This past Sunday I finished my first race of the 2012 season. I am entering my 2nd season in the sport and very much still learning so much about this crazy and amazing sport.
My preparation leading up to the event was decent but I could tell my body wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be. But I do not care about times at this point but rather I just want to finish. Last year, in the events I competed in, nothing bad happened at all. They went well and I didn’t think much of it.
On Saturday, I drove to KC with my parents and registered at Longview Lake and then had a meal at Red Lobster. I was all ready to go. I slept well and got up early to head out to the race with my parents and my aunt who lives in KC.
Immediately getting to the race, we could tell how big of an event it was. So much bigger than my previous races I was in. I got set up in the transition area and got my number (1313) written on my legs and I was ready to go. With two 13’s, I should have a good day right?
From 7am until 8:45 we waited near the water and watched the Olympic distance athletes start their race. The whole time waiting I tried to relax and have my mind ready to go. I kept telling myself to relax and trust in my preparation. It will all be okay.
It was finally ready for the Sprint Distance and my age group, the 30-39 year old males. I had my wet-suit on, goggles on, swim cap on, and I was ready. The horn went off, and I started running towards the water. I love the excitement of 40 men running towards the water and starting to swim. But my excitement instantly changed to pain as my foot stepped on a rock just at the shore. My left foot was in a lot of pain as I started to swim. Instantly my whole outlook of the race changed. Instead of excitement and joy, I am mad, frustrated and in a lot of pain. My mind was telling me a lot of negative things that I was fighting off as I knew my run later would be horrible. Yet, I was determined to keep going.
I finished my swim and got my wet-suit off. This was my first race with my new Cervelo road bike. I was excited to get going on those KC hills. As I hit mile 4 and was going down a huge hill at about 25-30mph, I switched to a bigger gear and my chain fell off. I am thinking, “Are you serious? Really, my chain is off?” I couldn’t believe it. I am so un-mechanical that I didn’t know how long it would take for me to put it back on. I finished coasting down the hill and slowed down and was able to get it back on after 2-3 minutes with my hands now full of grease. Meanwhile, dozens of bikers are passing me. Oh well! I get back on my bike and finish the next 9 miles. It was great on all of the hills. I got some pretty good speed on each hill going down. But the whole time, my left foot was hurting and I knew I had a 3.2 mile run coming up.
I transitioned off my bike and got on my Luna Sandals that I now run in. Normally they are great for my feet. I don’t need the extra padding but on this day I did. I started my run and yelled out to my parents that my foot was injured so they knew what was going on. The first mile I found my pace and was okay. I found someone to run with and we had a good chat. My foot was hurting but I was okay. But the extra stress finally affected my body and then my left knee started to really hurt. This is the knee that slowed me down last year. So the last half of the race was a combination of walking and running, and just trying to finish.
Finally I made it to 3 miles and soon crossed the finish line. I met my parents and my aunt and I was spent. I felt horrible. I was tired, my body ached, I was sunburned and not feeling well. But I knew I at least finished.
The rest of the day was eating, drinking fluids, and trying to recoup as I drove home. I got home by 5:30 and Angie knew something was wrong. She later told me she had never seen me like that. I went to have some time by myself to rest, to process and reflect on my day. Finally the bad energies left me and I was filled up with so much good energy. I realized what I had done. I finished a triathlon. I overcame adversity. Two and a half years ago, I weighed 210lbs. and couldn’t run for more than 3 minutes. Now I have lost almost 40 pounds and I am in the best shape of my life.
The more I reflect on Sunday, the more I realize it is a small sample of life. I think that is why I like racing so much. While the sport of triathlon is so superficial compared to real life and my life as a missionary with World Impact, it still is a good comparison. In life there are a lot of things we can prepare for and work hard for. We can make good money and save it for future things. We can work hard in our jobs for raises, or to advance.
But life often throws us curves. We step on rocks when we are going out to swim. Or our chains will fall off on our bikes. Those things do happen. We will suffer and experience horrible things in this life. It’s a combination of our own humanness, other people’s mistakes, and just sin in general. All of us have experienced tremendous amounts of pain and tragedy, or you will at some point in life.
I didn’t plan on getting burned out in ministry at the age of 31. I wasn’t hoping my brother and best friend would die and leave his wife and daughter behind. My goal wasn’t to be overweight and discouraged with life…..
But those things will happen. It’s how we decide to navigate through them and choose our response in how well we will do in life. There’s a lot more I could say about this, but that’s not the point of this blog.
So for now, I’m back to some training for the next race in 10 days.