The Spirit of the Marathon

by Jodi
The first of many Sole Sisters photos - after the Helvetia Half Marathon 2011
The morning after Carissa arrived back home, the Sole Sisters had a tearful reunion.  We reunited at the Starbucks where we dreamed up, schemed up, and planned out this blog.  It's also the Starbucks where we meet for most of our long runs.  I've mastered the art of the Starbucks bathroom Post-Run "shower."  The Manager is familiar enough with us that he gave me permission to "use the bathroom ANY time."  Talk about VIP treatment!  It was only appropriate that this was where we hugged and cried, processed and cried, and hugged and cried some more.

Thank you Jesus that Carissa is home safe and sound.  Thank you Jesus that they caught the bad guys.  What a huge relief and a big step toward healing.

For me, processing the tragedy in Boston has been challenging.  I typically work things out while I run.  Running is my time with Jesus where I pray, worship and let the beauty of creation soothe my spirit and clear the cobwebs in my head.  But I'm sporting a big boot on my left foot and facing a "probable stress fracture" diagnosis.  Running is out of the question, although I'm still praying for my miracle.

Time with my Sole Sisters was what I needed to process what happened in Boston.  I've been working through feelings of guilt that Carissa was alone in Boston.  I was supposed to be there.  Boston was going to be our Thing - the pinnacle of running success shared with one of my best friends.  We worked hard to qualify.  We talked frequently about when we would book travel, where we'd stay, and who would go.  Would we bring our families?  Or make it a girls weekend?  But when it came time to register, I didn't have peace about making the financial or time commitment.  I had to say no.  It hurt to make that decision.  It hurt even more when I realized Carissa was left to navigate the aftermath of the bombing alone.    

The bombings are so evil and impossible to make sense of.  Who bombs the finish line of a marathon?

The spirit of the marathon is so much more than athletes running 26.2 miles as fast as they can without stopping and hoping they make it to the finish line standing up.

The spirit of the marathon is staring down fear, insecurity, and inadequacy and saying, "You have no power over me.  I run this body.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

The spirit of the marathon is one mile after another, kicking those demons further and further away until they no longer have power over you.

The spirit of the marathon is family and friends who walk the journey to race day with you.  They send emails.  Facebook posts.  Cards.  Phone calls.  Edible arrangements.  They watch your kids for you so you can slog out the long miles.  They tell you not to quit when it seems like the only logical choice.
a good luck gift from a friend pre-race Portland Marathon 2010
The spirit of the marathon is family and friends getting up early on race day to cheer you on.
Portland Marathon 2011 - cheering Tanya and Carissa on.  I'm a dork!
The spirit of the marathon is homemade signs that smear in the rain.
My Mom and Terry showing the wrong side of their sign.
You can't get a better cheerleader than Sarai!

Kelly and I had so much fun cheering at Portland 2011
The spirit of the marathon is total strangers recognizing you feel like you're dying a slow death and hollering, "You're almost there" even though you both know they're lying.
look at these guys telling me, "You're almost there" at mile 24 of the Eugene marathon. 
The spirit of the marathon is family and friends standing for hours - often in adverse weather - waiting for the thirty seconds when you come into sight and run past them.
the kids made up cheers and yelled for all the runners
Carissa comes into sight at mile 21.5 of the Portland 2011 marathon
The spirit of the marathon is kids holding home-made signs and causing such a ruckus when their mommy comes into view that others stop to smile and soak in the love.
Alli stood in the cold rain for almost 4 hours cheering Carissa and I on at the Portland 2010 marathon
My family going crazy at mile 21.5 of the Portland Marathon
The spirit of the marathon is knowing that as the finish line comes into view your husband, kids, friends, parents will be somewhere in that thick crowd screaming your name and crying with you as you celebrate.
even if they're totally soaked and crabby, the finish is still exciting
The spirit of the marathon is Sole Sisters who ride their bikes along the race route, carrying your water bottles, offering snacks, and quoting Scripture over you when you're too depleted to talk.
Tanya chased us around the Eugene Race course
Sarah and Kelly are huge supporters
The spirit of the marathon is your Non-Biological Brother running every step of the 26.2 miles with you - even though he can run twice as fast on his own - just because he loves you.
my step-brother Jon ran every step of the Eugene Marathon with me
The spirit of the marathon is their love carrying you across the finish line and into their waiting arms.
an emotional reunion at the end of the Eugene Marathon
Tanya and Carissa after Portland Marathon 2011
Boston 2013 Finisher
I think that's why this feels so cruel.  The people who placed those bombs intended to destroy the spirit of the marathon.  But they picked the wrong group to target.

I  was edgy the entire time Carissa, Holly and Devon were running the Boston Marathon.  I posted on Facebook, "I have decided it is WAY easier to run a marathon than to cheer for friends running them.  I am a disaster over here - watching the race live and checking for updates every five minutes.  I think I might barf I'm so nervous."

Three hours into the race, I felt compelled to stop checking splits and start praying hard.  Joshua 1:9 came to mind and I started praying it over and over and over out loud.

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

The Enemy - in the spiritual and physical realms -  tries to control with fear and intimidation.

But God says, "Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be discouraged.  I am with you wherever you go."

THAT is the spirit of the marathon.  Strong.  Courageous.  Never alone.

Run on dear friends!

How are you doing Sole Sisters as you process this tragedy?  


  1. This is just exactly the post i needed tonight! I needed the scripture, the writing and most of all the photos- especially the goofball/corny ones.

    I forgot that the lord COMMANDS us to FEAR NOT. It's not a gentle suggestion. It is a command! As the master of the universe, and a good and mighty God, we have no need to fear.

    Loved the photos today the most. the rain-smeared signs, the posed Jodi ra-ra picture, the step-brother running with you.

    Heal up my friend. There's another race waiting!

    1. Thanks Raina. You heal up too. I'm so glad God used this to bless you last night. His Word is healing! Can't wait to start reading race reports of you running again.

  2. Jodi as you were talking about not having peace about signing up... I was just thinking how God may have been protecting you. With your injury now, who knows where you would have been in the race process.
    It makes me sad that someone would do this... I am praying for the brother and for the wife and child of the brother who died... I heard she was raised in a Christian home...
    I know I felt responsible for Carissa, being a big fan of the idea of her going to Boston... Definitely a lot to process through.

    1. It's a good point Kari and one I've thought about. I hurt my foot on Tuesday before the Boston Marathon. I know God is sovereign and I know He will redeem this for His glory.

  3. That's what I'm praying for in all of it. Redemption.

  4. Wow!! So inspiring! It is amazing what you can accomplish!! Go Kathleen!

  5. Way to go my Kathleen! SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO proud of you friend!