On the Side: June 2019
Marathons and Medicine
by Shelly Wyrick
With the weather warming, I now can wear my favorite sun visor. The words “Missoula Marathon” are written across the headband with a silhouette of a moose that has running shoes dangling from his antlers. It’s super cute. But as I wear it like a trophy, people don’t realize the backstory.
In reality, it was the most grueling race ever, deeply painful, heart wrenchingly slow and hot… and did I mention painful. But the finish—well, the finish was the finish. Revived, encouraged and elated, I pranced across the balloon-laden bridge to music and the cheers of strangers and friends and family.
There will come a day when your husband finishes his training. Everyone in your circle will be so proud as he accepts his first position and begins to reap what he has sown. I hope there are a few balloons and music. But you will know the backstory. Medical training is, apparently, a long stagnant haul. Grueling and heart wrenchingly slow at times. Or maybe he has finished and you’re settled in to “real life” and have found he’s gone now as much as he was before, and it’s a grind.
Or is it?
Marathon training was hard, but incredible. When you train for a marathon, a myriad of marvelous wonders take place. The race day is a mere idea as you increase your mileage over the several months prior, yet remarkable events abound within you. Almost invisibly, your athletic shape is taking form as every facet of your body undergoes astonishing change. All the while, you’re just plugging away at the miles.
On the outside, your running shoe soles are a bit thinner, but other than that, it’s the same-old-same-old. Long runs? Been there done that. Maybe this week’s run is a couple miles more than last week’s, but overall, the training program is apparently, a long stagnant haul.
But deep within you, miracles abound. Your heart is learning to pump more blood with each beat. The rate at which you devour oxygen is rising. Miniscule mitochondria, the powerhouse of each cell not only increase in size, but number! Your muscle fiber cells get bigger. And without a single thought or productivity meeting, the use of those muscle fiber cells becomes brilliantly more efficient. Miracles abound, and you haven’t even toed the starting line.
And there’s more. Every time you get sore from your training run, something dreadfully fantastic has happened. Little micro-tears have ripped into your muscles. Ironically those little tears are actually what stimulate muscle growth. The damage, while it feels defeating, is a required step toward gaining strength.
“What looked like defeat was actually a step in God’s plan.”– Michael Wittwer
In the Bible, Joseph’s life was a long haul (Genesis 37-45). Sure, he came to hold all power in Egypt, but goodness, the journey was a bit uphill. Betrayed by his own brothers. Thrown in a pit. Sold to slavery. Put in prison for something he didn’t do. It all sounds so miserable. But let’s look at what no one could see. Joseph changed within. He starts off as a rather proud and outspoken younger brother. He ends up a humble leader full of gracious forgiveness. Over time, he swapped his inferiority complex for royal and loyal compassion (Genesis 45:15).
What’s more, God used the slavery, the prison, the gouges in Joseph’s life to move him toward the bigger plan. God worked it all for good (Romans 8:28). What looked like defeat was actually a step in God’s plan.
Wherever you’re at in life, you’ve probably got some lengthy uphill work. Being a mom is one of my long-distance endeavors. What are yours? Can you see the bright finish? Is it too far off? Lord help us not get so caught up in the finish line that we miss the blessings flourishing around us. As we walk our path with the Lord, we are growing from the inside. Changes abound. Faith is rising. We are works in progress, and there is progress. He’s providing for us miraculously, and He’s renewing us. He’s giving us fresh mornings and more stamina. We’ve got this, because we’ve got Him. Let’s celebrate the little victories, celebrate that God is with us. Even celebrate the micro-tears, knowing they’re not defeat, just a step in God’s plan.
Shelly has been the wife of a medical man for 17 years. She is a physical therapist turned stay-at-home mom of four kids, 11 and under. She lives in Spokane, Washington where she enjoys her family, jogging, camping and fishing.