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  An article on how a marathon parallels many things in life and a spiritual journey.
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Life and a Marathon

Kathy Szymanski  (szymansk@bevcomm.net)

I participated in a marathon in December 2011, just a few weeks shy of my 57th birthday. I have cancer of the neck and throat, and have had it for 10 years.   I also have a tracheotomy and can’t breathe through my nose or mouth. I present all that as background.  I want to share some lessons I learned through doing the marathon, and how it parallels life and a religious journey.   The parts in italics are from my “marathon report”, written while the event was still fresh in my mind.   And I conclude with some reflections gleaned several months after the event.

I’m not calling it a race report; it was never my intention to race. My goal was to finish the marathon and enjoy (at least some of) it.   Is this not the goal of life?   I had to ask myself, before I embarked on this journey (or went very far) was WHY I was doing this.   I discerned that I was doing it because I felt it was God’s will for me.  I was unsure really why, and uncertain of all the reasons why He wanted it.    I had written on the back of my marathon shirt (the one I wore that day): For His Glory.   That’s why I did it.    I hadn’t planned on writing that, it was a spur of the moment thing.   I had some of my own reasons for doing it, but far and away the over-riding reason was I believed it was God’s will.   It makes me think of the old Baltimore Catechism question and answer: Why did God make me?   The answer is: to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

Life isn’t a race. It’s there (in part) for us to enjoy.    The fastest marathoners were done in a little over 2 hours.   That’s great, but how much did they see along the way?   How much did they enjoy?   I recall more than one moment when I thought to myself, “This is really wonderful. This is beautiful.”   Being in Hawaii in December when you’re from Minnesota?   A no-brainer!    Sunshine, fresh warm breezes, birds chirping, surf churning.

Let me set the stage a bit for you. It was a few years back, when my husband, John, said something about doing a marathon. He was talking in jest (neither of us are physical fitness buffs, much less runners).   That comment was a seed planted (probably by the Holy Spirit).    I began to do some research, found out the most walker- friendly marathon was in Hawaii.   AHA!   THAT sounds good.   So we kind of made it a goal to do the Honolulu Marathon in 18 months.   Walk it, not run.   That gave us plenty of time to get in shape.   As it turns out, John stepped back and chose to do the 10K “Fun Walk” instead of the marathon.

As it got closer, friends and family had varied reactions.    Most were supportive and encouraging.   A few said not to do it.    Some said you “can’t” do it.   Do you sometimes have people in your life who laugh at you or your goals, who tell you that you can’t/ shouldn’t do them?   That you’ll fail?     Those kinds of things are for “someone else”?    Someone better qualified, better able.    Think a minute here how Jesus used all kinds of people who were “unqualified”.    Peter was an ignorant fisherman.    Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.

Marathon Day: I hadn’t slept well the last few nights (long travel trip, jitters, time changes, etc.).   That didn’t matter.    How often do you plan to do something in your spiritual life and for a lot of reasons, it’s not quite as easy as you had hoped/ expected?   Things get in the way (like the time changes and all did for me).    All that doesn’t make any difference, you do it anyway. Wake up call at 1:30 a.m. marathon day. (Am I nuts? Yes!)    Sometimes in your spiritual life do you have to do things you don’t normally do, things you don’t like to do, maybe even things you can’t imagine yourself doing- like getting up at 1:30 a.m. to get in place to walk 26.2 miles…. I got everything on, ate, etc, left at 2:30.   Caught a bus to the start (mind you, now it’s about 3:30 a.m., still dark.) I had to wait in long lines to use the bathroom.   Finally it was approaching 5 a..m and we all lined up.   They put the fastest runners first, up front, slower turtles later (fine by me).

In life, in general, and in regards to the spiritual life, it is generally a good idea to surround yourself with people more or less where you’re at, maybe a little more advanced than you.   They’ll challenge you to be better, but not run you over or leave you in the dust.   In the marathon, and in life, size and shape, age and appearance really matters little.

Your actual time doesn’t start until you cross the start line (I was 12 minutes back). There were 23,000 for the marathon plus a bunch (I don’t know how many) doing the 10K.    Life has lots of people in it, lots of people on the same journey as you.    But remember, it’s not a race (for me, anyway).   And so what if you’re “starting late”.   Probably for our Lord, like the marathon was set up, He’ll “start” your time when you cross the “start” line.    If you’re 50 and just coming to realize who he is, GREAT!   If you’re 20 and raring to go, GREAT!

