Second Place Is Fine

Rene PetersonRecently, I ran a 5K. Once again, I was aiming to complete the course in 23:30, but once again I ran out of gas along the way. When I realized that I could not reach my goal time, I eased up and did not even make a new PR. That was probably a poor choice.

Checking the official results later in the day, I realized that I had managed to come in second in my age group. Coming in 2nd among 33 runners, 80th of 933 overall, was some consolation. But still, I knew that I shouldn’t have eased up. Obviously the guy who won the age group, coming in at 19:18, didn’t ease up.

I determined to find something out about this guy, this Rene Peterson. He also beat me in the Rock the Parkway Half Marathon, coming in at 1:33:10. His time last year in the Hospital Hill Half was considerably slower, 1:57, but that leads me to my next discovery about him.

That’s Rene Peterson in the Army shirt in the photo above. That’s him sitting down in his “hand bike,” a wheelchair built for racing. An army vet, Rene did not lose the use of his legs in combat but in a auto accident about nine years ago. He could have gone into a depression. He could have taken all the pity and handouts that the world would offer him, but instead he began pushing that chair hard. While his time at Hospital Hill was not all that impressive, the idea of pushing that device up those hills blows my mind.

This man, whom I’ve never met but hope to soon, did not decide that pretty good was good enough. He did not look at his nonfunctioning legs and decide, “I’ll never make that goal.” He did not ease up. I don’t know if his mechanical ride provides some sort of advantage to him over me, but I do know that I don’t begrudge him whatever it might yield. Despite a disadvantage, Rene Peterson keeps his arms pumping and his wheels turning. He doesn’t ease up.

It seems to me that God knows perfectly well what my abilities, my infirmities, and my limits are. He created me, after all. God did not call me to a particular time or a particular place in this race of life. Instead, he called me to push forward with all my heart, soul, and mind. Easing up is not in the plan.