"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I Was On My Way : Motivational Moments at the MCM

There were several moments this past Sunday that provided some "dig deep" motivation for charging to the finish of the Marine Corps Marathon. Often these moments came at just the right time. Of course, I tend to believe that when we are open to finding inspiration around us, and from above, we will find it. And as with past events, these moments will remain in memory long after the race results fade. A few of them follow.

Early on, about mile 3, I was stirred with a great sense of gratitude for our military personnel, and the health that I had been given today to even participate, as I ran a few strides behind a marine who kept the pace with an artificial leg and arm. Thank you sir for your service and the courage to inspire others with this effort.

Turning uphill, around mile 8, I can still sense the intense warmth and light that met us as we ran straight at the sun, (recall it was still around 39 degrees at this point).  Having waited in the pre-dawn cold, and then running the first several miles along the shady riverside drive, this moment was a good one.  Combined with a large, loud spectator presence, I recall almost closing my eyes and continuing the stride up this final 200 feet of elevation gain that would give way to a few miles of downhill ...... FINALLY!

Music: Over 50+ songs were included on the revised marathon play list.  The one that stuck out the most to me, as I reflect on it a day later, Just Tell Them When You Saw Me, I Was On My Way.  The southern gospel classic, by Sue Dodge, starting playing just as I cleared the half-marathon distance.  Lyrics that speak to the feet stumbling and to climbing up the mountain, also speak to the message that I am heading that direction and will be there soon.  From a spiritual perspective, I will continue to follow Him and will keep on keeping on until I get home!  At the midpoint of the marathon, it simply said to persevere, don't give up, tell everyone at the finish that I will be there soon. 

Though many signs made me laugh, only one truly inspired.  It was at mile 18 and simply read, "Just think, what would Pre do?" There was the iconic photo of Steve Prefontaine's determined stare off in the distance and I couldn't help but say out loud the first thing that came to my mind, "give it all Dave, just give it all!"

Similar to signs, marathoners often pin inspiring notes, or back bibs, on themselves to share with others.  Many on Sunday were dedicated to a fallen soldier for which the runner was dedicating the race. One that gave me something to focus on for a while read, "the joy of the Lord is my strength." What a great message on finding spiritual and emotional strength. To me it seemed that this runner was fueling off of the joy that they found in a relationship with God.  That might not allow them to run fast, or even guarantee a finish, but there was motivation in knowing where true strength is found.  That, in itself, could inspire anyone to move their feet just a few more miles. 

And finally, my favorite, the Spectator Angels. That's what I call all of the various individuals that took it upon themselves to handout candies, pretzels, fruit, etc., along the route.  These are not official race volunteers, just individuals / groups that get a kick out of the excitement of a marathon and know how much that sort of thing really helps.  I grabbed a couple of jolly ranchers from a guy going across the mile 20 bridge, some oranges from a group of bikers around mile 22, and then my very favorite "angel" came at mile 24, the tootsie roll lady.  If you read about my adventures this January in Orlando, then you know that I strongly believe chocolate allows you to make that final kick.  Well, I was starting to struggle a bit when a lady with a jack-o-lantern caught my eye up about 30 feet.  She was waving something around that I thought was more hard candy.  I was about to ignore it when I heard those words, "Tootsie Rolls, anybody need chocolate?" Without hesitation, a handful of tootsie rolls transferred from her plastic pumpkin into my sweaty hands.  The rest is history.  This little piggy went motivated all the way home!

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