I’m Running the Marathon with You!

It was Friday evening, and Gary came into my home office to tell me that he had to drive to the airport to pick up a large package. The delivery man said that it was too big to fit into his car. “Do you wanna come with me?” he said. “Sure!” I replied. I’d had a productive day and was glad to accompany him.

We live 25 minutes from the Des Moines airport, and it was a beautiful evening. After we parked, we walked inside. Gary checked with the person at baggage claim, who (he said) told him the package would be coming through on one of the carousels after the baggage was unloaded from the flight that had just arrived.

Gary suggested we walk around. When we reached the bottom of the escalator where passengers exited from the gate area, I exclaimed to Gary, “That looks just like Garth!” (our son). The young man was wearing a mask and was accompanied by a masked young woman, whom I suddenly recognized as Lillie, Garth’s girlfriend. We fell into each other’s arms, and Garth said, “Hi, Mom! I’m running the Des Moines Marathon with you on Sunday.” There were no words.

Even though Garth had been talking over the past months about increasing his running mileage, I completely missed the clues. I had suggested to Gary earlier on Friday that we drive to the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines so I could pick up my race number and bib for Sunday, but Gary urged me to wait until Saturday, as he had a package coming for which they needed his signature. Now I know why.

The most poignant moment was when we arrived home. I took off my jacket, and Garth said, “Hey, Mom! You’re wearing my sweater!” When Garth was in middle and high school, he had a favorite blue sweater that was eventually left behind when he went off to college and began his career. Garth’s blue sweater has been like comfort food for me. However, I hadn’t worn it in a year. Was it a coincidence that I just happened to put it on Friday evening?

When Garth said that he was going to run with me, he meant it literally. This was his very first marathon, and Garth and Gary had been plotting the surprise for months. On Saturday, we picked up our race packets, after which we spent time at the downtown Farmer’s Market and drove back home to rest and prepare for the race.

Sunday morning dawned cool, sunny, and gorgeous. Donning my Iowa head wrap, I wondered if I had it in me to run the good race, seeing that I’d had knee surgery 17 months ago. I took several Advil to get ahead of the pain I knew I would have. What a pair we were! A first-time marathoner and an experienced but aging marathoner who won’t be setting PR’s (personal records) anymore. So, what did that mean? It meant we were going to give it our all and have a blast as we tested our physical limits. Why do I keep running, anyway?

  • For one thing, I could never sit still as a child for too long. I always needed to be doing something.
  • I run to see what I can do after months of careful training.
  • I call running wasting time with Jesus. No one can find me, and it’s just me and Jesus when I am pounding the roads or trails.
  • I love the camaraderie of thousands of others who are also testing their limits.
  • Two of our three children have now completed marathon distance races over the past month.
  • Running is a way to be outside and also stay healthy.
  • Running gives me time to think, pray, repent, and rejoice.
  • I am always inspired by the running stories of others.

I wonder. If we can run 26.2 miles with a thousand other crazy people, how might we run the race of life and the race of faith with each other? I discovered anew on Sunday that the last six miles of a marathon are always the most difficult. We’re almost there, but not quite. Our muscles are screaming, our legs are cramping, and we just want to lie down on the pavement for ten minutes and rest. We try to eat and drink as much as we can, but nothing tastes good. Other runners can’t do much more than put one foot in front of another, either. But we just keep on keeping on, step by step, encouraging each other until we reach the end. Then we stagger over to our loved ones, are congratulated by the spectators, and are given a finisher’s medal.

Garth, thank you for running the good race with me and 1,027 other marathon finishers. It was a beautiful surprise, and I’m proud that you beat me by 7 minutes and 34 seconds. You rock!!


Guide my feet while I run this race, (3x)

For I don’t want to run this race in vain.

Hold my hand while I run this race, (3x)

For I don’t want to run this race in vain.

Stand by me while I run this race, (3x)

For I don’t want to run this race in vain.

I’m Your child while I run this race, x)

For I don’t want to run this race in vain.

Guide My Feet – African American Spiritual (The Faith We Sing #2208)


PS – I forgave Gary for his skillful deception put over on an unsuspecting Bishop!

17 thoughts on “I’m Running the Marathon with You!

  1. How exciting and what special moments….so proud you running the New York Marathon . It is so great to have Garth there with you and Gary. what a very special pick up package.

  2. Congrats! How great to run with Garth. I am not really a runner, however, I trained when Saralyn signed me up for a half marathon for my 66th birthday. We did the Tinkerbell Half at Disney in California. We made it!!
    ❤️ Linda Masselink

  3. Talk about a “pick up” message! Thank you Bishop Laurie! I’m so happy for you that this surprise carried with it all sorts of wonderfulness. AND, congratulations on finishing the race with the double pleasure of having run it with Garth. Blessings!

  4. Thank you for this great story. Congratulations to you and Garth. Thank you to Gary for organizing what a wonderful surprise for you, Laurie. We will all “run the race” together!

  5. Loved this familial story. Remind me of the old adage, “the family that prays together stays together”. Apparently true for a family that runs together as well. Keep it up!

  6. What a lovely story — a wonderful family experience — filled with great life analogies. Thank you for sharing this inspirational message!

  7. Oh those last “six miles!” (to the ear I hear “Six Smiles!”) Oh what joy it is for parent and child together “to run this race” to battle and beat down those “demons at Des Moines” rounding Greys Lake (sounding it as “Grace Lake” for after all, the 26.2 miles is a big race / Big Grace, indeed!). Way to go, both of you!

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