Saturday, August 23, 2008

Whatever You Do, Go the Extra Mile

Whatever You Do, Go the Extra Mile

Olympian swimmer Dara Torres possesses a stunning physique and fierce athleticism, but what sets her apart from other top athletes is her age, 41.

Torres inspires me because at 45, I started running again, which is neither easy nor graceful. I call what I do "slogging," for "slow jogging," because I'm ridiculously leaden. My allergic post-nasal drip is faster than my gait.

But this morning, I had the best slog of my life.

Mid-route, as I neared two runners, they began hooting, pumping their fists, jumping around and singing the Olympic anthem at the tops of their lungs on a Saturday morning in the middle of a quiet neighborhood street. It was quite a heady experience.

A while after I passed them, I realized I hadn't needed to slow to a walk anytime during my run. In fact, my legs felt solid, my breathing was adequate, my calf didn't cramp, my laces stayed tied. I seemed to be morphing into a real runner.

Before long, I noticed I was about to match my own distance record. Fueled by pride and adrenaline, I decided to keep going, and I went a full extra mile!

I thought about Torres as I ran. She's used to slicing through the water to confidently gaze at her time. I'm used to looking for sprinklers to run through and collapsing in my yard. She has hundreds cheering her on. I have my husband, George, and his friend, ironically named "Victor," encouraging me and annoying the neighbors. Torres has the life of a champion; I have the life of a tryer.

So I wonder: Does Dara truly ever exult in the small things, like going one more lap in the pool or holding her breath a few seconds longer?

Because I sure exulted this morning: "Thank you, God, for this beautiful day! Thank you for legs! For breath! For no hot flashes during this run! Thank you that I can thrill over small things. Thank you for helping me go the extra mile. ..."

And that's when my thoughts changed perspective: "The extra mile! Wasn't that exhilarating? Guess what? You can get that same great feeling again today if you go the extra mile for someone else. Encourage someone the way Victor and George encouraged you; give your all to whatever situation you're in; don't discount small beginnings and rejoice in small victories -- go the extra mile."

1 Peter 4:10-11 says, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others ... If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ."

Whatever you do today, go the extra mile. You're golden!

Linda Crow, of Muncie, is the mother of three teenagers and works in youth ministry. Visit her blog at

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