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Shot Of The Day

The Princess Half Marathon Registration....

The Joy of Getting an F

I had my third marathon experience this weekend — the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World. Inspired by the woman who helped me through my first half marathon [Carole Morris, officially my Marathon Angel and now 12 time finisher and mentor to others in half marathons across the country], I was there to pay it forward. To be with someone who had never done it before, wasn’t sure she could do it only two years post chemo/radiation and didn’t know how it worked, where to go or how to get through it. We started our journey at the back of the line behind 17,000 runners. Ranked by predicted time, we were assigned the last corral. The last corral is a place I now hope to start every race because, as I quickly learned, it is a place of raw courage. Corral F it was called. On our bibs, we wore the mark of the last corral — the scarlet letter F. Could it be good form to give out an F to the crowd who needs the most encouragement, I pondered as I stood among all the other F’s? The F’s or F Troop as I now call them, were notably different than the corral mates I had in my prior races. The corral was dominated by people with physical handicaps, cancer, no hair, steel pegs where legs would otherwise go, stroke victims with limp arms and legs that moved if they thrust their hip forward in a certain contorted way, people too old to do this, and people too young or too fat by the world’s judgment. People who the world would probably categorize as the biggest losers. There were no chiseled bodies or road runners. There were penguins waddling along and do-do birds trying to fly when they could only strut. In my mind I could hear Christ’s words… AND THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST. There was that sentence being lived out loud in front of my eyes… The winners were in the LAST CORRAL because they had to cling to GOD to get though it. Not their own power, ability or strength. They had to run/walk/crawl knowing that 17,000 people where in front of them and great obstacles would have to fall for them to get across the F-line. They were winners if they finished, not if they got the best time or the most applause or the biggest crowd [most of it was gone by the time the F Troop came limping in]. But when they came in, the VICTORY was MAGNIFICENT, grand, supernatural. And it was a collective effort. They carried each other. Literally and with their words. Hardly anybody came across the F-line alone. It was a twine of tangled victors in one accord against the obstacles that told them “you can’t.” I saw this weekend a snap shot of how we are meant to live life — not racing ahead to beat out our neighbor or shine brighter than all the others or stroke our pride with a glistening medal… but dragging as many hurting soldiers across the finish line with tears streaming, muscles cramping and joy exploding as all of the obstacles melt into victory. And every time the monorail passed filled with people who were not IN THE RACE but were on the side line, I was certain that every runner in the F troop thought the same thing… “I may be down here at the end of this line but at least I’m in it and not in an air conditioned comfortable train looking DOWN on the people in LAST place! I’m ahead of you buddy!!! I’m IN THE RACE logging my personal best for 13.1 miles. What about you?” Me? I’ll take the F corral any day because F is for FINISHER... Isn’t that what we all want? To finish well? The lesson of the weekend for me? I’d rather be last and finish the race than to be first in the arrogance of my mind but never start. A giant toast to the F troop! And to Tricia Heng, my favorite marathon princess. Yes, it was over at the finish line, but it was the start of memories that will carry us and others through many more obstacles. Finish lines are surely where the memories begin!

Posted: 1 March 2011