When I’m watching a cross-country race, I usually position myself near the finish. The finish line is a great place to get dramatic pictures. I also love the cheering crowds and the coaches yelling out encouragement. Sometimes, a coach will yell, “Show me what you’ve got left!” and a runner will find a burst of energy and will sprint like they are trying to win Olympic gold even though they will place about 304th. The finish is always inspiring.
The start of a race is filled with adrenaline and the end of a race is filled with cheering.
The middle of a cross-country race is just a whole lot of running.
The middle is hard. It’s unglamorous and requires tremendous stamina. The middle can feel like a slog fest.
I’ve been looking around lately and noticing a lot of us who are in the smack-dab middle of our lives. I’m seeing the middle wearing on people. We are in the middle of raising children, in the middle of our marriages, in the middle of our careers and in the middle of goals and plans.
The middle is where we live most of our lives. We need a strategy for this middle space. My husband can help us with this.
One of my favorite things about my husband is how hard he tries. At everything. Not surprisingly, during a race, Bryan is all about encouraging the runners. He’ll run across a field to find the spot where the runners come out of the woods so that he’s in the grueling middle of the course. One thing he says to the runners on our daughter’s team is, “Eyes up. Keep your eyes up.”
Eyes up. It’s a reminder to take heart. Eyes up. People have better form when they aren’t looking at their own feet. Eyes up. They might catch a glimpse of other runners that can challenge them to be better. Eyes up. They can see a crowd cheering. Eyes up. They can finally see the finish line.
Those of us who aren’t runners might not give the middle enough respect. The middle of a life is a great place to learn and grow. It’s where we access our reserves and decide to persevere. The middle is the place to learn grit. The middle is where we become our truest selves.