This true story appears in my book Fully Alive and has been an inspiration to me for years.
Dave Veerman, a vice president with The Livingstone Corporation in Chicago, once lived in Covington, Louisiana. He’d been training for a marathon run across the world’s longest bridge over water, a twenty-four-mile structure spanning Lake Pontchartrain. Dave thought he was in good shape, but on the day of the race a strong wind blowing directly in the face of the runners put his endurance to the test.
Fifteen miles into the marathon, Dave was exhausted. Every part of his body hurt. His will to continue was eroding. To make matters worse, women pushing baby carriages were passing him like he was standing still. He felt as if he’d had a blowout in both tennis shoes, but he stumbled on. Every step was a major effort.
Dave lost track of time and distance until finally he began to hear the cheers of the crowd at the finish line. He knew he was close. Then he saw his family and he saw the camcorder in his wife’s hands. “Suddenly,” Dave said, ”I felt that rush of adrenaline. I couldn’t let my family see me finish weakly. With only about a hundred yards to go, I straightened up, shrugged off my exhaustion and sprinted the rest of the way to the finish line.”
After Dave had rested, he and his family sat down at home to watch the video.Dave watched himself stagger into view. The video revealed the exact moment he looked up and realized he was being filmed. He watched himself experience that shot of adrenaline, take a deep breath and then…… continue stumbling toward the finish line with exactly the same shuffling gait. In his spirit he was sprinting like a young gazelle to the finish line. In reality he looked like an old man making his way to the bathroom at midnight in a pair of loose slippers.
I laughed when Dave told me that story over 25 years ago. But I see the story differently now. Today I would shake Dave’s hand and congratulate him. He did not finish weakly, he finished well.
Helicopters covering the race had captured images of dozens who had given up. Runners who had sprinted to the front early were strung out along the course waiting for a ride.
When people gather to celebrate my life, they might not praise my style or pace but I hope they will be encouraged that I never gave up. That I finished well.
Let the slim mothers pushing baby carriages pass if they wish. Let the flat abs flash past me. I will run at my pace fully alive. Even if I shuffle, crawl, or have friends carry me, I refuse to give up until I cross the finish line.
I refuse to sit on the sidelines.
I will not lose sight of the goal that has driven me to run since my first memories.
I’ve asked my friends to hold me to my promise. One of those friends, Bob Schueman, gave me a coin I carry with me. The coin is imprinted with these words, “Be encouraged. Finish well.” Let me pass that coin to you.
- Run the race of life!
- Refuse to sit on the sidelines!
- Don’t be discouraged by headwinds!
- Don’t compare yourself to others!
- Surround yourself with friends who will cheer you on!
- Run at your pace!
- Run with joy!
Be encouraged! Finish well![reminder]What has your race been like?[/reminder]
I might actually get to try something new next month. First we are planning on trying ice fishing for the first time in my life while an outdoors show films for an episode on disabled sportsmen. Also a friend who happens to be a para Olympian is planning on bringing out his cross country skis so that I, and others, can try cross country skiing. Who knows maybe I’ll have a new sport to keep me busy through the long winters here up nort.
Roger, you never cease to amaze and inspire me. Your quest and zest for life is amazing. I hope you catch some ice and some fish. Let us know about how all of it goes.
Ken this reminded me of my first Half Ironman when I had to walk backwards because my forwards wasn’t working! Great encouragement!
I feel a similar challenge as I launch my writing and speaking career, but the call to persist is too loud!
Thanks for the call to be “Fully Alive”!!
Matt, I laughed out loud…. “I had to walk backwards because my forwards wasn’t working!” What a great way to describe what I have felt so many times. Thank you Matt for your encouraging words.
Ken a very true and painful story! Actually have written about it – watching people ‘catch’ me was a very humbling experience because it caused me to cheer them on! Thank YOU for your humor and insight on life!
I have not run well. I’ve stumbled a lot. Fallen flat on my face – sometimes in view of the camera – sometimes around a solitary bend in the road. I’ve often felt discouraged and ashamed. I appreciate the encouraging message to stagger or even crawl on with eyes fixed on the goal.
Mary, Your message is powerfully encouraging to all of us. The only people who have not fallen are those who have not run. Thank you Mary.
The “Sister Chicks” which include my sister, niece and some close friends we have accumulated over the years annually get together to challenge ourselves to reach greater heights (literally) through wilderness adventures. One of our early adventures had us backpacking up with a fabulous group (Beyond Malibu) to reach the summit of Sun Peak. It was hard going, and for most of us there was a moment where we wondered if we could continue. The encouragement and assistance we gave each other was critical in our being able to arrive at the summit to be able to celebrate the victory together as “Sister Chicks”. Never give up! It is that first success that fuels the dream of other successes to follow if you only continue to press on!
Just this last summer I collapsed as a pastor. I failed my mission to restore lives in Christ’s name. I am working to restore my life. I read Fully Alive and it has instilled hope that I can be restored. Ken has been an inspiration to me more than once. Would love to attend one of your trainings.
I may not have ran a race but my life the last year and a half has been a real marathon, it happened after my father passed away 10 days after being diagnosed with pancreatic liver cancer, my Late sisters kids turned there backs on our family, yes it hit me very hard and fell so hard into depression then I turned things over to God and prayed that my late sisters kids would realize what they are doing is very unchristian , but finally got to the place and realized that my nieces and nephew would have to answer to God for there actions and I got back up on my feet concentrate on the things that I can control in my own life and focus on the good things that God has done for me, well as of the last two months God has answered my prayers, My nieces and nephews have contacted me and finally wanted to see me and spend time with me, things are going better but I am still taking it slow and being causes. but I thank God for answering my prayers
Dear Ken, Your story was a affirmation of something that happened to me a few days ago. A “friend” of mine and I had a huge falling out. The third one in a year. each time, its torn my heart out because I truly loved this person as a dear friend, but. when she said our friendship was over, I didn’t cry or feel bad, actually it was a relief. I have some health issues and this lady and all of her drama has been drowning me. Each time we had a falling out,.I forgave her and we went on but I couldn’t do it anymore, so I released her from having a friendship with me agan unless only as more of an acquaintace because I don’t need the drama and stress she causes, my health won’t take it. I did what I’ve had to do once before, let her go and be with people that don’t drag drama with them that was self inflicted and even though she knows. how to stop it she won’t. Everyone that she is close to she claims makes drama happen and she is the only connection that all of us have. So I finished the race, maybe as well as I should have but I finshed. Thank you for you carng support. Sincerely, Bonnie Pruett.