Marathon. What does that word conjure up for you? An impossible task? A dream? Something that you want to get to some day? An accomplishment you are proud of?
This word took on a whole new meaning for our family last week-end. Christopher started running last December. He set the lofty goal of running a marathon this summer. He has run in 5ks and 10ks. He signed up for a half marathon, but wasn't able to run as he got sick the day before. Well, last week-end was the marathon. Did I mention that he chose to start with "one of America's toughest marathons"? He did.
The Grandfather Mountain Marathon was held on Saturday. We arrived at the ASU stadium in light rain at about 5:30am.
There were lots of people milling around, stretching, focusing, getting ready. The brisk, damp morning led way to a beautiful day.
The race started with a lap around the track.
Christopher was the youngest runner in the race! Most of the runners were in their 30s and up. We drove to one of the points that was a little over the half way point. As we were driving, I spotted Christopher on the Blue Ridge parkway ahead of us! We pulled over at one of the parks, got out some chairs and waited for him.
We cheered the runners as they passed and waited to see Christopher. We cheered loudly as we saw him approach.
Way to go Christopher!!!
As he ran by, his brothers ran along beside him for a short while to encourage him. Or maybe to tease him. You know how brothers can be!
We then drove to Grandfather Mountain to the finish line. The race was completed at the gathering of the Highland Games!
This was our first time attending. It's something I had hoped to do for years and we were blessed to get a great price on tickets due to being there to watch the race. I loved hearing the music, seeing the costumes and experiencing the culture. I also loved the appreciative crowd that cheered for every runner that finished the course!
While we were waiting, we talked with some of the people there. My boys loved learning about the clothing - and were very fascinated with the knives that most of the men had in their socks.
Mostly though, I just wanted to see my son. We waited and waited - not knowing when he would arrive. The runners came up the mountain and then entered through the circle of tents to get onto the track in the center. There was a constant cry whenever runners would approach so that people would clear the way so the runners had a path to the track.
I was surprised at the emotions I felt waiting for my son. My heart was full with pride for what my son was doing. I was also at times worried and wondered where he was and if he was alright. I often found myself fighting back tears. I reflect on the man he is becoming - one with purpose, goals and determination. And yet, he is still my "baby". I was elated when I spied him rounding the corner and heading up the last hill.
"Runner coming!" "Ropes up!" We cheered - as did many others as he approached the finish. And yes, I had tears of joy in my eyes.
He did a lap around the track and finished the race. 26.2 miles. Wow! He did it.
(I'm hoping the professional photographer got a better picture of the finish than I did. They moved the finish line and I didn't realize it until it was too late.)
I heard people doubt him. Doubt that he could finish. State that he had bitten off more than he could chew. I didn't believe that though as I know what he is made of - determined, dedicated and focused. He did it! I'm so very proud of him!!!
When he finished, we all had a lot of questions for him. He answered briefly, but really just needed time to rest.
While he rested, we went to get lunch. I met him back at the marathoner's tent. As I walked with him to meet the others, I asked him if he planned to do this again and he emphatically stated "No!". He also said that he was crossing the Ironman off his bucket list. A man overheard our conversation and said just give him a week and he'll want to try it again. We'll see. For now, he can relish in knowing that he set a goal and worked hard to achieve it. He is a marathoner!
We didn't spend much longer at the event. It is a large event with lots of neat things going on, but Christopher was ready to leave. (We were all pretty tired by that point - but nothing compared to him!) The tents around the track mainly belong to the various clans.
We did go by the Maxwell clan tent. This is my family's heritage. Joshua was especially thrilled to do this and to learn more about our clan. He is named for this clan and I think its great that he wants to learn more!
He also pressed Roger to find out about any Scottish heritage on his side. After a phone call home, he found the family name from his Dad's side too. He and Roger went back in the afternoon to spend more time there. He is hoping we can go back again next year.
Tonight, we celebrated his achievement with the "red plate". I also bought him a few things - a black cap and white magnet each with 26.2 on it.
Christopher, I'm proud of you. I'm proud of you for desiring to try something new, for setting goals and having a training schedule to meet that goal. I'm proud of you for working hard and for finishing this race even when it got really hard! I'm proud of you for the man you are becoming and pray that as you run the race of life that you will continue to set goals and that you will run in a way that is honoring to God.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
I love you!