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B19 The Beautiful Letdown

Well, that was fun! I just finished the Kentucky Derby Marathon, and I am experiencing a wide range of emotions. I’ll just try to go through them all (in no particular order):

I am disappointed. My goal was 3 hours and 5 minutes. My stretch goal was 3 hours flat. I did not reach my goal, and to that end I am disappointed. The race started well. I was a little slower than I hoped mostly because I was stuck in traffic. My first mile clicked over around 7:18. I was hoping to run flat sevens. No worries. There was a LOT of race left. Once the path was cleared, I settled down to around a 7:00 per mile pace (or a little under). I felt great! This was my day!

The marathon actually takes you through Churchill Downs, which was really cool! I also led a Youth Group mission trip to Louisville several years ago, and it was neat and a little bit nostalgic running by some of the places where we had reached out with the GOSPEL and witnessed God doing awesome, life-changing things!!

I was feeling so great until about mile 12. At that point I suddenly began to experience severe cramping in my legs.

Oh no!

I was taking Salt Caps to specifically help with this, but it wasn’t helping. From mile 12 through mile 26, I ran at the threshold of cramping. Any faster and my calves and hamstring would flare up. I tested this over and over again, but I could simply go no faster.

This was exceptionally disappointing to me because my legs were much stronger than they were able to run. I really believe I could have reached my goal if not for the cramping, but that was not possible.

It was not my day, after all. I ran as fast as I was able, but it was not fast enough. I finished around 3 hours and 15 minutes. By mile 20, I knew mathematically that I was not going to reach my goal, and that realization was extremely disappointing to me.

I am satisfied. It is true that I am disappointed. I am really disappointed, actually, but at the same time, I am satisfied. I never gave up.

I ran the back half of the marathon at the threshold of cramping. Any faster and I was in immediate danger of having to stop (think massive Charlie Horse!), but I stayed at the threshold and kept trying to go faster. There was just no way to make it happen. People were passing me, and I was able to encourage them and say, “Good job!” I was still passing some people, but I could see that they were giving it everything that they had.

For a long a stretch we were running in the opposite direction of people who were behind us, so we were passing one another. I saw a pacer with the sign for 5:15 finish time. These people were giving everything that they had to finish 2 hours after me!!

That is awesome!! Good for them! Sure I am disappointed in myself, but I gave it everything I had, just like they were doing. How could I not be satisfied with a 3:15 finish time?

We are all running our own race. I wish I would have finished faster, but I did my best.

At mile 20 I saw my cheering section. Jodi and the kids were on the side of the road cheering for me. By that point she knew I was way off of my goal. I ran over to the side and gave her a hug. “I am not going to make it,” I said. Her encouragement was perfect, “It’s okay! Just keep going!”

I did. My kids witnessed their father failing to reach his goal today. I’m not proud of that. At the same time, they witnessed their father keep going even when he knew he wouldn’t reach his goal. I am satisfied with that!

After I gave Jodi a hug and kept running, Eden said out loud as she watched me run off, “He’s so brave.” I don’t know if that’s true, but I am proud that she thinks it’s true.

I am hopeful. Yes, I had hoped to qualify for Boston today. No, I didn’t reach that goal. However, my bigger goal was to glorify God with my running. I had hoped that I would glorify him by qualifying for Boston. Instead, I get to glorify God by modeling what worship looks like in the good times as well as the bad. Last year I qualified for Boston at the Holland Haven Marathon in Michigan. I praised God for that! This year I failed to qualify at the Kentucky Derby Marathon in Kentucky. I praise God, anyway! What a gift He has given me to be able to run! What a beautiful day that He has made today!

…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13, ESV

In any and every circumstance, first place, last place, or anywhere in the middle, God is good! I am hopeful that more people will see God’s goodness as a result of my failure to reach my goal than if I would have succeeded. Obviously that was not my plan, but I serve an awesome God who is able to make something beautiful out of something ugly.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28, ESV

I am not finished. Okay, so I didn’t reach my goal. What now? Keep going. In a couple of days I will begin my annual 5k Every Day in the Month of May. You should join me! After that, it is back to marathon training. I will reach my goal. I just didn’t reach it today. No worries, God is still good.



2 thoughts on “B19 The Beautiful Letdown Leave a comment

  1. Sorry you missed goal Jeff… However I too love how you never gave up. That is encouraging to me! Being right on the brink of that harsh pain it would have been easy for a lot of people to hang it up right there, however God had a greater purpose who knows what this may turn into! God Bless man keep on chugging! You got this in his timing!

  2. Sometimes your character is shown in how hard you push to get a great time, and sometimes it is shown in just getting to the finish. Sorry this one didn’t go the way you had hoped, but they rarely do. Everything you learn from this is applicable later, and Boston will happen for you! Remember you and everyone who ran the full or the half beat everyone who didn’t leave there couches yesterday! When we set out on 3-4 months of training, it would be impossible to get through if failure is what we think about. I always think about achieving an awesome goal and then am happy to finish and be alive! It is an amazing thing to have the privilege to have a body that can stand up to the mileage and pounding that we go through!

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