Sep 16

The Most Powerful Verb

mostpowerfulverb_imageI was already well into the third mile when the sun finally started peeking above the horizon.  This past Saturday morning, like the dozen before it, I quietly left the house in the pitch black stillness that you only seem to find at “stupid o’clock”.  The kids were still sawing logs in their rooms as I passed through the hall.  The dog, in her go-to spot at the side of the bed, lifts her head only for a moment to confirm my identity before sighing and fading back to sleep.  The whole neighborhood feels like a ghost-town as I packed my gear for another early morning training run.

18 miles was the distance I’d tackle this week.  My longest by a couple of miles and only two short of the longest one I’ll attempt before I hit the starting line at my first ever marathon in less than five weeks.  Surrounded by my amazing peers from Team World Vision, more than one hundred of us all fought that urge to hit the snooze on yet another Saturday and hit the trail at dawn.  Though running is, by definition, an individual sport, there is so much power in the community of others who have accepted the challenge.  Even if it is only the simple realization that these folks are just as crazy as you for being out there once again.

As mile after mile started to pass beneath my feet, my thoughts swirled (as they do) before finally landing in a place that they’d never been before…

I’m going to finish this marathon.

Though the hundreds of miles that I’d run we’re very real…

Though the cramps, the tweaks and the black toenails were all physical evidence…

Though the date had been circled on my calendar for most of the year…

It was only in the early morning haze of another early Saturday morning that I finally saw it clearly.

I’m going to finish this marathon.

Miles 9 through 15 seemed to go by in a blink.  And, though a brutal hill greets my fellow runners and I at around 17 miles, I pushed through it with the glow of this new realization.  As I came around the final turn to the assembly of half-marathon trainers and the much faster “marathoners” from my team that were already chatting, stretching and rehydrating, the cheers and encouragement filled the morning sky as they do at the end of each team run.

18 miles was in the book.  Another Saturday morning given freely to a single moment in the future.

As I started to stretch, a teammate slapped me on the back and said, “Just think, five weeks from now you’ll be able to say ‘I finished a marathon’!”

And while he’s right… and though that same thought had washed over me all morning for the first time… it was only in that moment that I realized that ‘finished’ wasn’t going to be the verb that I choose.

I finished the marathon.

I ran the marathon.

I crushed the marathon.

I beat the marathon.


The most powerful verb in the English language is earned.

Whether you’re running, working, living or loving.  There’s nothing more meaningful…  there’s nothing more special than that which you’ve earned.

And because of those Saturdays, on that morning in October when I cross the finish line, that’s what I know I’ll be able to say with pride…

I earned the marathon.


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