Chris has talked for a few years about trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon (THE race for marathoners. It is so exclusive that to enter you have to run another marathon deemed worthy and get a qualifying time). This year he decided he was going to do it. He would have to run a 3 hour 10 minute marathon. This is much faster than any other marathon he has run (although he had only run one true marathon race and another during his Iron Man). He choose the Fargo Marathon because he knew it would be flat, thus giving him the best chance to run the 7:30 mile pace he needed to reach qualifying time.
Race day started with a great blessing. Rain and clouds, which kept the predicted heat and gale force winds at bay. At mile 9 he looked like he was out for a jog with his buddies. At mile 17 he looked happy and settled into a good rhythm. At mile 19 he asked for prayer; his side was hurting really badly. He was unable to breathe correctly. And so we (his little cheering section of friends and Elijah and I) prayed. I kept praying as we drove to the Fargo dome to see him finish. I prayed and cried as the clock ticked to 3:10:24. He had missed his goal by 24 seconds and I was crushed for him.
Working our way through the crowds I finally got within shouting distance. Wanting to see if I had missed anything I asked, "Did you make it?" "I think so," he replied between labored breaths. You see, the Boston Marathon qualifying time must be within 59 seconds of your qualifying time. They call it the minute of grace. Chris qualified for Boston by grace.
Obviously a parallel can be see here. After the race, Chris talked about how great he had been feeling during his race. How he had even felt he could finish in 3:05 or so but then the wheels fell off. The side ache hit and then his legs were shot. As Chris describes it during the last 6 miles he was digging as deep as he could. Chris has steadfast perseverance. His ability to set a goal, train for the goal, and meet the goal is awe inspiring, but he said this was so hard because he knew his time was slipping away but there was no more in him. Chris needed God to finish the race. Chris needed God to qualify for Boston. And God wanted Chris to remember that. And Chris did.
We all need grace...."for it is by grace you have been saved..." We would be nowhere without grace. This race reminded me to be so grateful for that free gift of grace and to be grateful that it is not only for 59 seconds but a lifetime.