Medals and Memory

A friend of mine wrote a wonderful blog post about his experience in a race recently

It got me to thinking about my own races and medals.

I have a few medals from my racing days.

A medal is both a moment and a memory. I like to keep my memories where I can see them. There’s the 10 nautical mile Fort2Base (the anchor) which was a tough race on a nature trail from Fort Sheridan through the Great Lakes Naval Station. The trail was tough. Then there was Hero Hill, a 12% grade incline in the last mile of the race had the Chief Petty Officer running near me, who had gone to boot camp at the base going “NO NO NO!” AS we headed towards the hill. Oddly all my hurt from earlier in the race disappeared as I chugged up the hill.

You may have heard my story of the Gold Colored Donald Duck, Again a race I was doing very badly at but finished, completing my first of four Races I would run At Walt Disney World, only a few months after Hero Hill, I got nailed with multiple inclines, the first an exit to an overpass that went on for almost half a mile of incline. That killed me, and then the two more overpasses had my legs rubber. But I persisted because I wanted that medal.

When I was much younger, to run even a mile was an impossible task. I would be exhausted, with my sides hurting after only a few hundred yards. When I was just turning Fifty, instead of a mid-life crisis, I decided I would run a marathon. The work I put into getting to a mile, then 3.1, and then eventually 13.1 miles was slow. I’m not the fastest runner, but I can complete the race. And that is an accomplishment.

Some mock “participation medals” and probably think since I didn’t finish in the top three, that’s all my medals are. I remember A story about Frank Shorter, who was in awe of the back of the packers like me, who would run a marathon not in his two and a half hours but six or seven. Shorter was humbled how anyone could put that much effort into a race.

Both my good and bad races (and some were both)  are there to look back on and remind myself I did what I thought I never would. While I cherish the metal ones, sometimes a little bit of felt, fabric and plastic does the same thing. My one marathon, again at Disney, had two medals.

I keep the metal one at home, But the fabric one, I look up from my desk and remind myself of how much I can accomplish: the teen who got winded after a quarter mile so long ago did 26.2  when he was in his fifties.

And I can do that impossible thing again.

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