Today I had a great experience. I ran and completed my first 5k. All along my goal was to run the entire 5k and not come in last. I prepared for weeks. I ran the course multiple times training for these few minutes. My outfit was picked out weeks ago – complete with shorts to match my shoes. A shirt that I wasn’t comfortable wearing but needed to wear for motivation for my next 5k. (Yes, I’m hooked.)
My playlist was set. An hour and five minutes of songs that would help me run 3.1 miles. I’ve learned many lessons through this process. Lessons like I can do whatever I set my mind to do. Growth is found outside my comfort zone. But I was reminded of one the greatest lessons at mile two.
There I was running… Hitting my zone…. Music was blasting in my ears. I had talked myself out of walking twice by this point. Then I saw this little boy up ahead. Sweating, walking, head down. I saw his mom urging him to continue. He was having no part of it. For whatever reason, our eyes met. At this point, I hadn’t uttered one word to anyone on the course. After all, I was focused. I was competing with me, myself, and I. Goals needed to be accomplished and nothing would stand in my way!
Then it happened. I took my earphones out for the first time. I introduced myself.”I’m Antuan. What’s your name?” He looked up at me, with his hair disheveled, sweat on his face and said softly, “I’m Matthew.” I asked him if he was okay. He just looked at me. “How old are you?”, I asked. “Eight”, he said. I told him I was new to the area and needed a friend to help me finish this race. I asked him if he’d help me finish the race. He said yes. I then asked his mom if it would be okay if Matthew and I finished the race together.
Once she gave her approval, we gave each other the fist bump and started off on the last mile. We ran it slowly, at his pace. At this point, my goals were a distant memory. For one mile, Matthew and I talked, jogged, encouraged each other, and vowed to finish the race together.
We finished it. Crossing the finish line together. (Ahead of his mom as a matter of fact!) He looked up at me and said “We did it!” I replied, “We sure did buddy. We sure did.”
The lesson in all that? There’s no greater joy than helping someone else along the way. We all need each other to accomplish great things. No man is an island. I was reminded of that today.
Matthew helped me way more than I helped him. He reminded me that we’re in this together. We can accomplish more with others than by ourselves.
After the race, Matthew sought me out and brought me a banana and water.He told me this was his second 5k. I responded “Whoa! You’re amazing, buddy! This is my first. I hope to run as well as you one day.” The smile on his face as he ran off was priceless. That smile, that moment, was worth far more than any goal I set out to accomplish with this 5k.
Thanks for the reminder, Matthew.