I decided to put a purpose behind the first four marathons I ran. I chose a daughter for each and focused on that one during my long training runs and even on race day. I called them prayerathons – but not out-loud because that sounds really cheesy and cliché.
To take things a step further, I asked each one of them to draw a picture for me to have printed on the back of my race shirt and I gave them the race medal.
Here are the first three:
All are very special, but the final one has become incredibly dear to me. Kylie was six when it was her turn. The Birmingham Marathon was nine days before her seventh birthday and she decided to draw penguins for me since they were her favorite animal. As I have mentioned in the past, she was very meticulous about her drawing and the slightest mistake would require a redo. She threw out many subpar penguins in her quest for perfection.
Finally she came up with this:
When she gave it to me, she explained with a kiss on the nose that I was to “Run, daddy, run. Then waddle home to me.”
That became my purpose for the race and I did just that. I ran one of my best times, and anyone who has run a marathon can attest, waddling is what you do afterwards.
* * * * *
I’ve thought about that a lot since her death.
What is my purpose?
What do I want to do now?
What race have I been entered into because of cancer? That entry fee was astronomically high.
At some point it dawned on me that she set my life’s course those many years ago. Her drawing wasn’t merely about that marathon, it is about the current race of life I’m running.
Like any marathon, I just have a run my best to the finish line and then waddle home to her.
I run by telling her story.
I run by showing others how they can have joy during any storm.
I run by preaching the need for safer and more effective cures for childhood cancer.
I run by sharing the Jesus that Kylie knew and the faith she wouldn’t relinquish even until she saw his face.
I run that way until that day when my time in this world is done and I waddle home to her.
And when I get weary, I stop at a water station to refresh myself before finding the strength to set out once more. There is no retirement in this race. I may be at mile 14 right now or mile 25 – I have no way of knowing. I do know that this is my course, set forth by the strongest person I ever knew when she was but six years-old.
…then waddle home to her.