Our school sends out a weekly newsletter to all the families. Mike, as head of school, writes a little article of sorts. He is so good at this. He communicates wonderful truths to the families. This week was so good that I've copied and pasted it.
In watching wife Libby train for her first half marathon from my comfy sofa (ice cream in hand), I’ve picked up a thing or two about running distance. Mainly, I’ve learned that it takes a LOTS of work and LOTS of time. That’s what makes the story of Georgene Johnson of Akron, Ohio so remarkable.
In 1990, the 42-year-old Johnson arrived bright and early at the start line for a 10K run (about 6 miles) in Cleveland. The gun sounded and off she went with thousands of other runners. After about 4 miles with no turnaround point in sight, she asked, “This is the 10K, isn’t it?” When told by another runner that she had actually just begun the 26-mile Revco-Cleveland Marathon, Johnson said, “I felt so dumb that I just stood there and started to cry.” She asked a policeman to drive her back to the start so she could run the race she’d trained for, but he didn’t have a patrol car. Never having run more than 8 miles at a time, Georgene Johnson was stuck on a long, hard path she hadn’t expected, hadn’t trained for, and absolutely did not want.
Ever been there? Places like that can be frustrating, scary, and very lonely. Places like that make us want to give up altogether, or at least find a way back to the path we’d expected. Sickness, relationship stress, financial distress, a bad grade, a bombshell layoff…you name it, the unexpected path can take lots of forms, and none of them are easy.
So what about Georgene Johnson? "I thought about stopping,” she said. “I mean, ME running a marathon? But right in front of me there was a runner with a shirt that said, 'Just do it.' So I did." Four hours and four minutes later, she finished, placing 83rd in the women's division.
Johnson attributes her success to a friendly runner who gave her some encouraging advice: slow down, and once you reach the halfway point, you can get a ride back. So that’s what she did. But halfway through, she was feeling pretty good, so she carried on. A couple of sore knees and 13.1 miles later, Georgene Johnson had a finisher’s medal and a great story to tell.
"I feel great," she said. "As stupid as I felt on the course, I feel that good now."
I have 3 main takeaways from this story:
First…run the race you’re given. Run it well and don’t give up. We can’t always choose our course, but we can choose our response. (school senior MN is a gold medal example of how to do this well.)
Second…don’t try to run your race alone. Accept help from others, and be an encourager yourself. In some way or another, we are ALL in this together. Support those around you and be the “Just Do It” guy for someone today!
Third…train for whatever may come. Let’s face it, four hours isn’t a bad marathon time! This lady was in shape, and that gave her a tremendous advantage. Scripture tells us in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Be as ready as you can for whatever may come. In terms of spiritual training, this means spending time in God’s Word, praying, serving others, practicing gratitude, being actively involved in a body of believers, and allowing yourself to be challenged now and then.It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re at the right start line