Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Marathon # 3 Experience

I was able to finish my 3rd marathon a week and a half ago.  Such a great experience for me and there were a few really powerful things I realized while running it ... 

1. My Wife is Amazing!  I've said it each time I've finished a marathon, but she truly is such an incredible woman.  I would not have the opportunity to do these types of things unless she supported me and allowed me the time to do it.  Training for a marathon is a lot of work and her support means so much to me.  Every time I'd get back from a run she'd ask how it went, how do I feel, and, the most powerful thing she would tell me nearly every time was "I'm proud of you.  Good job, babe!"  I love her encouragement and I would not be able to finish a marathon without her!  It was so much fun having her and the kids there to meet me at the half-way point and also at the finish.  

2. There's Power Behind Encouragement.  One of the things I've tried to do during each of my marathons or half-marathons is to be an encourager.  I always try to thank people who are serving at the race.  I thank the workers for their time, the police for their efforts, and the water people for ... well ... their water.  I also try to encourage the runners around me.  If I'm running past someone I always try to tell them "Good job.  Keep it up."  Most likely, though, someone is running past me.  Even then, I'm still trying to say encouraging things to them.  What I've found is that the more I try to encourage someone, the better I actually feel!  I love how God works that way.  

3. Kindness Can Break Down Walls.  I ran with a couple for about 8 miles.  I initially just started to encourage them with a simple "Good job." I started to make some small talk and asked some open ended questions about the two of them.  I found them to be very friendly and open to conversation.  So, we kept running together and kept on talking.  I was eventually able to bring God in to the conversation and started to share my story and my faith in Jesus.  I was talking about how I've learned to trust God when all of the sudden the husband starts to cry.  I thought maybe he was hurt or something happened.  So, he and his wife stopped and I stopped with them.  He apologizes for crying, but goes on to say this:  "It is not an accident that we're talking to you right now."  He then begins to share some of the things that are going on in his life and his wife's life at the moment.  I had no idea that this would happen simply because of trying to be friendly to them.  But, what I'm sure of it this ... it would not have happened if I didn't try to be friendly and interested in them.  Kindness broke down some barriers.  It allowed them to feel open to share with a complete stranger.  It was just a powerful reminder to me of how caring for people and genuinely being interested in them can set the stage for God to move.

4.  You Just Keep Moving.  I really wanted to finish this marathon at 4 hours and 15 minutes.  I was nearly on pace for that at the half-way point and beyond.  Around mile 21, though, I started to cramp ... something that hadn't happened during any of my training.  I continued to cramp about every half mile for the rest of the race.  It was very frustrating, but a powerful reminder to just keep moving forward.  That's what I told myself.  Just keep moving forward.  Every step brings you one step closer to the finish.  To me that's a good reminder for a marathon, but also for life.

5.  Stop Comparing Yourself.  I ended up finishing in 4 hours and 45 minutes.  The marathon I ran earlier this year I did in 4 hours and 24 minutes.  Initially I felt a need to explain why my time was worse ... I was cramping.  I felt I needed to explain to others that I could have done better and it's only because of the cramps that I didn't have a much better time.  Many others ran much faster than me and finished stronger than me.  I found the more I compared myself to the times of others in the race, the less joyful I was becoming about the finishing the race.  It was then that it hit me ... I just finished my 3rd stinkin' marathon!  Stop worrying about other people and really enjoy this accomplishment.  I have so much to learn in this area and continually strive to become the best person I can become and do the best with what I'm given.  If I can look in the mirror and know I gave it may all, that's success.  That's the type of attitude I'm striving to have.  The old attitude of comparisons sneaks itself in every one in a while.  I'm thankful that God is helping me overcome it.

6.  I Really Enjoy Running.  It's really therapeutic for me.  I enjoy it.  It helps me feel alive.  And, it's a commitment that I made to myself after my cancer treatments ... Now that I have my health back, I'm going to enjoy it as best as I can.  Running has provided that for me.   

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