Staying Fit: Running the race to the end


Throughout this past autumn, I gave you periodic updates on my quest to finish a marathon race.  As you can tell from the fact I’m still writing, I survived!
            On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I set off on the first of 26.2 miles, along with about a thousand other people.  All of the preparation complete. Check. Now all I had to do was keep going down the road.
            As I moved along miles one through 14, I felt fine. I refueled at my regular intervals, just like in training.  As I plodded along toward the 15th mile, the tendons and muscles at the top of my legs, in the front, suddenly felt like someone was grabbing them with a pair of pliers.  This was not a good feeling.  I continued on to mile 18, barely.
Only 8 more miles remained to the end, but I seriously entertained thoughts of, “I have the energy to get there, but I don’t know if my legs will actually go another eight miles!” But then, at the water stop—salvation appeared!
A small group of people had gathered to cheer on the racers, and one of them had a simple massage tool called The Stick.  At that point in the marathon, The Stick was like water to a thirsty man in the desert. Relief!
With desperation dripping off me, I pleaded to use the Stick.  I quickly rolled it over my sore muscles as much as I could. I gained the muscle relief to pound down the asphalt through 18, 19, 20, and toward mile 21.  And there they were again, the Stick people! While they took pictures for their Facebook page, I’m bent over in pain running this massage tool over my aching muscles.  I departed and motored on to mile 23.
Then it happened. Total lock-up occurred in nearly every part of my legs.  In my hour of need, my muscles abandoned me!  Nothing I tried would unlock my legs.  I adopted an odd, stiff-legged, giraffe-like walking pace, just to continue forward.  There was no way I was quitting, even if I had to crawl the last mile.
But then I saw the turn toward the finish line—I was almost there, so I picked up the pace.  The closer I got, the more I could hear the crowd. I knew my wife and two daughters would be there to cheer me on to the end.  I would get relief in stopping and a pizza and Coke to refuel—I would be finished with this race!
I sped up and finished as strong and fast as I could, given the condition of my legs.  Simply gazing upon the end forced me to increase my speed.  I had to finish well, finish strong, even if I didn’t fully feel that strong.
There are times in life when we don’t feel like going on. We want to stop. But we are pulled along by the hope of “running the race to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Whatever we start, let us finish well, may we finish strong.
Let’s keep moving forward together in the new year!
Next month:  Lessons For the Long Run
 Dr. John A. Page is an associate pastor at Athens First UMC . Go to for his book, “The Almighty in the Ordinary.” Email John at