Words inscribed on a plaque in a park where I jog from time to time:
“Somewhere, someone in the world is running when you are not. When you race him, he will win.” Tom Fleming
“It was routine for Tom Fleming to run 150 miles a week. At the height of his career, Fleming won the New York City Marathon twice, in 1973 and 1975. He began running at Bloomfield High School and then at William Paterson College, becoming a four-time NCAA All-American and Conference Champion. He placed second in the Boston Marathon twice, in 1973 and 1975, when he acheived a 2:12:05 PR [Personal Record]. Tom opened one of the first running stores in 1978, where, true to his love of the sort, he would mentor anyone needing running advice. For the past 18 years, he taught 4th grade and coached boys and girls track at Montclair Kimberly Academy, passionate about passing on his skills, encouraging each student to strive for their personal best. A charismatic storyteller, generous with his time and talent, he taught everyone that the only way to succeed was to work hard.”
I love reading this plaque and whenever I’m at the running track where it’s displayed, I tap Tom’s quote with my fingers, hoping to catch a little of his amazing energy and drive, even though I’m only jogging a few laps at a time.
For me, these words fly far beyond the track field – and apply to any endeavor we choose to pursue, including writing. Tom’s story is about doing what you love with intention and brio:
He brought passion: He pursued his calling relentlessly, in all kinds of weather and conditions, no matter what else was happening in his life.
He brought grit and stamina: Like all elite athletes, he must have endured his share of injuries and pain, yet he learned to fight through them and to keep running.
He brought joy and love: Surely, no one can run 150 miles a week unless he loves what he’s doing, not for the winning and the awards, but for the sheer joy of it.
He brought a willingness to run the extra mile – over and over – always striving to release his full potential and surpass himself.
Can we bring all this to the page? Can we brig passion, grit, joy, and the ability to go the extra mile? Can we give a level of effort that makes us stand out? Yes we can! All these qualities are within our power. Let’s tap into them as we all write on!