We have all come into contact with or know that person who likes to flaunt everything they have and make a big deal about everything that they do. They move through life seeking recognition from everyone around them and trying to evoke feelings of envy. They try to fill their life with things to make them happy, and yet they sound so empty. They place a huge emphasis on how other people perceive them and want to feel like they are better off than everyone around them.
If you are that person… realize that you do not impress me.
It’s a sunny Saturday morning on a hot day in the summer. The bleachers are crowded with runners, parents, friends and coaches waiting for the races to start. Some runners are taking their warm up laps around the ¼ mile track. Others are stretching on the field. Everyone is trying to stay hydrated. It’s so hot you can smell the warm rubber of the track filling the area.
As the announcer’s voice rings through the speaker system the anticipation starts to build.
My coach had placed me in a faster heat for my race (half mile sprint) than I typically ran, so the butterflies were building more than usual. I can actually feel them now while I write this.
As I was stretching, a runner from another school glanced over at my running spikes and laughed. He grabbed his shoes, which were in individual bags, and pulled them out saying, “Man, what you know about that?” He poked fun at my shoes and went on about how fast he was and how amazing his fancy shoes were. He seemed to think this race was his. I said nothing in return just smiled. I am not the type that cares what others say, think or do. I have especially never been fazed by “things”.
It’s race time.
“On your mark!” – You are overwhelmed by a mix of emotions. Fear that you won’t do well, nervous that you should have been with a slower heat, anxious to find out what you can do, eager for the gun to go off.
“Set!” – It feels like they have you waiting forever. You almost don’t feel yourself breathe as you get ready to explode off the starting line.
“BOOM!” – The gun goes off. All butterflies are gone.
The pace was particularly fast. The fellow with the fancy shoes was out ahead of the pack off the line.
The first lap is the easiest. You get a feel for the pace, settle into your own and get into position. The second lap is where you dig deep. You know you are almost there and the pace is about to pick up. The last 200 meters tests your will. You are unloading every ouch of energy that you have left and fighting through fatigue. It never seems like you have enough juice left in you to finish… if you do, you didn’t run hard enough. You see the finish line, power through and finally find relief.
I finished top 3 in my heat. I looked back at the other runners crossing the finish line and saw the fellow with the fancy shoes slug past. I shot him a smile, not needing to say anything more.
Life can take a lot out of you. You need to push forward. Sometimes when you settle into your pace it’s difficult to break out from the crowd. You get boxed in and never realize your potential. Other times you get drawn out by someone who talks big game and thinks they can lead the pack at a ridiculous pace. Don’t focus on them; they will just burn you out. Let them run through life with their mouth.
“Things” don’t make you better. They don’t make you a better athlete, a better friend, a better student, or a better person.
So keep running your race. Find your pace. Make your move when the time is right. Don’t look back. Fight through the pain. Reach for the finish. Most importantly, always remember to smile.