I’ve run a few marathons. Okay, only a couple, although I DID run up Pikes Peak once, which was like a marathon in how long it took, even though it was only half as long. Regardless of how many, I HAVE finished the races I started. I did not give up! Even though I had to walk a bit during those 26.1 mile races, I did indeed cross the finish line. I looked horrible, felt totally exhausted, and was also, somehow, deeply satisfied with the result…I actually completed a 26 mile race, and I did not give up.
Some of the main lessons I learned from marathoning included:
- Keep going. The “Finisher” medal/ribbon only is given at the end of the race, to those who cross the finish line. There’s nobody hanging around the halfway mark to say, “well done, you look so good right now you can have the medal or ribbon and then just head home.” Nope. I wanted to, was compelled, to make it (channel your inner Chris Berman, the legendary sportscaster) “All. The Way!” Hebrews 12:1-2 comes to mind…to run well, and to seek the prize.
- Pace is vital. I could not sustain a 7 minute mile pace for the duration of the race. I’m more of an 8 minute per mile guy, longer as I aged, and it was imperative that I kept that in mind as I ran. Many people seem super strong as they begin, but many also crash and burn way before the end. So “know yourself and pace accordingly” was very important.
- Find someone to run with. Find someone to hang out with for a good part of the race and its just better. Time goes by more quickly and more enjoyably. That might be because we are wired for relationship! Back to Hebrews 12, the writer tells us there’s a great cloud of witness cheering us on. That’s encouraging for marathons, ad for life!
- It is about the journey as much as the finish line. My first marathon was out in the boonies, so to speak. Steamboat Springs, CO is a lovely spot in the mountains. The race course started 26 miles away from town, and along the way I had a lot of alone time just pounding the pavement, step by step. Frankly, it was some lonely running, as, despite the natural beauty all around me out there, all I could do was feel my feet hit the pavement and hear my breath as I pushed through the altitude and miles. My last marathon, Chicago, was quite the opposite. Some 50,000 runners made their way on the course, winding through neighborhood after neighborhood with tens of thousands of spectators lining the streets. This was far easier to run, as there seemed to be few places where I got bored, and being distracted I was not overly aware of my body’s groaning against the miles. It was great fun to make my way through the Italian part of town, and the Hispanic part, and the Polish part…all jammed full of spectators and music and sights and sounds. As much as I loved the scenery in Northern Colorado, give me Chi Town for a race…it gives a lot better journey along the way!
- Enjoy the support stops. Marathon runners thrive on the snack stops along the way manned by those volunteers. At least I did. Smiling volunteers every few miles offered Gatorade, bananas, granola, water and more…all to keep us hydrated and fueled up for the remaining part of the race. Without those precious stops I would have been unable to make it to the finish line.
As I “marathon along” in life I’ve certainly applied some of these principles to my own race, and to helping others in their races. We’re all at various stages of the marathon of life!
For my wife and me, being parents of a special needs child has made those lessons all the more tangible. We’ve had to keep going, pace ourselves (even when it has been a blistering, 4-minute mile pace), surround ourselves with others who are in similar situations, slow down to enjoy the many wonderful moments of the journey, and enjoy the support stops – and the smiling “volunteers” who willingly give of their time and energy to help me cross the finish line.
As I noted in the last post, our support team has included dozens of caring folks. The other day one of them, a wonderful friend with a big heart, asked if she could start a GoFundMe campaign to help defray some of the expenses we’ve had in this journey of getting our boy the help he needs to overcome his challenges and be successful in life. Our special son has needed some special care, and we are hopeful for a good outcome as he runs HIS race. By the way, that is him in the old picture above, and in many ways it characterizes who he is…determined, gritting his teeth, smiling just bit as he goes, goes, goes!
The costs of his care are high but we believe this is worth it. We’re his encouragers, his pace-setters, his cheerleaders to keep going, his support team when things are hard. We’d like to invite YOU to be part of “Team Zane” too – there’s plenty of room on the side of the race course to help him run well. Would you pray and if you’re able to make a contribution, consider stopping by the GoFundMe site?
Thanks in advance, we are deeply grateful for your marathon support. Together we can help Zane cross the finish line of this race!