“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 the best you can say about something you set out to do–like finishing a book you didn’t particularly care for, or a project you undertook with enthusiasm didn’t quite turn out the way you expected; maybe you were writing a killer story and the ending fell flat.
That’s how I felt at the end of my first 40-mile ultra-marathon. I finished. My time was embarrassing, I suffered the final twenty miles, and I sit writing this post feeling like a tractor-trailer ran over me.
But there must be something gained by finishing, right? If you put your blood, sweat, and tears into something there must be some reward, even if it’s knowing that you stuck it out, didn’t give up, suffered to the bitter end. I mean, if you had abandoned the project you surely wouldn’t have the same sense of accomplishment. Perhaps finishing is its own reward.
When I crossed the finish line late in the afternoon, dead last, I thanked the race volunteers for hanging around. I was surprised to see they kept the finishing banner erect, the clock running, and all of the equipment intact. Under the pavilion the burners fired under a grill with warm pasta, German potato pancakes and strudel. They seemed to take great joy in watching me eat. These guys were awesome! I sat chowing down and thought about the 20-mile loop course, which was scenic and beautiful. I complemented them on the great job they did with the race.
And then something unexpected happened. A young woman walked up to me and said, “We have something for you,” and handed me a white box. “You won your age group.”
When I was a young runner and my competitive genes fired on all cylinders, I always admired the “Old-timers” who came out to compete. I remember the time one of the elders came up to me at a post race party and said, “If you hang around long enough, someday you might win something.”
Where did the time go?