I have been training for a marathon for the past several months. It has been long, hard work for me. I have never enjoyed running and never thought I would be participating in any sort of race, let alone a 26.2 mile one!
One of the places that I have been doing most of my longer training runs is a beautiful park. It has 2 huge playgrounds, a skateboard ramp, a fenced in dog play area, covered picnic tables and a 1 mile paved track.
Usually when I am there I am circling that 1 mile loop of pavement anywhere from 13-20 times. (I know it’s crazy!!!) Anyway, I often see the same familiar faces during my many loops.
There is the older couple who clearly have been running a very long time. They do a lap walking together and then he puts on his sweat band and takes off while she lowers her head and takes off behind him. I don’t know how many laps they do each day but whether I am there on a Monday or Saturday or any day in between, they always seem to be there circling the track.
Then there are the moms with the jogging strollers. They fluctuate between jogging and picking up thrown sippy cups. Sometimes they walk in pairs and chat while their children babble or sleep.
Then there are other people training for races. They wear old race shirts and have a steady pace. Sometimes they are wearing pink (for breast cancer) or purple (for Leukemia and Lymphoma). They seem motivated by something bigger as am I! (I am running for Inheritance of Hope. I am running for these families that we serve!)
But my favorite track-sharers are a father and a son who often arrive a little later in the morning. They usually show up when I am feeling ready to quit but still have plenty of miles left to go. The son is probably about 20. He seems to be partially paralyzed on the right-side of his body and he walks with an orthotic to hold up his right foot and a sling to hold up his right arm. The father always walks backwards about 3 feet in front of the son and they make their way around the track. I usually pass them 4 or 5 times.
I have to swallow my tears EVERY time. It is such an inspiration to me. Clearly, life has not been easy for this boy. His circumstances are difficult. The track is long and has several hills but it is nothing compared to the path he has to walk every single day.
No doubt he gets tired by the end of that mile. You can tell his body is fighting with each and every step. But, then he looks up and sees his dad…standing a few feet ahead of him. I don’t know if the dad ever says anything to his son but his presence alone is an encouragement.
“I’m here with you son. You are not alone. You can do it.”
When you are walking a difficult track and you look up, who is there to encourage you? Did you know God is your father? You are not alone.