Going back eight years to Nick’s birthday, a day that wore into the night, his grandmother lay facing the final mile of her own race. After 83 years full of living, now in her own final stretch, she too was encountering an unforeseen hill. She too had conditioned herself psychologically for this part of her run. We were there in her darkened room on that September 28th night. We spoke meaningful words to her as she held our hands in unspoken gratefulness for our presence. She lay entirely still yet her inner self was racing to the finish line. We remained at her side, praying that she would slow her pace, that this would not be her fastest time, that she would not cross on this day. Please not today! Then slow her pace she did as her well-lived life ebbed away. With an unseen angel at her side she crossed in the early moments of September 29th, saying softly that she saw him, right there in the room, crossing with her to the finish line of her race.
Now back to Chicago 2019. Being so near the end with the finish line in sight, Nick’s mind had begun to agree with his lead-heavy legs that he just might not make it to the end. As he struggled to keep going a race-day volunteer called out with concern. His response was such that her well-trained eye knew. He needed help. Now. She signaled and a runner’s assistant rushed to his side. This “angel” did not pull him out of the race for hydration and recuperation but put her arm around him, providing real physical support, running in tandem with his own slowing pace, speaking meaningful words—bolstering words to help re-focus his mind. He gratefully accepted the assistance and then crossed sixty-nine minutes after the elite first place finisher had crossed.
We race to win and we train to finish well not to falter. The power of another at your side when you need it most—helping you cross over the line. She had crossed over eight years before him. Now he followed her lead with the help of another when he needed it most.