Richard’s bare feet hit the cool wood floor at 6:00 a.m. His thoughts raced ahead of him in anticipation of running the marathon. He carefully prepared his pre-race smoothie filling it full of all the latest super foods. He didn’t bother pouring it into a glass, just tipped it back and chugged. Ugh, a little thick, but he reminded himself that it was good for him. He stretched a few yoga poses and jogged out the door feeling light as a feather after his talk with his personal trainer the night before. He usually ran with a backpack of varying weights, but his trainer had insisted he run the race without the weights.
Richard stood with the other runners at the starting line. He noticed some of the other racers carried their bag of weights. He began to worry, maybe he should have taken his bag with him after all. But, his personal trainer had said to trust him, he knew the best way to run the race, he had run it before and won.
The starting gun cracked and the racers feet hit the pavement. Richard ran at the pace predetermined by his trainer, but he noticed some of the runners with bags of weights on their backs running ahead of him. His mind raced with worry again. Then he noticed his roommate standing just ahead to the right with his bag of weights. He needed them, he just knew it. He reached out and grabbed the bag from his roommate as he passed by and struggled to put it on. He felt heavier, but he was used to running this way, he gritted his teeth and determined to run faster, the voice of his personal trainer nudged his conscience but he ignored it and soon it disappeared all together.
Richard doggedly raced on. Other racers passed him and when they did he stopped to pick up more weights that he saw lying discarded next to the road. About two-thirds of the way through the race his legs barely stumbled forward, now he noticed that all of the other runners near him carried bags of weights also. He determined to give it all he had to pull ahead of them, forgetting that it would do him little good at actually winning the race, since all those who raced without weights were nearly to the finish line.
Richard finally stumbled to a halt when he tripped over a small pebble in the road. He sank to his knees unable to go on as the other runners slogged by him. He half-sobbed, ready to give up his goal of just finishing the race, never mind winning it now. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up. Surprise and then remorse filled him when he saw his personal trainer. He knew he should have followed his advice. He tried to get up but the weight proved too heavy.
Richards personal trainer offered to take his bag, but Richard felt too unworthy and stupid to let him take it and struggled forward another couple of inches on his knees before he finally gave up. He looked up at his personal trainer to see him reaching for his bag. Richard hesitated then reached into his bag and pulled out a few of the weights and gave them to his trainer. He tried to get up and finish on his own again, but his legs refused to carry the weight. He sat down in the dust and pulled out a few more weights and gave them to his personal trainer as well. His bag felt lighter and he continued on about a quarter of a mile before he sank to the ground again. He could see the finish line now, but knew he couldn’t make it unless he gave all the weights to his personal trainer.
Richard looked up afraid that his trainer might not be there. But as he lifted his face from the ground he felt such relief to see the feet of his trainer directly in front of him, waiting still to take the rest of his burden. Richard didn’t bother sifting through his bag deciding which weights to give and which to keep, he just tossed the whole bag in front of the feet before him. Then he remembered the last thing his trainer had told him on the phone the night before, “Give me all your worries and cares because I love you and if you let me carry your burden, you will finish the race a winner!”