“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left–in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.” – Anne Frank
Sometimes finishing is all you can say about something you had done–a book you read that you didn’t particularly care for, a project you undertook with enthusiasm that didn’t quite turn out to be what you’d envisioned, or perhaps a story you wrote that wasn’t as exciting as you thought it would be.
That’s how I feel about my first 40-mile ultra-marathon. I finished. My time was embarrassing, I suffered the final ten miles, and I sit here writing this feeling like a tractor-trailer ran over me.
But there must be something gained by finishing, mustn’t there? If you put your time and effort into something–you sweat, labor, dedicate your time to an endeavor–there must be some measure of a reward. Perhaps the reward is knowing that you stuck it out, didn’t give up, didn’t drop the ball, saw it through to the bitter end. Conversely, if you abandoned the project you certainly wouldn’t have the same sense of accomplishment.
So perhaps finishing is its own reward.
When I came in dead last at the end of the day I thanked the race organizers for hanging around, even keeping up the finish banner, clock and all of the equipment. Under the pavilion the grill was still on and they saved some hot pasta, German potato pancakes, and strudel for me. They seemed to take great joy in watching me eat. I sat eating and thinking about the 20-mile loop course, which was scenic and beautiful, and then complemented them on a fine race.
And then something unexpected happened. I heard a woman’s voice. “Here, we have something for you.”
I looked up at a smiling young woman with her arm extended and a white box in her hand.
“You won your age group.”
When I was a young runner, a time my competitive genes fired on all cylinders, I always admired the “Old-timers” who’d come out and compete. Apparently, I am now one of them. Where did the time go?
Simply finishing isn’t so bad after all.