Putting One Foot In Front of the Other ~ A Story of Overcoming | By Sonya Finley
So there I was again, all decked out in my walker’s finest gear. Braids up in a pony, sun visor on to protect my face, moisture wicking jacket and top, cute little running capris with cut outs on the sides (you couldn’t really see them because of the compression socks I had to wear to keep my shins from splinting into a thousand bits of pain), and the cool Nike running shoes my youngest so graciously purchased for his momma. Oh and do not forget the waist pouch that dutifully carried my bottle of water (complete with a hydration tablet) and the, oh so yummy, energy giving snacks. Yup, there I was again, at the base of a “hill” (Double Peak, San Marcos, Ca. 2.1 miles straight up) about to embark upon yet another physically challenging endeavor, all because someone told me I could do it. Really?!
In the past two years I have begun a physical fitness journey that, I promise you, I could not have foreseen myself doing. I am not and have never considered myself an athlete and in fact, I have adamantly denied any athletic tendency whatsoever. So the idea that I would be participating in 5K’s, 10K’s, Half Marathon Relays, Half Marathons and even a brief 17 day “run a mile a day” streak, is in a word, SHOCKING . . . but apparently only to me.
When I started; I was just looking for a way to get healthy. Having been blessed with a lovely (not really) hypo-thyroid condition losing weight is extremely difficult so that was not really the goal. Finding myself of a certain age, I realized the need to “move it or lose it” and so I began walking. Of course, my big sis, the quintessential greatness coach and a person who can make you believe you can do almost anything (try her), would not, could not, leave me there. She decided I needed a “goal” to keep me consistent. First goal, prepare for and complete a 5K (3 miles). I rose to the challenge and did my first 5K (it was not pretty), but I did it and oddly enough, I did not stop there. Fast forward to about 2 years later and I find myself training for my second half marathon scheduled in June!
I will not tell you that I love it or that I even like it. In fact, there are times during these races where I “hate” my sister with a passion for talking me into whatever event I have the “misfortune” of participating in. You see, I am a walker, not a runner, and an extremely slow walker at that. When I do these things, old people pass me by. Kids pass me by. People with crutches and walking sticks pass me by. And it does not matter where in the wave I start, I always end up near the last when I finish. My pride takes a beating. My ego becomes non-existent. I feel so awkward. It would be so easy to quit. And really, who would blame me? Would you?
But something happens on those 3, 6, and 13.1 mile stretches when everyone has passed me by and it is just me, walking, slowly but surely putting one foot in front of the other. I remind myself of who I am. How strong I am. How I can, in fact, do this. I remind myself that there have been times in my life that were much harder than just trying to make it to the finish line of a grueling course. I remember the times in my life when I truly felt I had been left behind and was making the journey alone. I remind myself of how I overcame those struggles simply by putting one foot in front of the other–taking it step by step, day by day, head down, pressing forward, trusting God until miraculously I reached the end.
On the occasions that I looked up, I check out the folks running past me. I then remind myself that everyone running the race has their own challenges to overcome. Oftentimes the struggles are intensely personal and have nothing to do with competing with the person running next to them. The goal is to simply make it to the end–to be victorious, to overcome. To walk (or hobble) away with the pride that comes from completing the race on your feet. Understanding this keeps me from making senseless comparisons and helps me stay focused on my goal to keep moving forward, never quitting, no matter how my body protests the abuse. LOL!
To date, I have never quit. I have finished every race I have challenged myself with. And believe me, every race is a challenge to finish. And while I never come first (or even close to it), in the end, it does not matter where in the line I finish, just as long as I finish. Every finisher receives the same medal whether they crossed the line first or came in long after the event sponsors have packed up and left.
So yes, there I was again, at the foot of the mountain, not really understanding why I was there, geared up, but not quite ready to go, and yet…slowly but surely, putting one foot in front of the other, I made it up that mountain. Dead last, but I celebrated the win right along with everyone else.
Sonya A. Finley has been living the single life for 24 years. In that time she has raised four awesome young men (James – 26, Kevin – 23, Joshua and Johnathan – 18), graduated from college with a BFA, and began a huge step in her professional career. She is on the verge of a new season in her single life that now focuses on a journey not centered around child-rearing. She has made many mis-steps, learned quite a few bits of wisdom along the way and is happy to share with women who find themselves in the same place.