Resilience

Everyday Stories of Peace
Green Scarf Stories, entry twelve, November 2, 2014

Today is the New York Marathon, the largest in the world. About 50,000 people woke early this morning, laced up their sneakers and began a 26.2 mile run through the five boroughs of New York City. More people also woke early to help the runners get organized, make their way to the starting line, serve water and gatorade along the course and help with the endless logistics involved in putting together a marathon. Numerous others will spend their day cheering from the sidelines and lending supportive energy to this massive display of human endurance.

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and achieving something you never thought you could, like running a marathon, brings a whole lot of gratitude for the things we do to help each other every day. One year ago today I was one of the runners in the New York Marathon, and my wobbly old legs did get me to the finish line in five hours and nineteen minutes. It was an awesome and humbling experience.

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The awesomeness was being part of a large number of people who came from all over the world to run the race. We ran over the Verrazano Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the United States, as well as through every single red light going up First Avenue. It was a fantastic traffic-free way to sight-see through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. I saw New York at its best. The live bands, gospel choirs, school marching bands, DJs and people cheering along the whole race course were inspirational. You can’t beat New Yorkers for enthusiasm! It was also awesome to find out that I actually had a bit of resilience in me as I chugged along at an even pace. I’m not sure how much mileage I have left on this body, but I enjoyed the entire race, even the aches and pains.

It was the humbling-ness of this experience, however, which was even more impressionable. Every single runner had his or her personal story of why they were running. It could be to support a family member going through cancer, to raise money for a worthy organization, to support the runners injured during the Boston Marathon bombing earlier that year, or to show how New York could bounce back after Hurricane Sandy. (The previous year’s race was cancelled due to the after-effects of a hurricane). I ran in support of Team for Kids www.runwithtfk.org thanks to the donations of friends and family members. Many people might have run, I guess, to prove that real resilience is mental – to set a goal and not give in to that little voice inside which tells you to go home because nothing really matters at all.

The New York Marathon is one of the most coveted races to run, and I think it’s because of the immense support and enthusiasm from both sides of the street for the entire 26 miles. It brought me a deeper understanding of the collective desire we all have to bond together for a brilliant life journey. I’ve always loved to run. Not that I was ever the fastest, or had the best technique, but I loved the freedom of travelling on my own two legs. The marathon was something I couldn’t have done on my own. It took a lot of support from family and friends, being part of a team, and the energy from all those people cheering on the race course to get me over the finish line. Life is teamwork, and resilience is built as a team effort.

What kept me going? Of course the hug from my daughter at mile 16 was a huge boost. If you push me on this point, however, I’d tell you that a lot of my resilience comes from a deep well of faith. If I had to make a list of life’s “dos” and “don’ts,” I’d probably say that having some kind of faith, in whatever shape or form works for you, makes a difference.

NY marathon 2013

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