What Would You Try if You Knew You Had Already Won?
“What time are you hoping to run it in?” the well-dressed, silver-haired runner in front of me asked as we waited in the chill morning air near the front of our color group.
“I just want to make it up Doomsday Hill faster than I did last time,” I said with a shrug. “What about you?”
“I want to finish in under an hour and thirty minutes,” she said, as she looked down at her race bib.
“Is this your first time running Bloomsday?”
“It is!” She shook her head. “Can you believe I’ve lived in Spokane all my life and this is the first time I’ve ever run it?”
“Good for you!” Sarah said.
“I’m sixty years old now, so I decided I had time to train and run this crazy race.” The lady looked doubtfully at her bib number again. “Although I’m not sure what I’m doing up in this group!”
“Did you run in another race to qualify?” I asked.
“No, my friend is one of the organizers, and he asked me what time I thought I’d get. When I got my bib I was shocked to find myself in the yellow group!”
“You’ll do fine,” I assured her. And then I looked at my own bib and wondered how I had ended up in the yellow group. After all, the yellow group was the third group back from the starting line!
“Do you have any advice for a first time runner?” she asked.
“Don’t start too fast,” I told her. “That’s what I did last time and by the time I hit Doomsday Hill I didn’t have any energy left. I plan on keeping my pace slower at the beginning of the race. You know,” I added, “As soon as I cross the starting line, I’m already a winner.”
She looked at me quizzically. “Do you mean because you’re out here running?”
“Sort of. I’m pretty sure that I’ll come in first place for runners from Holbrook, AZ. And I know I’ll be the first runner with my last name, since no one else in the world has the same last name!”
She laughed at my joke (I love it when people get my strange sense of humor).
“I’ll probably place pretty well for people from Arizona, and most of all, I want to beat my time from before and finish strong.”
Right about then a friend I hadn’t seen since last year texted and let me know they had found a spot at the back of our color group. I turned to Sarah and her friend Deanna, “Do you guys mind moving to the back of the group?”
“No problem,” Sarah said. “They won’t start timing us until we cross the starting line, so it doesn’t really matter where we start.”
We wished our new friend good luck and made our way a half a block back to find our old friend—not an easy task in a crowd of 45,000 runners. By the time the race started, we had our strategy worked out—run together for the first mile, and then meet up on the bridge after the finish line afterwards.
As I ran, my own words rang in my head. “I’m already a winner.” It didn’t matter how fast I ran or whether or not I beat my old record. I had won because I showed up. Sure, I wouldn’t win the prize money (that was reserved for people who finished in less than half my time), but I showed up. I ran. I had fun.
As I neared Doomsday Hill, I had already conquered Government Way (one-third a mile at 4% incline) and Cemetery Hill (including one-third a mile at almost 5% incline) and covered 4.75 miles.
I had actually prepared this time around, by running up and down the stairs at school every Tuesday and Thursday during my hour-long playground duty (I usually put in 20-50 flights). I huffed and I puffed and I didn’t slow down. I ran up all three-quarters of a mile of the 6.5% grade. When I saw the giant vulture at the top of the hill, I knew for sure that I would finish the race.
When I crossed the finish line I found Sarah and some other friends, and we rejoiced in our accomplishment. I finished faster than I did three years ago, AND I made it up Doomsday Hill faster this time—in fact, I ran the hill faster than most of the rest of the race!
As I traveled home, I kept thinking about ways we win. I felt empowered to run because I knew I had already won for my town and my last name. Silly, maybe, but it sure took the pressure off because I had a reward in hand (ok, bragging rights can’t be held, but you know what I mean).
How many things do I avoid in life when I don’t try because I fear ‘losing?’
Yeah. That book proposal I fear finishing and mailing to an agent. That broken relationship I fear mending because I don’t want to feel rejection. That project I started and haven’t completed because I fear I won’t like the results.
Even worse, I deny my relationship with Christ with my negative thinking—after all, he promised to be with me always (Matthew 28:20). We know that we can do ALL THINGS through his strength (Phil 4:13). And through Jesus, we are promised victory over sin (1 Cor. 15:57) In other words, I’m already a winner. And so are you.
Don’t ever forget that you’ve already won when you follow Jesus.
What about you? Do you let fear prevent you from starting or finishing projects?