Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Countdown To The 40th Marine Corps Marathon And Celebrating The Warrior Spirit

In just a few days, Jamie and I will join with thousands of men and women from all over the world to run the 40th Marine Corps Marathon. While our training this year has not been as rigorous and regimented as it was in years past (challenges with travel, etc.), we are starting to feel ready for what is ahead.

While the training was not ideal (it almost never is), Jamie and I both feel stronger than we have felt for either of our two previous marathons, and we are ecstatic to be able to finally meet some of the folks from around the country who have chosen to run this year's Marine Corps Marathon for Team Nuru International. Over the last three years, nearly 100 individuals have signed on with Team Nuru, laced up their shoes, and committed themselves to running a marathon as their unique contribution to seeing the end of extreme poverty in our lifetimes. And for many, this is their first marathon. Each of us are actually working to raise money for Nuru to continue to change the lives of farmers in Kenya and Ethiopia; want to help with financial support?

When I think ahead to the race on Sunday, I think about three types of warriors, and how this event celebrates the warrior spirit. The most obvious type is the man or woman who is serving in the US or another country's armed forces. Marines line the entire course and coordinate the entire event. Each year, it seems like our timing at the metro stop is perfectly synced with the Royal Netherlands Navy marathon team as well.

The second type of warrior celebrated (at least for team Nuru) is the farmer who is working to see his or her family out of extreme poverty. This warrior gets up each morning before the call of the rooster to begin working the field, caring for children, and preparing for the day that will end after the setting of the sun. Want to learn more about this kind of warrior? Check out the video below.

The third type of warrior is seen all along the course, and if you are not paying attention you might miss him or her. If you are running, they are likely running next to you, behind you, or in front of you. This warrior is the one who exerted self-discipline for at least six months in an effort to prepare for the marathon. She sacrificed, in an effort to achieve a goal that may have seemed only a slight possibility at the beginning of her training. He may be running to honor a fallen family member or in an effort to show himself victorious in a fight against a disease. This runner may have started down this path to overcome obesity, or to prove that he/she has what it takes. And at the end of the race, they will receive an honor and recognition for their efforts.

The first year we ran the Marine Corps Marathon, I saw my wife demonstrate this tenacious warrior mentality in an incredibly powerful way. Thursday before the race, she left work sick. She came home with a 102˚ F temperature. Friday morning, she was feeling "better", and we made the trip from Morgantown to Washington DC. Friday night, she went to sleep and slept for fourteen hours. All along this three day stretch she was coughing. She had resolved in her mind that she did not train to sit out of the race, and so she came race day, and willed herself to the finish line.

I learned a lot from running alongside Jamie that day. I'd like to think that I would have gotten out of bed to run with the kind of resolve she had if our situation was reversed. She refused to quit and refused to let the bus pick her up. She gave her all to complete the race and was awarded with a medal at the Iwo Jima Memorial.

But I think she came away with something more. She tapped into her warrior mindset, tested her mettle, and walked away with a deeper peace and confidence that has only grown stronger since that race. She is one of the most mentally strong and resilient individuals I have ever met, and I am privileged that I not only get to run 26.2 miles with her this Sunday, but I get to spend almost every day running through life together with her!

And as Jamie and I countdown to the event, we look forward to journeying through our nation's capital with thousands of warriors who have trained, prepared, and are mission ready. We also take time to remind ourselves of our brothers and sisters around the world who are choosing to give their utmost every day to push through to create a better world for their family, their community, and themselves.

May each of us fight tenaciously forward and never quit until our day comes to give up the ghost. As my friend and teammate at Nuru Alex Martin is fond of quoting, "All it takes is all you've got!"

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