By Connie Clarke
Although three weeks have passed since the Tallahassee Marathon and the soreness has subsided, I felt there was more to tell. First, I want to thank the Griffins again on a great job with this inaugural course and a race well done. I greatly enjoyed Gary’s recap of the marathon, yet I wish to offer my views as one “in the midst.”
This was my 10th marathon and as I was wondering what my purpose might be for doing another, I read the following passage in my devotional: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me, the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24 I was not sure what that meant for me but I would find out a few days later over the course of 26.2 miles.
The morning of the marathon found me with a headache and nausea. This was not nerves and had never happened before. As I lined up with friends Leigh, Mark and Lou, I was still unsure if I would be able to complete the marathon. After about four miles, I began to feel better but Leigh was having leg discomfort. We urged each other on and at about 10 miles, we were told we were the #2 and # 3 females but #4 and #5 were not far behind. After the turn -around we saw the first female. She looked quite strong and far ahead of us.
During the 2nd half, Leigh became increasingly silent and I later realized she was in more pain. At around mile 18, we noticed a girl catching up to us. She finally passed us and was quite exuberant. (Did I also say she appeared much younger?) She told us how thankful she was for us to help her plow ahead. (We were her rabbits.) She had her sights on Boston (needed a 3:40) and it looked hopeful. I caught up a few times and learned her name was “Teddie.” She shared that 18 months ago she weighed over 250 pounds and was an insulin -dependent diabetic. She later exclaimed that she was having the race of her life, even if she did not make Boston this time. I hoped to catch up with her and encourage her, but alas my body started slowing by mile 22.
Leigh was struggling as her leg was actually going numb. Thankfully, our friend Kelly joined up with her at mile 20 to encourage her on. As I approached mile 25, I noticed a guy catching up. It was Mark who had decided to be prudent and take walk breaks. I was much too impatient for that during a marathon….. so of course he pulled ahead of me as we entered the track.
Teddie did not make her qualifying time, but in my book was already a winner (and what an inspiration!) She was the #2 woman. Leigh finished just behind me with 29 seconds to spare for a Boston qualifying time. She is a strong runner and this was her first marathon since having kids. Her leg was completely numb at the finish but she made it!
Back to God’s grace. I had hoped for a P.R., however realized that I was indeed fortunate to even begin and finish the task. As marathoners, we prepare for the race, but have no idea what will actually unfold that day. Too many variables! It is God’s grace that gives me strength in marathons and in daily life! It was He who enabled me to encourage others and to witness the fulfillment of their goal that day.