I no longer run distances. A knee injury not related to running ensured that I not longer put on my shoes early in the morning. Yet, when I watch a marathon, I want to run. I miss the burn and tiredness that comes when you push your body to the limits. I miss the endorphins that naturally follow.
As I talk with newbies about distance running and desire, I realize I have something they do not. I know. I know I have run several marathons. I know I have completed the task. I know I was and am up to the task.
From my experience, marathons are never ultimately about physical strength or ability (finish times are but the first challenge is finishing a marathon). When I ran my first one, I came away knowing that I could do it. As painful as my knees were from that first run, the feeling that dominated was one of knowing. My brother had played a critical role in encouraging me, walking with me as I struggled to carry on, and finally letting me go finish the race. I came away from that race with a series of beliefs that marathons since reinforced.
Difficult tasks are defined by our grasp on hope. When we know hope, we know we can finish the race. When we have faith, we know. If I was to express this in Christian speak, when I believe “the truth is that Christ has been raised up, [I know of] the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.” (1 Corinthians 15.20)
Great things take a community. The awareness of my brother had at a water station where he was volunteering was a divine moment. We walked together on the course, we shared our grasp of hope, and I knew I believed.
Finishing that race was an accomplishment open to everyone. My achievement did not make me special. It was an accomplishment that opened up an invitation to help others see and hold onto hope when they need it most.