I’ve lost many things before, mostly my way when driving, but I could honestly say I’d never lost an Olympian. Until Christmas Day 2012.
Marilyn Okoro, Double Olympian and GB’s #1 800m runner, has become a Twitter friend. So one day early December I get an innocent tweet from Maz saying she is in Sheffield for Christmas, and how would I like to meet up for a training run?
To say I immediately felt like the oversized blueberry girl in Willy Wonka — is a tremendous understatement.
This is Maz. Whose muscles are more defined than the statue of David. And she wants to run with me?!
After that I did the only sensible thing —- prayed begged for a Christmas morning blizzard.
D-day came, without a fleck of snow, and I actually did okay the first thirty minutes. That was the first time I told her to ‘go on ahead and I’ll catch up’ – hoping as she wasn’t looking I could walk, breathe, possibly take a power nap…
Five miles in I said my breathing was getting laboured, thinking a good oxygen excuse would certainly get me off the hook. It worked. She decided to run on for a bit and then come back and catch me up.
As soon as Maz was out of sight I stopped running and, like a crazed woman, pulled a hidden energy gel from my pocket, inhaling it in 1.3 seconds. I had brought it along in case of emergency.
This most definitely fell into the emergency category.
That’s when it happened. The gel gave me enough energy to restart my legs, but by now I could no longer see her. I ran a bit more. No Maz. A bit more. Nothing.
I had lost my Olympian.
I decided to run back to our parked cars, knowing that is where she would have gone. Arriving thirty minutes later I found she wasn’t there; that meant one thing – two hours after we started…she was still running in the rain/cold.
What transpired after that was simply Yuletide panic.
I drove around for over an hour trying to find her, see her in the hills, pass her on the road, anything. All I could imagine was a frozen Olympian in the bushes and the Marine motto ‘we never leave a man behind’. I had left an Olympian behind.
Her future gold medal was on my conscience.
More than an hour passed when I finally received the phone call —- she had found her way out, was back at her car, and was safe. I silently mouthed the Hallelujah chorus.
In reality, Maz was so fit she could have run five more hours without breaking a sweat.
I was looking at her survival through my own fitness. If it had been me out there – they would have found me in the bushes, a strawberry-blonde Nike ice cube. As it was, she simply kept running until she found her way out.
The way I see others is found through the lenses of how I see myself. (Tweet that if you like)
Am I limiting the dreams of someone because I see limitation in myself? Have I put my own insecurity onto the young adult striving to make a different in his world? Do I see in my own children the barriers I couldn’t overcome – and accept them in defeat?
Life is about serving. It’s about lifting others up above ourselves. It is about expecting the best for each person we come across.
The lies I believe about myself will rub off on others if I’m not diligent to stop them.
Today let’s see through different lenses. Lenses of belief, encouragement, unbridled hope.
And once we do that for others, let’s turn the tables —- and believe that about ourselves.
I thought I’d lost an Olympian, in reality I’d found a revelation.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4