Marathon Task: Endurance, Persistence and Convergence

When people ask me to name the hardest thing I have ever done, I immediately say, “My last marathon.”

Don’t stop reading, this is not a post about running. It’s a post about endurance, persistence, and convergence.

I have run four marathons in my life. Funny, because if you knew me throughout most of my life, I swore I hated running and I would never be one of those crazy people who ran a marathon. But, at age 57 I started running as part of an eighty pound weight loss mission. In 2015 I ran my first marathon. In 2019 I ran my last one.

It was in Salisbury, Maryland. My goal for that race was to get my time under 5 hours. It didn’t work out that way. It’s not like I didn’t train hard, I did. But, as most runners will tell you, part of getting to the finish line is getting to the starting line healthy. For this marathon, I was “slightly” injured. It was a twinge in my right Achilles. Nothing major and it wasn’t going to keep me from running.

The beginning of the race was good. I met an older gentleman who told me he was almost 80 and that this was his umpteenth marathon. He seemed like a good person to run with, not too fast, not too slow.

For you non-runners, most of the people who run marathons are not like the elite Kenyans you see on television. They run it to win money and they can finish 26.2 miles in around 2 hours. That is damn fast.

The rest of us are considerably slower. Because of that, we can talk to other people along the way and make friends during the race. So, this man and I became friends.

Everything was going fine until about mile 19. At that point, I started to have sharp pain shooting through the top of my right foot and up my shin. I honestly felt like I had broken something. But, my friend encouraged me to keep on going. So I did.

At this point, I knew I was not going to finish anywhere NEAR my goal time. In fact, I was worried I may not finish the race before the time maximum when they come and pull you off the course so regular people can use the roads again. But, I limped on my way. My new friend started to struggle as well, but mainly because he was feeling physically ill.

We both kept on going. He slowed down considerably and told me to go on ahead. I did. Those last miles felt like they would never end. The closer I got to the finish line, the farther away it seemed. In my head I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? I’m not going to make my goal time and it hurts pretty bad. No one would fault me if I quit. What’s the point?”

But, I thought about all that work I had done, about my coach had worked with me. I thought of my friend on the course and how he had kept me going. I wanted to cross that finish line, no matter what. I perservered.

I crossed that finish line after almost six hours. There weren’t many people left there since it had been so long. But, my coach was there waiting on me and he greeted me with a smile and a hug. He was proud of me no matter what time I had run.

Then I looked at my right leg and so did he. My right shin, was swollen and purple all the way up from the top of my foot, ending in a big goose egg about half way up my leg. It was ugly! Good thing I hadn’t seen that at mile 20! Staff from the med tent immediatly had me elevate my leg and ice it.

After a bit, my friend came stumlbing across the finish line as well. He looked somewhat disoriented and had that marathon runners “lean” because he was so tired and dehydrated. They took him to the med tent immediately. Don’t worry, he recovered nicely after some fluids and air conditioning.

It was the slowest and hardest marathon I had ever done. But it was also the one that I am most proud of because I fought all kinds of doubt and adversity to finish it. The reward was much better than just the medal!

We are in the middle of a really hard marathon in our country and world right now and the finish line seems far away. The difference is that in this marathon, we don’t know what the finish line will be like when we get there. We are faced with adversity, pain, and doubt.

Will we still have a country? Will we be free?

Or will we be trapped in a Socialist nightmare where we are controlled by a One World Government that makes all decisions for us. Will it make any difference that we fought through pain, adversity and doubt to complete our battle?

No one really knows.

A woman I know was getting discouraged because she keeps trying to talk to people and show them what is going on, but they don’t seem interested. They don’t believe. It’s like beating her head against a wall. It’s like that pain in my leg telling me I need to quit.

But, we still have to push through the long haul. We have to keep encouraging each other to do the same. Every time she talks to someone, whether she knows it or not, she plants a seed that might eventually change a heart or mind.

It won’t happen over night. That’s the hard part. Our society is conditioned to define success as immediate results. Problem is, this slide toward Socialism didn’t just happen to our country, it was developing over time.

There is a saying in running that you need to “run the mile you are in.” It means to focus on how you run this mile, not the 25 miles after it. That is where we are. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a plan, we do, but we have to focus on each part of that plan.

We have to fight the battle we are in right now, not the battles down the road. That’s why perseverance and endurance are key. Without those, we cannot win.

And, finally, I don’t want to forget about convergence.

Finishing my marathon involved a convergence. It was a convergence of my training, my coach’s coaching, my refusal to submit to pain, and the encouragement of a friend along the way.

Our success will depend on educating and training ourselves in methods to effect change, help and coaching from knowledgeable people, tolerance to the temporary pain we may have to endure, and our own faith and the faith and encouragement of others who are fighting the battle with us.

I believe the finish line will be a good one.

We will get there.

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I am a 67 year old runner and conservative. I taught for 31 years and retired a few years back. In my life, I have coached and judged gymnastics, coached softball, and raised two amazing kids.

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