Mile 17 is where I hit the wall! I was exhausted, my legs were in sever pain, my knees were on fire, and with ever step pain just shook all over my body! I had 9.2 miles left to go and it didn’t matter that I had already ran 17 of those 26.2 miles, the 9.2 looked like a mountain in light of my pain.
I had trained with my friend Laci for 4 months for this run, she could tell you the exact number of steps we had taken throughout our training, I on the other hand was just counting down the weeks and miles I had left until our training was over! I think total we ran somewhere around 350 + miles up until race day. So really this was the last 26.2 miles to run! That’s what Laci kept telling me that morning of the race. Yet it is funny how you forget those things when you are exhausted!
Laci was pumped and ready for the challenge, I on the other hand was just ready to get it over with. I had run over a dozen half-marathons so getting to 13 miles was not scary to me, and in our training we had run to 18 miles. So I knew I could make it that far, it was just the miles after 18 that scared me.
On the day of the run, the weather was less than ideal. The run started with a slow drizzle and the course was suppose to be flat, yet it was anything but flat! Despite all of that I thought we were both doing pretty good and I was enjoying all of the excitement throughout the run. People were everywhere along the route cheering for us and they had stages set up every mile so you could hear live music, all of this I enjoyed…until mile 17!
I had read about how everyone hits a wall when they are running a marathon and if you just push through the wall then you will be able to finish. Well I hit the wall, but I didn’t just hit it like a light tap, no, I hit it like a wrecking ball! In an instant my confidence crumbled I was trying to put on a good face but my pain was causing my mask to slip off. Laci and I slowed our pace to a walk and that helped some, after we had walked for half a mile we decided to start running again. We continued this run/walk pattern until mile 22. By then I had enough. I began crying (I am laughing as I am confessing this) and pleaded with Laci to go on without me and get help. I told her to find my husband and have him come pick me up. I was not going another step. To make matters worse the drizzle turned into a down pour! So now the weather was reflecting my emotions! I looked like my toddler does when she is ready for a nap! I was tired, in pain, and then I just got irritable.
Poor Laci, she tried to cheer me up, instead I just bit her head off! It’s pretty pathetic and sorry of me, I know! I don’t know why, but she kept trying to help me even when I had become a monster! Up until that moment my husband, my parents, my sister and my labor and delivery nurse were the only ones who had seen that side of me. Well that day Laci saw me at my lowest point! The bad part was she just stuck with me and kept on encouraging me! You know before we started the race, I arrogantly thought that I was the one who would be encouraging her, not the other way around! So here she was encouraging me and I am plodding along crying and have horns growing out of my head (I am pretty certain) and here is Laci, “Come on Jess, don’t give up, you got this!”
What’s funny is at mile 24 we are running up another hill and everyone at this point can see my agony and some random guy from the side lines yell’s, “Don’t give up Jessica, your almost done!”(He knew my name because it was printed on my bib) At that point the tears stopped, the pain stopped and I just looked at Laci and said, “Let’s get this over with.” Our paced picked up and we finished our 26.2 miles as strong as we could. I was so glad that run was over!
Now I know as I write all of this you may be thinking, “what did God teach you through that running story? And what does chapter 7 have to do with the marathon for that matter?” These are valid questions and I was asking myself the same questions months later after the run. So finally I had the ah-ha moment! I was finally able to see what God was preparing me for. You know Paul says at the end of Hebrews 12:1, “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” I believe I know about endurance physically, and I know about endurance and races, but I didn’t realize that the entire time I trained and ran that marathon God was teaching me a mental lesson on endurance and getting over “the wall.”
Today I just finished up writing chapter 6 of my book (woohoo)! I am so exited about getting this far! I really figured everything I had to say could be summed up in a pamphlet. On the contrary I have wrapped up 6 chapters. Praise God for helping me get this far! On the other hand I started working on chapter 7 and I feel exhausted! I am at the point where I am wrestling with making myself sit down and write! Yet, every time I obey God and sit down to write He downloads the words in my head that need to be typed out. It has been an amazing experience! Despite that I feel like I am at mile 17. I can hear tempting thoughts that encourage me to whine about how tired I am, or discouraging thoughts like, “Nobody is going to read this stuff, why are you still writing.” Yet in the midst of all of the comments running through my head I feel God is stirring within me an endurance mentally and emotionally and spiritually to finish this book and finish it well! I will confess there have been some tears shed, mainly flowing from a grateful heart that has seen God’s goodness over and over. God has even been opening my eyes up to deeper truths that have given me even more freedom! Thank goodness I have not turned into a monster again! I have 4 more chapters to write and I can feel the Holy Spirit saying, “God’s got this, keep pushing, we are going to finish this well!” Not only that, I have a great cloud of witnesses in the heavenly realm as well as on earth who are praying for me and encouraging me to keep my eyes fixed straight ahead and to not give up! I need each of them, I cannot afford to be arrogant and try to do this on my own. If I did try then I would fail. I cherish each and every word that they encourage me with. I am grateful for every one of them!
The truth is we all probably have got something that we are trying to get through that relates to a marathon. You could be finishing up that last year at college and you are so wore out and you don’t think you can handle studying for another exam. Or you could have made a goal to become financially free and the bills and debt seem like they are never going to go away and you begin to think your goal is just a dream. Maybe you have been praying diligently for a loved one to be set free from an addiction and it looks like there addiction is only getting worse. Whatever it is you are going through I want to encourage you today with the same words the Holy Spirit has spoken to me, “I know it feels tough but God’s got this, don’t give up, keep pushing, you are going to finish well!” I want to encourage you with Isaiah 40:28-31, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable, He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”
Don’t try to do this on your own strength, tap into the strength that God has available to you! As I wrote those words I could feel the Holy Spirit strengthening me and renewing me! God is so good!!!