Our Building Illiana campaign reminds me of my experience running the Chicago Marathon with my wife, Jill, three years ago. A marathon is not just a one-time deal. It involves training for months, running six times a week. You do long runs, short runs, midnight runs, early morning runs. You get to know every dog in the neighborhood and every spot in the towns around you where you can use the bathroom.
On the morning of the marathon, we started off strong. Miles 1-13, I felt great. We had run eight half-marathons the previous year so it was like no sweat. I started to get cocky.
Miles 13-18, reality started to set in. My feet started to hurt and I was beginning to feel tired.
Miles 18-22, I kept trying to justify to myself why we were doing this. I was running out of energy so I started eating bananas and drinking even more Gatorade. I also broke the training rules, “Don’t ever do something on marathon day that you have not trained for.” I trained eating one banana. I thought I needed more energy, so I ate two, but it set me up for an epic fail.
Miles 22-24, I felt awful. Not tired awful, but I-am-going-to-be-sick awful. I thought about stopping and walking, but I couldn’t because Jill was with me and she doesn’t know the word “stop” or “quit”. I started having real honest conversations with God……HELP.
Mile 24.5, the world started getting dark and I remember thinking, whatever you do, don’t stop. I told Jill that I was going to be sick. I ran to the side of the road and you can guess what happened next. I had nothing left. Now you know that feeling after you get sick, and add to that the fact that I had just run 24.5 miles and still had 1.7 miles to go. I was starting to sense failure. I had been working for eight months for this. Our pace time was great, but now I am “that guy”. I am the guy that the 80-year-old guy is passing thinking, “he didn’t train well enough”. I am sitting there dripping sweat and feeling so emotionally and physically drained. The spectators were all yelling to me to not sit down, but keep running, keep pushing. Part of me wanted to respond to them….Get off your hind end, put down the Starbucks and doughnut and you try this.
As I am sitting on the side, in all ways feeling like a failure, there enters my amazing wife. I was done, humiliated, frustrated, tired, sick, on the verge of passing out. But there was Jill. She ran to get me water. She helped me to my feet, and she said, we started this together, we are going to finish this together. Jill trained even harder for this than I did. She could have decided to take off after she found out I was ok and finished on her own. This was her second marathon and she really wanted this to be her best time and she was on pace to do it. But instead, she chose to stay behind and help me. Together, we crossed the finish line.
This campaign has been like a marathon for our community. We are so close. We started this together as a community and we need to finish it as a community. Some have done all they can and now it is up to others to help. We need to help each other across the finish line. As we have said from the beginning, building the hearts and minds of our students for Jesus Christ requires the whole community. You are part of that community. We are currently about $250,000 short of our goal to raise the funds necessary to complete the ARC along with Phase One of our new campus project. I want to encourage you to consider what you can do to help us. Let’s Finish This!