November 6, 2011. The stage is set, the months and months of training are done and another sun rises in the greatest city in the world. Its marathon morning and its time for almost 50,000 runners from all around the world to test their bodies and take the human spirit to the limit in this 26.2 mile race through the five Burroughs of New York City. By the time the sun raises there are thousands of runners from all over the five Burroughs making their way to the start line in Staten Island. The gun goes off at 10am and all the months of training are put to their test. The vision and goal are now real and its time to execute. 99% of the field will run or walk their way through Brooklyn, on to Queens, reach the craziness in Manhattan, explore the Bronx and get back into Manhattan for the final push down 5th ave where you eventually make your way into Central Park.
You approach Columbus Circle, make your final turn into the Park and there are grandstands full of spectators and a band playing and it’s just super loud and crazy and you feel like what it must be like to be on stage at a rock concert. The feeling is amazing and the hair on your neck rises and you see the finish line and look up at the sea of staff and photographers waiting for you just beyond the finish line. You cross and its amazing, unreal. You just ran the NYC Marathon.
This was my story last November and in so many ways it seems to be my story every year I run NYC Marathon. I mentioned earlier the 99% will experience what I described up above, but what about the 1% that don’t quite experience this? YES there is a 1% whose day doesn’t go like this. So the stage is set, only this time its 7:45pm, its 9 hours 45 minutes later since the canon went off at 10am in Staten Island. I am in Central Park, the sun is down, the bleachers are empty at the finish line, there is no band, no photographers, maybe 3 to four staff, workers are taking down scaffolding and the timing company is getting ready to cut the time and turn it off….BUT guess what? The 1% is still out there coming in, still making their way. The 1% out there are no longer able to walk or run down the middle of the street, they are forced to the sidewalks and if they approach a street light, they have to obey the traffic street lights. The water stations are all gone along the course. The crowds are gone and the real heroes are doing everything in their power to make it to the finish line. Most of the 1% are probably the most inspirational stories you will see. Most of the runners coming in are walking at this point. Some are elderly in their 70′s or 80′s. And most of them are coming in packs of two to three as you realize complete strangers working together to bring each other in. The gap between them is pretty sporadic. Maybe every half hour a new group walks in. At this point there are only about 5-6 spectators cheering on this 1% coming in. The looks on their faces are amazing and tell stories of their day. They all look tired but relieved to be done.
The clock was eventually shut down and I was standing there on a cold 30 degree night and thinking about turning in to my apt just a few blocks away in the Upper West Side when all of a sudden I can hear a lot of noise coming in the distance. And there he was, the single most inspirational runner I have ever seen in all my years of running and watching runners cross the finish line all over the world. His name was Shin Myeong Jin and he had two prosthetic legs and only one arm and he wasnt walking, he was slowly running from the far distance headed to the finish line. I ran out to see him and he had a smile on his face and people were following him and screaming and yelling and crying because it was just an amazing beautiful sight to see how a man can really do and achieve anything no matter what his circumstance is. I took this picture as I followed him in to the finish. Everyone stopped what they were doing and came to cheer him on. Everyone lined up to give him high fives and he graciously gave everyone a high-five who held their hand out. Everyone was in tears as well. It was almost 11 hours later and this runner was climbing to the top of his Everest in Central Park. When he crossed he stopped and we all circled around him and clapped and clapped and cheered and he just looked at us all with the biggest smile imagined. He didn’t ask for water or a seat or even a medal, he just was there proud and accomplished.
It is very often someone will ask me if I think they are capable of running a marathon and I always say YES. No matter what your circumstance is, no matter how old or how young you are, no matter what has happened in your past, you are your own driving engine and you are also your own brake. Like our hero runner here Shin Myeong Jin, there will always be brick walls in any endeavor you choose not only in running but in life. There will always be stumbles along the way, the biggest choice is whether you are willing to get passed these stumbles or brick walls or will you let them stop you.
No great success story or great endeavor in the history of the world was ever produced overnight, they were all a result of getting pass brick wall after brick wall, stumble after stumble.
I truly believe if you get up everyday and do what you are passionate about or do what you truly believe in, you will find yourself in the position to be amazing and extraordinary
Everyone I meet or talk to or when I give speeches I always tell everyone ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE UNDER THE SUN. Shin Myeong Jin is just another example of this. If you look around you there are several Shin Myeong Jin’s all around you teaching you that anything is possible. Everyday when the sun rises we have that choice, the choice to live the life we have always imagined. Wake up everyday and believe today is the beginning of your new life. Believe all good things are coming to you today. Look for the beauty all around you. Live with passion and purpose and think to yourself as your day goes on that TODAY IS THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE.
There is nothing that you cannot do or be or have. I believe you can do anything and there is something amazing inside each and every one of you. The truth is there is a strong power within each of you and it will emerge from within you and guide you to the life you choose, but only if you let it. So decide to let that power emerge and watch your life change.
Be fearless, have a strong heart and believe the power to do anything is in you.
Have a great day,