Zebu and Wildebeest are distance runners on the track team.
They have a teammate who started the season training with the sprinters.
One evening Zebu told me this kid (I’ll call him Whiz), accidentally missed the turnoff
for the sprinters during that day’s practice and instead ran the distance practice (4-5 miles).
With awe in his voice, Zebu said, "He kept up the whole way."
A few days later, Whiz was on the 4 X 800 relay (each runner does two laps and
then passes a baton to the next runner on team).
The boy passing the baton to Whiz accidentally stepped on the back of Whiz’s shoe and
Whiz spent valuable seconds trying to get the shoe back on his foot before kicking it off
and running his two laps with one shoe on and one shoe off.
Whiz’s time in that race beat Zebu’s best time.
This past weekend, Whiz ran his first 1600 meter race (four laps which equals one mile).
He ran it in 5:11, beating Zebu and Wildebeest’s best times.
Zebu is proud of Whiz, a fellow freshman and super nice kid,
but is also flabbergasted by his ability to run so fast without all the miles
Zebu and Wildebeest have logged in their training.
I can relate.
Not just in my own running, but in my writing life, too.
I told Zebu that there are Naturals and there are Work Horses
(and, of course, Naturals who work very, very hard to get even better).
I told him about the hardworking top-runner on my high school cross country team
who was knocked from her number-one spot by a freshman girl who just showed up
and blew everyone else away.
Then I said, "It’s a lot like the journey to publication. There are some people who write
the perfect book at the perfect time, and their careers take off. Then there are those
who have to work hard for a long, long time to get there. I’m one of those work horses."
His silence told me maybe I shouldn’t have put it in those terms.
Zebu’s had an up-close and sometimes painful window into my quest for publication,
and my unpublished status probably makes me a not-so-good poster child for Work Horses.
I’ve worked long and I’ve worked hard, and publication still hasn’t happened for me.
But whenever I wonder whether it’s time to let go of the dream,
I think about my kids witnessing my efforts over the years.
And while I know hard work is no guarantee of success,
I also know I don’t want them to think of me as The Work Horse Who Never Reached Her Goal.
So I guess that means, at least for the time being, I’ll keep doing what it takes.
I’ll be the Work Horse with one shoe on and one shoe off,
running hard for that finish line.