The 10K walkers started farther back. I fully expected John to catch up to me as he walks faster than I do.  He never did; he ended up walking slower with some 90-year-old retired farmer from Iowa.  That was fine.   So in life, maybe sometimes you expect to meet certain people, walk with them, have them catch up to you.    Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.    You could slow down to wait for them, or you can continue on, eyes forward, looking always at the goal.    Sometimes waiting is the right thing; sometimes going on your way is best.    In this case, no doubt I was to forge ahead.

After the 10K, my field thinned out considerably. All the faster folks were ahead of me; all the 10K folks were done.   So in life, some people only go so far, some are only called to go so far.    That’s fine.    Those who are called to go farther are not necessarily any better, just called to serve God differently.   The key is to do your best, no matter how far you are called to go.

I was going well, about what I had expected. John had our rental car. We had driven the route the day before, and had a pretty good idea of where he might be able to meet up with me.  If you know where you’re going, if you know the route, at least have some idea of it, the going will be easier.   Before we left for Hawaii, I spent a fair amount of time on Google Earth, looking at the route, studying it.   Then, like I said, we drove it.  Think of how that parallels life.   If you have an idea of your route, how long it is, what the terrain is like, where obstacles or trouble spots (like hills) might crop up, you will be better able to deal with it all.    It pays to spend some time looking at life, your life.   Make a plan and design a route.   You can change and adapt it, but a plan gives you a starting point.   I had a plan of how I anticipated handling the marathon.   The route was laid out, I knew how to deal with the hills, the distance and so forth.


So, John was planning on meeting up with me at certain points with food, encouragement, and so forth.   I wasn’t sure exactly where, as we really wouldn’t know where he’d be able to drive.   With that many people, they had roads closed.  Even the freeway was closed for about 5 miles, as that was part of the route.   He knew where I was going, and could figure out where he could meet me.

I met him first at 9 miles (he had things like chocolate, drinks, etc.) They had aid stations and passed out water and Gatorade, but no food, and I knew I’d need to eat.   I was doing GOOD, walking pretty much the speed I had planned.   And truly enjoying it!   Does God sometimes place very special people in your life who will help you along the way?    Have you thanked Him for those people?   Have you thanked THEM for being there?

At mile 7 you go by the finish line and the next 7 miles or also follow the “return route”.   It was a bit unsettling when I got there (mile 7) and realized a fair number of the top runners were already done!   And the farther I went, the more the “pack” was close to home.    And I wasn’t even halfway yet!   So in life, or in your spiritual life, do you sometimes see people who are much closer to where you want to be?   How do you let that affect you?   Do you get discouraged?    Or can you choose to applaud them and their efforts and hard work, and just keep going at your own pace?

It started to get harder around the halfway point. The way the route was set up, you don’t “turn around” at the halfway point, and you have another 4 miles or so before you “turn around”. (About mile 14, you veer off onto a loop, so I no longer saw the ones heading back.)   Do you ever get to a point maybe mid-way through your life when the going gets tough?   How do you handle it?

It was very windy (the wind against you the first half; but with you- pushing you- on the way back).   I was bit concerned beforehand about heat and humidity.   That wasn’t a problem.   It did rain in the middle section.   I had a little portable poncho- garbage sack type thing.   I managed to get it on (NOT an easy feat in heavy wind and rain, without losing your visor and sunglasses while continuing to walk).   Rains only last about 10 minutes in Hawaii.   So sometimes in life you have obstacles.   Often we expect problems (like I expected heat and humidity) and don’t encounter them.   How much energy do we waste thinking about problems that never came up?    And sometimes we’re prepared for the problems (like I had the poncho).   And sometimes the problems are over quickly.   Sometimes using the tools we have isn’t easy (like getting the poncho on).

I knew I was slowing down, that was okay. I met my husband a few more times (he did a great job of maneuvering around closed roads and so on to get to me).   Things were getting tougher.   I was tired and had sore feet.   I did lots of praying.   My mental plan wasn’t working.   During my training walks at home (the outside ones), I did “writing” in my head.   This came easily, I passed the time quickly as I thought of story lines and details.   I figured I’d do that on the marathon.   But I couldn’t concentrate at all on that.   So when it got hard, I prayed.   I tried doing rosaries, that didn’t work, keeping track.   So I just did Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers.   LOTS.   And every time I felt bad I drank (dehydration often makes you more tired and sore).

