By Brenda Black
I tearfully watched as one after another of thousands of runners willed their wearied legs toward the finish line. Some ran for the first time a race that far and hard. Their grimaced lips and tear-filled eyes revealed the pain of the process and relief for its culmination. Some tested their endurance for the hundredth race, cruising past in steady strides, with experience breathing in and out as evenly. From the first timers to the Olympic qualifiers, each one reached their destiny powered by tenacity.
Half wincing, half intrigued, I witnessed a man pull nails out of a board with his mouth, in pursuit of a Guinness World Record. His tenacity demanded steely concentration, as well as tough teeth! In a room filled with photographers, judges and reporters, he never lost focus, but annihilated the nails and beat the clock as if he ate hammers for breakfast.
A young, female doctor who owns a brand new clinic is home on maternity leave, planning how she'll juggle a newborn and 8,000 small and large animal patients. She tells me she'll take her race one leg at a time and handle the tough test of dual commitment and a divided heart. She's filled with tenacious optimism and determined to balance family and career.
They all remind me yet again of the amazing potential of the human spirit and body when one puts his or her mind to something and compels the heart to follow. While their examples are inspiring, it is also humbling to think of how little I often expect from myself. A bit of pain or inconvenience and I might be prone to take the shorter, easier route. At the end of that decision, I have to wonder, did the short cut leave me more fulfilled or empty. Will I know that I left it all on the field and played this game of life to win, pushing the limits of my own human possibilities, if I never do the hard stuff or try something out of my comfort zone?
Stepping out in faith and fortitude takes effort. Marathon runners don't wake up on race day and go 26.2 miles without building up the stamina, one step, one mile at a time. Guinness record breakers know the target before they ever make the attempt, and they practice, practice, practice. Moms count the cost and factor in the blessings to be the best they can be for their babies, in spite of the tears and trials. After weighing the odds and looking to the prize, the tenacious go to work to see their dreams become reality.
Take the first step. Keep the focus. Find the balance. Be tenacious and finish the race.