First we'll start with humbling. I have been humbled by the outpouring of love given to me for completing this race. I never knew--and on those days when I feel that the whole world is against me, I will do my best to remember all the people who called, sent cards, asked and listened to me repeat my experience. And even more humbling and eye opening to me has been the lessons and experiences that other people have related to me about their lives in following my marathon goal in my life. And although I may not say your names, know that I am deeply grateful to each of you for sharing your hearts about my journey.
- A dear friend of mine spent the last three weeks of my training on her own journey--traveling to and working in an orphanage in Lesthoto, Africa. The trip was life changing and heart rending and she will never be the same for that experience. But on her return home, she told me it was my journey that brought tears to my eyes--the determination and inner strength that it took to complete a hard task. I am humbled.
- Another friend mentioned that this was inspiring because I am "every woman" in that I honestly had to juggle home, kids, husband's job and life in general. There were days when I didn't want to run, when I had to make myself. I am not a super athlete, like my brother or sister-in-law or my dad. This kind of endurance is not natural to me. Yet, I did it. Hmm, I wonder if there is some sort of life lesson in that?
- A homeschool mom related a lot of my marathon day experience to the Christian walk (and even talked with her kids about it). She talked with them about how hard it was for me to be alone on the journey--how much harder the effort was, but also how much burden was relieved when I traveled with others of like mind and like goal. How true that is for the Christ-following life. It really is easier to follow Christ when you are surrounded by people who are also striving towards the same goal, it is also much easier to fail if you are depended mostly on your own strength.
- And yes, the marathon closely mirrors the pregnancy/birth experience. You wait and work and get excited for a long time leading up to the main event. And then it comes and you are excited and nervous and anxious. But your preparation has paid off, you are aware of the route, the pain, the highs and lows, even though you haven't yet experienced them . And then there is the moment you cross the finish line and all the pain and work of the previous 26.2 miles is forgotten in mind and you savor the victory. There are two places where the two experiences depart, however. First, the drugs available for childbirth are much better than those suggested for running a marathon. Second although your whole body hurts after both childbirth and a marathon, you only get a free pass to sit on the couch for more than a day with childbirth. Despite the need to recoup your muscle health and strength, you have to be up and hobbling pretty quick.
- And finally, life is much better when I don't focus on me. God's call to service extends beyond my home and family and shows up in unexpected places--mile 25. And when I can focus on helping others succeed and manage their own feelings and pain, I am much better at dealing with my own issues, they aren't nearly as important as others. Even when I think I am in a race just for me.