So, what does this tell me about the spiritual journey?   Sometimes we slow down, get tired.   Yet God still sends us boosters (like John who kept meeting me).   Sometimes we hurt and suffer.   So, for me, at that point, I prayed.   Sometimes it’s hard to know what to pray, how to pray.   Sometimes we’re so absorbed or out of energy, we seem not to be able to even pray.   Just like I couldn’t even keep track of the rosary.   But I am fortunate to have “rote” prayer (yet effective) to fall back on.   No thinking required.   And even though I may or may not have done the “correct” amount that matters not. I was able to put one foot in front of the other, stay the course and recite my Hail Marys easily.   As you journey through life, make sure to pray, but also don’t forget to care for your physical self.   Had I not kept up the fluid intake, I would have been in much worse shape.

The thought of quitting never entered my mind. I KNEW I was going to finish. I knew to get to the finish it involved one step after another. Repeat.  And that’s life.   Keep going.   No quitting.   Doesn’t make any difference how fast you go.   The course is marked, so stay on it.   You can and will do it.   I KNEW that.

John and I had a long talk the day or so before the marathon.  I knew there would be no shame in not finishing for whatever reason.   If that’s the way it turned out, that was okay.   But somehow I knew I’d finish.   And I found I needed to hear John say he believed that I would finish.   Not that I could, that I would.   Really, apart from him, and God, what others thought didn’t matter.   It really doesn’t matter what most others think of you or your goals.   Listen to wise counsel, but let any negativity slide off your back.

One thing that was not the most pleasant was the bathrooms.   Now with 23,000 marathoners, the organizing committee had plenty of porta-potties.   Except before the marathon, I didn’t have to wait in line anywhere.   BUT, by the time I got to them, after 19,000 people ahead of me had used them, well they weren’t exactly the cleanest.   In life, sometimes you will be in places that might be dirty, ugly, and stinky.   Maybe you can detour, and find a nicer place.   I could have left the route and gone into a fast food bathroom along the way or something (that wouldn’t disqualify me or anything).   But that would have taken me off my path, away from my goal.   So maybe dealing with some dirt and garbage in your life is the best way.   Just wade through it.   Going around, detouring may not be good.

At about mile 22 I took a short 5 min break. I don’t know if that was a good idea or not (I think it was) but it was hard to move again.   So do we sometimes take a “break” in life?   Is that a good idea, maybe or maybe not?   But is it hard to get moving again after a break?   Usually it is, we want to just continue sitting, not moving.   It is very easy to get complacent, and justify not moving.

Once moving, I just kept going. I knew Mile 23 had a long hill (100’ total elevation).   I handled that okay, and was able to enjoy again (for a bit) looking at the beautiful ocean view from high up.   So, again, we’ve been going a long time.   We’re tired.   And here’s a hill.   Not a real steep one, but long and hard.   Or maybe your hill IS steep.   There IS beauty along the way, even on the hill.   Look for it, see it, and enjoy it.   Don’t let your pain, tiredness, suffering overwhelm you.  

It was all downhill from here, and not too far.   But I was still going slowly.   And was okay with going slow.   I stopped checking my time about halfway through.   I didn’t care about time.   How often do we concern ourselves with things that aren’t important- like time?   Do we rush?   Does it really make any difference what our “time” is?   Does paying attention to time detract from our mission?

John surprised me, meeting me a bit later (maybe mile 24?) to walk to the finish with me (he had parked at the finish and hiked up- it was uphill for him).  That was nice.  Of course, he takes off at his good clip; soon realized mama dear was not that fast, especially after 24 miles and almost 11 hours of walking.   And in life, does God sometimes surprise us with unexpected little bonuses?   And do people sometimes try to help in ways that aren’t quite right?   Like John walking with me, but at first not realizing he had to move at my pace.   But then he did, and his company was most appreciated.   Do people sometimes need to learn a bit what you really need before they can help effectively?   Give them a chance.   I didn’t tell John what to do, that he was going too fast; he just figured it out (pretty quickly).   Maybe sometimes we DO need to tell people how they can help us, sometimes not.

Bottom of the hill, into the park, in the finish road… (Geez, they could have made that finish at the BEGINNING of the finish road, not the end- maybe another 3/4 mile).   There were a few spectators cheering us on at the end.   I had expected to be emotional. I wasn’t.   All my energy the last 3-4 hours was in getting to the finish line.   And when I did, there was no energy left for emotions.   So as you get close to a finish line (any kind of finish line in your life), does it seem closer than it really is?   Does it take you much longer than you think to really get there?   Do you have less support than you’d like?   Does that discourage you?   Keep going.   Spectators and how many there are or aren’t makes no difference.  Those who were there were quite enthusiastic, that was nice.   Maybe you don’t need LOTS of supporters, just a few good ones.   Does it make any difference that you’re not feeling the way you thought you would?

