Battle Buddy Series – A Prayer for Beginning the End

By Darian McIntosh 

At the commencement of September, it is evident that autumn is near. Fall is, unequivocally, my favorite time of year. I surround myself with the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of all things pumpkin-related, much to my husband’s chagrin. Yellow, orange, brown, and red are nowhere near being my typically favorite colors. At this time of year, they absolutely are! 


Despite my adoration at seeing these beautiful colors, we must be honest with ourselves and admit that they are signaling an end. Spring and summer bring back the bright greens on the leaves and grass to remind us of the emergence of life. On the opposite end, the burnt colorings of fall mean this is the end to something. The beautiful blooms of the previous two seasons are beginning to wither and decay, leading us into a period of dormancy through the long, cold winter ahead.


When viewed through this filter, autumn can seem downright depressing. So why do I love this particular season so much? Let’s count the ways.


First, we have, as previously mentioned, the resplendent colors! Nature really knows how to put on a show. The way they intermingle together, they seemingly dance with a vibrancy that warms the heart. The dark and ombre richness to the colors on the falling leaves brings to mind the comfort of a smoldering fire on a brisk, late-autumn evening. 


If you happen to live in a part of the world that is typically warmer, you may not get to experience these colors except through the artifice of the many fall decorations that grace the store shelves. This brings me to the second reason I love fall; a change in weather. Even in warmer climates, the searing summer heat becomes a bit more muted. The air turns crisper with the accompanying winds of change and the rains, a more frequent companion.


And finally, the last reason I love fall; the holiday season. Starting with Halloween and leading into Christmas (yes technically, this happens in the winter, but the buildup is decidedly a fall occurrence). You can feel the atmospheric change in the air through the people around you. This season brings about pure elation, most especially for children. Perhaps it is because I went from raising two children into adulthood, only to start again with my youngest who is now 4 but I love watching children experience such unadulterated joy.


Of course, my reasons for loving fall are quite optimistic and there may be plenty of people who hate fall for these very same reasons. For them, they may produce feelings not of joy, but of discontentedness. But that is my point…at face value, the beginning of an end to something sounds distressing. With the right perspective, joy can be found. Good can come from bad.


Marathon 2021


September is here and we are beginning the end of our marathon season. We have waited a long time for this to happen. This will be the first time running in person will be possible in over two years. While the changes brought about by the pandemic have been very distressing, we can find the good from within. 


I can only speak from a personal vantage point but my journey brought about by having the extra time to write for this blog has been one that has allowed me to make physical changes of my own. As I have discussed in my past entries, I made necessary changes to my exercise routine by working with a personal trainer. This was purely motivated by the fact that I would be writing to an audience of people that will have many different reasons for wanting to be a part of the San Francisco Marathon elite but ultimately have one thing in common; running. And when engaging in a running race, there will be conditioning of the body. Thus, I had to be willing to do the same to some degree in order to relate. 


There will also be conditioning of the mind, which is where my major hurdle lies. It is the fact that I have been unable to condition my mind to see an exercise plan through that has put me in this predicament. With my trainer friend, aka battle buddy, I am finally making progress.


A runner faces this very obstacle. Deciding to run the race is a very noble decision but it is only the beginning. It is not one for the faint of heart because he or she will have to condition the mind to accept a punishing commitment to run….often. Something that will take a toll on every person that is bold enough to make such a decision. The toll will be on the body, the brain, and even on the wallet. This initial decision will lead some into a lifetime commitment to run, furthering the overall toll it will take.


Where is the good in that?

As any seasoned veteran of running will tell you, there is no other feeling quite as rewarding as when you cross that finish line after a very arduous journey to get there. The same can be said just in the attempt, even if something occurs that prevents you from getting to that finish line. Just watch a few videos on YouTube of people that have run a marathon to see what I mean. From hearing about the many different reasons why people felt compelled to run a race to watching athletes help one another, you won’t be disappointed. The stories you will see are so inspiring, they may even bring tears to your eyes. They did mine. After all, it is the resilience of the human spirit that can remind us all that we are not alone, despite our vast differences. 


I have no doubts that the stories of each one of you running the SF Marathon in 2021 have an inspirational tale to tell of your journey. I only wish that I could hear these tales personally. I’m willing to bet that there are quite a few tales that exist only because of the loop that the pandemic has thrown us all into. Quite a few more will come about during the races and after they are done. The media might have you believing that everything is bad because of this pandemic but my willingness to take the aforementioned bet is because I have faith in the human condition. The one that can take a seemingly hopeless situation, like a pandemic, and churn out the good from within. 


Battle Buddy Step #12: Find the good within

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