Seattle Marathon, November 2017
I look up and see Mile 20 taped to the side of the sky blue outhouse. My legs burn from hours on the hard pavement, and my lungs expand long enough to inhale frigid air. The rainbow disappears and the predicted storm blows the side of my face. My fingers turn white from the pelting rain.
Six point two long miles to go. The mental marathon sets in, and I find myself laughing. My delirious state of exhaustion and being miserable contribute to my sheer craziness, but in this moment it feels just like childbirth.
Awful and awesome delicately intermingle as only a marathon and childbirth can do. The honest confession in the middle of both sounds a lot like: “Why in the world did I ever sign up for this?”
I know an end is in sight.
I know the months of training and preparation are worth it.
I know it isn’t always going to rain down on me.
I know the pain is well worth the reward.
My fourteen-year-old son runs a mile with me and asks, “Mom, do you think you’re going to do another marathon?”
“I need to get through this one first!” The same response I gave while in labor with him.
I glance over at his brunette hair bobbing up and down and remember his labor story. A week overdue. Induced. Ten hours later an epidural. No progression. His heart distressed twice. Seventeen hours from the start an emergency c-section. A baby boy placed in my arms. Instant love. Unspeakable Joy.
I’m reminded we’re all in the midst of our own marathons. When mile 20 hits with rain pelting, the arduous hills before you and no end in sight, don’t stop. Keep going. “The strength to go on produces character. Character produces hope” (Romans 5:4 NIVr).
Sometimes life takes us down 26.2 miles of windy, challenging roads to reveal the blessings God’s already given us, encourage us to persevere, and remind us to enjoy the beauty along the way.
Mile twenty-six comes into view. Finally. The rain ceases and the downhill descent begins to the Space Needle’s shadow. My stride increases.
The pain of the past hours fades when I cross the finish line. A finisher medal is placed around my neck, and I think about the times my babies were first placed in my arms. It was a finish line of labor, but in actuality it was the starting line for raising them. That’s usually how life works. One finish line nudging us towards the next starting point.
My three children run to embrace me, and I realize I may just do this crazy marathon all over again. But not for a very long time.