November 14th 2010, saw me “lined up” along with nearly 30,000 other people at 7:00 AM in 40 degree weather awaiting the sound of a gunshot. Participating in the San Antonio Rock N’ Roll Marathon & A Half was one of the most uniquely, inspiring, life-changing events I have survived to date. Walking 13.1 miles in roughly three and a half hours provided me with a significant amount of time to think and to pray. As my numb body perfunctorily repeated the motions I had been training it to perform for the last five months, I made a few observations about the similarities between my Christian walk and completing a half marathon bubbled up to the surface of my consciousness. I humbly share a few of them below.
Decide on the front end that you will finish.
Staring down 13.1 miles of anything can be daunting. Since the finish line is not visible for the first 13 miles of the race, you are literally walking by faith that it is there. As you go, your enthusiasm will wane, but your determination must not.
Measure your progress by a reliable, absolute standard.
A mile is a mile is a mile. There is no way around that fact. Even if you are from a country that uses the metric system, a mile is still a mile. Along the route there were many times when I thought I was farther along than I actually was. “Surely mile 5 must be coming up,” I thought once. Nope, the marker confirmed I had just come up on mile 3. It didn’t matter that I thought I had 8 miles to go at that point, I had 10 and that was that. The only thing relative about the distance left to cover is how the marathoner feels about it. Hmmm.
Celebrate every victory along the way.
Every mile marker along the way reminded me that I was that much closer to finishing the race. I raised my arms in joy or hissed out a “Yes!” every time I passed one.
Be aware of the people around you, but not distracted by them.
There are some outrageously dressed folks who run half marathons. Enough said.
Take advantage of the encouragement you find along the way.
Thousands of people attend marathons – just to cheer! As the route took me through one neighborhood, I was moved by the sight of entire families standing in their front yards, early on that very cold morning, holding signs and yelling words of encouragement to everyone who passed their homes. The sight moved me to joyful tears.
Tend to small problems before they become big problems.
A full bladder and cramping muscles do not just go away if you ignore them.
Don’t measure your success by the progress of others.
Did I mention that I walked the half marathon? As a walker, I keep a decent pace. I walk a mile in about 16 minutes. But I am in no way considered fast. The fastest people in the race I never saw – except in pictures after the race. Runners and faster walkers literally passed me left and right the entire course. It made no difference as far as my progress was concerned. God bless ‘em!
The medal commemorates the journey, but the journey itself is the reward.
This is just another instance where the non-tangible trumps the material. This is not to say I did not enjoy receiving my medal or that I did not sleep in it Sunday night and wear it all day that following Monday.
To read more about “Life Lessons Learned From A Half Marathon” by Sheeri Mitchell, click here.
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