the chocolate variety.

But, come race day, the obstacles weren’t at all what I expected. Amazingly, I paced one minute faster than my training (8:13) for the entire race. When the finish line finally entered my sights, less than half of a mile stood between my sneakers and victory.

In the last few miles, a strange thought struck me. I hadn’t seen another female runner in a while. But this was a public race, and it was 2011.

And, just like that, I hit my second wind and felt the release to sprint.

Only I didn’t expect what came next. I was tripped. I was pushed. I was cursed. It seemed that every man I attempted to pass in that final stretch demanded I take the path of increased resistance.

Was it jealousy? Perhaps.

Was it anger? In some instances.

Was it sexism? This one still lingers.

But that was six years ago. And, according to too many, we live in a world where women should simply be grateful to participate in the race – where we shouldn’t question how others slow us down, hold us back, or damage our identity.

A glimpse at our nation shows great division. Everyone holds an opinion and can rightfully express it. But let’s not kid ourselves (or our kids) that only the issues we personally face matter. We cannot turn a blind eye to the injustice that connects us all.

The world doesn’t stop hurting when we turn off our screens.

I have yet to run another half-marathon – perhaps out of a deeper fear. But when I see “13.1” adorn a bumper, I still choose to smile.

Just after I began the half-marathon, I befriended a man my father’s age. That incredible 8:13 pace, I owe to him. He encouraged. He cheered. And when his legs weakened, he whispered, “Keep going!”

A few bad apples didn’t sour the race. And they never will as long as those who can use their voice for good.

One Year Ago: A Raisin in the Son

6 thoughts on “There Is No Finish Line

  1. brian tackman

    Another beautiful article. I can relate to the “zen zone” as you describe it in your runs, mine is typically around 3-4 miles into a run as well. You had described to me your experience in your race and I find the way you were treated as appalling. I have now completed 5 half marathons myself, and your time of 8:13 min/mile is incredible and amazing. My best is around 9:15 min/mile. In all of the races I have been in, I have always encouraged any and all of the participants around me to do the best that they can. The world we live is is different, it is divided and opinionated, and if anyone has anything to say, they will not hold back anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing, Brian. This is why we’re friends 🙂 I do often wonder if I would face this same adversity in a 2017 half-marathon. It’s really quite sad, but I almost expect confrontation at every turn now (running and otherwise). But, in that, I try to seek out every opportunity to extend God’s love. Maybe we’ll run in the same race one day!

      Like

  2. Pingback: Speak Out – Discover Challenge | Ladyleemanila

  3. So inspired hearing that words mattered – overcoming the other obstacles. at a neurobiology level, I wonder if people’s oxygen deprived brains come to the fore in sport sometimes! I hope your post helps people see, with a cooler head, the impact of their actions and that they as well as us all deserve a respectful and fun sport experience where everyone can flourish

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oxygen deprivation – you know, you might be on to something! Thank you for your note. “Where everyone can flourish” – what a beautiful thought for all things in life 🙂 Let’s hope for positive experiences for all, especially those running alongside us!

      Liked by 1 person

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