‘and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.’
After 9hr 50mins, 26.2 miles, swollen hands, aching body and blisters!
A couple of weekends ago, I completed a marathon…that’s right a marathon, and anyone who knows me, knows I am far from athletic. Admittedly, it was a walking marathon in aid of Cancer Research but me and my best friend still completed it. It took us 9hrs and 50mins (that included our pit stops and waiting for the Tower Bridge to go back down!), I’ve been told it takes people longer to run the marathon, so I guess a good time for us?!
I had hardly prepared for the marathon, I did a few walks though the most I think I’d walked was 3.5 miles during training, which was a vast difference from the 26.2 miles we did on the Saturday! The walk was overnight, so already I felt anxiety over the lack of sleep and how I would complete the marathon. Sensibly we had eaten and napped beforehand, it definitely helped!
So, what did I learn during the 9hrs and 50mins? Much than I than I thought I would.
I remember a friend had given a talk in church about running the race, the week or two before. As my best friend and I got ready, we got more excited with our bright coloured headbands, socks, glow sticks and locks of hair. We met a couple of ladies on the tube, then several others and so on, until we reached what was more people in ‘Shine’ t-shirts getting ready for the race. Now imagine if Christians came out in force to spread God’s light across the city? 16,000 people walked over two half marathons and two full marathons. Just envisage that.
I had said to my best friend a few weeks before, that I wanted to pray for people every hour as we walked. That was my first lesson. I needed to keep focused, because not everyone finished the challenge. Some were taken off be paramedics, or told they had hurt themselves. As I finished praying each hour, for some reason I felt boosted, so I would walk a little faster. It was important to stop at pit stops to ensure we were resting our legs and rehydrating. I could feel my right thigh in pain, and the places where I expected to be in pain, were fine!
I know myself and I know that getting through this was a challenge physically but also mentally. I had to remind myself ‘I can do this’ but I knew I couldn’t do it alone, so along the way I was talking to God and saying ‘you have to get me through this, I have to finish’. As we were walking, I saw a church which had one of those wooden message boards outside and all it said was, ‘I was with you all along, God’. That gave me encouragement and reassurance, that he was my strength and guiding my feet.
Sometimes in life, we want to pace ahead and just finish, however what I learned was, although the walk in most parts was gruelling, if we steady our pace, take time out to re-energise and rebuild ourselves, we are less likely to burn out and actually finish the race. There are seasons to life, some dry and some wet, a bit like our walk, however you have to go through the rain to grow and during the dry seasons take time to understand what is really going on beyond the superficial.
Something which was also very eye opening, though less now that it was many years ago, was the vast rich and poor. On one hand you had people sleeping in shop entrances, and on the other flashy cars showing off the wealth of the owner. I really struggle with this. Sometimes people have so much, yet still want more…but more materialism, more recognition and more ‘celeb’ lifestyle. If you can’t do good with your money, what use is it really?
The marathon taught me something very valuable, when you feel like giving up, just remember God is with you, take a steady pace, have faith, pray and know that we all need support and can’t do it on our own strength. Thinking we know it all and can do it all on our own is arrogance. ‘I don’t need anyone’ we all need someone – the people who say they don’t are not being honest with themselves. For me, I need God, both my blood and church family as well as my amazing friends. We aren’t called to be alone, we are called to be a unit, and walk together, helping those around us.
Even though the journey (your marathon) is your own, you still need people to lift you up, prayer to focus and above all faith to know you can do it and you are not alone.
With love and blessings,