I wasn’t “dead on my feet”, but plenty tired.   ONE step before the finish line (a timing mat you walk over), I stopped.   Intentionally.   I looked at it.   For about 30 seconds.   Then I STOMPED over it in triumph.   Then I went over and sat down on the curb, not thinking much about anything.   Looking back, a month later, I can see how my mind was functioning on some level even though the conscious brain wasn’t kicking in.  That moment, at the finish line, WAS momentous, and something told me to stop and imprint it into my mind.   And I did.   And later, days and weeks and months later, the emotions I expected then are coming out:  The joy, the wonder, the gratitude, the amazement, the astonishment, and more.   (Okay, so I’m crying as I write this- that’s fine.)

There may be significant moments in your life.   Take a few seconds (or longer) to recognize them, let them melt into your subconscious.   That finish line moment for me is a snapshot one that will be forever there for me.   Don’t worry about your feelings, just allow yourself to “be”.

I DID IT! I finished.    I achieved my goal.  I wasn’t last, but even if I had been, that’s okay.  I finished, and I enjoyed it (most/some of it, especially the first 10 miles).   I WAS surprised looking today at the results that there were almost 150 behind me that finished and that there were several thousand that dropped out.   The first 20 miles or so of the walk I pretty much did what I had hoped/ expected time wise.   The last 6-7 miles were much slower than I had anticipated/ expected.  Your journey may not be quite what you expect, the way you expect it, at the speed at which you expect it to flow.   It makes NO difference if others finish ahead of you or behind.   You do YOUR best.   Maybe they have different talents, abilities, temperaments, whatever that allow them to finish ahead of you.   No matter.   While walking, while on your journey, you don’t need to look around a lot at others, seeing what they are doing or how.   Don’t mold yourself into their mold.   Go YOUR way.   The way God wants you to go.

Let me talk a bit about tools.   I had various tools to help me achieve my goal of doing the marathon.   A good coach, quality shoes (even special socks, shorts, shirts, and bra), something called Body Glide (to prevent chafing).   Sometimes it is not the big things, like sore thigh muscles that will get you down, but the tiny things, like the waistband of your shorts rubbing.   I had a supportive husband (and my family and others).   I had people praying for me, both before the marathon and during it.   There were aid stations along the way, passing out water and Gatorade.   There were First Aid stations (I didn’t need them).   There were some cheering spectators, especially early on.     I had Google Earth, and a marathon map to have an idea where I was going, what the terrain looked like.   Without those tools, I may not have made it.  They made a significant difference.

And what tools do we have in our lives, our spiritual journeys that parallel that?  Well certainly (if you’re Catholic), the Church.   Think of a good priest/ confessor/ spiritual guide as a coach.   Even something like EWTN or Catholic radio.   Just as I had water and Gatorade and various foods provided, we have the Eucharist.   Prayers to sustain us, help us focus.   The rosary, sometimes considered boring, to carry us through times when we can’t think to pray.   The Word of God to encourage us, verses we can cling to.  (I had a few affirmations that I would repeat, more before and during the training, than during the actual walk.)   We have people around us, maybe just a few, maybe a lot, who care, support and encourage us.   The Church gives us a map- she says go here, don’t go there, go this way, not that way, do this, not that.   We have Churches with Christ present where we can go to pray and meditate.   We have retreats.   Like my coach had her experience in working with many walkers, and runners, and marathoners, the Church has many holy men and women, saints, the early Church fathers who we can look to for advice.   She has over 2000 years of leading people to Christ.  We’d be fools not to pay attention to her. 

Sometimes we think we know a lot and don’t need much advice/ input.   And we can be surprised.   My coach suggested compression socks (the knee-hi ones people who have surgery are advised to wear to help circulation).   Not during the marathon, but during the long plane ride and for the first few days after the marathon.   I had never thought of that.   She was exactly right.   They felt so good with sore muscles.   Sometimes the Church might suggest things, like maybe Confession monthly.   We may think we don’t need that- we have no mortal sin on our souls, it’s not Christmas or Easter.   Yet when/if we go, we may be pleasantly surprised at how well it makes us feel.   Listen to the Church.

