April 22, 2013

Rise each time you fall

After the emotional roller coaster with Boston this week, I was looking forward to my long run this weekend (an 18-miler that came closer to 19 without me even noticing because of the great company), spending time with my family and just letting go of my supercharged emotions in general. 

Then at church today, one of the speakers shared the below poem, which, of course, resonated with the runner me. I've heard this one before, but it's been a while. And it sparked a memory from the Team 413 race, that I had almost forgotten about. 

As the last finishers were headed towards the blow-up finish arch, the race director called those of us still there to come over to the finish line and cheer them on. As we did, a couple (I assumed they were husband and wife) were walking into the finish. When she got a little closer, I realized that as we all lined up and cheered, she was crying. I'm not sure if she was in pain, happy to be finished, or grateful for our support, but either way, she was overwhelmed with emotion. And it set off my cry-ometer, which is easy to set off these days. I didn't even know her, but I felt so happy for her that whatever obstacle brought on that emotion for her was getting pushed aside at this finish line. She had done it! And as one of the last finishers, she got more cheers than anyone else I had seen finish that day.

And just when you thought you couldn't find everything on the internet, I found this picture of them finishing with me and my happy cry face in the background. 


So here's a tribute to this random lady above who inspired me at the Team 413 finish line and all of us who finish behind sometimes. 

The Race, by D. H. Groberg

"Quit! Give up! You're beaten!" They shout at me and plead,
"There's just too much against you now. This time you can't succeed!"
And as I start to hang my head in front of failure's face,
my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
And hope refills my weakened will as I recall that scene.
For just the thought of that short race rejuvenates my being.
A children's race - young boys, young men - how I remember well.
Excitement, sure! But also fear; it wasn't hard to tell.
They all lined up so full of hope; each thought to win the race.
Or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
And fathers watched from off the side, each cheering for his son.
And each boy hoped to show his dad that he would be the one.
The whistle blew and off they went! Young hearts and hope afire.
To win and be the hero there was each young boy's desire.
And one boy in particular whose dad was in the crowd,
was running near the lead and thought, "My dad will be so proud!"
But as they speeded down the field across a shallow dip,
the little boy who thought to win lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself his hands flew out to brace,
and mid the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face.
So down he fell, and within him hope; he couldn't win it now.
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow.
But as he fell his dad stood up and showed his anxious face.
Which to the boy so clearly said: "Get up and win the race!"
He quickly rose, no damage done; behind a bit, that's all
and ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
his mind went faster than his legs; he slipped and fell again!
He wished then he had quit before with only one disgrace.
"I'm hopeless as a runner now; I shouldn't try to race."
But in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father's face.
That steady look which said again: "Get up and win the race!"
So up he jumped to try again, ten yards behind the last.
"If I'm to gain those yards," he thought, "I've got to move real fast!"
Exerting everything he had he gained eight or ten,
but trying so hard to catch the lead he slipped and fell again!
Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye.
"There's no sense running anymore; three strikes: I'm out! Why try?"
The will to rise had disappeared, all hope had fled away;
so far behind, so error prone; a loser all the way.
"I've lost, so what's the use," he thought. "I'll live with my disgrace."
But then he thought about his dad who soon he'd have to face.
"Get up," an echo sounded low, "Get up and take your place.
You were not meant for failure here. Get up and win the race.
With borrowed will, get up," it said, "you haven't lost at all.
For winning is no more than this: To rise each time you fall."
So up he rose to run once more, and with a new commit
he resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn't quit.
So far behind the others now, the most he'd ever been,
still he gave it all he had and ran so as to win.
Three times he'd fallen, stumbling; three times he rose again;
to far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.
They cheered the winning runner as he crossed the line first place.
Head high, and proud and happy; no falling, no disgrace.
But when the fallen youngster crossed the line in last place,
the crowd gave him the greater cheer for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud.
You would have thought he'd won the race to listen to that crowd.
And to his dad he sadly said, "I didn't do so well."
"To me, you won," his father said. "You rose each time you fell."
And now when things seem dark and hard and difficult to face,
the memory of that little boy helps me in my own race.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
"Quit! Give up! You're beaten!" They still shout in my face.
But another voice within me says: "GET UP AND WIN THE RACE!"

We win when we don't give up. 

There is one thing I don't like about this poem though -- it leaves out the girl racers. Maybe the setting is the pre-Katherine-Switzer era. 

