I’m lately realizing the benefits of humility. Despite what everyone tells you, you don’t want to experience constant success in every area of your life. This is why choosing to do hard things, like running marathons, can be so beneficial.
The marathon will humble you. You may be able to run a predictably fast 5K, 10K or even a half marathon. But once you get past 20 miles, all bets are off.
I’m used to doing well at most things I try. And if I fail, I can usually figure out the problem and fix it. Not so the marathon. I’ve run 10 of them so far and have only been happy with 2 of my performances. And what makes it harder to accept is the time you’ve invested in training and preparing for the race only to have things go wrong on race day, sometimes for no apparent reason.
This past Saturday I realized before the halfway mark that there was a problem. My legs weren’t working properly and the muscles that were supposed to be playing a supporting role were trying to take on all the responsibility. That resulted in premature fatigue and a slower pace mile after mile.
I had to quickly reframe and choose to accept what was going on. I decided to enjoy the course, which was in a town I’d never been to. I enjoyed the fountains and the beautiful houses. I whooped for the guys sitting in their driveway playing Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best”. I searched for little kids on the side of the course so I could give them a fist bump or high five. And I stopped two times to pet a dog!
How do you grade a marathon performance? I’m not sure anymore. Is only a PR worthy of an A+? What if you get injured but soldier on to finish anyway?
The marathon is a perfect analogy for life because we can prepare for the many different challenges of life, but in the end we have to realize that we’re not in control of outcomes. We’re only in control of how we react to the challenges God gives us.
What happened at the end of my race perfectly encapsulates that. About two miles from the finish I connected with a guy who was running his first marathon. He was struggling with cramps throughout his whole body, even his feet! So I started praying for him out loud and he says, “In Jesus’ name, Amen!” We encouraged one another up the next couple hills telling each other, “We’ve got this!” When we got to the long downhill to the finish, I look over to check to see if he’s ok and he’s on his phone Facetiming his wife. She’s telling him how proud she is of him, and he’s crying. It was such a great moment and I’m so thankful I got a peek of it.
This guy finished his first marathon. I finished my 10th. I am learning how important it is to overcome the challenges and finish with a grateful heart. I will never be the fastest runner. I may never get another PR. But that teaches me to be humble and not clutch at running like an idol, demanding it to give me what only God can.
Despite what I thought on race day, I’ll probably keep striving to get better and stronger and faster, but PRs will eventually go away. My body is getting older every second. I can try to fight time with stricter diets and more intense workouts but time will win eventually.
So was this marathon a C-? I don’t know. In one sense it was, but in another sense, the most important sense, it was way above average.