What about training?   The months I spent training were as much a part of my marathon as the day itself.   Many lessons learned with that.   It was the training that allowed me to finish, and achieve my goal.   My coach set up a training schedule for me, based on where I was at and what the goal was.   Every day (there were rest days, also) it was walk this far in this time.   The Church does this for us- sets up a training schedule.   Go to Mass each Sunday.   Go to Confession (ideally a few times/month).   Read the Bible every day.   Pray.   And so on.   We have a spiritual “training” schedule.   If we follow it, we will be in much better shape to follow the will of God in our lives.

I didn’t doubt or question my coach.   She knew what she was doing, she’d been there, done this marathon many times, and coached many people.   I didn’t dismiss her recommendations.   I didn’t argue or question.   I just DID it.

Do we sometimes question or resist what the Church tells us to do?   Do we think we can get by with less, or maybe doing it “our way”?   Isn’t that trusting our own judgment over the Church’s?   There were times I’d bring up questions to the coach, or have a minor injury and ask if I should adjust my training.   But that is different from questioning her judgment, her schedule, and her wisdom.   My coach helped guide me, and provided information I needed to achieve my goal.   The Church does the same.   We are prudent to pay close attention and follow the recommendations.   Maybe I would have made it anyway.   But why do it the hard way?

The many, many hours of walking as part of my training were hard.   Long.   Boring.   Time consuming.   Not what ***I*** wanted to be doing.   But I never cut them short or skipped them.   Because I knew doing it, as outlined, would help me achieve my goal.   And I was committed to the goal.   As I said at the beginning, I felt this was what God wanted of me.   That made me completely committed to the goal.

The key for me was commitment.   I mean true, serious commitment.   Think about something.   Is getting to heaven your goal?   How committed are you, TRULY, to get to that goal?   Are you willing to put in long hours, many days, weeks, months, years, decades to achieve it?   Even when you’re tired, sore, and it’s cold outside?    When you’re called to do things that are hard, when you’d rather be doing something else?

If you’re not totally committed, are you going to make it?   Being committed is a CHOICE.  Make it.   And then follow through on every last bit of training outlined for you.   There were times I screwed up, counted miles wrong or something and didn’t do what I was supposed to.   But it was never intentional and the mistakes were few.   I was diligent about knowing what was expected and doing it.

In a way, doing this marathon was like a vocation for me.   Not many are called to this vocation.   That doesn’t make any difference.   If you are called to a vocation that few are called to, answer the call anyway.   A vocation many are called to, such as motherhood, is one of the noblest ones out there.   Walking/running a marathon is also a noble vocation, though less common.    One vocation is not better than another, but follow His call, wherever it leads you.

Life is, in essence, a marathon.   Not easy, but do-able and enjoyable, with many pleasures along the way.     It involves delightful people and experiences and surprises.   Go for it.

Later Thoughts, 6 Months Post-Marathon

The Marathon- Commitment

I’ve been thinking about commitment.  I currently have a commitment to walk an hour a day 5-6 days/ week, simply to maintain physical fitness.  I accomplish this with excellent consistency.  But some days it is quite challenging, hard to “get it in”.  I am committed to this and it gets done.

Yet less than a year ago, I was training to do a marathon.  I was committed to that goal.  I was committed to the training schedule my coach had laid out for me. 

I look back now at that training schedule.  It had days with 10 miles (common), some 15 miles, even a few at 20 miles.  That means I was to cover that many miles, continuously, in that day.  As I said, my goal was to walk the marathon, not run it.  And not just to finish it, but to enjoy at least some of it along the way.   When you walk a marathon, your training is similar to if you run it.  It just takes you MUCH longer because you’re awaking the miles, not running them.    It was a LOT of hours, a lot of walking.   I truly wonder now how I did it. 

Thinking about it, I was committed.  That was what allowed me to crank out all those miles.  I am no longer committed to doing a marathon, I don’t need to walk that many miles to stay fit.  

But it was commitment that got me to the finish line.   


The Marathon – Past successes

Lots of people may talk about doing a marathon, few-- very few-- ever cross the finish line. 

Past successes can build you up, you can go back to them.  I really have had a lot of successes in my life (thank you God, for giving me the opportunities and strength to make them realities).  This marathon success is on my mind a great deal these days. 

Finishing a marathon- going over 26 miles-  is a huge success.  For anyone.  But for me it holds even more meaning than probably many because of my health issues and “maturity”.  That, to me, adds even more power to the success.

