Monday, May 25, 2009

Where Every Competitor Stands

As an athlete it has occurred to me that when I enter a race, for at least a moment on that day I will be in the same spot as every other competitor—the start. Over the years I have noticed that every competitor seems to bring hopes, expectations, and even dreams to that very same spot. In the months that lead up to the race, each competitor will have trained differently. Some will have had social training partners; some will have had the help of dedicated spouses or friends, while still others may have had personal coaches. But on race day we stand on that crowded beach knowing that for one moment at the start we are on our own. We realize that no one else can do this for us. We will need to find the right pace to finish the race. We will need to find our own motivation, our own reserve of energy, and our own courage to finish. On this day we will probably experience doubt, aches and pains, and perhaps even failure to meet our own expectations. However, when we cross the finish line, we will experience the success of not giving up, of meeting the challenge of the day, and of knowing that on this day we gave it our best. By that fact alone, our family and friends will hail us winners.
In the months ahead we will train together. We will share our personal aspirations and goals. We will help those who will be entering their first event and learning from those who have gone the distance over and over and still pursue new levels of personal achievement. We will celebrate others’ successes and offer our support when others face disappointment. We will strive to better ourselves but never lose sight of the community of which we are a part.
But on race day, at the start, for a moment, we will each stand alone with our heart full of hopes, expectations, and even dreams. That moment is one of the greatest in all of sport.