Now on to the most important question of the day. How long does a Slinky last at your house? We made it almost 24 hours before this happened. And even though this was the handiwork of the twins, I have to admit that I am sometimes tempted to take a new slinky  and spasmodically stretch it all out of shape. It's the same urge that I fight every time I'm standing on the edge of a cruise ship and want to throw random objects over the railing into the rolling ocean below. For no reason whatsoever, other than that you are not supposed to. 

Have you ever been overwhelmed by emotion at a finish line? I definitely was after BQing at Mercedes. I made it through the finish arch without tears, but then I cried sporadically the rest of the day. 

When was the last time you were glad you didn't quit something? I get overwhelmed with parenting many days (or several times an hour), but I'm definitely glad I haven't quit. 

And really, how long would a Slinky last at your house?


  1. I have never read that poem, I LOVE IT! Thank you so much for sharing it. I teared up!

  2. I haven't seen a slinky that kinked since High School Physics where the teacher was teaching us sound waves. Thank for sharing the poem.

  3. Pre running days I used to walk down to the finish line of a local marathon/half marathon. We live just blocks from the finish and I enjoyed watching people finish even before I was a runner. I would get choked up and had to make sure to wear my sun glasses each year. Although this race wasn't my first big race, I did run it last year for the first time and I couldn't help but get choked up while I was running at the thought of my family at the finish line waiting for me. All the other years we watched in awe and now it was me out there doing it. This year I am doing this race as my redemption full marathon after the nightmare full marathon last year. I am getting so excited just thinking about it!

    1. That is so cool that you used to watch it not knowing that would be you one day! Love that. And I hope your race goes well this year.

  4. I got a little choked up right before I finished my first half marathon...to think that I started my journey to that finish line just under a year ago was such a great accomplishment for me :) Thanks for sharing the poem!

    1. That first finish line crossing feels so amazing! That's why I keep going back for more to recreate that huge feeling of joy (and relief!).

  5. What a great poem, thank you for sharing! I can't tell you the number of times I've cried during / after races. Mostly marathons and both Ironmans that I've done. As you read, I had to choke back tears during the race at Boston. This last week has seen many tears fall as a result of what happened after the race.

    1. Yes, a lot of tears for Boston and the people there this week. I'm so glad that you were able to run (have a kick butt race!) and finish safely.

  6. Amazing poem! I hadn't read it before, and it really is tear-worthy. :) Thanks for sharing that. I'll remember that now when times get low.

    I think the most choked up I have gotten finishing a race was at the end of the Pikes Peak Ascent. I definitely busted out bawling on that one, but then it might have been the oxygen deprivation.

    Slinkys don't last here at all.

    1. I'm oxygen deprived at the end of races even when I'm not on an official peak of any sort!

  7. Beautiful poem indeed. So very true. Each time you fall, whether in life or at a race, you have to get up and keep moving. For in each fall their is a lesson and most often that lesson shows us just how strong we are. Beautiful post. As for slinky toys, they last about one day in our house. LOL!!

  8. Very sweet moment!I always "think" I'll be overwhelmed and in tears at the finish line but I think I'm always so exhausted/dehydrated, I've never cried. All of my crying comes before the race starts.
    Slinkies last about 30 seconds in this house.

    1. That's a good time to cry too! The national anthem can get me started any time.

  9. I was really overwhelmed when I finished my first half marathon this past February, but I didn't cry because I didn't want to get weird looks. I was just so incredibly happy and so proud of myself! I think slinkys last approximately 0 full days in anyone's home. They always get tangled up going down the stairs! (at least for my sister and I they did).

  10. I love the poem...I also love the pic of the couple coming in, with you sobbing in the background. I always cry at things like that!!!

    yeah...slinkies last about a week in our house. As do balloons and yo-you!!

    1. Isn't that so random that I found that picture?!

      Balloons are always the center of sibling fights at our house. So and so let my balloon go, or so and so smashed my balloon. Look, kidlets, they're only meant to last ten seconds anyway!:)

  11. Ah, slinkies! I find the plastic ones tend to last a little longer.

  12. i got emotional cheering on all of the races this spring when I was injured-i loved watching everyone. i teared up at my first marathon and when I ran the savannah 1/2 (2011). i'm glad i haven't quit my faith-lately, i hate to say it, i have plenty of reasons to question it..but i am staying strong. and, a slinky would last forever-no kids :):)


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