This is one of my favorite poems and has been for most of my life—don’t poke fun!! I used to ask my dad to read The Children’s Book of Virtues to me every night, specifically the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, which, as we all know, is a story of hard work and determination, the virtue of perseverance. The tortoise worked hard to reach the finish line while the hare took a nap in the bushes. This poem prefaced the story in that book.
I think that, in a way, I relate a lot to turtles (I know tortoises and turtles are a bit different but just bear with me). Say what?! A turtle?! YES!
So, why do I think of myself as the tortoise in life? I work very hard—in school, sports, etc—and, though my perseverance does not always show through my grades or my running times and milage, I eventually accomplish the goals I set out for myself, determined to “finish the race” with the perseverance and willingness to hold on as long as it takes (a poem by me!).
…Ok, so, I have an obsession with, or rather love for, turtles and running, ergo I found it fitting to share some life lessons from a turtle… and how I can relate as a runner!
1. “Never discourage anyone who makes progress, no matter how slow.” Would you ever tell a turtle who traveled 26.2 miles in 4.5 hours that he was a failure? I sure hope not… at least he accomplished something. With running, there is always room for improvement but it takes time, dedication, and hard-freaking-work! All runners are different and some people can run a marathon no problem while other’s work for months to build up to accomplish the terrifying 26.2 miles! If we as runners know we are improving, persevering, and willing to work as hard as we can to go one more mile, two minutes longer, three more steps… we have made progress and that is something to be proud of!
2. “Be at ease in your own shell.” Every single turtle shell is different (like a human fingerprint). Running gives me the connection of mind, body, and self. It builds up my confidence and encourages me to be proud of who I am and what I accomplish. It helps me to feel more comfortable with who I am just like a turtle with his shell.
3. “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Courage, dear heart! Courage! Have you ever seen a turtle hide in his shell? For some people like myself, running is a chance to come out of that “shell”—to build up the courage to break free and take off. A chance to lose sight of fears, hesitation, and worries. Just get out and go!
4. “Slow and steady wins the race.” Now, we all know this is not necessarily true… Each runner has his or her own pace that he or she likes to run at. For marathons there are pace markers to tell you how fast you are going and no matter how “slow and steady” you are going at your pace, there is usually one or two runners that can run faster than anyone thought humanly possible. The point of this is that I run for myself—not my parents, siblings, friends, coaches—I run because it is something I enjoy and something that makes me happy. I know I am not going to be the fastest woman in the world, but, for me, it’s not about being the fastest. It’s about trusting my steps rather than my speed… slowing down, enjoying what I am doing and persevering through every mile of my run. It’s all about the reward I get from finishing the race and the hard work I put into practice.
5. “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” The tortoise in the story did not quick and I sure have no intention of quitting! Good things come to those who work hard and I like to see myself improve so, I will not quit!!!
So, I myself think turtles are spectacular and, like the story of The Tortoise and the Hare, plan to continue to work hard to become a better runner.