Several weeks ago, I sat down at the computer determined to register for the marathon. It was the last day that I could sign up before the price was raised, yet again. My fingers hovered over the keyboard, ready to hit 'submit'. I hesitated for a long moment, then slowly shut the laptop. I just couldn't do it.
The marathon is sponsored by PF Chang's. The course is nice and flat, weaves through scenic downtown, and is lined with cheering spectators and live bands. There are finisher's medals, a party that lasts into the night, fame and glory, all that jazz. It's perfect. Except that it's on Sunday.
Saturday marathons are hard to come by. Most are in Utah, which would be a bit of a trip for me. When I first looked into it, I found a few closer to home, but they're brutal. One requires adapting to elevation, then I'd have to run through mud and hills and February snow. I've read of seasoned marathoners finishing broken and defeated. It's not exactly what I'd pictured for my first attempt. The other is about an hour and a half away. It's uphill for 13 miles, then downhill for the rest of the way. Both uphill and down are extremely punishing on the legs. They sounded so painful, I told myself that my best bet would be to run the PF Chang's race.
Only, I couldn't make myself register for it. I sat there for months, watching as the fees crept higher and higher. Jared suggested that I was gun shy, more afraid of committing to the race than fearful of breaking the Sabbath. I thought maybe there was something to that.
So one morning, I went for a long run and contemplated it all. I thought about how scary the Saturday marathons are. I thought about the fact that I'm far less likely to complete them, let alone do well. They're much more solitary. No bands. No crowds. No medals. They don't have nearly as much glory. As soon as that word entered my thoughts, the phrase "Let the glory be thine" floated into my head, and in an instant, it became clear to me what I was choosing between. I had been willing to run on a Sunday if it meant that MY goals, MY wishes, MY glory would be accomplished. And this life isn't supposed to be about my will. It didn't matter that I'd kept the Sabbath every other week of my life. It's easy to keep the Sabbath when there's nothing better to do. This time it would involve sacrifice. This time it would be meaningful.
So I'm running Saturday, January 31st. It's uphill for 13 miles, then downhill for 13, and none of my training thus far has prepared me for it. There is a good chance that I will pay $100 and travel hours away, just to collapse in a heap on the side of the road without crossing the finish line. But I figure that at least this way, I can spend the entire 26.2 miles praying for help and not feel like a hypocrite. And I am no longer ashamed to have my children there, cheering me on.
I may fail, but I'll fail on a Saturday. And I'm at peace with that.