About 5 months ago I signed up for a marathon. It was one of the stupidest, craziest, and most ambitious things I’ve ever done. After a race this summer I randomly got a running marketing email that apparently had a message from God in it, because, I went from never even really seriously considering the marathon to being convinced that I should do one before years end! Two days later, in a moment of pure spontaneous insanity (after a brief discussion with my husband of course) I sat on the leather recliner, credit card in hand, logged on to the race site and typed in my information. I took a deep breath, nervously hit the submit button, and then exclaimed to an empty living room,
“I did it! I did it! I did IT!!!!!”
It was as if I had already accomplished a huge feat. Actually, I had. Because, though I am many things, one that I am not (and never have been) is a quitter. When it comes to something that I commit to, the start is the promise of the finish.
Everyone who knows me, knows I love to run. Those who really know me, know that I need to run. It’s my form of therapy and rest from the constant demands of four kids, a husband, and the multiple businesses our family owns. However, my idea of enjoyable running is short, fast, 5k’s. I’m highly competitive so anything above the three mile mark has always been undesirable to me, because, I simply cannot maintain the momentum, speed, and physical drive for long periods of time!
Can I be honest? I hate distance running. Somehow, I thought that in the course of this marathon endeavor that would change. It hasn’t, I still hate long distances. It’s boring to run for several hours, and without music, it’s almost impossible! It actually feels a bit like inhumane torture around mile 14.
Once I started training I printed out a training guide to follow week by week. I followed it for the first few weeks and then morphed into my own version of preparation. I suppose you can say I don’t like routine, nor do I like to be “bossed around.” Having a rigid milage plan took out the fun and relaxation of my runs, and the time required didn’t always work with “life” and other commitments. I did, however, run consistently, 4-5 times per week, and each week adding a long run that increased in milage. At the end of my training I finished off with 19 miles (which felt a lot like a near death experience!)
I’ve put in over 700 miles of training. As I typed that just now, I realize how insane that is. I think of all those runs, the early mornings, late afternoons, the treadmill, the neighborhoods, country roads, races, and all that is in-between and I think of how ridiculous it is! Honestly, in many ways I will be glad when tomorrow is over! Marathon training has been an undesirable obsession that I have at times resented.
Tomorrow, I’ll go from 19 miles, which is my longest run to date….to an unbelievable 26.2 miles to get to the finish! I don’t know how those last few miles will feel, but my imagination does a pretty good job with assuming: Heavy legs. Dizzy with a dull headache. Achy Knees. Dried sweat covering my body. Legs begging to collapse, feet throbbing, straining to breathe and light nausea.
But, I know I will finish! Though tomorrow will be excruciatingly tough, the hardest part was getting to the start line. The months of training, the many days that I forced myself to run when I wanted to stay in bed. The most challenging part of this journey was following through with the commitment to run in the first place.
They say the marathon distance is not achieved by the body, but, in the mind. Though I cannot comment on that claim personally yet, I believe it is true. The will to continue is essential to have the ability to push through physical pain, when your body wants to quit, when you’re exhausted and discouraged. When the infamous “marathon wall” comes, it cannot be conquered by mere physical training and strength, but rather, it is conquered by the spirit and will of the runner to continue putting one foot in front of the other. Pressing forward. Towards the goal. Towards the finish line.
Friends, isn’t that what Christianity is? That’s why Paul refers to it as a race. (1 Corinthians (9:24-27) and Hebrews 12:1-3) We must continue, we must rid ourselves of obstacles, and we must press forward. You and I have been called to run the ultimate marathon. Everyday it involves lacing up! Everyday it involves tapping into the SOURCE of power, self control, and strength!
As I run tomorrow, I will reflect on the ultimate race of faith. It is widely more important then the medal that will hang on my wall after tomorrows race. The treasure of heaven, of a race well done is immeasurably more valuable then I could ever wrap my puny mind around. A life of consistent faith and perseverance, a life lived with the perspective that life is not about me, that’s the race I want to run ultimately. And when THAT marathon is over, whether it be 26.2 or 2,622 miles, hearing my Father in heaven say “well done” will be the sweetest moment of all time!