I just finished watching Rudy. Man. I hate to say it, but watching Rudy elicits the same emotions in me as sitting through a really good testimony meeting. You know what I mean? My heart gets caught up in my throat and I'm flooded with memories and self evaluation and lessons learned throughout my life. Wanna hear a story?
When I was a freshman at Cimarron, I went out for the track team. I had always been a decent runner. And although I'd never been the fastest, I had always been able to at least hold my own up there toward the front of the pack in elementary and middle school races. I had enjoyed the competition at that level --you just put on your tennis shoes for P.E. and ran. There were no grueling practices or zone/state titles on the line. There were no coaches bearing down on you. It was all just for fun. So I was a little disillusioned by the experience I had going into track in high school. Being a freshman made things scary enough, but being new to that side of town all together made things even scarier. And I wasn't just a new freshman from the other side of town, I was a new freshman with no teeth from the other side of town. Oh yes. It was during this lovely time in my life that I had had my two lateral incisors (is that right--the ones right next to your front teeth?)pulled and braces put on just my bottom teeth and my two lone front teeth. Oh, my heavens. It was horrible. Every time I mustered the courage to talk to someone, they just stared at my teeth the entire time my mouth was open. And I didn't have even a hint of a tan, and I didn't wear boxers and a tank top to practice. I just felt lonely and totally out of place. I remember praying my way through the initial practices and tryouts--hoping things would become more enjoyable once the real competition started. Nope. I was so dang nervous at track meets that I couldn't even breath regularly.
I did pretty well, though--for a freshman, anyway...I remember this one time when I asked Mr. Walker if he would take me out of the mile and only put me in the 800. He agreed reluctantly, but told me that if I didn't run the 800 faster than I ever had, he would put me in the 2 mile. Well, I ran, I tell ya. And as I rounded the last corner of the track toward the straight-away, I could hear my mom screaming from the crowd, "You got her, Ann! You got her!" It hadn't occurred to me that I might be able to pass the senior girl just ahead of me. Those words infused power into my legs, though, and I passed her, finishing in second place overall--first place for Cimarron. I remember coach being so excited for me and asking me why I hadn't always run like that. Looking back, I wish I had. And I wish I could tell you that from that day on, I ran harder and gave it my all, but I didn't. In fact, I ended up quitting right before our zone tournament. I was too tired and too afraid. And I never ran another season. Sad, huh? Pathetic is more like it.
When I decided to run the St. George Marathon three years ago, I did it in large part to redeem myself from having been a quitter in high school. I wanted to do something--for once in my life--that was hard--and hang in there 'till the end.
Brian runs the St. George Marathon this Saturday and I am so proud of him. And like I said a few posts back--Brian is not a runner. No, he is running the marathon because he is the kind of person who has always pushed himself to do things that are hard for him. Brian's high school sports history is quite different from mine. His is a much better story. He was just like Rudy. As a little fat kid, he went out for football, wrestling, and track his freshman year--and then again his sophomore year, and then again his junior year, and finally, his senior year. And you know what? Finally, his senior year, he contributed to a winning season for each of those sports. What is so amazing to me, though, is that he hung in there and kept working and pushing himself for all of those other years when he wasn't very good. I remember that while we were dating, I would find little pieces of paper in his jacket pockets that said things like run five miles, or do fifty push-ups, or whatever, and he would pull one out regularly and do what was written. It impressed me then and it still impresses me. I want to be that kind of person.
Right now, Brian is asleep in his work cloths on the floor beside my chair. He was super tired after having worked straight through the night twice this week. But come Saturday, he is going to do great, because he is amazing. And I am going to love cheering for him.
Oh! You know what the best part of Rudy is? The part at the very end where the black guy watches Rudy sack the quarter back and then claps hard three times before turning away...I'm about to bear my testimony just thinking about it, I swear...