Lessons from running the Jerusalem Marathon
“Do you want to join the Jerusalem Marathon, Anthony?” Israel Ambassdor Effie Matitiyahu asked me. ”Wow, sure! Go!” was my immediate reply, I think. (Honestly, I wasn’t really thinking. The idea just overwhelmed me: “The Holy Land!”). Well, the rest is history. Rich history.
Running the Jerusalem Marathon was an experience – an ordeal, haha – like no other. And true to form, I just had to come up with an acrostic that summed up some key learnings from the marathon, or is it about all of life?
Life is a M.A.R.A.T.H.O.N.
1. Make the Decision. If I have someone else make the decision for me, I shouldn’t be surprised if the energy to finish isn’t there. And even if I do have it, someone else takes the credit! True for a run, or any undertaking in life. As I paraphrase, “If this decision will be, it’s up to me.”
2. Allow time for Preparation. I may have enough in me for a couple of steps, but c’mon, step after step after step, covering over 40,000 meters? It was at least 3 runs for me a week for about 2 months (considering my “base” when I started), and I knew that wasn’t even ideal.
3. Review the Route. “Therefore, to estimate the enemy situation and to calculate distances and the degree of difficulty of the terrain so as to control victory are virtues of the superior general,” says Sun Tzu. While there will be the unknowns, there are identified stages, patterns and “ups and downs” in marathons, and in life! While it was my first time to run the course, I grabbed the opportunity offered by Uri Taub of the Ministry of Tourism in Jerusalem to drive through most of the route the night before.
4. Ask those who’ve gone before you. The 15-minute walk from our hotel to the starting line with someone who ran the race 10 times really did make a difference! The one advice that helped me finish? “Don’t run with the crowd who get all excited by speeding in the first half; save your strength for the hills (which included Mount Zion!)." Pacing and timing are fundamental keys to project victory, and often, it’s they who are experienced who have embraced this best.
5. Take your loved ones with you. While my wife, Maricel, opted to join my eldest daughter, Ella, in the 10 km run, they were with me in preparing, in praying, and certainly, in ending with Ella running the last 50 m with me to the finish line! And the joy of having my 6-year-old Solana (who did the 800m run) wrapping me up with a foil blanket to keep me warm! “Make sure your family gets the best of you, not what is left of you, when you are done with life!”
6. Have more than “finishing” in your agenda. The visit to a potential tech company partner, the tour of key sites in the Holy Land, and the time spent just listening to Ella’s heart as she shared how it has been for her studying away from home the past 2 months (she flew in from Italy to join us in the run) was precious. “It’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it.”
7. Open your mind, and heart, to surprises! Running the marathon opened up new doors and ideas for the future. Why not help organize a Philippine contingent to next year’s race? And the fantasy of having our 25th wedding anniversary this December in Cana (where our vats of water will turn into barrels of wine!)? That’s moving from possibility to probability!
8. Never ever rule out Divine power to help you finish the marathon of life. “Yet those who trust in the Lord shall mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired; they will walk and not get weary.” (Isaiah 40:31) The 42.2 km Jerusalem Marathon, with all its hills, is arguably one of the toughest race courses in the world – well, it certainly was for me considering this was my 10th, which includes the 6 world marathon majors. I felt like I was ascending to heaven one moment, and descending to depths of darkness the next!
Joining – and struggling through – marathons have taught me more about life than just “how to” complete in long runs. Indeed, life is a marathon (with a couple of sprints and water stations in between).
Hats off to all who are currently engaged in their own long-term dreams and have not quit! We journey with you, and look forward to seeing you along the route, or at the finish line. – Rappler.com