October 7, 2016

Bucket List Weekend

Gary Thomas — 

Bucket List

In 1972, a very skinny man named Frank Shorter entered the Olympic stadium in Munich at the end of the marathon, ready to seize the gold medal. I took one look at his arms and thought, “I could do a sport like that (not fully realizing what a phenomenal athlete Shorter was).”frank-shorter-1972

It was a few more years before I started running, but when I did it took hold of me like no other sport ever has. I’m not a gifted athlete, but if you’re willing to endure the pain, you can still become a decent runner. I managed to qualify for three Boston marathons, but have never seen the front of any marathon (though in a small marathon in Idaho, I did crack the top 25, but was still way, way, way behind the winner).

I’m heavier and much slower now, but I’m about to check off a bucket list item this weekend (October 9) and wanted to share it with you. I’m running the Munich marathon, which finishes in the same stadium where Frank Shorter crossed the finish line to win his Olympic gold medal. I’m reading his recently released autobiography on the way:frank-shorter-auto-book-cover

This will be my fourteenth marathon, and it may be my last. It’s so difficult to train in Houston during the summer, and since I still essentially work two jobs, it’s doubly difficult to find the time and energy to do what’s necessary to run a decent time. A twenty miler in Houston in August doesn’t take just three hours; it consumes an entire day as your body tries to recover. I’m just not sure if that’s a justifiable use of my time.

So if the Munich marathon is the last one I finish, it’ll be poetic. Lisa’s planning on renting a bike and checking in now and then (the marathon isn’t a big deal in Munich—spectators are limited).

If I’m slow to respond to posts on Facebook, this blog, or Twitter, you’ll know why. Lisa asked me to leave my laptop at home on this trip—this will be the longest I’ve gone in over thirty years without writing something. But she’s shared me with my computer our entire marriage, so it’s only fair I give her these two uninterrupted weeks.

I’m not going to push the pace at all. This is a leisurely run through one of my favorite cities in the world, during my favorite season, enjoying my favorite sport, while getting occasional glimpses of my favorite person riding a bike, and ending up entering a stadium where one of my favorite athletes did something that changed my life. For me, it’ll be an act of worship.

Thank you for reading this blog, my books, and coming out to hear me talk on occasion. You all have helped create a season in my life I never could have dreamed of, for which I’m truly grateful.

Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst

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31 responses to Bucket List Weekend

  1. Madelaine Smith October 7, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Enjoy every step. What a blessing that you are able to do this. Feel God’s pleasure as you run, Gary.

  2. THANX for sharing this piece of your life…Munich, 1972 wasn’t only about the atheletes but the tragedy of terrorism…….We at the time were missionaries in Lebanon and driving back from Frankfurt to Beirut with our three little girls when the tragedy hit Munich………..One didn’t hear about terrorism so much then…. the world has changed somewhat in these 44 years…….and the chaos/distrust overwhelm whole peoples, like the refugees in Europe. What do we say but pray…..and WORSHIP that God is BIG ENOUGH for His universe!!!!! And has answers that are something about a finish line. Your non-atheletic teachings have so blessed us, and given us hope

  3. You wrote, “For me, it’ll be an act of worship.”

  4. Have a wonderful time!!

  5. I hope you have a wonderful trip and time away with your bride… and may you run for His glory and sing and praise Him every mile of your marathon!

  6. Gary,
    That’s awesome! There are moments in life that do play out like poetry as you said. So many people miss connecting the dots of God’s faithfulness to them, but you have stated it beautifully. What a trip this will be. Hope you’ll share photos!

  7. Go get em, Gary! Enjoy!

  8. Praying that this is a wonderful experience for you, Gary! Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. That’s awesome. My husband and I will be praying for you

  10. That’s wonderful! I hope and pray you and your wife enjoy a wonderful time in Munich, and that the experience running the marathon is everything you imagine it to be. Thank you so much for your ministry Pastor Gary!!

  11. Jeffrey johnson October 7, 2016 at 6:31 am

    Gary – your are in fact “family”. We appreciate allowing us to “take part”. Thanks for “pointing the way”. Thank you for your faithfulness and being part of God’s purpose … “your fast” when you run may you feel His pleasure. Adapted from Eric Liddel

  12. You’ll do great! Travel angels be with you! Have a marvelous time. 🙂

  13. Awesome! Best on your marathon! We’re praying for you. Enjoy every second in Munich along with your lovely wife. Loved your post and enjoy all your books and sermons as well.

  14. good luck & God bless. 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

  15. Gary,
    Thank you for sharing about this special event in your life! How wonderful for you and Lisa to have this time together. Enjoy this blessing, and hopefully you’ll write about it later on so you can share it with all of us.
    Safe travels!

    P.S. Happy (early) Birthday! You and I share an October 24th birthday. ?

    ~ Lisa Lloyd
    Jacksboro, TN

  16. Keeping Faith and many prayers. Congratulations. Way to stay in the race in and out of marathons – running and running the race of life.

  17. Go Gary…Go!
    Have I learned something? You bet! With determination and perseverance settled from your heart, and the willingness to embrace pain and hardship to endure, whatever task we decide to go through could be achieved.

  18. We were just in Munich – having flown out from Houston. The weather was glorious while we were there. Coming home to humid Houston weather to run in was beastly. I pray safe travels for you – and remember – to finish is to win!

  19. Wow what a great story! Thanks for sharing! Enjoy it all – especially your time with your wife without electronics. Look forward to reading about it once your back.

  20. Prayers and blessings to you dear brother. Return back home safely.