In early December, I began (again) my journey toward fitness in support of my wonderful friend, so that she wouldn’t journey alone.
On this January 1, 2019, I am keenly aware of countless resolutions of the same cloth, and expect the gym to be filled with well intentioned people who will go at it hard for the next few weeks before waning and settling back into their old ways.
Perseverance is difficult, especially when set-backs and life get in the way. Over the last week or so, I’ve had set-backs of my own, and life has gotten in the way. Perseverance and “stick-to-it-ivenss” as it’s been described of me, however, is learning not to give up on your goals and dreams, no matter how lofty. Sure, there are times when the climb is not a steady one, and may even regress temporarily, but over the long haul, continues an upward trend until the goal is met.
This past summer, my son and his girlfriend signed up to do a ten mile Spartan race. They selected a location closest to our home that met their schedules (the one that was really closest to our home was scheduled when my son was away at school) and asked if I’d drive them.
Because of her work schedule, we left for Palmerton (about a five hour drive for us) around midnight the night before the race. We had coolers of water and Gatorade, oranges, and nuts and other healthy snacks. Our plan was to find the venue and then get some breakfast and come back for their starting time. I drove all night while they slept and we arrived at the venue around 5:30 am. Turns out, there’s not much around Palmerton, PA, so our breakfast consisted of some fruit cups at the race. The first heat of the race started at 7:30 but theirs didn’t start until 11:30.
Neither one of them is particularly athletic, and they hadn’t really trained, but had completed a five mile Tough Mudder the month before, so thought it would be easy. Little did they realize that people apparently come from all over the world to Palmerston, PA because it offers the steepest and most challenging obstacle race Spartan hosts. I learned this after their race had started, when I had the opportunity to take the ski lift overlooking the course. I was awed by the obstacles I saw they had to complete, and, being completely honest, thought there was no way they’d ever finish.
Four and a half hours into their race, I began to get concerned. The five mile Tough Mudder had taken about 90 minutes to complete. Double the distance and allow some time for fatigue, we thought four hours was a good estimated time to completion. They had no cell phones with them, and signal was poor anyway. I was by myself waiting, thinking the worst had happened, but hadn’t been paged to the medical tent, so hoping for the best.
Along the way, I made a friend who was there to support her niece in her 5th race. She told me to expect a 6 or 7 hour completion time for the first time. We stood together near the finish line, watching for both the kids and her niece. At about six and a half hours in, my son and his girlfriend crossed the finish line! About ten minutes later, my friends’ niece (who had a later start time than my kids) also finished the race.
On our ride home that evening, they shared with me the “mental breakdown” moment she had a half mile from the finish line when the obstacle was to carry a 5 gallon bucket of rocks 100 yards back up a hill. Tears streaming from her face, she exclaimed, “I can’t do it. I’m done”. My son, in a sarcastic moment, told her they should quit after all, since they’ve already completed nine or so miles, and only have a little bit to finish. A moment of determination came over her as she hoisted the bucket up over her shoulder and charged up the hill.
Perseverance is about charging towards the goal even when you think you can’t do it. You will amaze yourself if you don’t give up!
Stick to it my friends! And, for all the “newbies” at the gym this week, I applaud you for starting your journey. Don’t give up!
In the words of a friend, “you have a wide open road in front of you. Be thankful for the horizon you have. Yours to make.”
Happy New Year and many blessings to you this year, my friends!
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