18 Apr So Close…
The third Monday in April is Patriots’ Day, and it is a holiday in New England. It is a special day remembering the beginning of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord. In Boston, the Red Sox play a baseball game in the middle of the morning, and the most prestigious, historic, and toughest marathon to qualify for starts 26 miles away in Hopkinton. It is a full day of activity, and many dreams are fulfilled.
Leading up to Monday’s race, no American woman had won in Boston for 33 years…a long time. There was hope. Shalane Flanagan, a New Englander, won the New York City Marathon in November and was ready to close out her storied career with a win in Boston. There was also despair, because the race conditions were horrible: wind chill in the 30s, rain, and sustained head winds with gusts at 35mph. It was not a good day.
Many runners struggled with thousands of them suffering hypothermia, including elite runners. Shalane struggled. In fact, she had to stop for a natural break, and when she did, so did someone else.
Desiree Linden is a training partner of Flanagan’s and also an accomplished marathoner, finishing 2nd in Boston in 2011 by TWO SECONDS (SO close!). She also struggled on Monday. During miles 2, 3, and 4, she was considering dropping out of the race. She told the US’s best hope, Flanagan, that if she could help her in anyway she would because she was going to drop out. Linden waited for her and paced her back into the lead pack. She did that not once, but twice—bringing another teammate, Molly Huddle, back when she dropped from the lead group. That woke her legs up and got her back into the race and encouraged her into believing she still had a chance.
It did more than wake her legs up, it jumpstarted her marathon. She passed the leaders with roughly three miles to go and never looked back…literally. She just stared straight ahead, unbelievably focused as she ran into the wind and rain. Desiree Linden won the Boston Marathon by four minutes. It wasn’t even close. The drought was over!
If she had not stopped to help her teammates, she would have probably quit the marathon and never realized a life-long dream. I wonder about how often this happens in our own lives. We start to think about how hard it is working toward a long-term goal and if we will ever get there. Our thinking turns almost exclusively inward, and we begin to contemplate giving up. How many amazing accomplishments were missed because we gave up on the pursuit that would bring us to our greatest victory? We would probably be extremely disappointed to know the answer to that question.
You know who doesn’t have to regret that answer…Jesus. During a dark moment of doubt in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus could have given up, but He didn’t. He deferred to God and thought about you and me more than Himself…and He won the victory for us all.
How close are you to a breakthrough? How close are you to realizing a dream? What is holding you back? Maybe reaching that achievement isn’t about trying harder. Maybe that one last thing we need to change is working with others, supporting their needs or concerns. That change in perspective may be just what we need to do to reach our goal. There’s only one way to find out.
Blessings to you,