That's a great story, Harvey. Now, here is the perfect counterpoint, a tale of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, a race lost that I still relive to this very day.
The year was 1953. I joined the track team ... one of the best in New England, incidentally. Coach decided I would be a hurdler. I think, in retrospect, he liked challenges. He was also short on hurdlers. I was terrible.
Our first meet was with an absolute powerhouse in field and track. I was still taking baby steps between hurdles. It was a 50/50 shot as to whether I even made it over the things. Johnny, my teammate, and I were up against Steve, a generational super athlete who never lost. All I remember of the race was watching Johnny, Steve and an also ran pulling away from me with afterburners fully alight.
And then something happened. I found my stride. Johnny could no longer keep up with me, let alone beat me. I kept improving bit by bit, meet by meet. I won every dual meet race that season.
Finally the culmination arrived ... the state championships. Johnny and I both breezed through the qualifying heats. We would run in the final. And, of course, so would Steve, who was, of course, heavily favored to win.
Coach had some forceful comments for me first: DON'T LOOK BACK! Evidently I had developed a habit of looking over my shoulder before I finished.
BANG! We were off. I was focused completely on the finish line; the hurdles were mere impediments to reaching the goal. And, I was FLYING! Last hurdle, now sprint, sprint, sprint! The line is only a few feet away, and the corners of my eyes told me there was no one even close.
I looked back. There was Steve, at least three strides behind me, but focused on that finish line, reaching inside himself for every iota of acceleration he could muster and then some. And there was I, focus gone, acceleration gone. I watched in horror as he gobbled up the distance, winning by a fraction of an inch like the true champion he was. Being #2 is a bitter draught.
The moral of this story is, of course: DON'T LOOK BACK! Don't be as Lot's wife. Keep your gaze and focus upon Jesus and not upon the world.