How Training for a Marathon is like Managing Your Finances: Lesson 15

Tina Haapala |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

Pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain…

There was no strength left in my body. The only thing pulling me forward was will. I attribute that will to the mercy of God.

(If you are just joining us, I’m discussing my first marathon race attempt. We continue now, with the race already in progress…)

Mile 24 brought relief. No, the pain was still there—worse, even, but I had at most 2.5 miles left. I could do that. I would not like it, but I could do that. I can do that. I told myself, “I WILL do that.”

By this time in the marathon runners were scattered. Half of them had finished, and about a quarter of them were behind me. There were three runners in the immediate area. While others might slowly go past us or slowly drift behind, until the end of the race we were a group…completely unplanned.

Normally I’m not all that observant and might have lost track of who was running near me. However, two of the people stood out. They would change from running to walking and back to running in synchrony. This made me think they were a couple. That and they were wearing matching leopard outfits (including tails).

The other runner would run until her watch beeped, then she’d walk until another beep, then run again. At the end of each run she’d throw her arms up and “whoop” as if crossing a finish line. It was easy to keep track of her.

I didn’t know any of them. We never talked. I’m not sure we ever made eye contact. Our pace was our communication. If we got ahead, we felt liberated to walk. If we fell behind our little pack, we picked up the pace so we wouldn’t be left behind.

We each had a different method. I had the voices arguing in my head. The couple had each other. The lady had her watch. And we kept plodding along.

Just like in life it is nice to have others around. Misery loves company, as the saying goes. Company also can give strength if you let it. Four strangers run-walking in proximity to each other became an encouragement to all involved. I hope that when you have areas of your life that involve suffering or joy that you have, not strangers, but loved ones you can share your burdens and your trials with.

As we rounded a final corner with less than two-tenths of a mile to go, I left my new-found friends behind (I don’t like getting passed in sight of the finish line). Not with strength, but with will, and a whole lot of God’s mercy, I pounded forward, my body a little taller as the announcer called my name.

And with my wife cheering from the sidelines, I became a marathoner.

(Coming in at 960th place, I was glad they gave out participation medals.)

There’s a video showing me sprinting across the finish line (my staff shared it on our Personal Money Planning Facebook page). Okay, if you look at it you would not call it sprinting. I felt like I was sprinting, but I admit it looks more like a hobbling.

But can you see the smile?


Gary Silverman, CFP® is the founder of Personal Money Planning, LLC, a Wichita Falls retirement planning and investment management firm and author of Real World Investing