Did you ever have to run track in your physical education class? Back in '87, at Redwood Middle School in Thousand Oaks, California, we were privileged enough to enjoy "Track Week". I was short, awkward, and pushing past my ideal weight. Running around a track at high speed didn't exactly play to my strengths. The worst part of the program were the hurdles. I was scared to death of tripping over them, or worse, just running into them, unable to jump high enough to even trip on them!
Early in the week, small mattresses were put out as landing pads, and that made life a lot easier. But I dreaded Friday, when we'd be split into teams and pitted against each other in Olympic style competition. The day of the big race, I could feel my stomach doing flip-flops, as my body looked for an excuse to give my brain to escape this gauntlet of physical exertion. But it wasn't enough, and I found myself dressed out in my t-shirt and my too short, red nylon gym shorts, standing next to the Track.
Mr. Washburn divided us up, and the games began. When it came time for the hurdles, I found my way to the back of the line, delaying my torture for as long as possible. Finally, I reached the starting point, and took off. I managed to leap over the first few without incident, and began to gain confidence. At the fourth hurdle...WHAM! My foot caught, and down I went. My knees and hands were scraped and green with grass stains, and I hesitated to go forward, until I noticed the rest of the kids coming together on the sideline - BOTH teams - and they started to shout encouragement: "You can do it Kristi! Keep going!" I felt like I was in a movie, and wondered if I would suddenly hear "Chariots of Fire" echoing over the playground loudspeaker. I kept going, and finished the last few hurdles. In last place, of course, but I finished - and that was a victory in itself.
Today, after weeks of jumping hurdles, it feels like I've tripped over one, or several. Doctors that don't listen. Results that don't give clear answers. Treatment plans that won't give me immediate relief. And after every hurdle, there's another one just waiting for me. But I still hear the encouragement - from my family, my friends, and now, finally, from myself. Get up. Jump the hurdles. Finish the race.
If you find yourself on the ground, discouraged, scared of not getting up, I'm rooting for you. Its not always about finishing first - but don't let yourself just stop. Jump the next hurdle - your finish line will come. And your trophy will be knowing you are strong enough to get up and finish the race.