Racing as Life

I’ve just finished a wonderful visit with our extended family on both sides, celebrating my youngest daughter’s graduation from college.  Since I was on the back side of a sinus infection, plus I didn’t want to take away from any family time, I limited my workouts to early morning runs on the back roads around the lake house we rented.  This morning’s run was only 5 miles, instead of the 7 from the last two days.  Since I did an out and back along the same route I’d been running, I was familiar enough with the surroundings to let my mind wander a bit.  Get ready, here comes another somewhat overblown analogy.

Having three generations under the same roof for a few days, you can’t help but notice the varying approaches to life.  I am particularly blessed with an extended family in which all of the members not only get along, but genuinely like each other.  Even so, there are natural differences that struck me not so much as conflict, but more like different methods of training based on the the type of race for which one is preparing.  Each is appropriate for the stage one is in.

My mother and my in-laws are marathoners.  Again, I’ve been blessed with amazing examples of selfless love, determination and perseverance.  Not only do they represent successful careers, they raised their own families while also helping to care for others.  They demonstrate clearly that a life well-lived is one not lived for yourself, but for others.  Whether mentoring “little sisters”, ministering to those in prison, or serving in the local food pantry, they’ve shown that they are made to go the distance.

My kids, on the other hand, are in the “sprinter” phase of life.  At this point, everything is a 100 yard dash.  They have amazing energy for the task at hand.  And while their lives seem to me like the frenzy of activity in a sprint, with arms and legs pumping madly toward a short term finish line, they have it all in control in the way that they need to.  It’s too easy for me to try to step in and exert at least influence, if not full control, when it seems things are a little off-kilter.  However, doing that would rob them of the experience that will allow them to develop into the tremendous young adults they are becoming.  Let the sprinters sprint.

That leaves us.  We’re still in that “build” phase for the triathlon.  We’re past the point of always wanting to go fast.  We’re still building to our peak.  We’ve pushed through a lot of the hard training, and we’re finally starting to see how all the effort pays off.  It’s great.  We get to watch the success of the younger ones coming after us and offer some advice when it seems appropriate.  We’re learning from the heroes who led the way ahead of us.  And we’re still preparing for races yet to come.

Spending a few days away from work, with a little quiet time to reflect on life while surrounded by the family I’m blessed to have, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate I am.  Compared to most of the world’s population, I’m incredibly rich by monetary standards.  But the monetary aspect is by no means the most important.  As with each of the events in my Chasing Fifty Challenge, the success wasn’t found in crossing the finish line; it was in the path that got me there.

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