I know we all have DV fatigue, but I’m going to try to milk every last drop out of this Marathon experience. I wrote about the race, and about the pre- and post-race happenings, but this is something even more personal, and I hesitate to share it. Virtually no one outside of my family knows this side of me, as I keep it very private (haha everyone laughs, as he publishes it in his blog). I know this sort of thing puts off a lot of people, and people will look at and judge me differently after learning this, but I think it would be disingenuous and morally dishonest if I didn’t include it here. Some will scoff, some will discount, and that’s fine. If you don’t like reading religious ideas or hearing about spirituality, you should stop reading now. But I figured Christmas (remember, it’s supposed to be a religious holiday?) was as good a time as any to reveal this part of me and my running.
I was raised a Christian Scientist, and still consider myself a Christian Scientist. My family attends the local Christian Science church. I’m not the most ardent, or least hypocritical, of the flock, but I try to live my spirituality as best I know how, at the point of my current understanding.
In the end, the marathon, or any run, IS just a run, but it has as much meaning as you put into it and as much meaning as you get out of it. I put in a lot and I got out a lot. And what’s the saying about success? 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration? This is that other 1%.
Disclaimers and explanations aside, while I was running I thought of many things, but some of the most helpful ideas were these:
- “Responsibility” is “responding to God’s ability.” I tried to remember that it wasn’t anything I was personally doing, I was just God expressing himself. At one point, around mile 10 while running with a small pack of guys, I looked around at the other runners and realized that God was expressing himself as all of them too, and I gave gratitude that He was here. That was a good moment.
- “Not my will, but thine be done.” Again, it’s really tempting to see a 26 mile race as a test of mental will. The last couple of miles are so unbelievably, physically difficult that it truly is “mind over matter”. But I wanted to see it as “Mind without matter” and tried to understand that matter is just thought. At 25.5 miles my hamstring gave out and I nearly fell. I knew if I collapsed that would be the end. As I said in my race report, at that point it was either full go or full stop, there was no in between. So I prayed to know that matter could have no power or intelligence and could not inform me of anything. There is a phrase somewhere in Science and Health that says, “…irrespective of matter…” In running, they tell you you’re going to have bad stretches, but you just have to run through them, so that’s what I decided to do, irrespective of what matter seemed to be telling me. Of course this was all happening in a matter of seconds, and at first I was just dragging my leg, then I was limping, but I was soon back to a full run to the finish.
- “Patience, courage, meekness, learning.” A friend forwarded me a 100 mile race report from someone who ran the Leadville 100 and it had a lot of spiritual ideas, and this phrase (it’s from a poem) stuck with me. They say the marathon is broken into two halves: the first 20 miles and the last six miles, so you really have to be patient. There was a big hill at mile 20 and after that point I asked God for the courage to “run the race set before me.” I never thought about the finish, only the present, and that helped a lot. Meekness? It’s not exactly the same, but I kept thinking of humility, trying to remain humble. And I was definitely learning a lot.
- “Work was yet to be done but the reward present.” This was another idea from that Leadville race report. As I wrote before the race, “If nothing else, Iâ€™ve already had fun. The race is just the reward.” I really tried to understand this. Looking back, I feel it was true. The race, despite (because of) all it’s pain and hardship, was its own reward.
- “Run with Joy.” Gilbert’s phrase of course, and I tried to remember this when I got too serious. I was there to have fun, and tried to remember to look around and enjoy the scenery, the spectators, the other runners. Obviously, this became increasingly more difficult in the later miles, which were kind of a blur.
- “Glory be to God.” This was my mantra throughout the race. Whenever I hit a rough spot, these words came to mind. It was another reminder of why and how I was doing this physical task. I’m not even sure what it’s from, but it was probably the most beneficial thought through the race.
All of this spirituality is not to say that I didn’t train long and hard, and that the race itself wasn’t a lot of extremely hard, physical work. But I’ve already written about that, and this is the hidden side.
It’s rare in our world of Target, DirecTV and Japanese. Food. Fast. that we encounter any obstacles. When we do, we usually complain, or file a lawsuit. But it would almost be pointless if running wasn’t difficult at some point. Without the challenge and rewards of improving and overcoming, we might as well run around aimlessly in circles.
Thinking back on the race and what I’ve learned, I’ve discovered another reason why I love to run. Because it’s hard. I love to run because it is difficult, and at times overwhelming. When you face that pain, and persevere, the reward is oh so sweet.