I am running, the weather’s beautiful, the tarmac beneath my feet that are encased in fabulous Asics Gel Noosa 7 running shoes that cushion every step, feels great. Each step taking me toward restoring a child’s sight. Yes I am at the Standard Chartered Marathon running 21km, I am doing my good deed for the month. Life is indeed beautiful.
Stoking the Fire
I am with my friend Monica, who generally talks nineteen to the dozen. We run and talk and run some more. We are going strong, It is indeed a beautiful Sunday morning. We get to the 10km mark, and the heel injury that has been dogging me for the past few months begins to knock at the base of my foot. I ignore it, willing it away, squashing it out of existence and push for another kilometer. By this time the knock has turned into a pounding, the injury refuses to lie still and be quiet, it comes out guns blazing, asserting who is boss. I slow down to a limping run. Monica looks back at me. I point at my foot. She nods knowingly, and as is the case with everyone around me, they are acutely aware of my heel injury and had tried to persuade me to keep of the marathon or at least if I insisted on doing it like I had, to walk the route.
I wasn’t about to listen to the nay sayers, after all what was a mere heel to put me down? A tiny part of my body that resides underfoot? No no no no – I had declared earlier that if it was some significant body part like my heart or lungs or brain, that those would be worth considering, but not my heel.
I was however eating humble pie. The heel I had dismissed was grinding me to a halt literally. I limped along determined, ignoring the sympathetic looks from fellow runners. As we got to about the 14 kilometer mark, just after the turning near Panari, I fell into step with other walkers, trying to block out my foot’s protestations as we walked.
Right then, I looked ahead and on the far left by the roadside near Eka Hotel, I saw my children. Standing by the roadside about 50 meters ahead, scanning the crowd of runners, looking for their Mum. We live not too far from Mombasa Road and my children had come out to look for me and cheer me on. I took one look at their anxious faces, looking out for me, then looked at my misbehaving foot and then at them again and from sources unknown to me the power of Usain Bolt took over my body and I began to run, I ran with the wide strided gait of David Rudisha, and ran with the speed of Mo Farah. I ran past my children, gave them an enthusiastic energy filled Olympic style wave, saw their eyes light up as they waved back, and I kept on running. And as I couldn’t quite determine just how far their little bright eyes could see, I kept running for about a kilometer then literally ground to a halt, dragging my bad leg after me. Walking painfully, inching along.
The people around me were decidedly perplexed at how I had gone from limping hobbler, to marathon sprinter, to foot dragger in minutes. I pushed on, ignoring their expressions of concern. I had to finish. The ambulance personnel drove up and said ‘ Mama Tukubebe?’ ‘Mama can we carry you?’ I fervently turned down their offer. I was determined to finish and so I did. Crawled painfully to the finish line and received my finisher’s medal.
I got home to a heroes welcome. My children were extremely proud of me. My elder son put my medal around his neck and showed it off to the entire court. My younger son told anyone who cared to listen ‘My Mummy was running so fast! She was passing people!’ I looked at my proud children and the excruciating pain in my right foot suddenly didn’t matter in the least. It was worth the pain ten times over.
When I look back at this incident, the lesson I draw is that when there’s something significant at stake, then one can surmount all manner of obstacles to achieve their dreams. What was at stake here was the need to not disappoint my loved ones that transcended physical pain. And so I put it to you that, when indeed there is something that means a lot to you at stake, you will go beyond your comfort zone literally to achieve it. Nothing will stand in your way. And so therefore when I took the bold leap to abandon employment and delve into the world of consulting there was too much at stake. Lives literally depending on me. And so in essence, when I start to make mediocre excuses and give my work less attention than it deserves to catapult me to the next level, I think about my marathon adventure and remind myself the ultimate prize I am gunning for, the vision for victory of the game I am playing and the high stakes I have wagered in the game of life – and I keep pushing and keep stoking the inner fire to keep burning. And I challenge you to do the same too.