Welcome to part IX of Lauren’s marathon series. The day of reckoning (aka race day) is drawing near. If you haven’t been following along, start with Part I to find out how Lauren made it this far. Or, continue on to Part X.
I’ve spent a large part of my working career moonlighting in bars. What used to be a multiple-days-per-week job turned into a weekly one, followed by a rare-unless-the-situation-is-right job. It’s a job I enjoy more these days now that I have the luxury to pick and choose which events to be a part of. If it involves one of the local sports groups or anything that Tess from McGeary’s wants me to do, I’ll do it.
By the end of the night, if I get a chance, I’ll usually sit down at the bar and have a beer while I share stories with other bar staff and/or regulars about the night. Most of the time, those exchanges are light and speak to the awesome or crazy things that happened. On one of those nights, I had a conversation that I’ve kept close to me ever since.
Words That Go Beyond Wisdom For me, the nights started at 9:30 p.m., and by 10 I was set up and ready to go. The hours of 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. were the most stressful, but by the time 3 rolled around, I finally would get to play more of the music I wanted. After interacting with that many people, it was always nice to grab a seat and catch up with everyone who had been working nonstop.
At one particular club, every shift pretty much ends the same way. We lock the doors, I finish packing up my stuff and set it by the exit, and then I sit down while the bartenders count out the register and clean up. We would be there for an hour, sometimes more, before we finally got a chance to breathe.
One co-worker in particular was among my favorites to talk to after a shift. He was well-read and always had interesting things to say. Our conversations tended to be more philosophical just because he’s that type of guy. Before I even knew him as a co-worker, he was a random stranger who helped me out of a bind.
I was having car radio issues before a long trip back home to Philly for my grandmother’s funeral. It seemed like such a silly detail to focus on at the time, but the thought of making the four-hour trek in complete silence was enough to drive me insane. I stopped by my usual dealership to see if they could sneak me in and was told they didn’t have any appointments. At the next dealership, I talked to the service manager about any openings. They were booked, too, but this man asked me what the problem was. When I explained the issue, he said to wait a minute. He grabbed a tool, walked out with me, fixed the radio in under five minutes, and didn’t charge me, all the while with a smile on his face. Here was this complete stranger helping out another complete stranger and not knowing how sad that stranger was or what they were going through. Even before I knew him better, he was just one of those randomly good people who pop into your life.
Fast forward to that night in the club. It was about 4:30 a.m. and he told me something that I still think about to this day. He had recently gone back to college and it had opened his eyes to a new thought process. He was doing everything he could to make sure he got an A+ in every class he took, and he thought that instead of only applying that mentality to school, maybe he should start applying it to life, too. Even simple things like wiping down the bar after a long night or sorting bottles in the basement warranted an A+ effort and helped him feel that much more accomplished and content.
Ever since that conversation, I realized that I could be a better person, in all aspects of my life, if I followed suit. Listen, I’m no saint. I can’t say that I wake up every day and am constantly working on an A+ game across the board. Work, relationships, even walking my dog—I’m human and as a species, we are far from perfect. But I do the best that I can.
Striving for an A+ Race Day Applying the A+ way of thinking to running, to me, isn’t about pace time. It’s about what I put into it and whether I end the race with anything left in me. I don’t want to cross the finish line thinking that I could have done better. I’ve been officially training for this marathon for 4½ months, and running for years. There’s nothing I can change about what I’ve done in the past. But what I can do is give it my all. No matter how or when I cross the finish line, knowing I did my best is what matters most.
Some Final Thoughts And now here we are. Race day is almost upon us. I’m just about packed for what will definitely be an amazing life experience. So many people have been supportive throughout this process, almost to an overwhelming point. Today, my co-workers threw together a fantastic pasta luncheon for my fellow runners and me. The good lucks, high fives, and hugs I’ve received are inspiring me to put forth that A+ effort. And that was just one day. It doesn’t include all the support I’ve had since the start of this journey. I’m incredibly grateful for the people in my life who have had a hand in helping me get to where I am now.
There’s no time left to do anything but focus, and then run, run, run. I’ll see you at the finish line.