Thursday, January 12, 2023

Why People Keep Coming Back to the Marathon

Someone once said, "Marathoning is a form of insanity." I wouldn't disagree. It's such a surreal experience. If the Lord allows me to stay healthy and I do the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth next month, that will be my 20th marathon race. I hope to complete 26 of them before I retire from marathoning. You can't fake a marathon. At a marathon you get to see the people who trained and the people who didn't, the people that are in shape and the people that aren't, the people who run just for fun and the people who are out there running for their life. The marathon isn't, in fact, about the marathon. It's about the shared struggle. It's just incredible what you can put your body through. I don't think enough people go out on a limb to see just how hard they can push themselves. The marathon itself is the easy part when you consider the mental challenges you have to overcome before race day. 

On race day, you usually start out fairly early in the morning. Sometimes you have to take a long bus ride to the starting line. People are excited and happy. This is, of course, because they haven't started running yet. Everyone is there for different reasons, yet we all have something in common because we all share the same goal. Before you know it, you hear the announcer calling the runners to the starting line, and you begin lining up in the corrals to wait for that gun to go off. 

About to start the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13, 2019. 

You don't even realize you've run the first few miles because everything seems so easy. You look around and see all shapes and sizes of people out there, all of them trying to get past a stupid line 26.2 miles away. The downhills and uphills begin to tear up your legs. I get to the point, usually around mile 15 or 16, and think, "Why am I doing this?" I remember the time I hit the wall at my first marathon and I almost started to cry. I thought "I can't finish this. This is the stupidest hobby I could have ever chosen. I hate running. I will never run again." That's when you have to dig deep. Even though you feel like you've already given it all that you have, you have to go deeper. You just keep thinking, "Okay, take one mile at a time." You wonder if the finish line is ever going to get there. Then you begin to hear the roar of the crowds. Those crowds carry you the last mile. 

You can't cross the finish line of a marathon without having it change your life. I think that's why people keep coming back. When you cross the finish line you're a winner, whether it took you 2 hours and 30 minutes or 6 hours and 30 minutes. You've done something that's tough. You've pushed your body to the limits and you've overcome. That's powerful. And, for the Christian, all of grace. 

And so ... here we go again.