On Gratitude

After returning home from a great experience at the Pan Am Games with a full heart, I wanted to get this blog out. Earlier this season, I wasn’t very excited about Pan Ams. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to participate. I was very confident that this would be a breakthrough season for me and I thought I might skip Pan Ams to focus fully on the World Championships coming up in August. 

Yes, I know. Terrible idea.

Fortunately, my season did not go according to plan. Early in the summer as I was running well below my expectations and my chances of qualifying for worlds were slipping away, I found myself scrambling to make the Pan Am team. One day before the Pan Am roster was selected, I ran a time fast enough to qualify for the team. 

Pan Ams ended up being an incredible experience. My race was scheduled for the last day, so for 5 days I waited and watched my teammates rake in the medals. Over the past years of competing with team Canada, many of these athletes have become my personal friends, and seeing their success was just so FUN. All week long their performances were motivating and inspirational, and then finally it was my turn to race. 

I won silver in a battle to the finish line in front of a roaring crowd. I draped the Canadian flag around my shoulders and ran a victory lap in a stadium full of spectators cheering for me. Canada won’t host another international championship during my career, making Pan Ams a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

In the past, I would have been extremely disappointed to lose in such a tight finish. I would have been discouraged to have posted another 4:09 clocking this season (it was my 4th 4:09). These thoughts have run through my mind more than a few times, but are not allowed to linger. No, I did not win. The time was not fast. I acknowledge these facts and throw them away. 

Instead, this is how I choose to think: The way my race played out was completely unexpected and yet I reacted and adapted to it like the veteran I am. In every step I was thinking, responding, and absolutely focused on the task at hand. On the final stretch I was down but I never gave up. I could not be more proud of the way I ran and have no regrets. I choose a positive mindset and dwell in it and it is awesome! Because I’ve been training myself to be positive and reflect on the things I do successfully, I am able to fully appreciate and enjoy my Pan Am experience.

This positive perspective is very closely tied to a spirit of gratitude. While always looking for the good in a situation, I am finding so many reasons to be thankful. Even in disappointment or so-called failure, a positive mindset makes thankfulness possible. 

Earlier I said my season didn’t go according to plan, and I was fortunate to end up going to Pan Ams. More accurately, I feel like I was given a special gift that I didn’t know I wanted. All my gratitude is directed to Jesus Christ, the One who has given me every good thing. He directed my season in a way that brought me to Toronto for Pan Ams. He has shown me (through my amazing sport psych) how to recognize and appreciate all that I have accomplished and all that I’ve been given. So for every race and every day, the good, the bad, and everything in between I can say "thank you Lord."

Be joyful always; Pray continually; Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
— James 1:17