If there is one quote that is most commonly used by high school runners in their yearbooks, I would guess it is the famous quote from the James Dean of running, Steve Prefontaine. Pre used to run at the front of the pack in order to push the pace, and when asked why, he said “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”. Recently I found myself thinking about “the gift”.
When my knee injury required surgery and a two month break from running, I was extremely disappointed. I had been making progress and thought that I might qualify for Boston in the NYC Marathon. The injury made than an impossibility. Despite my best efforts to keep fit while I was recovering, I put on some weight and lost whatever speed I had. In the time since I was given the green light to start running, I slowly started adding on miles. This Sunday was my first big test. I ran my first race, a ½ marathon, which was by more than two miles, the longest distance I have run post-injury. Despite being more than nine minutes off my best time, I felt good about running well and pain free.
A friend of mine decided to join me for the race despite not having run a step in almost three months. Without any training, he beat me by eight minutes. Without any training, never having run a ½ in his life, he just missed my PR, a PR I set with 55 miles a week of running. Although I joked about it with him afterwards, I would be lying if said that it doesn’t bother me. While I am naturally broad, even at my thinnest; he has the runners build. While I struggle to improve my speed, he was running sub-five minute miles in high school. Many would say he has “the gift”.
I don’t know whether he will ever run a marathon, let alone qualify for Boston. It is not that he doesn’t want to; he freely admits that he just doesn’t have the level of commitment it takes, for now, at least. I, on other hand, will work as hard as it takes, to reach my goal. If I am less naturally qualified than others, than I choose to work harder to get to the finish line as quickly. Through all of this, I have started to apply this stick-to-itiveness to other areas of my life. Some people have told me that I am their inspiration for getting in shape. I have raised tens of thousands for charity and lost 100 pounds.
I will keep trying. To do any less would sacrifice the gift.
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