Not long ago I ran the Marine Corps marathon. I have been running long distance since high school, and this was my first. For as long as I can remember I’ve said how much I wanted to run one. Around mile 7 I told my running partner that I felt as if I would cry, because I was so happy. I think I had a smile on my face for the first 13 miles. Every step felt like one step closer to the fulfillment of a dream. Then, the pain started to set in…and at mile 19 I was pretty sure I couldn’t make it. But, I kept plugging along – putting one step in front of the other and I finally got there – crossing the finish line, holding hands with my running partner.
But, here’s what I’ve been thinking about a lot these past few days (especially today). The marathon – those 26.2 miles I ran – that was the easy part. It was the short part. The hard part was actually the months leading up to the race. I didn’t want to just run it – I wanted to do well. I wanted to qualify. The long runs on Saturdays (22 miles), logging miles at 5:30am every morning, and the speed work on Thursdays – that was where the work really was.
The race was just the culmination of a whole lot of sweat, exhaustion, and perseverance. I am so thankful I could enjoy the race – that I smiled and cried, that I took in the sunshine and the music, that I ate the free jelly beans and felt a rush dashing through Georgetown. It’s what I worked for and it was over so fast.
Sometimes I think we focus so much on the goal of getting to something, that when it finally gets here, we forget to enjoy it and then it’s gone. The it, whatever that may be, becomes something to check off, rather than something to celebrate. I’m trying to remind myself of this right now with Christmas upon us, with my semester coming to a close, with my kids growing up so fast…. I don’t want it to be gone and wonder where did it go.
I wonder what it would actually be like if we really celebrated Christmas; if we really celebrated accomplishments, even if it’s as small as learning to tie shoes; if we really celebrated the joy of family and friends. Who really cares if the Christmas tree cut-out cookie actually has green sprinkles on it? Maybe, just maybe letting lose and making it a red tree this year is okay. Maybe it is more fun to order a pizza, so we have time to chat with friends, rather than spend the whole night in the kitchen. And, it really is a big deal when you learn how to tie your shoes or know all your multiplication facts. Because the fact is, most of life is the training part of the marathon – the sweat, the tears, and the exhaustion, so when we get the opportunity to bask in the warmth of friends and family, love and laughter may we take it all in. Celebrate the 26.2!