On 10/9/10 I ran the Hartford Marathon. I was going to write that I ran my "first" marathon, but truth be told, I'm not sure whether I'll run another one or not. Don't get me wrong, it was a great day and I finished on target with my training at 4:00:59. Its just that the training takes up a significant amount of your time leading up to raceday and right now I can't forsee whether that is something that I will choose to make a priority again in the forseeable future. I'll keep running and racing, but for now I'll be setting my sights on shorter distances.
So when someone asked me later in the week if I was a "marathoner" I answered that while I had run the race, I didn't think the title really was right for me. So why did I do it? To start with, while cheering on other marathon racers over the last year or two, I had thought to my self "I'll bet I can do that" and the idea was born. However, as the idea turned into the reality of the training, the desire to continue took on new meaning to me.
Over the last couple of years, our extended family has endured some difficult circumstances and it has become clear to us that life can be pretty tough. To carry on with your head held high requires a certain type of perserverence. Reflecting on that truth, training for this 26.2 mile race became a metaphor for enduring the hardships of life. If I could get through this, I thought, I can get through other difficult times as well.
Well, raceday came and I carried on quite well for about 21 miles but I could feel the energy slowly draining out of me. I believed I was keeping well hydrated and even brought some extra nutrition with me in the form of gel packs designed for endurance exercise, which I took every hour. But something just wasn't quite right and at mile 23 I slowed to a walk through the water station to be sure and get some extra liquid on board and regain my strength. However, miles 24 and 25 brought a similar need to walk through the hydration station. I conjoured up the last of my energy though and was able to trudge on through the last 1.2 miles to complete the race. I had done it! I completed a marathon.
When I was able to reflect on the race I think I could have done a better job of managing my nutrition intake in order to stay strong through the whole race. Maybe someday I'll make a go of it again and use that knowledge to do better. The more I think about it though, my experience really held true to the metaphor that had driven me to complete the race in the first place. Life is hard. Sometimes we run, sometimes we walk and maybe even stumble. But the most important part is to perservere and complete our own personal race to the best of our ability.
Romans 12:1b-2 says "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." What better example can we have than that? Run with patience, perservere...finish the race.
You know what? Maybe I am a marathoner after all. How about you?