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Mile 19

Day #18

Our city has a marathon every October.

Since we are in the central part of Ohio,

it’s nice and flat here, 

making this a good qualifier marathon 
for bigger races like Boston.

But a terrible place
to find a good sledding hill.

We woke up a few days ago to cars parked on our street like it was a college football Saturday.

Except it was Sunday.

We forgot it was the marathon.

They close many streets by our house.

It always seems like our women’s retreat at church is over the weekend of the marathon and I miss it.

Not this year!

Once I started hearing cheering and music,

Monte and I walked across the street to the the field by our house.

It was mile 19.

People were hurting.

Moving pretty slow.

And it was hot.

It’s amazing what some cheering, clapping and words of encouragement did for the posture of these runners.

Many started to run if they’d been walking.

Some started walking if they’d stopped.

They all picked up the pace.

Some thanked us as they ran by.

Like we were the ones doing something, 

just standing there, 

clapping our hands, 

telling them good job.

There was one guy on the sidelines who said,

“Good job runners!” 

and over
and over again.

He called them by name if he could see it in time on the number pinned to their shirt as they ran by.

“Good job, Elaine!”

“Way to go, Pam!”

“Good job runners!” 

“Good job runners!” 

“Good job runners!” 

They smiled.

18,000 of them.

One guy came by with anguish on his face and the name “Fartybutt” on his sign. 

You know he thought it was HILARIOUS 
when he typed that in as his name 
when he registered for the race.

I contemplated saying,

“You got this, Fartybutt!”

thinking it might get a smile out of him 
but I thought better of it.

He was running a marathon, 

he needed encouragement 

not a reminder of his weird sense of humor.

Or mine.

It took me awhile to do anything but clap because the lump in my throat was so tight I couldn’t speak.

I get like this.

Watching true humanity against all the odds is so moving.

It’s why I love the Olympics so much.

And the last 5 minutes of the nightly news
when they do the heart warming stories.

I had just calmed myself down enough to start to cheer on the runners when a man with no legs came by in his wheelchair.

It wasn’t the sporty sleek wheelchairs with three wheels that go super fast.

No, it was the upright kind you see in hospitals 
and airports 
and now on mile 19 of a marathon.

Red-faced and breathless,

the man in the chair thanked every person clapping and cheering.

Every single one.

I deteriorated into a blubbering mess.

I looked for Monte who’d walked away to ask ALL THE QUESTIONS about every sign, every person, every tent, every everything.

It’s what he does.

He came back to tell me that the LOW ALERT flag that was flying not far from us meant the runners were safe to continue.

I hadn’t even noticed it.

I was too busy crying off my mascara.

Since the Boston marathon bombing, flags fly at certain points along the route to let the runners know if there’s an update in the alert status.

It made me mad ALL OVER AGAIN that someone would attack someone 
in the difficult process of running a marathon.

But it didn’t deter these people.

Young and old, bent over and in wheelchairs.

Little kids jumped in and ran a little bit with some of the runners.

One man ran with his arm around another’s waist in such a neat act of encouragement.

One young man stood decked out in full Nintendo’s Mario costume holding a box on a pole with a question mark on it.

He called out support to the runners and asked them to tap it for “extra points.”

I didn’t get it but many runners did and smiled as they tapped it.

His arms had to be tired as he held them high 
so the pole stayed within the runner’s reach.

Mile 19 reminded me of one of my favorite verses:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out of for us.”

Hebrews 12:1

It reminded me that we’re all in this race together and I have some encouraging to do as I watch people run red-faced and tired by me.

The study notes in my bible says this:

The Greek word translated “witnesses” is the origin of the English word “martyr” and means “testifiers, witnesses.” They bear testimony to the power of faith and to God’s faithfulness.

I can tell you, 
I saw a lot of testimonies to the power of faith on mile 19.

I’m in a bible study now that says to always ask the question,

“Why is the therefore there for?”

My favorite verse in Hebrews starts with a therefore and I’ve never bothered to look why.

The verse right before (Hebrews 11:40) says this:

“God had planned something better for us so that 
only together with us would they be made perfect.”

God knew this life was going to be a marathon not a sprint.

He knew it was going to be a long race of winding streets, pounding pavement, heat and sometimes evil with backpacks full of explosives.

But He never meant us to run it alone.

He’s running right along with us and the 

and Pams 
and Fartybutts 

and sitting right in the chair 
with the guy with no legs.

And He makes sure we hear those cheering for us,

“Good job, runners!”

"Good job, runners!”

“Good job, runners!”

"Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, 
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:3


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