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March 24, 2014: When the Race is Over

I ran the Jerusalem Marathon a few days ago. I put everything I had into that race and finished with a time I was proud of. It was my strongest effort ever.

But now the race is over.

I close my eyes and think about an extremely long, sometimes exhilarating, but more often painful, journey. I remember standing at the start line, full of energy and anxiety, wondering how the race would go. I looked into the faces of my friends as we encouraged each other. With no real knowledge of what would really happen, we assured each other that everything would be fine.

Yet, I’ll admit it, deep down I was very nervous. Scared of how the long miles would feel.

The race started and I tried to fall into a rhythm, anxiously awaiting each marker that would show me how much progress we had made. As I passed each one, I imagined that maybe it would not be so bad. Maybe I would be able to just run to the finish with a big smile on my face.

But then, the race became increasingly difficult. Soon, it was beyond difficult — it was painful to keep going at that pace. But the thing was, after a certain point, you don’t make choices. There is no quitting. You just have to keep going no matter how it feels.

In thinking back, I can’t help but wonder if I could have done better. I know it’s not a healthy thought at this point. But I do ask if I really made all the right decisions.

Was it possible…. I could have done this differently and had a different outcome? I don’t obsess about it, but it is a nagging thought.

But the truth is, it really doesn’t matter now. The race is over.

I have to accept it. I’m no longer out on that course, running kilometer after kilometer wondering when the finish line will come. Should be a “relief,” right?

Sometimes it is. Sometimes I understand that the hard part is over, the suffering is over.

And slowly, slowly, the painful memories of the stretch right before the finish line are starting to fade, leaving me with more of the feelings from the times I felt strong — the good memories.

And that’s when I drop those nagging doubts and tell myself that I did everything I could. But the one things that is clear is that the race is over. I have to move on to new things.

No, I could never forget this long, long difficult run. Nor do I really want to let go completely of any of the feelings I experienced.

What happened will always be a part of who I am. And she will always be with me.

But I understand that there will be new, different challenges ahead. Challenges that demand all of my strength and determination. And she would expect me to embrace these challenges and not cling to the memories of pain. She never backed down and slid into feeling sorry for herself.

And neither will I.

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