A while ago I decided to run a full marathon. I’ve never done one and thought since I’m not getting any younger (and it’s not getting any easier!) if I’m ever going to, it’s now or never.

To prepare for this, I signed up to run a half marathon. I figured this was a surefire way to commit myself to the training. Now, I consider myself a runner, in that I have done some running and I have the right shoes.

But deciding to run 13.1 miles in exactly 27 days was a stretch—especially with my hectic schedule. So I squeezed in time to run when I could and hoped for the best.

Days leading up to the run, I checked out the course. Ugh. I wasn’t looking forward to it. At all. There wasn’t much scenery along the course, nor were there many turns. There was, however, a LONG straight stretch of miles. The more I trained, the more I thought about how hard, how boring, that eight-mile portion would be.

Well, the day came and there I was, 6:30 in the morning under the START banner in downtown Riverside, wearing Bib #115.

My husband prayed for me, encouraged me with a “you got this—get a PR babe” and it was go time!

My thoughts bounced back and forth between “where are the water stations” and “how am I going to survive that long stretch of nothingness?”

That part of the course ran several miles out on a narrow bike path, hit a particular mile marker, then turn and run several miles back.

There wasn’t shade. There wasn’t much to look at. There wouldn’t be people along this portion to cheer us on because it wasn’t easy to access.

What I didn’t anticipate were the other runners. Those who ran ahead of me reached the turnaround before I did—so while I was heading out they were heading back.

I decided to smile at them.

Yell to them. High five them! Every. Single. Runner.

You know what? I stopped feeling the pain in my legs. I stopped listening to my labored breathing. I stopped feeling the sun beat down on me.

I took my eyes off the dreary path I was running. I looked up and focused on the next person. And the next. And the one after that.

You got this.

Go girl!

You’re killing it!

Great job!

High five!

Before I knew it, I hit the turnaround point.

Now I could see the runners in the race coming behind me, the ones who hadn’t reached the turnaround yet.

You’re almost there.

The turnaround is coming.

Great run!

Big smile.

High five!

At times, a runner would yell something back. Sometimes they just smiled. But when I came at them with a high five, they always responded.

As I ran, I started thinking how many opportunities we have in this race called life. Friends, we all have days we dread. There are seasons. Hard ones. Long ones. Boring ones. Seasons that hurt so badly. Courses that make us just want to quit.

This is exactly when we need to quit focusing on ourselves, lift our eyes, and see the other runners. See who is coming. Look past our hard and run with someone else in their hard.

Smile at them. Encourage them. Text, call, sit, listen. Pray for them. Pray with them.

Share scripture. Give them a spiritual high-five.

Tell them they’re killing it. Remind them, you got this—you’re almost there.

Give someone that boost they need to keep going, and in so doing, you’ll receive a boost too.

The things we dread are actually opportunities to be used by God.

. . . if we will take our eyes off ourselves and put them on Him. What does He want to do?

As for the L.A. marathon, stay tuned!

But I can tell you, when I’m out running those long preparation runs, I’m keeping my eyes up. I’m looking for others who are on the path, being purposeful to smile and yell out an encouragement—even throw out a high five!


So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11