As I consider my post-race story, it was a lot different than my pre-race story. The first couple of miles were run in the low 7:20's. Then a bunch in the 7:teens. A few in the upper 7:20's leading to the half way mark. 7:20 and below out to 20 miles (with even a few sub 7:10's). Those sub-7:10's were using the slight downhill for all it was worth and really trying to put myself in a position to finish with a sub-3:15. However, banking time never really works. Miles 21-24 were between 7:26 and 7:42. Then the last two miles at 8:24 and 8:48. I'm not quite sure that I ran that last 0.2 in, but it wasn't much prettier. In the end, I had improved my personal best by more than six minutes over a race just six weeks earlier. In the end, I had not qualified for Boston, but for that, there will be another day.
What lesson did I learn this time? I can wonder all day whether or not a slower time in a mile here and a mile there earlier in the race would have let me come through stronger at the end. However, I'm not beating myself up over it as I will absolutely never know. I can't experience the counterfactual. I can only imagine it.
However, I can relate it to a lesson in spiritual life. This time, it is not tied to a bib number or a race time. It is just about the experience.
When talking with a runner whom I greatly respect after the race, he said he would have to learn to be more patient. When he made that comment, I added "When you figure it out, you should share what you have learned with _______." I'll leave the other name out, but I was thinking of another runner or two. I was not thinking of myself when I made the statement.
However, to look at a non-Biblical cross-over before getting to the spiritual, we can think about something that Michael Jackson sang and that is a common theme in literature and songs. Michael sang, "If you want to make the world a better place, just look at yourself and make a change." For runners, we could adapt that to, "If you want to run a better race, just look at yourself and make a change." In other words, I could apply my statement to myself as well as to any other runner whom I might name.
That leads me to my spiritual lesson. This, I take from John 20:3-8. The entire story of the resurrection takes a bit more than that in John and different accounts are found in each of the other Gospels. John's Gospel is the only one in which both Peter and "the one Jesus loved" (whomever this may have been) both ran to Jesus's tomb.
Yesterday, my approach was more like Peter's.
In the end, I would hope that my approach to marathon running becomes more like "the Beloved Disciple's".
Well, in the story, the one Jesus loved got to the tomb first, but then paused before going in, and ultimately was described as combing to believe first.
Peter on the other hand, ran ahead once he got to the entrance and just went in and saw everything without every being described as comprehending it. And, in the gospel of Luke, he was described as amazed rather than believing.
Finishing the marathon should be measured and approached after a full assessment like the one Jesus loved. Finishing is not jut barreling in at all costs.
I feel like what I achieved up to mile 20 was more like Peter. He raced to the tomb but was unsure what to make of it or what to do once he arrived. That's like me up to mile 20--arriving but then not sure of what to do once I got there.
The one Jesus loved, on the other hand, gathered in his strength and determination, proceeded with care, and comprehended. Exactly what I needed at mile 20.
For Peter and the other disciple in John's gospel, there was only one chance. For me, there will be more than one marathon. At some point, I hope that my marathon running will evolve to include the wisdom to comprehend and believe exactly what to do once I reach mile 20 and the patience to reach it with the strength needed to implement what wisdom tells me. And, if I stick with it, I'll also have the speed that the disciple other than Peter had to reach the tomb first. That combination, speed, patience, and wisdom will take me to my ultimate running goal.
I've got a while before I put that combination to the test again for a race that long, but John 20:3-8 will be at the top of my reading and meditating list before that. And, in a twist of fate, if I want to tie it to the race time from my most recent 5K, we could extend the reading to John 20:2-9 and take in another sentence about running as well as a concluding sentence about the disciples still not understanding scripture about Jesus needing to rise from the dead. That extra sentence about running is just cute in the current context. The sentence about disciples not understanding scripture could be like my still not fully comprehending what is likely to happen to the body in a marathon. I have lots of "book knowledge" about what I should be doing to keep things by the book. But I still don't fully understand exactly what I should be anticipating every step along the way. That may never come. But, if anything, it is still a few races away.
And, whether I ever learn the lessons for racing or not, I hope that my spiritual evolution will proceed in the same direction--quick to reach a conclusion that is founded on faith and wisdom and that shows a deep understanding rather than just being first to reach some type of finish line. A deep understanding will serve me at least as well spiritually as in my physical, racing life.