Posted by: grantmiho | March 10, 2010

Joy and Pain at the Barcelona Marathon

Warming up for the marathon

Right before the race begins. Still smiling.

Preparing for the finish

Dying at 28km point

Regaining a smile at 36km point in front of Arc de Triomphe

Forced smile after the race

Cost of marathon - blisters!

Joy and pain sum up this wonderful experience. After a strong start and completing the first half under my target time, the second half proved extremely challenging for me, partly due to a number of blisters on my toes. I ended up crossing the finish line at 4:10:59, though I hoped to complete it just under four hours. Barcelona was the most challenging course so far, with many inclines and slight hills. However, it might be the most beautiful architectural course to run. Starting just below the Palace and Magic Fountain (with the Olympic stadiums just behind), we passed the football stadium, the many amazing Gaudi buildings, the Sagrada Familia (cathedral), the Olympic Park with a Frank Gehry structure, the Arc de Triomphe, Cathedral, Columbus statue, the beach, and much more. Various groups performed throughout the course, with drumlines, rock bands, spanish guitarists, etc. There was a solid crowd along the way cheering for us, even a Japanese groups yelling “Gambatte” (Do your best!). Music playing on speakers was interesting, as certain stations blared Hannah Montana, The Killers, techno, “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus, Nelly, and more. More than 12,000 people ran the race with me.

Now completing my third race, each marathon has been unique and meaningful. Chicago allowed me to see new parts of a familiar city, as I passed Mexican, Greek, Chinese, and gay neighborhoods. I had my Moody friends there to cheer me on and meet me at the finish line. Paris is one of my favorite cities, which meant I loved running with fellow missionaries through this charming city. This time it was my parents welcoming me at the finish line. Now, Barcelona allowed me to share this experience with Miho.

Running reinforces so many spiritual principles for me. It has forced me to train and exercise discipline and perseverance. While I may not have “won” the race or met my set time goal, I kept the course and finished well, which is what I hope to accomplish in my spiritual walk.

Many people in Haiti are been helped through this effort. I am encouraged by the generosity of people in supporting my race to aid victims of the earthquake. One particular case has been with my sister’s special ed students in Des Moines. While primarily poor urban Bosnian or African-American junior highers (yes, Iowa is multi-ethnic and has cities 🙂 ), they contributed to this cause by raising $200 for Haiti. I was moved by how my sister used this opportunity to teach them about giving and caring for others. (Those still interested in contributing can visit http://www.onedayswages.org/donate/org/running-haiti

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