The Day Before the Missoula Half Marathon


(Written prior to running the Missoula Half Marathon 2012)

it was a dream that encompassed a huge smattering of my past. not haunting at all, but very vivid and real.

then i awoke with a GASP.

i looked at the alarm clock.



and for a split second, all of those training miles froze in my memory. and all those aching muscles tensed up in my body. and i panicked like Chris Webber at the end of the NCAA Basketball National Championship Game, trying to call time out when his team had no more timeouts to take.

Technical Foul.

Game OVER.

‘you blew it AGAIN, brian’.

and then i reached over for my phone. and i saw what day it was.

7 July 2012.


the day BEFORE the Half Marathon.

i exhaled.

my muscles relaxed.

my mind stopped it’s usual pattern of self-recrimination right in its tracks.

this is my second Half Marathon. i decided a couple of weeks ago that it will be my last.

why, you ask?

because i’m not built to be a marathoner. 47 years into my life, my mother STILL complains of the pain my wide shoulders caused her during childbirth. i’m a big, heavy skeleton that’s now covered by bigger, heavier, baggier skin and girth. and numerous people have advised me that while running in and of itself is good exercise, marathon running is just not the best thing for my body.

i’ve also realized that the reason i’ve put my body through these unbearable, and at times inhuman, stresses and strains is to raise awareness for a cause that i believe in and support with my whole being, Nakuru 316 Bridge of Hope Families Rescue Shelter. and there are PLENTY of other ways to achieve this same goal than pushing my not-built-for-marathons body through something that it’s really not meant to endure.

so, bring on the 5 and even 10K’s in the future. but as for the Halves, this is it.

and as much as my body is dreading it, i don’t want to miss it for anything in the world.

why, you ask?

because it’s such a COOL event in and of itself. Runner’s World Magazine rated the Missoula Marathon as the #1 Marathon in the WHOLE FRIGGIN COUNTRY! and i know why…it’s not only because it’s a beautiful course…it’s not just because it’s so well organized and run. it’s because it is such a great COMMUNITY event. people come out for it and help out with it in all kinds of ways. it’s like an old fashioned ‘barn raising’ with wicking shirts and shorts, high tech shoes, vendors and volunteers galore, and CAUSES so meaningful and powerful, it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about all the needs that are being met and people that are being helped by so many of the thousands of runners and walkers participating.

because of the young women and children at Nakuru 316, all of whom i know personally, all of whose lives have touched me in a transformative and life-changing way, all of whom i want to somehow return a small portion of the joy and friendship and love they have so freely given me.

because of the other young women and men and children who remain trapped on the streets, living in makeshift city dumps, scrounging food from dumpsters, and easing their hunger pains through addictions to sniffing glue and selling themselves for whatever they can get. because i hope for each of them to one day have the chance to be given a new and living hope through N316 and other programs still in the visioning stages.

because of what i’ve personally been living through these past few months of unemployment…the WEIGHT that i feel like i’m carrying around…of shame and sadness, of pressure and pain, of uncertainty about the future, of the challenges that arise with unexpected and profound changes in life…and how i long for a chance to release even some of that weight through the strain and sweat, the tears and cheers, the redemption and even resurrection that can come through the rhythm of running.

because i can spend almost 3 hours of uninterrupted time in the beauty of creation simply breathing in and breathing out the words that so often give the most life of all…the words that are the most powerful reminder to me of what life really is (a gift of Love), and what life really is all about (giving that gift to others)…the words that i wish to share with you and with the One who loves us all, on this day BEFORE, and the day OF, and EVERY DAY hereafter…


Watch for Brian’s follow-up post: “The Day After” – publishing on Sunday, 7/14

Running the Missoula Half Marathon


To see more of Brian’s writing, check out the Brian Marsh main page here at Make it Missoula. And for even more, check out his personal blog, Apocalypso Now.


i’m a wanderer and a wonderer. a percussive and paradoxical pastor who exists happily (and hope-full-y) at the intersection of doubt and faith. journeying with my unique and special family (my wife, Kirsten, and sons, Ian and Trevor) whilst temporarily splitting my time between two unique and beautiful places (Missoula, Montana and Ukiah, California). restless and lazy, usually amazed, always in process, i’m continually surprised and usually delighted at discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary, the ‘sacred’ in the ‘secular’, the shafts of light that sneak into the shrouds of darkness. i drum decently, surf poorly, love multicultural food, music, and community, and living in the ‘Zoo.


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