That success, one of the major ones in my life, is holding me up and carrying me through other challenges.  My thinking is, “If I can do that, AND I DID, I can pretty much do anything.”  I am and have been appositive thinker for a long time, and convinced I can do most anything.  But that success just fueled my attitude.

I share all this not to brag, but to get you to look at YOUR successes and call upon them when you are doubting, fearful, unsure.

If for some reason you can’t see your successes, YOU NEED NEW GLASSES.  Turn your thinking around.  Everyone had successes!  Maybe one success is simply getting back up after you have fallen (and NOTHING wrong with falling!)


The Marathon- Comparison-

Building on the idea of successes.  Don’t compare yourself to me.  You’re NOT me.  You don’t have the same challenges/ gifts/ opportunities/ talents/ support that I do.  Yours aren’t any better or worse than mine, just different. 

Be who YOU are, who you are called to be.  I was called to do a marathon.  (And DO listen to that voice inside you!  I never realized the full ramifications of finishing a marathon, and I know there are yet many many more good things to come of that.)  There are some “nuts” out there who do something called Nine in Nine.  That is they do (run) one marathon EVERY day for NINE consecutive days!  NOT me!  Kudos to them! 

Back to comparison.    I could easily have compared myself to the other marathoners.  As I was still maybe only 7-8 miles out the “out” course paralleled the “return” course for a few miles.  The fastest runners were already near the end, I had a long ways to go yet.  I could have gotten discouraged had I compared myself to them.  I didn’t.  I had MY plan, suited to ME.

The Honolulu Marathon is a big one, well over 20,000 entrants.  (Plus a 5K “Fun Run” held at the same time and place that attracts thousands more.)  Over 19,000 finished ahead of me.  So?   I repeat, SOOOO??????

I wasn’t last (or even near the last), but even if I had been, so what?

I mean, a Sunday afternoon walk in Hawaii in December?  How could you NOT enjoy yourself?    Actually, I’ll digress yet again.  I think you could not enjoy yourself.  If you are so focused on the technique, the timing, the details, the method, you could miss the beauty along the way.  I wondered if those fastest runners had a good time?    For myself, I quit keeping track of time about 1/3 way through.  I was on schedule- MY schedule- but time didn’t matter.  Focusing on that was too distracting.  I just walked, and looked at things.  So much beauty in Hawaii.

My goal was to finish and enjoy at least part of it.  I did finish and I can say there were many times (even near the end) when I truly was enjoying myself.  I met MY goal.  I don’t care what anyone else’s was.

Set your goals for yourself.   Based on what YOU want/ feel called to.  Your goals are not any better or higher or worse ort lower than someone else’s.  They are yours.  Let them be the best and highest ones for YOU.



The Marathon – Goals

In the success section, I talked about goals.  If necessary there is NOTHING wrong with changing your goals.  Not quitting or giving up (DON’T do that), but adapting to better meet your current situation.

This whole Hawaii marathon thing came up about 18 months before our 35th wedding anniversary.  My husband and I talked about it.  I convinced him (a dedicated homebody who does NOT like spending money) that this would be a GOOD thing for us both to do- the marathon.  He agreed.

Now, John is in somewhat poor physical shape.  But 18 months is plenty long to get in shape, especially if your plan is only to walk the marathon, not run it.  Well, time passed.  I was doing more walking.  He was not (not really doing much of any exercise).   Eventually it became apparent that he wasn’t going to do it.   I was putting in lots of hours training, he was doing nothing. 

He had decided, consciously or subconsciously that he wasn’t willing to make the commitment necessary to do a marathon.  Fine.  Not good or bad, just the way it is/was.    His choice didn’t deter me.  He still supported my choice, even if it wasn’t his.  And I was going to do it, with or without him.  The support was good and invaluable, but I didn’t need him walking at my side every minute.

John WAS doing the 5K Fun Run (walking it).  The 5K entrants started out farther behind the marathoners.  I had expected him to catch up to me in the first mile, he walks faster than I do. 

He never did.  I could have chosen to stop and wait for him (changing my goal).  I determined I didn’t want to do that (change my goal, slow down, stop, wait).  I didn’t change my goal.  (Ended up he was sauntering along with some 92 year-old farmer from Iowa.)

My point is that it is okay to change goals sometimes.  Sometimes you will, sometimes you won’t.   To adapt is okay.  John decided what was needed to do the marathon was not what he was willing to invest.   Maybe a good choice, maybe not.  Makes no difference.  He’ll take it from here and go on with life.