Finish Strong

Training going well for my next race. Legs good, breathing good, feeling good. I’ve been having a think back over some of my previous marathons, and was reflecting on the second time I ran the Snowdonia marathon with a mate. This is a tough race, lots of hills and quite a challenge … the second time I managed a time of 4hrs 19 and 54 secs … of course the 54 seconds are important, pushing the time under 4hr 20 makes it sound better. My mate came in er …behind me. But he did a brilliant time and he finished. In previous races they used to list ‘DNF” alongside some numbers. Did Not Finish. Bit depressing that really when you have done all the training and for whatever reason you end up with a DNF. Which reminds me that being a Christian is ultimately knowing that you are going to finish – more on that later. Looking back at myself at Mile 23 I wondered if that was going to happen or whether I was going to just sit at the side of the road, cry like a Royal Marine in a spelling test and give up. But one of the great things about some (not all) marathons is that they give a finishers medal to all who get injured along the way. I like that. If you drop out because you haven’t done enough training maybe you haven’t earnt the medal, but twist your ankle on a carelessly discarded drink cup at a water station … that’s not exactly your fault is it? Life’s like that, if you have any level of faith in God stuff will still come your way that you can’t control … injuries, illnesses etc … that may knock you out for a while … but God being God does not count that against you, in fact he is more interested in how you deal with it than the fact it happens. So even if you do the last few miles in the back of the mini-bus, that finisher’s medal is still waiting for you from God …

Anyway, jumping back to Snowdonia. My mate and I made the mistake of driving the course the night before. Well, I say mistake, it just brought back to me the horror of the course. I had clearly remembered something horrendous occurred at mile 23, but had obviously banished from my mind the long climb at about mile 10. That depressed me seeing it from the car. BUT the worst thing was when we got to the point where the course headed off the main road, I just said to my mate ‘that’s where it goes up that hill, then flattens off’ ‘Doesn’t look too bad ‘. So off we went for a good nights sleep, up early and drove to the start at Llanberis. Now, I know of some Christians who pray that God will give them a car parking space before they enter a busy car park. I must say that I am not one of those sort of Christians … however when we arrived at Llanberis it was evident that we were later than we should have been. No parking spaces to be found from about a mile away from the start. We still drove into the centre, cars everywhere but on the off chance went into a car park as close to the start as possible. Hidden behind a van was … a space. We were not praying about a space, more like dripping and moaning about it …. but God … Makes you think …

We did our warm ups and the gun went. Steady pace up the first climb, moaned like mad at the climb at mile ten, but overall the scenery was amazing and the camaraderie of running the race with so many others was brilliant … enjoyable even! Then came to mile 23. Turned the corner and up the hill, it flattened out just as I remembered, then .. I may have said a vaguely unchristian word as the track continued off road … up and up … ‘Oh Dearie me – I don’t remember this’ thought I. Eventually it did flatten off into the final descent to the finish and that finishers meal (or in fact a slate coaster). You know what? I was so glad that I did not know (or been reminded) quite how bad it was at mile 23. If I had known maybe I would have sacked off the whole thing, or just worried constantly about it and I would have not enjoyed the rest of the run (and I DID enjoy it ) … I am so glad that God doers not tell us what is coming in this life, yes we can make plans, yes we can look forward to stuff, but ultimately we do not know what’s gonna happen the next second, let alone in a years time! If I did I can think of times when I would have probably given up or scrubbed round something or other, knowing what was coming, but having faith in God is being sure that whatever hits us at mile 23 or even tomorrow, God will see us through to the finish line and we will get the finishers medal …. If you don’t have that peace and assurance speak to a Christian mate, drop me an e mail or speak to a friendly (!!??) vicar.
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