In the fall of 2003, I was on the cusp of getting into shape. I was always the one who was lean and athletic. The key word in that sentence is “was.” My metabolism changed and my eating habits didn’t. Life was racing forward with Kristin, three kids entering into their teens and a church that was hitting its stride in exceptional growth. I decided it was time to do something radical to get back into shape. I decided it was time to run a marathon.
I went on line and got a 16-week training program. I began to look at my eating habits. I went to the running store and bought two pairs of running shoes (you have to alternate pairs so you don’t damage your feet – crazy huh?) I bought portable lights that blink in the darkness so you can be seen by drivers who think you are nuts at 4am in the morning.
I was all in – targeting the end of January 2004 – the Disney Marathon. It was a described as a “magical experience through four of Disney’s kingdoms that will propel you to the finish line.” I found a couple from our church that had done it the year before. We became training partners and encouraged each other to keep at it, even when we were too tired or sore from the week of training.
Fast forward to mile marker 21. I had run over 700 miles in preparing for the race and never experienced cramps. I did on that day. At mile marker 14, my calves began to cramp up and I never ran a full mile the rest of the way. I would run as far as I could and then walk out the cramp. I had a great time going at mile 13…that was going away quickly. I gutted it out and I crested the hill to see Kristin, my three kids and my training partners’ kids all at mile marker 21. I was pretty beat up and mentally exhausted. As I got to my kids, they were cheering and dancing, celebrating my accomplishment of running so far. Kristin came up and hugged me. As she did, I broke inside and said, “I can’t do this. I am done.” She acted like she heard me wrong and before she could say something, I said, “I am done, Kris.” She stepped back and I could tell she was thinking. Then she sprang forward, sticking her finger in my face and yelling, “Don’t quit! Don’t quit! Don’t quit! You will never be able to live with it if you quit.”
It was just a race. I definitely was not going to win it. I wasn’t going to have a “Cinderella story.” (no pun intended) I still had 5.2 miles to go. You know the end– I finished the race. I ended with a decent time, a cool medal and a memory that I will never forget.
I think of that moment on mile marker 21 every now and then. You were created to go farther than you ever thought you could. Greg Surratt, in sharing at Grace Family, started his message with this phrase; “You were created for so much more.” You might not be ready to quit – Good! But can I challenge in a different way? Do not settle for mile marker 21. It is good, a solid accomplishment, something noteworthy, you moved forward, you left the crowd behind you, you are so far down the road. You just aren’t finished…Keep going!
The finish line is just down that road…”Don’t quit! Don’t quit! Don’t quit!”