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Pushing Through to the Finish Line...


These last two years have been the most daunting of my life. But I’ve rediscovered a way to gain a runner’s speed to the Finish Line.


In grade school, I, like all of my fellow students, had to take a module in running. As Phys-Ed went, if I wasn’t in a pool, I was pretty useless on land. Built bigger than almost all of my peers, speed was never my friend. I’d get off the starting block like a 454 engine block Buick Wildcat, which if you’re unaware of that 70s sedan beaut, picture a Sherman tank on four wheels. It was no hero at any Starting Line, but when reaching top gear, it flew to the Moon.

Yes. That was me. A Build Wildcat, slash Sherman tank… with long chestnut hair.

So, you can imagine my lack of speed at anything to do with short distance running, and do to my heavy muscle swimmer’s build, I was anything by agile on land. But when it came time for long distance running, I discovered a hack, that in time, I could regulate my breathing, warm and flex my legs muscles, mentally zone out from my worries, and find the fortitude within myself to get to the Finish Line faster.

I had observed a couple of very athletic students, whose coach would tell them to speed up when the race was almost over, when they were the most exhausted. The idea was completely foreign to me. How do you get better when you’re at your worst? But sure enough, whether in relay races or on a long distance course, those girls would speed up and run faster when their exhaustion was at its zenith.

The concept intrigued me, and I took on the Mission Impossible. From there on out, when I’d see a Finish Line draw near, I’d dig deep inside myself for that extra gear. I’d shoved my legs into an upper speed, forced my mind into a singular, determined focus, ignored my screaming muscles and lung pain and my kettle-drum beating heart, and I’d drive across the Finish Line like I was on fire. I would never win any awards, of course, for a human Sherman Tank rarely does, but I found a treasure chest of fortitude I never knew I had, and all these decades later, it continues to show itself and serve me well up to today.

This pandemic has been hard, so very damn hard. A long distance race from hell.

There have been worries, concerns, and outright panic for me and mine since Covid high jacked our lives. And through it all — through the disinfecting and the handwashing and the social distancing and mask use, and zero social life and money worries — I had to find a way to continue to write, to hone my craft, and earn, and do it with all my heart and soul in it, for to deliver less-than when the world needed so much better… well, that could never be in the cards.

Which brings me to today…

After the hubbub of Christmas and the New Year, when despite my emotional and physical exhaustion, my tired eyes and my overworked mind, I must find that extra gear as the Finish Line again draws nears — for Covid and for my latest works — and drive my mind and body harder and faster than I’ve ever driven them before, the weariness and the worry be damned.

It turns out that we all have that extra gear. All we have to do is dig deep to find it, shove in play, and let’er rip, because the only thing we truly need to survive anything, to succeed at anything, is focus, determination, and heart. That holds true for school kids running a race or for adults succeeding in the darkest of times.

Put on your T-shirt and shorts, and lace up your runners, and let’s get in gear for this final stretch.

I see the Finish Line in the distance.

Do you?

Let’s go.