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    Inspired by Sydney

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    I completed my first marathon in 2008 – the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in September.  It was a nightmare.  A terrible experience.  Don’t worry, this isn’t a race report – I did that already.  In fact, I decompressed about it for weeks.  No, today I just wanted to tell you about someone I met.

    At the pasta dinner I sat at a table with a man in his 60s named Sydney, who, I was to learn, was running his 152nd marathon the next day.  He had run his 151st only a week or two before.  He used to be in the US military, and was clearly in wonderful shape – he apparently kept a race schedule like this a lot!

    On Sunday morning I ran into Sydney again, at about, oh I don’t know, 32K maybe.  He told me he had blown up and was just trying to muscle through to the end.  My story was similar (well, actually it was that I tried to run after battling an injury for weeks, but that’s a story for another day).  He and I leap-frogged by each other several times – the final time he passed me he grabbed my elbow on the way by and told me we could make it.  And make it we did.

    I learned a lot that day, not the least of which I learned from Sydney:  you can be running your first marathon, or your 152nd, you can do all the preparation in the world and be so ready – and still have a bad day.  Does that mean we shouldn’t bother to prepare, or maybe just shouldn’t bother at all?  Of course not!  We often have a bad habit of being very hard on ourselves, playing up our struggles and failures and beating ourselves up about them.  Sometimes we even downplay our accomplishments, chalking them up to a good day, nice weather, perfectly mixed sports drink.  But in the end, it is what we make it.  I don’t know how Sydney looks back at that day.  Luckily my struggle was a hundred life lessons, a huge accomplishment, and more goals for the future.  What about yours?

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    A runner for just over four years, Karen has already completed a marathon, two half marathons and a variety of 5k and 10k races. She describes her first marathon - the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last September - as "a nightmare." However, she met a very interesting person in the process - a man named Sydney who was running his 152nd marathon! Although the race didn't go as well as planned for Karen or Sydney, he showed her that no matter how experienced a runner you are, you can still have a bad day. "Does that mean we shouldn't bother to prepare, or maybe just shouldn't bother at all? Of course not!" says Karen. "In the end, it is what we make it." We like her optimism!