A marathon is 26.2 miles. Two years in a row I ran in the Little Rock Marathon. I did not run 26.2 miles either year. Like many cities, the Little Rock Marathon is as much a festival as it is a 26.2 mile race. There are events and activities for several days leading up to the big race. One of the events is a half marathon and another is a 4 man relay marathon. I participated in those two events. The first year was the half marathon. Although I have been a runner all my life, I had never competed in anything more than a 5K which is 3.1 miles. I was given the opportunity by a friend that had registered and then was injured about a month prior. He offered me his spot. At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it.
I knew running that kind of distance took more than a month’s preparation. And to run that distance at a pace I was accustomed to running was going to take training, mind and body. Even though running 13.1 miles was something I had never done, I accepted the challenge. What was I thinking? I had given thought to longer races, and a marathon was one. I knew God had given me the ability to run and if I never pushed myself further I would not know how much God had equipped me. It wasn’t like I was starting from scratch. I was running two or three times a week. I only needed to bump up my regular regiment over the next four weeks. I got started immediately. The increased weekly routine went well and I finished the race pleased at what I had accomplished. I had set a time goal for myself and I made it.
The race was actually a lot of fun, and I was excited about reaching the goal I had set. But when I look back at that challenge set before me, it is not my average pace per mile I hold dear. God taught me things I had not anticipated. One was about running and my abilities as a runner. As my runs got longer I started experiencing something in miles 7 through 11 I had never experienced as a 5K runner. No, it wasn’t severe pain. It was just the opposite, almost a peaceful, effortless feeling. It also taught me more about the power of saying yes to something we think is beyond us and trusting God for the results. It also reminded me of the influence our willingness to accept tough challenges can have on others. Now Phyllis has also run a half marathon and was one of the relay legs in the marathon relay. The fourth leg of that relay was a friend named Ben. Ben has asthma and was very hesitant about participating in the race. I ran the third leg and promised Ben I would continue on with him until we both reached the finish line. Ben did finish and thanked me for staying with him. God empowered me beyond my ability and He touched others as well. Isn’t that just like God!! He wants to do the same with you.