by Mike Ehredt, Hyland’s Masters Athlete
I realize you are only 4 years old and that the world seems pretty big to you. You have no idea how big it will become for you though. In a little, when you will go in for surgery on your legs, the doctors will break both of your tibias and rotate the bones so your legs grow straight. They will fuse your ankles. I know you feel scared and the lights shining over your head are bright but hold my hand and let me share with you what happens afterwards.
You will recover quickly and learn to walk and then run. You will love baseball and basketball and have endless summer games with your friends. You will run a mile in the 4th grade and feel proud of yourself. Running begins to fill your head with dreams and ambition. You will experience discouragement from teachers, coaches and your parents but it makes you try harder.
You dream of a marathon in Boston and hold it deep inside and it lights a flame. You will join the Army and run your first marathon in Athens, Greece. You will carry cinders home from the track of that ancient Olympic Stadium.
Your running takes you all over the world. Your feet will carry you through the Himalayas, across the Sahara and Spain and around Mount Kilimanjaro. You will grow older and wiser and heed the calling of your body and take care of it.
Always, always there will be doubters in your life. There will be difficulty, failure and opposition but you will stay true to your dreams. Your determination will be relentless. Doctors will tell you to stop, that running is bad for you but your heart and legs will say differently.
At the age of 50 you will cross the country twice on foot to fulfill a mission for others that few will comprehend or understand. You will run under full moons and winter snowstorms, rain and scorching summer heat. You will breathe deeply the air of mountain passes, forest paths and gaze at stars too numerous to count. There will be pain and aches in your legs and ankles that will always be with you.
You will experience the Boston Marathon four times and every time will feel like the first. Your legs will carry you to a life that at your young age you cannot appreciate just yet. Know this, my friend, as you grip my hand in fear, as your eyes begin to close, you may never, ever win a race but in your mind you will never lose.