13.1 Miles? That’s insane.

Several months ago, I committed to something insane.

My wife is a very motivated person. She has walked (and run a little here and there) several half marathons. She was talking about wanting to try to run an entire half marathon but not being sure she could do it by herself. I opened my mouth. I said, “Let’s do it.”

We downloaded an app and we made a plan and we started training. Have I mentioned yet that I have tried this before and, quite frankly, I don’t like running? It was a frustrating, painful, difficult process. It was an amazing, soul-healing, beautiful process. It was very much like our marriage.

Yesterday, April 27, 2014, we ran the half marathon at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. We crossed the start line hand in hand – nervous, excited, confident, afraid. Just less than three hours later, we crossed the finish line hand in hand – hurting, exhausted, excited, relieved. We knew it would be hard. We knew there would be some very painful moments. Indeed, there were very many. We both hoped that we had it in us to do this. We were both absolutely confident that the other could do it – but not entirely sure about ourselves. But the one thing we knew to the very core of our beings is that, no matter what, we were doing this together.

My amazing wife, Tori, and me in the starting corral for the half marathon.

I think we saw in that three hours a microcosm of our marriage. There was the excitement of the starting line with people all around cheering for us. There was the nervous energy as we navigated the first few turns and began to pass some folks and to be passed by many others. There were some long tough stretches that seemed entirely uphill. There was the monster known as “Gorilla Hill” that we managed to run all the way up, passing so many folks who chose to walk it. There was the realization that I, a.k.a. Drippy McSweatsalot, was no longer sweating where she grabbed my hand and pulled me to the next water stop and instructed me to “drink these and drink these and eat this.”

There was the moment that I, somewhat re-hydrated and energized, grabbed her hand and kept pulling along the last uphill of the course. And there was that last few blocks where the blisters were screaming and the calves were cramping and the lungs were burning and we both just held on to each other and somehow kept running. There were the runners that had already received their medals who were walking back along the course and offering encouragement. There were our amazing friends and family who were cheering for us and calling out our names amid the crowd so we would know they were cheering for us specifically. There were the tears and smiles and laughter as we crossed the finish line – just the way we started, together hand in hand.

In our nearly 23 years of marriage, we have seen all of those moments. There was the excitement of a new life together. There were anxious decisions where we tried so hard to make the right choices. We had seasons when life seemed to be moving uphill and some wonderful times that the road seemed soft and smooth and easy. There have been times that each of us has been unable to go in our own power and the other has had to pull/push/carry us a step further and had to practically spoon-feed the needful sustenance. There were times we didn’t know what else to do but keep running. And all along the way we see examples of folks that we have watched finish the course whose very lives cry out to us, “You can do this – just keep running!” And, it seems, that each step along the way God has provided friends and family to speak directly to us and help us along the way by simply sharing the day.

The thing that keeps us running is the vow that we made and continue to make day after day after day – that we will do this together, no matter what.

Several months ago, I committed to something insane. Yesterday I fulfilled that commitment – and I am so glad I did.

Almost twenty-three years ago, I committed to something insane. I will spend my life fulfilling that commitment – and I’m so glad to do it.

Sweetie, you’re amazing! I don’t know what’s next – but I know how we’ll do it. Together. Always.

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