Monday, November 21, 2016

Reflection: Marine Corps Marathon 2016

After two full and amazing days sharing Nuru’s story with folks at the expo, I had the privilege of lining up with about 30,000 other runners from around the world to run my fourth Marine Corps Marathon.

This time was really different for me. I had not trained as diligently as I had in previous years, and I had a couple of injuries during the summer. Not only that, but this was the first time I ran the Marine Corps Marathon without Jamie there with me. She was of course busy caring for Sylvia, so I thought this year I would be running for all three of us. This was my first Marine Corps Marathon as a father too.

Thankfully I was at least able to start the race with my good friend JR Pittman. He decided to run for Nuru with me this year, and we had a great run during the first half of the race, and then my lack of training at longer distances began to catch up with me. I made it about eighteen miles before I started cramping up, and I think that was about the same time the sun came out, and the temperature began to shoot upward a little more quickly. Even with the heat, the fatigue, and the cramping, I am so glad I persevered through it.

When I think about all of the runners who have joined me in running to help Nuru fight extreme poverty, I get a little emotional. Thirty thousand people run this race each year, and I’ve been so grateful that slightly under 100 of them have run with Team Nuru. And, I think about all that each one of us gets out of the deal. Not only are we helping others half way around the world, but we are also making ourselves better in the process.

A lesson I learned from my first Marine Corps Marathon in 2013 was that the training and the race provide a great tool for exercising self-discipline, long-term planning, and working toward a larger goal. I’ve been able to translate those same attributes into many other areas of my life, and I can’t help but think that they will help me be a better father and a better husband too.

When I crossed the finish line, I took a few seconds to express my gratitude for finishing the race. I also took a few seconds to pose for a starjump in honor of Jamie since she wasn’t there with me this year.

As the miles began to add up, I remember two distinct voices in the crowd (other than the ones offering hot dogs, beverages, and gummy bears). There was a little girl around mile 17 and a little boy around mile 22. They were probably each around six years of age. The little girl yelled out as I went by, “Keep going, you can do it!” and the little boy yelled, “Don’t ever give up, keep going!” And for some reason, amid all of the various cheers and shouts, the words of these two children yelling with all they could muster made their way into my heart, and my eyes teared a little. Their words of encouragement are what we all need to remember, no matter what the challenge is we are going through.

There is at least One Voice out there that believes the absolute best for each of us, and if we are attentive we can single it out above all of the noise. And, as we apply discipline to our lives and accomplish challenging goals, we become more and more attuned to that voice. May we each keep running and keep our ears tuned in for that Voice.

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