This is what we saw when we arrived.
It was beautiful to savor in this moment, because in the next moment, I received my ankle timing chip, received my designated swim cap, and headed to the transition zones to set up my triathlon gear.
After weeks of training, it was time.
Though my eyes may have received a little nervousness in looking around at the “serious” multi-sport athletes, my heart was at peace. What a joy to simply show up.
The event begins with the swim, so we headed down to the water. Something within me glanced back, just in time for my eyes to fall on two faces that still light up my heart every time – my Mom and Dad had arrived. In an instance I relived all the events that they have attended in my life. Their sheer presence was such a delight.
As I stood with my Dad, we watched the start of the Sprint events, and talked a little “strategy”. Before I knew it, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A fellow runner friend of mine had shown up. She was a ball of energy, excited to be there to watch and capture the event on her iPad. I loved that she wanted to check this out. Again, presence.
So, off to race I go. Water temp was delightful, really. With the sound of a horn, off we went. Open water – nothing like it. Once you find your rhythm, you feel like you can go forever. A little bumpin, and little pullin, but hey, this had nothin on my college water polo games! We rounded a large, bright orange buoy, and it was down to the homestretch. I found myself simply lost in the rhythm and feel of the water. It’s always been a second home to me. Scary to others, I know. This is why I know it’s a gift only my Creator could give.
With the swim complete, it was time to head to the bike! A quick change, and off I went! One thing I noticed pretty quickly as we headed out of the area to the street – pain was going to be my companion for the next 2 1/2 hours. Strangely enough, it was a familiar friend, one I’ve learned to tolerate and even embrace in my training, but sometimes it still catches me by surprise. That, and the uphill jogged that thought pretty quickly.
Funny thing is, pain can actually be a trusted friend. It reminds me of my limitations, it reminds me of the strain that is being placed on my muscles, in some strange way, it helps me push through and feel so alive. Alive like nothing else I’ve experienced. It’s indicates a job well done. A challenge that is longing to be faced. A lesson that is dying to change your character for the better. A time to lean into the strength of Christ when weakness is recognized. The quenching of a thirst to rise above the hard.
My favorite memories of the bike were the quiet moments when no one else was around. I’d gaze over a the lake and watch people fish. I’d bask in the rays of the warm sun. I’d get lost in the cadence of pedaling. I’d make eye contact with the numerous workers along the course. Part of this joy is the distraction from the hard, part of this is learned and practiced while training, part of it lies in my desire to not miss the moments.
Don’t get me wrong, it was hard – muscles were screaming, it was a bit lonely as participants spread out, I was passed my several seasoned cyclists. In fact, during the first lap of two, I was convinced I would be last. Dead last. But I was okay with that. This was my race. That were running theirs. I admired them. In fact, several yelled very encouraging remarks as they passed. So sweet. Isn’t that life? We race at different paces, but we all move forward toward our finish lines. Before the start of lap 2, I was greeted by the cheers of family and friends. Nothing else boosts like that. It carried me through to the completion of the bike route. Next up, a 10k run.
Have you ever ridden a bike for a bit, then exited the bike and attempted to walk? Yeah. There’s a reason it’s called “the ugly run”. In training, it’s called a brick workout. I’ve always assumed it’s called that because your legs truly do feel like bricks. So, quick drink of water, and off I went!
This running course has a bit of variety to it. It’s more of a cross-country type race than a street run. I found myself glancing downward often just to avoid divots, tree roots, large pieces of gravel, and a bike-tire treded path that could turn one’s ankle in a heartbeat. Sometimes this strategy works to your advantage. You’re busy. You not as focused on looking ahead to how much farther you really have to go. Other times your poor feet are thinking, “I’m having a hard enough time just being lifted off the ground!”
It’s about 2 hours into the event now, and the sun’s getting warm. This is where I found myself diggin deep in trusting the training. Fluids are needed, short-term goals are set to reach, and the countdown to the finish begins. This is the part that challenges my mentality the most. I find that celebrating the distance already accomplished, drawing from the knowledge of past training experiences, and simply taking that next step with encouraging thoughts is what ultimately carries me through to the end.
This is the celebration of life. Life lived! This wasn’t something I just talked about, but something I followed through with. This is a story to draw from with my children. This is the desire to discover that my God can be fully trusted. This is casting away the doubts that toyed with my mind in my earlier years. I have a birthday this week. I am celebrating another year of pressing forward in the glory of God, for the sake of my health, fully alive.
What’s one of the items on your bucket list? What’s holding you back from accomplishing the goal, the task, the thought, or the activity? Have you prayed about it? Is the timing now? Is it time for some preparation? How could your endurance be inspiring to others?
As I listened to a message from Ken Davis tonight with my husband, I heard stories of a man desperation to live for the glory of God, fully alive. It was encouraging, it was tearful, it was spot-on. His closing line – for God’s sake, live! Until we reach the finish line of eternity, may we continue to strive for the abundant life Christ desires for us. To live it well. To live it to the fullest. To live it with love.
At the finish line, I got to fall into the arms of my father, my husband, and my mother; just a small taste of heaven where I’ll fall into the welcoming arms of my Heavenly father at my finish line of life.
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.