Today was The Sun Herald City to Surf 14km race that begins in the city centre of Sydney and concludes at the world renowned Bondi Beach. I’ve been looking forward to running this (or more appropriately run/walking it) since Chris told me about it last year, his first race. While we almost didn’t go, I’m so grateful that we actually did. We joined other keen members of our gym, Health Mates, and boarded a bus that whisked us off to the start line, where we joined 70,000+ (not a typo!) other participants. Today’s experience was a terrific reminder of something I’ve always believed.
I think a race like this can be an analogy for a number of things – life, goals, or personal change. There’s no mistaking that it takes training, preparation coaching and good old fashioned effort to be successful. When running a race of this distance you usually have a specific goal, whether it’s just to finish, to achieve a certain time or realize your personal best. Every runner has some vision of success that hangs in their mind and motivates them to take step after step toward their goal.
The race itself has a begining, a middle and an end. In the beginning you’re excited, full of promise, anticipating the outcome, but you’re also not sure what might happen, what external factors might influence your performance (like weather), your fellow runners, the meal you had the night before. You’re a little nervous about how you’ll perform. But, here is also where you are required to place your trust in the process – preparation behind you, race in front, you’re knee deep in process.
Then there’s the middle where you are tested and challenged with obstacles like the gruelling Heartbreak Hill, people in your way and your own physical limitations, even race realities like having to go to the loo. But here you’re also spurred on and rewarded by the support of your parter, the antics of other runners, the cheerleaders and entertainers enroute, the spectacular scenery, the sunshine, the knowledge that you’re actually doing it and not sitting on the sidelines.
Then, there’s the end…the finish line…the glory…the prize….and as it grows closer in your sights, you’re excitement increases, your goal becomes clearer, you push on….then, there it is….. the finish, line. Your foot steps on it then your other one over it and at that moment you have finished….beginning…middle…end…done! You’re proud of your accomplishments. And you should be.
But later, as you ponder things over a well earned snack, you think about the finish line, the end of the race, achieving your goal and then happily discover a new-found reward. All the glory isn’t in crossing the finish line, that’s just a natural result. The real test of your mettle is everything that has led you to that point. It’s your participation in the process that brings the real glory. It’s the effort required to take step after step that you should be proud of. It’s the support and encouragement you give to others along the way that should be your prize. It’s the fact that you’re in it…not that you win it that is worthy of reverance.
With a race like this, as with life, goals and personal change, the most important part is embracing and going through the process. And today, I was proud to stand beside Chris and take step after step, deal with challenge after challenge, enjoy reward after reward… together. Then, hand in hand, we crossed the finish line, fell into an embrace and told each other just how proud we were to share in this process together.
Thank you Chris for accompanying me on my very first City to Surf….I look forward to next year’s race, but most importantly, I look forward to being right beside you through the process!