For some reason today, seven miles felt impossible. I'm in week 13 of a 24-week marathon training schedule, and Tuesday is one of my light running days.  This particular Tuesday called for what has now become an easy seven miles, in preparation for my long run on Saturday which, for this week, will be 11 miles.  But twice today, I had to convince myself to not turn around toward home and quit, but to keep going.  And that was only during the second mile. My ankles felt like they had 20-lb weights wrapped around them, my music selection was mediocre, and I just wasn't into it. 

As I plodded on I decided to call my Mom and get my mind off the severity of my lack-of-desire-to-run.  God bless her, she put up with my panting-while-conversing, and helped me get through a couple big hills. I ended the call with my Mom and kept going, much to my legs' chagrin. I eventually made it to the local high school track and circled brainlessly for what seemed like forever, but was really only three miles, then turned up the trail toward home for the final stretch.

At one point during my final mile, I stopped and looked down at my shoes, and reminded myself of what I've scribbled in Sharpie there.  Phil 4:13 and Heb 12:2. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Let us keep on running with perseverance the race marked out for us. I reminded myself to JUST KEEP GOING. Each and every step gets me closer to home. Even when it feels impossible, just keep running, Jenna. It's in these moments that I imagine myself finally crossing the finish line of what will be my first marathon on Feb 22, 2015. I picture myself in pain, barely running, but with arms held high, tears of joy and agony streaming down my face.  But what really keeps me going is also imagining Ben, my kids, and my parents waiting and cheering for me at the finish line.  My Dad has finished two marathons, and will no doubt be crying tears of joy with me, remembering well the agony his own legs felt upon finishing the 26.2 those years ago. Imagining myself crossing that finish line is the ONLY thing that kept me going today.  Visualizing the finish and the cheering crowd helped me push through.

And so it is with life. It's amazing what I've already learned about myself and about life in these 13 weeks of training. I've learned that there are many days when I wake up excited to run, almost giddy to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement.  Most days I'm eager to push myself to a faster time and better pace. But some days, like today, I just don't feel the drive or excitement to do what I'm supposed to.  Those are the "I Need Thee Every Hour" days, the ones when I feel like a bad wife, a lame parent, or a horrible friend. But it's in those days that I imagine the finish line and, most importantly, the waiting and cheering crowd.  The great cloud of witnesses.  Those who have gone before, the ones who have already crossed the finish line. Many of whom I believe crossed the finish line way too soon, like my amazing mother-in-law, my college friend Sean Lomax, a beautiful 9-yr-old named Carrie Young, and my dear Texas sister-friend Shannon Gleditsch. But I'm not the race director, and I don't see the whole course, I'm just supposed to run it.  So run it I will, step by step by arduous step. On the good days and the bad, I'll keep the finish line in mind, and JUST KEEP GOING.