We're almost ready to head home! Just a couple things to clean, a final exam or two (or three or four or five), and we’ll be packing our suitcases and heading home for five wonderful weeks. If I'm not careful while I'm studying, I catch myself daydreaming about starting my little green car and heading out after that last chapel service.
I used to be a long-distance track runner in high school. If you’ve ever run track and field, you probably know that there’s a huge difference between running a sprint and running long distance. There’s a much larger psychological aspect to running long distance. You need to learn to keep pushing yourself forward even when you feel like there’s no way you can keep going.
I remember every moment of competing very vividly. I remember walking up to the starting mark, heart already picking up speed and adrenaline rushing through my body. When I hear the signal to get ready, it seems like I feel a surge of heat, and I can hear my heart pounding loudly during those one or two seconds waiting for the signal to go. Within those couple seconds before the signal, I focus on my goal. I force myself to think about first place instead of worrying about how many guys there are around me, how enduring they are, or how I’m afraid of that last stretch of the race. I’ve run 800 meters many times during training. I knew what was coming. I go through everything my coach has told me in my head. I take one last glance at the verses I had written on the palm of my hand.
It feels like an explosion of energy when the race begins. All the tension built up while waiting for the signal is suddenly released, and I concentrate on keeping up with the guys around me. It’s easy to fall behind on the first stretch, since everyone is eager to take the lead while the energy is still high. I stray inconspicuously to a neutral position within the 12-14 guys running, like my coach had told me.
After several seconds of a brisk run, the agonizing pains of fatigue begin to creep on all the runners. After the first quarter of the race, everyone is going about the same pace, unable to overtake other runners. After the first half, my lungs begin screaming. My body yells for me to stop, but my mind needs only to say two words to keep me going—“Finish first.”
Three-quarters of the race go by. The painful weariness is overwhelming and gets worse with every stride. Every second feels like an hour. We turn the last bend.
It’s the last stretch.
I feel an extremely strong temptation to ignore everything my coach had told me. I wanted to listen to my body and slow down. I almost did. But as I rounded that last bend, we passed the area where my coach and school were watching. I felt my determination return, and I did what my coach had told me to do. Despite the fact that I was convinced that I would die if I took another stride, I sprinted. I sprinted as hard and as fast as I could possibly go. I heard my friends cheer even louder, and I sprinted even harder. I passed runner after runner on that last stretch until I crossed the finish line and collapsed. One of my friends ran to me to help me walk around to recover from the sprint.
Okay, this blog is getting a little too long, so what’s my point? It can be best summed up with a quote by Margaret Thatcher: “This is no time to go wobbly!” It’s the end of the semester. The last stretch. Don’t stop. Don’t get wobbly. Sprint. Hit that finish line.
Oh, and remember—rest always seems more satisfying when it’s preceded by hard work.
Happy finals and have an awesome Christmas!