Friday night I texted Hope: “How am I doing in the marathon?”
She was in China, 12 hours ahead. On her time, I was already 90 minutes into the race. I wanted all the information I could get.
She wrote right back: “You got off to a rough start and couldn’t quite get the breathing right. Maybe a little behind the pace you wanted, but you can make it up. You’ve realized that everyone around you is also just trying to stay alive and will only notice you if you go down. They’re focused on their own efforts.”
Saturday morning I was walking toward the starting line. I got a text from Andrew: “Don’t worry about the start. Don’t worry about the finish. Don’t worry about the stuff that will happen in between. Bask in the fact that you’re prepared. You’ve trained. You’ve dedicated the time and the energy. You know the process and know how to meet your goal. It’s YOUR race. Your pace. Your decisions on that course. Your control.”
Nancy was standing with me when I got both messages. And she was standing at the start, sitting on the curb at three miles and at nine miles, handed me a bottle of pickle juice at 17 miles. She tracked me down after I texted her, “pray”. And then at 19 miles. And she was standing above the ramp where I entered the ballpark. And was at the top of the steps when I finished. Where Allie brought me coffee.
Richard meets with me most Mondays. He never told me I should run. He always answered questions. And he called me 3 minutes after I finished so we could connect. He ran the race too.
Dan meets with me most Fridays. We talk about life, not about running. He ran the half-marathon, like Andrew.
Dave gave me a plan for the last two months. He invited me to stop my running streak. He pushed me and prayed for me.
If any of these people told me I had to run, or tried to shame me into running, or asked me to stop running because it was ruining our family, I would have stopped.
Instead, they loved me. They encouraged me. They comforted me. They were patient with me.
Sometimes people take on goals to prove other people wrong. Sometimes people accomplish goals to prove to themselves that other people are right.
I’m grateful for the people I’m with. They are teaching me about much more than running.