Why Finishing Well Matters

 In Personal Growth, Relationship with God

IMG_7400I’ve crossed two half marathon finish lines in the past two years and had completely different experiences in each of my 13.1 mile races.

My first half was in sunny Orlando with three of my running buddies from high school and college. We had trained for months. We conquered the early Saturday morning hurdle and knew the backroads of our little town like the backs of our hands. We’d gone through old shoes, lots of sticky, humid miles and hundreds of songs on our running playlists. We were ready. We came to conquer. And we had a finishing goal at the forefront of our minds: break the two-hour mark. In our minds, finishing at 1:50:00 would be ideal, but optimistically, we aimed to come in anywhere under 2:00:00.

Race day came. Humidity was high and the sun was ready to shine brightly on the course. The four of us started strong and kept a steady, comfortable, yet speedy pace for the first 10 miles. We sang, we cheered each other on, we were all smiles.

And then I got sick. My stomach began doing summersaults as I felt the panicky feelings of sickness coming quickly. I told my friends to run ahead so I could catch my breath and that I would catch up to them.

My last three miles felt like an uphill battle. Willing myself to put one foot in front of the other was the only thing on my mind. Finish, finish, finish. Catch up to my friends. Finish. I jogged the last mile as best as I could and crossed that finish line at 2:03:22.

I remember seeing my family, cheering loudly, ready to congratulate me as I crossed the finish line. But I wasn’t happy. My last three miles left me so frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy the finish. I hurried across the finish line, paused for pictures, but then, rather than wanting to celebrate with my friends, I just wanted to leave. I wanted to hop in the car, go home and sulk.

Fast-foward to half marathon #2 on the colorful Las Vegas strip. Since moving to Las Vegas, running the Rock’N’ Roll Half Marathon had been at the top of my bucket list, so I grabbed a few friends, signed up and began training. This time around, my training looked a lot different than my prep time for the Orlando Half Marathon. My training was more sporadic than I had hoped, my times were off, my body was still adjusting to the dryness of the desert, and as race day approached, I was physically nowhere near as ready as I had been only a year earlier for my first half marathon.

But, I laced up my shoes, met my running group, and lined up with the other runners assigned to my corral. I started with low expectations and was simply ready to have fun running the strip at night. It was electrifying. The lights shimmered and we were greeted with DJs, fans and music at almost every turn. As I ran, I couldn’t help but smile, seeing this city I had moved across the country to in a different way. As we neared mile 10, my nerves began to shake—would I get sick again? Would my body react? We ran past mile 10, past mile 11, past mile 12 and as we neared the finish line, my adrenaline set in—I was doing this. And I was finishing strong. Crossing that finish line, I felt like I could have kept going, could have kept running the race. My finish time was nowhere near my first half marathon, but how I felt at the finish line was completely different—I was ecstatic.

I ran the same distance in both of those races, but my finish was entirely different. I can’t help but think the same is true in life.

“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” {Hebrews 12:1-2}

The toughest part of both of my half marathons were the last three miles. The vast majority of the race was well behind me and the finish line was so close I could taste it. But, I had three miles to go. The race wasn’t over just yet. And it was here, in those last few miles, that I had a choice to make: would I finish strong, would I coast by simply “finishing to finish”, or would I hit a wall and give up entirely?

My Dad shared this incredible truth with me surrounding this idea of finishing well: “The enemy doesn’t fight you for where you are. He fights you for where you’re going.” How we decide to finish makes all the difference.

Perhaps you’re finishing a season or certain chapter of life. Maybe a relationship you thought was headed towards marriage is coming to an end; perhaps you’re transitioning between jobs; maybe it’s time to pack your bags and move to a new city; perhaps you’re close to wrapping up a massive project at work; or maybe you’re almost at the end of your pregnancy, ready to welcome new life to this world.

Wherever you are today, keep running…even if it’s one step at a time. Finishing strong is the best way to start what’s next. How we run the last three miles is entirely up to us.

What kind of runner will you choose to be today?

Author: Emily B. Cummins

Emily Cummins is a University of Florida & College of Central Florida grad who is passionate about partnering with people to become who they were made to be. Emily is the Online Campus Pastor at Church of Hope in Ocala, Florida. She’s passionate about storytelling, good cups of coffee, and jamming to country music. And most importantly, she’s passionately pursuing becoming the woman God made her to be.

Recent Posts
Comments
  • Susan Pryor
    Reply

    Emily, I loved your inspiring article! I will share this with my daughters age 13 & 20.

Leave a Comment

Contact Me

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search