Sunday, August 12, 2012


This weekend, the Olympic marathon events were run in London. Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia won the woman’s gold, setting a new Olympic record. And in an upset victory, Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda  took the men’s gold.

In case you didn’t know, a marathon is more than 26 miles in length. To put some perspective on the marathon, that’s;

  • Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge 15½ times
  • 6½ times across the Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay
  • Going from Lake Wales to Lakeland

You may be surprised to find out that I personally participated in a marathon. Yes, it is true; while it was not a world class field of contestants, I had all the skill and stamina necessary to take part in a marathon. During our time living outside Wilmington, I participated in the Delaware Marathon [1] by passing out water and energy drinks to runners as they passed by. While not needing medical attention, it took me three days to recover. My right shoulder has not been the same since.

I think twice before driving that far, I can’t imagine walking that distance. Even when I was playing basketball competitively and it seemed like I could play ball all day, I could not conceive of running that distance without stopping.

All marathon runners and coaches talk about hitting “the wall.” This is where the body just runs out of energy. Our bodies have the capacity to store and convert carbohydrates for enough energy to run about 18-20 miles. As energy from carbohydrates lessens, our bodies have to get energy from somewhere else so they turn to burning stored fat, which does not convert as easily. When this happens, runners experience dramatic fatigue, hitting “the wall.”

This past week I had the rare privilege of meeting some great marathoners;
  • The father of two, he has competed in most of the major marathons within the US.
  • Mother of four sons, her husband lost his battle with brain cancer late in 2009. Her marathon is recovering daily from crushing grief and loneliness as she cares for her youngest, a 9 year old son.
  • Leaving the day-to-day business affairs to his partners only to discover that they have run the businesses into the ground and swindled him. His marathon is dealing with disappointment and betrayal of those he trusted, not to mention the loss of his retirement savings.
  • Her cancer was surgically removed about two years ago, but this week she suddenly experienced great pain in the same area. Her marathon is waiting 5 days till the scheduled MRI and the unknown next steps.

Running a marathon is a choice, living a marathon is thrown at us. Running a marathon physically is unspeakably hard and reserved for a few hearty athletes. Living a marathon with an unknown length of time may actually be more demanding.

The question is not whether or not we will encounter a life marathon, but when. No matter our place in life, I think we are all in one of three places when it comes to living a marathon;
  • We are about to start living a marathon
  • We are in the middle of living a marathon
  • We are ending our time living a marathon

So, the question becomes what are we going to do, where are we going to turn while living a marathon? There are really only two possible choices. First is to try and work it out on our own, pulling ourselves up by our own boot-straps, looking within for the answers and power. The other is to look to someone else for help.

Jesus said that he was gentle and humble in heart and that we could find rest for our souls in him [2]. Rest for our souls, doesn’t that sound great! His resources and refreshment for the marathons of life are available, but they come at a price. And that price is giving ourselves and our marathons to him. It’s not us accomplishing some great thing, emptying our minds in meditation or any other action on our part, except surrendering to and receiving him.

As we give ourselves to Jesus, he walks with us into and through the marathons of life, all the way into an eternity with him.

Blessings - Chet

Chet Gladkowski writes on contemporary topics that impact our lives, culture and faith. - email, Facebook & Twitter - blog
GladAssociates - YouTube

[2] Matthew 11:29

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