Thursday, June 12, 2008

Inspiration from the track

Last evening I set out to do sprints at the track. Upon arrival I noted a small group of people congregating outside the gate. A little dismayed as I would now have an audience, I wasn’t going to let my insecurities or the hot, humid weather deter me from doing HIIT. I proceeded to do my warm-up and set out to do my sprints and noted that the small group was now growing larger and amongst them was a group of mentally challenged individuals. Exhausted, I finished 12 sprints and spent a few minutes watching these individuals conquer the odds as they partook in laps, sprints and hurdles. They all had this contagious energy and faces that were aglow with smiles. After my last sprint, the father of one of the boys said his boy had wanted to race me. I laughed and said he should have and he would have probably beat me. I inquired about their events and was told it was track and field night for a group of mentally challenged individuals.

They were lined up – three young men. Prepping to race down the track. His boy (the one that wanted to race me) was the middle one with the red shirt. Each one ran as fast as they could giving everything they had in them. The boy with the red shirt ran back to his father announcing his time. It wasn’t his best he said, but nonetheless he was pleased and ran off to his next event. In the words of Olympics founder Baaron Pierre de Coubertin, “The important thing is not to win, but to take part. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.” And fought well I’m certain they all did. I was told they race against themselves and the next time he races, the goal will be to beat his own time. Not that of another. This for me is so humbling. How often do I yearn for what others have and compare myself to them. How often have I wished for bigger shoulders, tighter thighs and defined abs only because this is what I see on someone else and I covet it for myself. In that short time on the track I learned a lesson. My efforts to improve my body composition are an ongoing pursuit. I set goals and I reach for them. Rather than try to reach for someone else’s ideal, I need to focus on what my gifts and positive attributes are and work with them and not let my desires be my handicaps. I believe that no matter what I set forth to do, regardless of how it turns out, I must give it my best effort. From these words evolved the Special Olympics' athletes oath... "Let me win, But if I cannot win, Let me brave in the attempt."

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