Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The following story is about two best friends.
There was a running coach who educated, motivated and inspired the athletes he trained to compete in running events from 10k’s to marathons. He himself would train, sometimes with the athletes, and together they would travel to locations around the world to participate in different running events. The coach would call everyone he trained an athlete even though none of them, including him, were professionals at elite levels. Most of the athletes were middle-aged people who wanted more out of life by accepting challenges like marathons, that in the end were small personal accomplishments.
There were two women he coached that were inseparable. They were best friends who did everything together including traveling, training and going on summer vacations together. Not only did they share these common pastimes but the coach also noticed that they trained the same way. When one would stride with the right foot, so would the other and if one friend had to take a drink of water, the other would wait. There was such a similarity between the two, almost like twins, that if one friend was away from training it did not feel right for the other friend or the coach.
Last year the coach and the two best friends trained for and ran a marathon. The coach finished first and waited for the best friends to finish. With his camera in hand, he awaited them to cross the finish line. Sure enough just past four hours of running, the two, wearing matching clothes, crossed the finish line together as expected. In less than a year they were training for another marathon. This marathon was more important than the first because both were trying to finish in less than four hours so that they could qualify for one of the most highly regarded marathons in the world - The Boston Marathon.
Leading up to the qualifying race the best friends trained as usual - together. On the day of the qualifying race, the two best friends were ready to run together and achieve their goal time to be accepted to Boston. The coach did not run the marathon that day and waited near the finish line with camera’s awaiting them to cross together with their goal time. The coach kept a watchful eye out for his two athletes and was ready to encourage them across the finish line. It was 3:55 when the coach saw two figures in the distance that looked to be the best friends. As the runners came nearer, the coach saw that only one best friend was running and the other was nowhere to be seen. What was once exciting anticipation had now turned into disbelief! The coach was shocked and could not help but wonder what had happened to the missing friend. Why was she left behind? Did she injure herself and have to be pulled out? Did she give up entirely?
Moments later the friend came to where the coach was standing and through tears said that it was not right to finish alone and that she was going back for her best friend. The coach with his knapsack and video camera ran after the friend but fell behind as she swiftly ran through the crowd and back onto the marathon course. She had just finished a marathon and despite being exhausted, was determined to go back and find her dear friend. The coach, bewildered, was also overcome with joy. He walked back along the course for two kilometers until he found a spot to wait again for them to approach the end of the marathon together. Thirty minutes had almost passed and still there was no sign of the best friends. The coach was still wondering if something terrible might have happened. Finally he saw them! They were coming around a corner smiling and chatting with each other as usual. The coach watched them finish together and it brought a tear to his eye knowing that one would run back and add another five kilometers to finish with her friend. Both best friends qualified for the Boston Marathon that day. One got under four hours while it turns out the other best friend, being a few years older was able to qualify with a time over four hours. The two will run in the Boston Marathon next year and complete another personal achievement with the support of each other.
The most memorable experiences in life are not done alone but shared with someone.
“Don't run in front of me, I may not follow. Don't run behind me, I may not lead. Run beside me and be my best friend.”