Set-Back? Maybe. Vulnerable? Maybe. Real, Yes.

I was talking to a good friend a few minutes ago, someone I care very much about and who’s perspective I deeply value….she asked me to tell her about my weekend, and how I made out in the the Marine Corps marathon.  It’s a question I’ve been fielding a lot in the last 36 hours….and a story I’ve now told a dozen or so times.  And while it doesn’t seem to get a whole lot easier with repetition….especially when telling those who have been there for much of the journey (like when I choked back tears in speaking with my Dad post-race)…it’s a good story, I guess.

Not a story with what I’d consider the happiest of endings….but a true story nonetheless….one to most certainly learn from…one with plenty of emotional highs and lows….one where the main character can’t hide from struggle…and while the “bad guy” is held off…not one where  “good guy” wins.

Some might relate this type of story to a few in their own life….with all the planning and preparation….all the strategy and training that went in….to have a good plan, watch it unfold perfectly for 90% of the “game”…to give it your absolute all, and still come up shy of your publicly stated mission (in this case by 121 seconds), it’s been a tough one to swallow.  Was it a set-back?  Yeah….I’d be lying if I said it didn’t knock me and my confidence a bit.

Has it made me feel vulnerable?  Yeah….most definitely….I’m not used to saying I’m going to accomplish something and coming up short… and I absolutely hate the feeling.  I hate saying “this weekend was bittersweet….I did my best and that still wasn’t good enough.”  I mean, logically I know in my head “giving your best is all anyone can ask for”.  It’s a lesson I’ve had ingrained in me since birth….one I’ve shared and taught many times.  One that my logic can very much accept.  But emotionally, it’s an internal battle….was I just not good enough this day….was I not being realistic with my goals (rule #1).  Or is this just part of a grander plan… opportunity to learn, an opportunity to confront emotional struggle, set-back, and move forward…grow?  My faith would suggest the latter.

Was it real…..yeah this Sunday was real.  From the highs of running through historic downtown DC and all that those monuments stand for, to the physical pain endured as I clipped away at an average 6:45 pace through mile 20….to the emotional lift  thinking about my family and wife, standing 7 months pregnant in the cold, just so I could have my sports drink just at the right time…to the emotional low when I realized my mission was literally slipping away one step after another no matter how hard my coach and truly awesome friend Julie tried to pull me along… was real.

And in the end….as I focused with all of my might….all of my being just to put one foot in front of the other as fast as I could….I finished this leg of the journey faster that I’ve ever done before….but not fast enough to put this mission to rest.

And so here is my parting thought……yeah the details of this story are about running….but is this story so unlike life?  Isn’t giving it your all….dealing with set-backs….accepting vulnerability as a necessary consequence and risk of a valued mission what we Americans are all about?  How often have we given all we’ve had….endured all we thought we could, and it just doesn’t seem enough in the short-term?….and so we’re faced with an all too familiar choice…. to get back up…regroup, recover….dust ourselves off and give it another go for something that’s worth it?

I’m going to take my time recovering from this one….but I will go at it again….I hope, when presented with the choice (since we all are) in your endeavors, you’ll do the same.

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