When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Grandpa. I spent my entire summer, and every other weekend at his house. He taught me to swing a golf club and throw a softball. When I was a swimmer he took me to practice and picked me up every day. He picked me up from softball practice and took me to every game. He drove three hours to watch me play soccer, and spent an entire weekend traveling just to watch me cheer at a football game. He carted me to tennis lessons and golf lessons.
On the weekends he woke up early to drive me to my swim meets. I would always ask, as children do, "how much longer?" It didn't matter how far we had to go, be it one hour or nine hours, his response was always the same, "about an hour." As a child, this drove me crazy, but I understand now that it he was trying to say, "does it really matter? We'll get there when we get there."
Grandpa was the one that taught me to be a good sport. He was the epitome of support and encouragement. Nobody knew how to prove their pride better than him. He managed to push you to do your best, without making you feel like a failure if it wasn't good enough. Before swim meets and games he always said, "now AJ, remember, if you're not the lead dog, the scene never changes." It was his way of telling me to get out there and win. Regardless of the outcome, after every meet and every game he said, "did you do your best? and did you have fun? That's all that matters."
The summer I decided that I didn't want to play softball anymore he said, "if you're not having fun, you don't have to play anymore, but you have to finish the season." I broke down at a swim meet, exhausted and absolutely certain I never wanted to swim again. I bawled my eyes out, and sobbed, "I don't want to do this anymore. I hate swimming." He said "if you aren't having fun, then you never have to swim after this meet, but you have to finish all your events today."
Since I started marathon training, I wrote "About an hour" on every pair of running shoes. It's to remind myself that it doesn't matter if I have 1 mile left, or 26.2, it's only "about an hour."
(Let me add a Grandpa story: I've heard people talk about losing toenails and such during training. Grandpa helped me out there, too. I'm not sure why, but for whatever reason he decided that he needed to remove his toenail. After soaking his foot all night, he said, "hey AJ, lookie here." As I turned my head, I witnessed him rip off his toenail. I was traumatized, but his response was, "ohhh, it's good for ya!")