You may have noticed that a lot of this training season has been really difficult for me. And for a first marathon, I'm guessing that isn't particularly unusual. Training is pretty brutal. Aside from the physical hardships (which range from running way too stinkin' far to my shoe issues and black toenail syndrome), this has been a complete mental challenge. From the beginning, I've had doubts about my own ability to conquer the marathon distance. The half marathon was REALLY hard, could I really double it? Am I rushing -- after all, all the literature says you shouldn't even think about marathon training till you've been running about 2 years...? With all that is going on in your life, you should really just quit...
And somehow, I've continued on and am left with only one really long run before race day. What seemed impossible -- running anything beyond 10 miles without wanting to or actually dying -- has become a reality.
As I look back on the last few months, I do seem to find a lot of faith parallels. While I don't want to force comparisons, running has always been a faith journey for me. In my experience, the two can't really be separated.
Faith and marathon training both require work -- and working through pain. On my faith journey, I often have to take steps and trust that I am actually getting somewhere. Often, I'm not even sure I want to get where I'm going. The journey often seems pointless and too hard to continue. And sometimes it hurts. There is so much I don't understand and the frustration can easily pile up. At the points when everything is hard, I have to trust.
On particularly tough runs, I often choose the farthest spot I can see and focus on simply getting there. "I just have to get to that tree/light/car..." And while concentrating on that object, it seems amazing just how quickly it is in reach. Paul talks about keeping one's eye on the prize -- and perhaps that is what he is talking about. When focusing on the goal in front of you, the pain, difficulty and distractions seem inconsequential.
And while the prize is worth it, I must admit -- I miss having feet that didn't terrify small children!