Don’t Finish a Race Like This

In junior high I ran cross-country. It’s that sport where you run on golf courses, all the while wishing you were golfing. 

I remember this one race. Park Rapids, Minnesota. Hills everywhere. I was running a pretty decent race. My lap times were good, and I felt strong. But with less than 50 yards to go, I heard footsteps approaching. I peeked over my shoulder and saw this kid gaining on me. I sped up, but it was too late. He beat me. 

Afterward, Coach Fabian put his arm around my shoulder and said that he knew I didn’t give my best. It was obvious. I showed I had more to give by speeding up right before the finish line. And he was right. 

Whenever I think about that race from way back in junior high, I think about how the ending is all I remember clearly. In other words, I basically only remember how I finished. Because isn’t that what we do? If something ends poorly, that’s what we remember. The ending. Whether it be a relationship, job, or cross-country race. But the reality is, most times the ending doesn’t represent the whole. You forget about those hills you tackled, and the middle moments when you had some great times. 

So I’ve been trying to err on the side of grace when thinking about situations that haven’t ended so well. Grace for anyone involved, including myself. Because, honestly, the last 50 yards only tells a fraction of the story. 

In the future, though, I’m just going to do my best to finish strong.