Almost a year ago to the day, I ran my first (and maybe last) marathon, which had been on my life’s bucket list forever. Honestly, even though it was something I had wanted to do for as long as I could remember, I never thought I would buckle down and actually do it. Running had never been my thing, and the thought of running 26.2 miles (and all the training I would have to do to actually be able to successfully do that) just didn’t sound like all that much fun.
And in a lot of ways, it wasn’t.
But of course, the most worthwhile things in life are rarely the ones that are the most fun, the most entertaining, or the most easy.
And with the Salt Lake Marathon coming up again tomorrow and the recent tragedy in Boston fresh on my mind, I have found myself in a reflective mood more often than not.
I think of all the people along the race route last year who set up their own personal “aid” stations (not sponsored or paid for by the race management) to help us runners through some especially difficult portions (there was a small homeside stand where someone was giving out cut-up oranges, and I’m pretty sure I would have passed out–literally–if it hadn’t have been for them). To all the kindhearted people giving out popsicles, water shots, and orange slices last year, I give you a virtual hug. We need more people like you in the world.
I think of the spectators who came along to cheer ALL the runners on (not just the ones they came to particularly see), and how much an encouraging word or cheer really meant during that physically exhausting 4.5 hours. I would venture to say that the spectators at a race play just as important of a role as the runners do–they push you to keep on going, to continue doing your best, and to persevere until the end. I said many prayers of thanks a year ago for all the people who stood on the sidelines.
I think of how grateful I am that I have all of my limbs, and that I was capable of running 26.2 miles without stopping. I think of those people who lost limbs in the bombing this week, and my heart hurts for them. It makes me want to get out and run enough for all of us, in a pledge of love and support.
I think of my marathon medal hanging on my bedside lamp, put there as a constant reminder that I am capable of doing things I always thought might be too hard for me. That’s important to remember on days like today, when I’ve had several particularly distressing behavior patterns brought to my attention at the school.
I once read an article of all the ways that running is like teaching, but I think that in many ways, running a long race is a metaphor for life in general. There are times when you feel strong and unstoppable—moments when you’re enjoying your journey and all that it entails. There are other moments when you’re a little uncomfortable, a little unsure, or maybe just feeling a little off, but you still feel confident in yourself and in the promises and success that you are sure await you. And then there are times when you literally feel like you can’t go ahead for one more second, but then magically the kindness of a stranger or a friend or a dear family member gives you the exact courage you need to keep on going.
It’s on weeks like this one–where I’ve shed many tears over the Boston Marathon bombings and where I’ve struggled with learning some issues closer to home, like students who are involved in ugly affairs and addictions that rob them of their innocence–that I most need to remind myself of the ebb and flow of the race of life. It’s during weeks like this that I make myself remember what it felt like to keep on pushing through that mental and physical wall of miles 21-25 and to know that, at the end, I’d finally made it.
Whatever you’re asked to deal with today might not be fun or entertaining or easy, but in the end, a glorious finish awaits you. As one particular quote that I particularly loved put it:
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