Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood


What Inspires You?

posted by Jana Riess

Yesterday my husband and I woke up early to partake in an annual tradition: cheering on the runners and walkers in Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon.

We got to the race in time to catch the latter half of the first wave runners. These are the folks who look like runners, lithe of limb and fleet of foot. By the time they reached us, sitting under umbrellas in the rain somewhere around Mile 6, some of the first wavers didn’t even look winded.

Those people are like gods, but they do not inspire me.

My inspiration comes further in the pack. It begins toward the end of the second wave runners, the ones who are plugging along and appear to be reasonably experienced runners, but who have all kinds of body types. Here you start seeing  jiggly abdomens, gray hair, and camaraderie; whereas first wavers are entirely individualistic, eyes narrowed toward their personal best, second wavers start to get chummy. They love doing the run, but they want to experience it with the ones they love.

The most inspiring people are the third wavers, the ones who have never attempted a marathon before. Some of them come by in tears, not certain they can finish. Some are already limping and probably won‘t finish. As a spectator you feel compelled to call out to them based on whatever’s on their t-shirts: “Keep going, Xavier! Way to go, Anna and Christine! You’re almost at the halfway point!” (This last to a half-marathoner.)

The one that really choked me up yesterday was a young man who ran proudly with a jogging stroller. At first glance my thought was that he looked awfully young to have a child, and my second was that strollers weren’t allowed. As he got closer I saw that the stroller was occupied by a large school age child of about ten or eleven, head rolling with some kind of palsy. This guy was going to push that stroller for 26.2 miles so that his disabled brother or nephew or whoever he was could have the experience of running the race.

I cheered the loudest for them.

I don’t know what kinds of challenges and obstacles you’ve had in your life, and I certainly don’t want to resort to cheap platitudes about  how we all need to keep plugging along in the marathon of life. Blech. Still, watching the marathon each spring makes me think about the people in my life who have inspired me the most, both on the personal level (my mom) and the international (Nelson Mandela). They are people who faced down tremendous odds yet somehow managed to not only stay the course themselves, but to push the jogger stroller so that others could run the race.

So here’s the platitude: This week, keep plugging along in the marathon of life. No matter what.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment ATB

    My inspiration came early on when we saw a “Blind Pig” and her “Guide Pig” running just ahead of us. I thought of what it might be like to train without sight and what strength and determination happen inside of someone to overcome such difficulties and meet a goal. That and your telling about the guy pushing the disabled boy brought tears to my eyes and humbles me so that I am grateful to keep plugging along too.

  • http://annmjohnson.wordpress.com Course Correction

    Nice post. My favorite inspiration is participating in the Susan Komen Race for the Cure the Saturday before Mothers’ Day in SLC.

    Seeing thousands of people with names on their backs of family or friends who were victims of breast cancer puts a lump in my throat. Pink-shirted survivors in good health walking or running the race thrills me. And just the sight of thousands and thousands of people filling the streets to raise money for defeating this disease makes me proud to be a human being.

Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Flunking Sainthood. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Fellowship of Saints and Sinners Happy Reading!!!

posted 3:12:01pm Jul. 05, 2012 | read full post »

Thank You, Flunking Sainthood Readers!
OK, I admit it. I have a Google Alert on the title Flunking Sainthood, so that the search engine lets me know when there are new reviews or discussions about the book. In the last few weeks it has been exciting -- and humbling -- to see the many different kinds of people who are reading and talking

posted 12:41:10pm Jan. 25, 2012 | read full post »

NYC Conference on Mormonism & American Politics, February 3-4
"First Mitt won Iowa, then he lost Iowa? That's a classic Romney flip-flop." --Stephen Colbert     Working with the theory that there hasn't been nearly enough attention to Mormonism and politics this year, what with it being in the news every single day and all, Randy Balmer and I

posted 11:09:19am Jan. 23, 2012 | read full post »

Writing Retreat
Friends, I will be offline until January 23 for a writing retreat. I'm bringing my computer, but the place where I am going doesn't have email access

posted 8:47:20pm Jan. 14, 2012 | read full post »

Fun with the Book of Lamentations
Actually, no. That title was just a teaser. There really aren't any fun moments in the Book of

posted 11:33:13am Jan. 13, 2012 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.