If you’ve run a marathon, you’ll appreciate this.
If you haven’t yet, it’s what you have to look forward too.
Only some of you will ever understand this.
The Marathon is not about running, it is about salvation. We spend so much of our lives doubting ourselves, thinking that we’re not good enough, not strong enough, not made of the right stuff. The Marathon is an opportunity for redemption. Opportunity, because the outcome is uncertain. Opportunity, because it is up to you, and only you, to make it happen.
There is no luck involved in finishing the Marathon, the ingredients required to tackle this formidable challenge are straightforward: commitment, sacrifice, grit, and raw determination. Plain and simple.
So you set about your training to prepare your body for the rigors of running 26.2 miles. You refuse to compromise, dedicating yourself wholeheartedly to the contest ahead, pouring everything you’ve got into it. But you know the Marathon will ask for more. In the dark recesses of your mind, a gloomy voice is saying, you can’t. You do your best to ignore this self-doubt, but the voice won’t go away.
The Marathon rattles you to the core. It deconstructs your very essence, stripping away all your protective barriers and exposing your inner soul. When you are at your most vulnerable, the Marathon shows no pity. The Marathon tells you that it will hurt you, that it will leave you demoralized and defeated, crushed in a lifeless heap alongside the roadside. The Marathon tells you can’t do it. “Ha!” it torments you, “In your dreams…”
You fight back, however, and stand courageously at that starting line, nervously awaiting that gun to go off. When it does, you put your head down and charge into the abyss, knowing honestly in your heart of hearts that you either paid your dues or that you skimped along the way. There is no lying to yourself here, the Marathon sees right through excuses, shortcuts, and self-transgressions.
All goes well for the first half. But slowly, step-by-step, the pain mounts and the intensity of the endeavor amplifies. You remain steadfast, knowing that you did not skimp, that you did not take shortcuts, that every footstep was earned through months of rigorous preparation and hard work. Still, with each draining thrust forward, that little nagging inclination of self-doubt in the back of your mind progressively advances into your awareness.
Then, at mile 20, the voice looms louder than ever. It hurts so bad you want to stop. You must stop. But you don’t stop. This time, you ignore the voice, you tune out the naysayers who tell you that you’re not good enough, and you listen only to the passion within your heart. This burning desire tells you to keep moving forward, to continue putting one foot in front of the other no matter the consequences.
Courage comes in many forms. Today you will have the courage to keep trying and not give up regardless of how dire things become. And indeed dire they do become. At the 26-mile mark you can barely see the course any longer, your vision is faltering as you teeter precariously on the edge of consciousness.
And then, suddenly, the finish line looms before you. Tears stream down your face as you realize you might make it. Now, finally, after years of torment you can answer back to that nagging voice of uncertainty in your head with a resounding: Oh yes I can!
You burst across the finish line and are liberated from the prison of self-doubt and limitations that have held you captive. You have learned more about yourself in the past 26.2-miles than you have known in a previous lifetime. You have forever freed yourself from those chains that had previously held you captive. Even if you can’t move for a week, never have you been so free.
As they carry you away from the finish line, wrapped in a flimsy Mylar blanket, barely able to keep your head raised, you are at peace. That daunting adversary that has haunted you an entire lifetime is now your liberator, your fondest ally. You have done what few will ever do—you have done what you thought you could never do—and it is the most glorious, unforgettable awakening ever.
You are, above all, a Marathoner, and you will wear this distinction not on the medal they place around your neck, but deep inside your heart, for the rest of your God given years. Nothing can ever take that away from you. You are a Marathoner.