I ran long distance on my junior high and high school track team from 8th-10th grade. I wasn’t particularly fast. I had joined mostly for the exercise. I added a little depth to the team so we could get the participation points of having enough entries in the 1600 and 3200 meter races. A compliment I often received as I crossed the finish line last would be “Way to run it out.” At first I wondered if this was patronizing, but I came to realize that my coach, and the other coaches, appreciated that I didn’t give up, even when I could see I wasn’t going to place. I kept trying to improve my personal time and to represent my team well. When I started running again in 2010, I craved the “strong finish!” accolades I would get in the last stretch of a 5K or half marathon. I wasn’t, am still not, and will not ever be the fastest in the pack, but I am tenacious. I run most of my races with My Team Triumph now, an organization that helps people with disabilities who would not otherwise be able to experience such events, get to be “captains” of specially designed wheel chairs which are pushed by “angels” during races. This past weekend I was matched up with a team of angels who run a little faster than I do. I was having to work pretty hard to keep pace and probably didn’t do my fair share of pushing. I tried to make up for it by telling jokes and being the one who helped our captain get a drink at each water stop. But I ran it out.
I am reminded once again of the similarities between running and ending a semester as we head into finals week. Everything gets overwhelming and maybe we see that the grade we wanted is just out of reach…we’re not going to catch it. Don’t give up. Run it out. Finish strong. This is your race. You’re not just doing it to place or get a medal or an A. You’re doing it because of who you are and who you want to be. And, if you see that you are going to break the tape without breaking a sweat, have some respect for your fellow competitors. I was so disappointed last week when attendance dwindled in my health communication class. We were listening to presentations, the culmination of a semester of work. Because students either had given up or felt confident enough in their grade to skip, many didn’t come listen to their fellow classmates. Did they feel the value of their contribution could only be measured in points? It’s easy to get focused on just yourself, but don’t be selfish. Dig deep. This is when all your practice pays off. And if you didn’t put in the preparation, it’s when you learn a good lesson about responsibility. You signed up for this race, you need to finish it. Your teachers are cheering for you. We want to see you run it out.