"Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us." The first time I heard this quote, I was watching the documentary, "Spirit of the Marathon." The movie opens with Deena Kastor, Olympic marathoner, running, breath and footsteps rhythmically in sync with a rising sun on the horizon. Then, the quote. When I heard those words, I had to stop the movie and write them down. It was so simple and yet so profound. It was, in essence, the very reason I run summed up in one sentence.
For the longest time I pondered why my adrenaline-rushed excitement on race day was also laced with feelings of dread. "Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us." That was the answer! It finally struck me that every single time I step up to the start line, I am embarking on a journey that is, without any shadow of a doubt, going to be challenging in a way that nothing else is. I will come face to face with an old enemy, a relentless rival whose entire purpose and drive is to defeat ME. She will tell me that I can't do it. She will tell me that I did not train enough, that I haven't slept enough, and that I haven't eaten the right nutrition to be successful. And, I will fight her all the way, cutting her off at every corner and I know I will grow weary. I know that as the miles pass, it will take greater effort to shut her out and that at certain low moments, I may even find myself considering her logic. Yes, when each of us step up to the start line, we are waging war against that little part of our brains that tell us to stop, that tell us we've done enough for one day, that tell us it's okay to quit when it starts to hurt. And no battle was ever won without effort. I like to think of runners as warriors. We pursue a goal far greater than anything tangible and we fight hard to achieve it. It's a state of mind that can only be attained by conquering those moments that challenge us. I run for those defining moments.