The Marathon is not about running, it is about salvation. We spend so much of our lives doubting ourselves, thinking we’re not good enough, not strong enough, not made of the right stuff. The Marathon is an opportunity for redemption. “Opportunity,” because the outcome is uncertain. “Opportunity,” because it is up to you, and only you, to make it happen.
There is no luck involved in finishing a marathon, the ingredients required to tackle this formidable challenge are straightforward: commitment, sacrifice, grit, and raw determination. Plain and simple.
So you set about in your training to prepare your body for the rigors of running 26.2 miles. You train like crazy, dedicating yourself wholeheartedly to the challenge ahead, pouring everything you’ve got into it. But you know the Marathon will ask for more. In the dark recesses of you mind, a gloomy voice is saying, you can’t. You do your best to ignore this self-doubt, but the voice doesn’t go away.
The Marathon shakes you to the core. It deconstructs your very essence, stripping away all your protective barriers and exposing your inner soul. At a time when you are most vulnerable, the Marathon shows no pity. The Marathon tells you it will hurt you, that it will leave you demoralized and defeated in a lifeless heap on the roadside. The Marathon tells you that it can’t be done, not by you. “Ha!” it torments you, “In your dreams.”
You fight back, however, and stand courageously at that starting line, nervously awaiting the gun to go off. When it does, you put your head down and charge off into the abyss with the knowledge that you either paid your dues, or skimped along the way. There is no lying to yourself, the Marathon sees right through excuses, shortcuts and self-transgressions.
All goes well for the first half. But slowly, step by step, the pain mounts, while the intensity of the endeavor amplifies. You remain steadfast, knowing that you did not skimp, that you did not take shortcuts along the way, that every footstep was earned through months of diligent preparation. Still, with each wearing thrust forward, that little nagging inclination of self-doubt progressively advances toward the surface of your awareness.
Then, at mile twenty, the voice looms louder than ever. It hurts so bad you want to stop. You must stop. But you don’t stop. This time, you ignore the voice, you tune out the naysayers who tell you you’re not good enough, and you listen only to the passion in your heart. This burning desire tells you to keep moving forward. To continue putting one foot boldly in front of the other, and don’t stop. Courage comes in many forms, today you will have the courage to keep trying, to not give up, no matter how dire things become. And dire they do become. At the 26 mile mark, you can barley see the course any longer, your vision is faltering as you teeter on the edge of consciousness.
And then, suddenly before you, looms the finish line. Tears stream down your face as you cover those final few steps. Now you are finally able to answer back to that nagging, pervasive voice with a resounding: Oh yes I can!
You burst across that finish line and are liberated from the prison of self-doubt and limitations that have forever held you captive. You have learned more about yourself in the past 26.2 miles than you have known in a previous lifetime, now you are freed from the chains that bind. Even if you can’t move for a week, you have never been so free.
As you are being carried away from the finish line, wrapped in a flimsy mylar blanket, barely able to raise your head, you are at peace. That daunting adversary that, as a runner, has haunted you for an entire lifetime is now your liberator, you fondest ally. You have done what few will ever do—you have done what you thought you could never do—and it is the most glorious, unforgettable awakening ever. You are, a Marathoner, and you will wear this distinction not on the lapel of your clothing, but in your heart, for the rest of your life.