Nothing opens your eyes to marathon training quite like doing that first 20-mile run. This morning, I was awakened by my son reminding me of my 20 mile run. The distance I have agonized for the last two weeks. After reluctantly rolling out of bed, I started the normal routine of stretching, drinking coffee, dressing and slurping my first pack of Gu. This morning I selected “Espresso Love” (I found it fitting for an early run-mental coffee 2x the strength). The tricky part was trying to figure out where to carry 6 packs of GU, tissue, and my iphone while holding on to my water bottle. I had no pockets, so I improvised with 3 Gus and headed out the door. It was a rather windy and cool morning in the mid 40s. After linking my GPS and Nike+GPS app, I was on my way. I was feeling really good. It was a beautiful day.
It’s difficult to understand the brutality of a 20-mile training run unless you have conquered it. During an actual race, one can be inspired by the brethren running alongside, or draw support from the thousands upon thousands of screaming fans cheering and yelling, but when you are out on that long training run, you are alone, running your own pace, keeping your own time, trapped in your own thoughts with miles to go before any reprieve can be contemplated.
I remember feeling a bit tired halfway through, but I kept remembering the scripture in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Once I turned on to a straight away, I felt the wind beneath my feet. The wind was working for me, not against me. To me, God was lifting me up and giving me the strength to continue. Today’s run became even more spiritual with every step.
With only a mile and a half left, I felt like I was running on fumes. I had to force myself to stop looking at my GPS watch to see how many miles were left, because that only made the distance last longer. My running partner, Kerry, texted me during that last mile. She was encouraging me every last step. Thanks Kerry!
When it was over, I had a mixture of sweat and tears in my eyes and it felt great. I was overwhelmed with emotion. This run was an accomplishment for me and importantly, this run taught me the strength of mental toughness and the power of faith. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
During our Christian race, difficulties will come and trials will cross our paths and often, we will be tempted to quit on God and drop out of the race. This is was happening in Hebrews. These Christians were enduring a terrible time of trial and persecution, but the author is trying to encourage the weary, hurting believers to be faithful to the Lord and continue to run their race.
In a day when runners seem to be dropping out on every hand, there are times when it is easy to be discouraged about your own race. When trials come, there may be the temptation to drop out for a while and let others do the running. I want to remind you that God wants to help you stay in the race!
I do not know what you may be facing as you run your race, but I do know that the author of Hebrews is encouraging us and helping us all to be runners who are pleasing to the Lord. My desire is when I reach the end of this race I might say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7