Friday, May 19, 2006

It's completely unchartered territory for both of us.

It's not that we're completely unfamiliar with the journey. We've witnessed it second-hand and most likely have read material concerning the process. But to trek down this path is a daunting challenge, to say the least.

And although we find ourselves together in this unchartered moment, it is ultimately a journey that we each must travel alone...

My journey spans all of 26.2 miles and approximately four hours. It will be my first marathon on Saturday, May 20 - a test of my mental strength, as I don't think I had the time (taking care of triplets at home) to prepare enough for the physical aspect of this journey. Regardless, I registered a year ago and my journey ultimately lies ahead.

The journey of my sister's father-in-law spans over an entire glorious lifetime and into eternity. His name is Lee Jones; husband, father of two sons and grandfather of five. A few years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, an aggressive cancer that was battled every step of the way. And just when we thought it was in remission, it reappeared more aggressive than before - this time, spreading throughout the bones of this man's frail body. Having been told by doctors that his remaining physical life may be a month or two, his journey ultimately lies ahead as well.

In training for a marathon, I scoured over texts and articles addressing diet, sleep, training, breathing, marathon pace formulas, etc. And through it all, there was very little information to address the mental aspect of the race. What do I do with my mind and thoughts while trekking these 26.2 miles? I know what my father would say: "If you're going to be all by yourself, you might as well pray." And that is exactly what I intend to do.

Over the course of these 26 miles, I hope to involve myself (amidst cramps and aches) in a "run of remembrance;" a journey where each mile is dedicated to family and friends - celebrating their life and any special needs they may have. And if you are reading this reflection today, then you most likely are on my wristband that I will wearing during Saturday's race. And many of the miles toward the end of this race - where one normally "hits the wall" - will be dedicated to Lee Jones.

This Saturday morning I ask you to put down what you're doing and go for a short run, jog or walk. Go just a little further than you normally do and say a brief prayer for Lee Jones, that his pain is bearable and his journey is sure. Take a few moments more to think of those loved ones and friends in your life that need an extra prayer, run or walk a few more blocks, and offer them up...

To you, Lee Jones, I dedicate my race to you. We both know that the pain during the remaining moments of our journeys may seem unbearable, but we also know that the glory of the finish line is just over the next hill. Godspeed to you, friend, in your glorious finish line.