I recently completed my 8th marathon. It was a gorgeous day on a beautiful hilly course. I did the training, ate appropriately, had extra race food with me in case I hit a wall, I got this right? Everything was going fairly well until mile 11 when my stomach decided it wanted to act up. Trying to not let it get to me, I tried talking through it and worked towards the next port a potty. No big deal, I'll use the bathroom and keep going. I still have a great pace. What happened during the next 15 miles had never happened during practice. My stomach locked up and I couldn't pass anything. By mile 16 I knew my time was out the window and I fought to finish the race. The pain by this point was horrible. A million thoughts fill your head out purpose and reasoning. At mile 20, I called my husband crying and told him I was done. He supported me and asked where to pick me up? I was so defeated mentally because the rest of my body felt great but the abdominal pain was so bad I could barely move. I wanted this marathon to leave me satisfied with the marathon. My last marathon I fell in a similar way and I just wanted to finish well. Like life, I just kept running despite the pain. I told myself, it's not going to be fast but if I run the downhills and flat spots, I will walk the hills and I think I can get there.
That is what I did. When I hit mile 25, I took every last bit of my energy to try and keep running through the crowds but my pain was almost paralyzing at this point. My family was waiting at the finish and I wanted my daughter to see her mother running through the pain. A miserable cramp hit me 50 ft from the finish that made me stop. This not being my first marathon, I knew I had to run that finish line because I didnt want my finish video to show me walking. I mustered every last strength and crossed that line. As I stopped, I felt a grab on my arm from a volunteer. He asked if I was ok? I replied yes, but I was beginning to pass my out and soon I was in the medical tent.
I was so happy to make that finish line but I was so defeated! I worked so hard for that race and now it was over. I prayed for God to clear the storms and wind and He did. I prayed for my body to be strong and technically it was but not enough to finish well. The pains I dealt with were nothing that happened in training. I know if my stomach was better I would have easily PR'd. My legs and energy were fine all the way to the finish. Why??? I came short of my goal again!! Its so hard to accept failure especially when it seems like all that comes my way. I meet goals and finish lines only to come short of the prize. Why does God let this happen? What is the answer? I dont know. If I knew Gods plans for me and the reasoning I wouldnt be frustrated and keep going on the course. There is a lesson in these races and in my failures. I hope one of these days, to find what it is but do I blame God? Absolutely, NO! God loves me unconditionally and although it sucks to feel I fail all the time, God continues to give me endless chances when I dont deserve them. Before I ran, I should have died several times from bad decisions due to alcoholism. I drove my car more times than I should have when I knew I shouldn't.
Thankfully, I'm still here and have been given a second chance to redo things. I hate who I was for those years I spent drinking and not being the mom and Christian I knew I needed to be. I tried playing the double life and it caught up to me eventually. Reality broke in, I fell to my knees before God and my husband and said I'm done.
The journey is not easy living through the past and working towards future but if my last 2 marathons have proved anything it's that I dont give up easily. I fail all the time and get so down on myself wondering reasons, but I get up the next day continuing to finish my race well. When I have a race that leaves me discouraged and questioning, my first thought is to stop running. Why keep running when it just defeats me? I'm no good at it and I'm never going to accomplish what I want. As much as I try to fight the urge I can't. Running is who I am and it has saved me. I lace up those shoes, throw myself out the door and take all my anxieties out on those trails. It is not uncommon for me to start with tears and anger those first few miles, throwing every lie I can at myself, telling myself to give up. But than I get down that trail and the tears turn to joy, followed by smiles, followed by a new energy and I find myself running harder and happier.
We train months for running a marathon. We push our bodies through extra speed workouts and long runs. We add extra calories and cut out things that wont improve our race. We may say no to certain events because it may affect our training. You did the work, the day is here, you run the race and within hours it's over. Within hours to a few days, you are back to reality and now thinking, now what? Marathon training has me thinking, how much time do I spend training for other goals in my life? How much time am I putting into becoming a closer follower of Jesus? How much time do I spend improving my parenting or advancing my career to the point that I desire? How much time do I spend chasing those other bucket lists goals? Am I working towards finishing my race well? We've heard before, life is like a marathon and there is a lot of truth in that. Life is full of hills, valleys, detours, cramps, unexpected occurrences, sorrows and many Joy's. Take time in your marathon to breathe in and pay attention to your surroundings. When you are running a race, you have no choice but to notice your surroundings because there is nothing else to do. When a runner finishes a race, they can tell u the design and graphics on endless amounts of shirts. They have every sideline sign memorized! They know where every incline and decline is on the path and also every detail of the weather. They know if there was a pivot in the road and the faces of each runner who numped them or passed them.
Do we take that same look at our own daily races? I bet if we looked for those details as much in our day to day lives, we might be surprised at what we see. We may see people in a new light or help people we didnt know needed help. I challenge you to take a look at the situations you face each day and look at them in the same way you focus on the details in a race. Maybe it's a co worker, a family member or a cashier at a grocery store that could use a little extra cheer. Never underestimate the power in saying something as simple as how are you doing to someone, and listening to the response. Pick 3 people this week that you are going to listen to or help? Maybe it's a simple text message, email or phone call? Better yet, be bold and go talk to that co-worker you dont normally talk to and find out more about them. Let's finish this race boldly and well.
Lastly, I came up with some phrases that don't make someone feel better when they finish a race or goal under what they wanted.
1. I could never run a marathon
2. Well at least you finished
3. That's ok if you didnt do well today
4. You are faster than me.
5. So and so had there best race today
6. So and so just qualified for the Boston marathon but you didn't.
7. You"ll get it next year
( If you have said any of these comments to me personally or someone else, please dont feel bad or guilty. This wasnt my intention. Just something to consider. My husband has said all of these to me and were still happily married. )
Some examples of phrases that probably are going to make the person feel just as bad and may earn you a sassy comeback. Be a supportive friend and let the person know you are here for them when they are ready to talk.