Let me start by saying that I’m not someone who believes in “participation awards”. I think there is a lot to be taught and learned in winning graciously and losing with dignity. Participation is something to feel proud of without being externally rewarded. I believe that the satisfaction that comes from finishing what you started lasts far longer than a physical token of an event. Case in point: today’s Belgrade 5K.
49 Manitou campers and staff boarded the vans at 7am this morning to run a 5K organized by the community in the nearby town of Belgrade. While Maine temps are nowhere near as high as other parts of the country today, the thermometer rose from a muggy 77 degrees on our way there to 82 by the time we arrived 20 minutes later.
Everyone gathered at the starting line, the event organizer yelled “GO”, and the runners took off in a sprint. The concept of pacing yourself is apparently something that comes later in life for most kids. Within 50 feet of the starting line, the sprinters became walkers, and the more seasoned runners pulled ahead with their easy strides and aerodynamic sunglasses. The rest of us were left to offer a steady monologue of encouragement, cheerleading, prodding and at one point, singing, to keep the runners-turned joggers-turned walkers from thinking too hard about the discomfort they were feeling.
That discomfort is actually a really good thing. Pushing through that feeling, finishing in spite of the heat and exhaustion, and ultimately completing something that was HARD fires off zippy little brain neurons that will become part of the core fiber of their being forever more. It shows them that they can try new things and succeed. That not everything has to be easy all the time. And that the reward you get for showing up comes from within. It’s those moments of overcoming discomfort that will stand out in their memories and ultimately create endurance on whatever road they walk, jog or run through life.