Transformative Thursdays: Finish Strong

In 9th grade, I had the privilege of being a member of the Southwest Jr. High School’s track team.  This was my first experience with organized running as a sport.  I had always enjoyed running and would often run races in the backyard with my siblings or dad.  However, being a part of the track team meant running every day during track season and learning stretches, healthy eating, running techniques and the rules of the sport.

After a few weeks of practices, it was time for our first meet.  I had my track tennis shoes and uniform on.  I was ready.  My coach signed me up to run the 100 meter hurdles.  There was only one problem—I had only practiced the hurdles a few times in practice and I really didn’t care to run them.  However, I was excited to participate in my first meet and show everyone what I could do.  I lined up on the take-off line and waited for the gun to sound.  “On your mark, get set, GO!”  And I was off.  I made it through the first hurdle and headed to the second hurdle.  However, my rhythm was off and I couldn’t make a seamless transition between running and swinging my legs over the hurdles.  Frustrated and disappointed, I quit the race after about the third hurdle.  I decided that was NOT my race.

Fast forward a few years and I registered to run my first marathon—the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson Mississippi in 2011.  I had trained for a few months and was excited to run my first competitive race in years.  It was a cold morning in January and I found myself at the race entrance preparing to run 26.2 miles.  I waited for the gun to sound…”on your mark, get set, GO!”  And hundreds, probably thousands, of people took off.  I had learned the importance of pacing myself so I wasn’t concerned about others passing me by.  I took my time and kept my pace.  However, the unexpected happened at about mile 15 or 16…my knee started hurting.  And I don’t mean a little pain.  I mean it was throbbing. With every stride my leg hit the pavement, pain shot through my knee.  I slowed my pace thinking that would help. It didn’t.  So I slowed to a walk around mile 18 and had to finish the race limping.  5 hours and 22 minutes after I started, I finished my first marathon!  I had run 26.2 miles and finished a race that others had quit or never started.  My mind set was different then.  I had matured and I was an adult.  I had learned the value of finishing whatever I start unlike when I was in 9th grade.

Finishing strong is a life lesson we should all practice.  Do your best until you’re done.  Complete the project to the best of your ability.  Don’t allow obstacles (people, what happened in the past, low self esteem, bitterness, fear, doubt, etc.) to keep you from finishing strong.  When I was learning various techniques in track, one of the things we learned was to run through the finish line.  Don’t slow down as you get closer to it or someone may pass you.  Run your hardest all the way through it and never look back.  These are words that will help you finish strong in various areas of life.  Run hard.  Persevere. Don’t give up.  Don’t look back.  Focus.  Keep going.  Finish strong!

~Coletta Jones Patterson

*For more inspiration on your journey, check out my latest book, “Developing Faith that Wins: Stories of My Journey” available on http://www.amazon.com.

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