The geographic length of a marathon is 26 miles, 385 yards. You can run a marathon or complete a marathon.
On Saturday, October 1, I completed a marathon. I ran the first half. I mixed running and walking and walking during the second half.
The automatic posting of my times that friends and family received had my final time at 3:48. Had I actually run that fast, I would have almost qualified for the Boston Marathon. My actual time was 5:25:57. That’s five hours, by the way. But my feet and the rest of my body covered the entire distance, step by step. In the words of my coach, “You have officially qualified for the radically insane title of marathoner.”
Not a sprint
You know the metaphor. It’s used to talk about things that demand perseverance. The bare minimum is a sprint, the gold standard is a marathon. The implication is that anyone can run fast for a short time, but longer projects take longer focus, longer work.
Here’s what I discovered on Saturday. That quitting is possible, but so is finishing. At a couple moments, I considered walking away. When I realized that I wasn’t keeping up with a pace group. When I realized I was going to “complete” instead of “run”. When I realized that I still had four miles and almost everyone else was done and the water tables were being folded up.
But then I kept going. Walking a little, running a little, aching a little. Because I understood that finishing pretty, keeping up, or being part of a group are not the point. Finishing is the point. For your marathon, finishing is the point.
Early Saturday morning, my friend Kathy sent some of us a text from Isaiah 40:31: “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
I’ve read it a hundred times in a variety of context. I’ve always focused on soaring and running. But early Saturday morning, I noticed the trusting and the walking. Having the strength to plod along in the task. Which was exactly true.
This week, I’ll be talking about some more things I learned. I hope they are helpful.