We recently enjoyed watching our granddaughter (age 16) and grandson (age 14) finish the Richmond Marathon; her second marathon, his first. My husband had expressed concern that our grandson’s preparation had consisted merely of playing junior varsity baseball and freshman football. I didn’t understand why that wasn’t enough. Earlier, both had won their age group in the Outer Banks Triathlon. As it turns out, my husband’s concerns were legitimate.
In the early stages of the race, our grandson, with his effervescent personality, was goofing off and sending upbeat text messages. When we saw them at the 13-mile marker, they were still in high spirits. Shortly afterwards, we got our last text message saying that his calf muscles were tightening up. Later, his sister reported that he had “hit a wall” around mile 15 and had to gut-through the remainder of the race.
At the 19-mile marker, his mom and dad — having run several marathons ¬¬— knew that he was facing seven miles of unrelenting pain. He was just putting one foot in front of the other, pulled along by his sister’s encouragement. Given her experience and training, she could have left him behind to run a competitive race; we were so very proud that she decided to help her brother keep going, rather than run her best race.
With no more text messages, we were thrilled when the two of them came into view approaching the 26.2 mile finish line. No, it would not have been the end of the world if one or the other or both of them had not been able to finish, but I’m so very grateful they stuck it out together to the end of the race. I am glad that our grandson found out what it means to keep going when you feel like you can’t go any further, and I’m glad that our granddaughter found out how much satisfaction there can be in helping another person to victory.
There will come a time when each of them will need to look back and remember those lessons — particularly when they marry. There will be times in marriage — after the thrill of fiery passion has been dulled by difficulties and stress — when the only thing to do is put one foot in front of the other or to find satisfaction in caring more for someone else’s fulfillment than in your own.
I know there are sometimes real reasons for ending a marriage: abuse and infidelity for sure. But many of the justifications don’t cut it: “We weren’t getting along;” “We’re not in love any more;” “I’ve got to find out who I really am;” or, “People aren’t meant to live together for so many years.”