Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning.” How true, how true. I am counting the days until my race this coming Sunday. I am running in my first marathon and am beginning to get a little nervous. It is an excited nervousness because I am attempting to do something I never dreamed I could do.
I never even started running until my early forties. Then I ran a 5K race just to set a goal in front of me for motivation and I got hooked. Not long afterwards I ran my first 15K, just ecstatic I finished. As I began to run a few times a week, my self-image improved and I lost some weight. I even subscribed to Runner’s World for tips, reading about trail runs, warm-up stretches, and how to avoid dogs without getting hurt. In the back of the magazine was always a list of all upcoming marathons and half marathons. I would look at all the photos from the advertisements of runners smiling and having a good time. What an accomplishment that must be, I thought, running twenty-six point two miles. So I kept thinking about it more and more. And that was the beginning of a thing—-my first marathon.
By this point I had run a couple 15Ks and was looking for the next challenge and there it was right before me, a qualifier for Boston, Chicago, and New York, right here in Jacksonville—-26.2 with Donna, the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer. I had seen it on the news for the last two years and had even run on the same road they did a few days afterwards, with the running pink ribbon logo painted on it and pink banners still in the yards. I pondered the thought, could I really do this? It’s a marathon for heaven’s sake!
After filling out the registration form online, I deleted it-—twice—- putting my laptop down each time and psyching myself out of it. I didn’t think I could do this. Maybe I could just run the half marathon. But then would I kick myself for not even trying the whole one? Well, this year I could do the half, and next year I could do the whole, I reasoned. But I am not getting any younger, so would it be harder then? I cannot tell you how many times I went back and forth in my mind, talking myself into and out of doing this marathon. Finally, I put my information in on the form, clicked the submit button and it was over. It was a done deal. I was now going run a marathon.
My official training began in August. I downloaded the guide from the internet, taped it to my bedroom mirror and rejoiced every time I could cross another day off as done. Since then I have run in the ninety degree heat, the rain, the freezing wind through the winter and even on the cement streets of Manila and through a neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have run with friends and I have run alone; up bridges and on beaches; in the morning and at night. I run. I am not very fast, but I run.
Now, I am about to get to the end of a thing-—this thing, the marathon. Only a few days are left on my training schedule to cross off and I am getting nervous. Yes, that excited nervousness like I said before. I often think of Paul’s words to the Philippians where he says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” when I run. It helps to inspire me.
So if you happen to be out near the beach on Sunday, I’ll be running. The town will be full of pink ribbons and bows. Runners will be running for hours. There will be cheers and tears and plenty of sweat. And by early afternoon, it will be the end of a thing. I can’t wait.