A little over a year ago, my friend Lisa started talking about running a marathon in her 35th year of life. She asked me to join her in the goal. I put her off for weeks as we trained for the Rock and Roll half marathon last Fall. A marathon was not on my life goals. When she picked up her race packet for last year's race, she found out that we could sign up for the marathon at a sale price. She called, it was on sale. I said yes because the truth is I love a good sale. That half went great. We spent the winter doing our normal workouts and come Spring the marathon talk began. Four other friends signed up and in May the training started. Five days of running a week every week for 6 months. Yikes! I tried to just look at the next day and not worry about the whole schedule. I repeatedly told Lisa I was running this for her. Just a few weeks in she looked at me very seriously and said, "You can't run this for me. It is going to take a huge commitment and you need to do this because you want to do it." That proved to be an excellent point.
School ended and it turned out to be one of the hottest summers since I have lived in St. Louis. It is easy to find someone to run with during the school year, but come summer we all had kids and vacations. I started having to run alone 4 of the 5 days. I had to get up early and go alone. This was new territory for me. I'm not an early riser and I don't always push myself. The running started to go really well and I began to crave it. It was like my personal time alone with the Lord and His creation. I prayed and listened to beautiful music. And just about every time I start a run, I think to myself... I can't do this, but almost every time I do.
Running meets me at the core of my fears and questions about life. I often operate with the belief that God is asking more of me than what I am capable of doing. The secret I'm finding is that He knows I can do way more than I believe I can. Every time I get to the end of a run whether it was fantastic or a huge struggle, I feel like the Lord says, "I told you that you are capable in ways that you don't believe." I don't really mean that I am a more capable runner than I believe although I finding that is also true. Running is a microcosm of my life. The thing about the running is it is a place where the Lord meets me. It is a place where I fight out my insecurities of the gospel. And in this season it is a place where the Lord meets me.
Around July, I was feeling like a running rock star and then the kids and I got what I refer to as the "death bug". We got the worst stomach bug of my life. I was seriously sick for almost two weeks and lost 9 pounds. It was awful and I was sure that I could never recover the running equity I had gained. Slowly, but surely I started again and eventually caught up with the group just in time for my friend, Lisa, to have a race ending injury. So it really did become my own thing. All of my major runs have been with Lisa and it was her idea after all. At this point, I was convinced this was a goal I really wanted to meet for myself.
So, I continued the training with any of the other 4 in the group who wanted to run. Getting up at 4:30 or 5 am countless Sundays to do the long run with the group before church. Trying my best to get in 40 to 50 miles a week and somehow love my family well. We have gone from a long run of 6 miles to a long run of 20 miles. We completed 20 miles 3 times. Crazy stuff! You get to the crazy level one mile at a time one foot in front of the other and at some point it doesn't seem crazy at all, but rather the thing you do before church on Sunday. All the while hoping the sermon will be good so you don't fall asleep when you finally get to sit down in church with a bottle of gatorade and a snack no doubt.
So, this Sunday is the marathon. I'm six months into my training. My entire life style has changed. I function like a pregnant woman. I'm either starving, sleeping or waddling around because I'm so sore. I logged somewhere in the range of 640 miles. Could have almost run to my dad's house at this point. When I think or talk about the marathon at this point, I feel like a might just throw up. It still seems a little bit crazy. I want to complete and I want to do my best. I have some ideas of what that would be. Come Sunday I'm just going to try to put one foot in front of the other one mile at a time til I can see the Arch again and get to that glorious 26.2 mile mark. Along the way, I have fallen completely in love with running. I think about it so much. I have finally come to a point where I can call myself a real runner. I suspect this marathon thing could happen again. Who knew? If you had asked me a couple of years ago if I would run a marathon, my answer would have been a resounding "HELL NO!" Apparently, people change.
I'd love for you to join me in this adventure. I love to dedicate my miles to people. I'm working on my list. Let me know if you want me to run a mile for you and which mile. Mile 21 will be for Lisa and her mom. Lisa's mom died on October 21st, the day of the marathon. I'll be doing mile 21 for my crazy friend who talked me into this and her mother, Linda. Wishing both of our mothers could see the women we became. Our running careers started by running the Race for the Cure to honor our moms. We have come a very long way.
I'd love to sharpie my arms with words of encouragement from the people I love. It will be like you are there along for the journey. Leave them in the comment section or email me with them. Peter will sharpie me up the night before. There has been so much joy in this journey that I really want to share it with all of you. Almost every time I run, I think of the The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. In the end, the characters that you have loved dearly throughout the series have this time when they go heaven. They keep going further up and further in realizing as the walk then run that they are arriving in that Holy place. There is a moment when they look around and realize they are keeping up with the centaurs (half horse/half man). I think of that moment often when I run. A moment when I am running and running fast toward my sweet Lord knowing the journey is done. What will it be like to look around and be in my redeemed state. I can only imagine that it will be a glorious moment much crazier than running a marathon. This marathon thing is me chasing heaven. I'm chasing a moment when I get a taste of myself redeemed. Those moments are few and far between this side of heaven, but they are so rich you can't stop chasing them. For me running is worship and while I will not be in church on Sunday, I will certainly be dancing with the King.