Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Changed Forever

I just read a news article about the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  It said that the terror has come to the streets of America.  It says that we are changed forever.  I beg to differ with that statement, we adult athletes were already changed forever.  This act of hatred will not change us, we are beyond that, we will not be intimidated and we will not cringe in fear.

It has long been said that going the distance will change you forever.  That is just as true now as it was many years ago when men and women first decided to see what they were capable of.  How are people changed when they do these distance events?  When a person crosses that finish line of a 5K, half marathon, full marathon or an ultra event, they are not changed by what they just did over the last several hours.  They are changed by what they have done in the long months or years since they first made the decision to do it.

Often a person makes their fateful decision while watching some news coverage of an event, seeing runners and walkers out training in their neighborhoods or a friend asks them to do it with them.  That is the moment the change begins, not when they finally cross a finish line.  Those first few months after their decision is made are usually pretty tough but magical in that the improvements come so quickly.

An adult athlete in training learns to endure discomfort, this can be a very new and frightening experience for a beginning athlete.  We seasoned road warriors know that there are going to be times we are really sore, but we know it goes away, there will be times we are exhausted to the point we can't even get up under our own power, but we have learned it passes.  We learn that, as we become stronger, we recover quicker and that which was once difficult is now easy and we are already chasing a new level.

A man or woman who once wouldn't think of going out without their hair combed perfectly or their make up just right soon becomes comfortable being out covered with sweat and hair a mess.  Fashion becomes less important than function and comfort.  We also come to realize that we aren't all that different from the other athletes out there training.  Whether they are white, black, Asian or Native American, we come to know that we are all pretty much the same.  We learn to respect each other and to support each other.  An honest hard effort is something to be applauded, no matter who it is that is pushing their limits.

The long slow workouts teach us that we can do more and go further than we believed possible.  We learn that we are in control of our body and our mind.  Playing a video game for hours might entertain you but spending a couple of hours alone on the road with your own thoughts and going under your own power, will teach you that you are more than you ever imagined.  It's universally true that you will quickly learn to respect that person that you meet out on the road, that person that is you.

The hard workouts are when we learn that we are not weak and helpless victims but strong and in control.  We become stronger but also tougher.  We come to know that we are worthy.  Like the sleek, well muscled horse galloping across the pasture, we tend not to care what the cattle we pass think of us, not from an inflated ego, though we are proud, but because we have become comfortable with in our own body.

We put on our 'big boy or girl' pants and go out in weather we would once never think of going out in.  We know that we can endure bitter cold, intense heat, driving wind and pouring rain.  Somewhere along the path we follow we come to realize that we are not just passing through nature but that we are a part of nature.  We are as we should be, at peace with our world.

Changed, yeah I'd say that we, the world community of adult athletes are changed.  But are we intimidated by someone trying to spoil what we have, nope I think we are above that.  Will we be afraid to gather and do our races.  No we will not be chased off.  We are not the rabbit hiding in the bush but the wolf standing content, strong and proud with our pack.  Changed, yes but not by an evil that has tried to bring us down but by the path we have traveled to get where we are.

Thanks for reading.


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