When I moved into my dorm room during my freshman year in college, the first thing I unpacked was my Prince poster.
Since it was one of my most cherished possessions, it had to be displayed in a special place of prominence on my dorm room wall. I not only loved Prince for his music, but for his undeniably, unapologetic originality.
Even though I was too young to fully appreciate it until much later in life, I admired Prince’s underlying theme that encouraged people to celebrate their own individuality and to persevere toward your personal best, despite what others may think.
Don’t deter. Press on.
Since it was just days after the world lost this musical icon, the thought was heavy on my mind as I prepared to run the 10-mile One Ale of a Trail in Ft. Worth.
After getting a late start driving to the race with my teen daughter and 100-pound golden retriever in tow, combined with a series of comical errors on my part, I ended up getting to the start line 30 minutes after the race actually began.
Needless to say, I came in last. I mean – dead last out of 1,200 people.
But instead of getting miffed at myself while on the trail, I just kept running and let the memories and music of Prince inspire me to reflect on his life and mine.
I resolved not to let the others passing by to the finish line discourage me. Instead, thanks to Prince, I decided to focus on running my own race.
5 Ways Prince Inspired me to Run my Own Race
#1: Keep It Moving
“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.”
Even though I started the event way behind the other runners, I chose to jump in the race anyway. My strategy was to keep my pace slow, but steady – and just finish!
LESSON: When you think others may have an advantage on you, keep going anyway. You may feel like you’re getting into the game late, but don’t let others dictate where they think you should be. Just keep moving forward to make your dreams a reality.
#2: Choose Wisely at Life’s Crossroads
“Everyone has their own experience. That’s why we are here, to go through our experience, to learn, to go down those paths and eventually you may have gone down so many paths and learned so much that you don’t have to come back again.” – Prince
At one point on the course I had a decision to make. I could either follow the sign to take the 5-mile route or the 10-mile route.
Since I was already in last place, I was tempted to cut my run short and choose the 5-mile course. But after thinking about it I said to myself, “That’s not what I came here to do. What the heck, go for it girl!”
LESSON: Sometimes we come to a crossroads in life when we have to make an important decision. One route might be a little easier than the other. However, the rewards may be greater if we choose the path that pushes us to do more, to learn more, and to be better.
#3: Phone a Friend
“Whenever I feel like giving up; Whenever my sunshine turns to rain; Whenever my hopes and dreams are aimed in the wrong direction – she’s always there.” – Prince (Lyrics from ‘She’s Always in my Hair’ – 1985)
When I got to the 4-mile mark, I knew if I turned around now I would have only completed 8 miles of the 10-mile course.
I was starting to get a little worried about my daughter and our dog who were waiting for me back at the finish line. They might be the only ones left standing around waiting for me to return because the other runners would have finished and gone home by the time I got back.
I called my daughter from the trail to see if she wanted me to head back. (But in all honestly, I was really looking for an excuse to quit. It was hot and I was sticky, plus I had a hair appointment to get to later that afternoon).
When she answered, my eldest told me “Mom don’t you dare quit. You can do it! Just keep running and Barley and I will be here to cheer you on when you cross that finish line no matter what time it is.”
LESSON: When you feel like you can’t go on any more. Just phone a friend and get a little encouragement from someone who loves you and wants you to succeed despite yourself.
#4: Don’t Let Detours Derail You
“A strong spirit transcends rules.” – Prince
There had been some heavy rains days before the race which caused some muddy patches. There were also some minor trail repairs in a few places along the course as well. As a result, signs were posted that cautioned runners to be on the lookout for alternate paths.
LESSON: Life gets messy and you may face some unexpected detours along the way. But that’s okay. Just keep up the pace until you get back on course.
#5: Enjoy the Journey
“Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.” – Prince
Since I was already at the end of the pack, I decided to pace myself and really take in the beauty that surrounded me along the trail. I even stopped and took pictures of the river, trees and flowers budding all around me.
Had I been running at a competitive speed, I might not have truly seen or appreciated the signs of God’s abundant glory that were at every turn. It made the experience much more rich and rewarding.
I interpreted each sign of nature’s beauty planted before me as God’s way of cheering me onto the finish line.
LESSON: One of the most beautiful blessings is this journey that we share together called “life.” Just remember to literally stop and smell the roses along the way, and you too will learn to run your own race.