The Finish Line

The Finish Line

marathonWhen I saw the sign for 26 miles, tears welled. In 365 yards I would cross the finish line. After 375 days of training, the finish line was right there before me. As I turned the corner, I saw my family, my cheerleaders, my home team. I threw my hands in the air and yelled at the top of my lungs. Because this thing which once seemed impossible had just become possible, this dream had just come true.

Saturday was one of those days I will never forget… waking up at 4:30 so I could eat my oatmeal and applesauce,  pinning my bib in place and my Ziploc baggie containing my chocolate coconut Clif Bar bites to the inside of my shorts, kissing Matt goodbye when I got in place at the starting line, nervously finding the 4:30 pace group and hoping I could keep up with them, hearing the national anthem and the final countdown and then the sound of 3500 pairs of running shoes hitting the pavement.

It was a beautiful day, and I soaked up the sunshine. The first 13.1 miles passed by easily. I ran past Thalia Mara where I graduated high school, past The Old Capitol Inn where I married my best friend and past the house where Matt’s late grandparents once lived and where I first had Kitty’s famous broccoli cheese casserole. We all talked and shared running stories. I told them it was my first marathon, and, from then on, they went out of their way to cheer me on.

By mile 17, our pace group had thinned a little. The pauses in our conversation grew lengthier as we focused on each breath, each stride. Mile 20 brought with it hill after hill after hill. Four miles of rolling hills. I could feel my calves growing tight but I kept reminding myself, “One foot in front of the other.” As we rounded Mile 24, my pacer Charles said, “You’re about to be a marathoner. For the rest of your life, you’ll remember this day.”

All the five o’clock alarms, all the runs in single digits and runs in triple digits, all the sore muscles and blisters, it was all worth it, to cross that finish line.

26.2 miles. 4 hours, 26 minutes, 46 seconds. Marathoner.

Running Hard

Running Hard

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetOne foot in front of the other.

Those are the words I will say over and over to myself tomorrow. My friend Heather gave me that sage advice at the beginning of my training and it’s the phrase I’ve repeated countless times, sometimes with my hands in the air and other times muttering those words through clinched teeth. I packed my bag this morning preparing for warm temperatures. The high is 65 tomorrow. Earlier this week I ran in single digits, so the weather change should be interesting. My tummy feels like butterflies have taken up residence, but I’m really just ready for my feet to hit the pavement.

Somewhere during the early part of my training I realized this journey of training was about far more than just physical stamina. I have this habit of writing Scriptures I’m praying on little paint chips collected from trips to Home Depot and Lowe’s. One day last spring on a little peach paint chip, I scribbled 1 Corinthians 9:26-27…

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The New Living Translation says, “So I run with purpose in every step…” Purpose in every step. The easy ones and the ones that leave me cringing. The beautiful ones where it seems almost easy and the ugly ones where I’m tempted to give up. The brave ones and the ones that leave my toes curled in fear. Each footprint on the asphalt a testimony to God’s redeeming work in my life.

This morning I took my peach paint chip off the cork board in my closet so I could pack it in my bag. But before I put it away, I pulled out The Message to see its interpretation of this Scripture…

I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

God, you are my Sustainer, and I’m grateful for this journey you’ve brought me on this year. I’ll forever treasure the sunrises You painted for me, the timely truth you brought to my ears and the freedom You’ve given me over perfectionism. Thank you for never giving up on this very imperfect girl. I pray every victory I experience brings glory to the One I love.

One foot in front of the other. Purpose in every step. Running hard for the finish line. Tomorrow and every day. This is my prayer.