Monday, August 23, 2010

A Truly Amazing Race

Sunday, August 22, was the culmination of eight months of training for the Danskin Triathlon. It has been a fantastic journey of balance. Balancing family with working out, keeping it fun but not militant, being encouraged but not prideful, all while keeping the goal of getting in shape enough to do the triathlon. Along the way God has reminded me which race I am supposed to be running, the one with the imperishable crown.
The day dawned at 3:40. One cup of coffee, one final check of my bag, one more hug from my hubby (who was celebrating his bday yesterday), and my friend Julee was in the driveway. It was a foggy twisty ride through the back roads down to Kenosha, picking up Cheri and Carol along the way, all the while listening to KLOVE. We were chatty and keyed up for the big day, when Revelation Song came on the radio. The atmosphere changed as we all started singing, calmer and focused on God. We pulled into the shuttle parking lot and covered the whole day in prayer before heading to the shuttle which would take us to the Rec Plex.
There were over 1500 women taking part in this triathlon. I hesitate to use the word "competing" because there was not a feeling of competition. If anything, most of us were competing against ourselves, determined and excited to be doing this in the first place. I cannot tell you in words the feeling of camaraderie that permeates this event. We met up with Jessie and Becky, said good-bye to Carol who was in an earlier heat, and went to wait on the shore of Lake Andrea for our turn to swim the 1/2 mile. There were cheers and tears as the wave of cancer survivors entered the water.
As my friends and I started the swim, I couldn't help but be reminded of the scene at the end of Titanic with all the people bobbing in the water, wishing each other well. That is just evidence of my warped sense of humor, I suppose. Anyway, I completed the swim, only swimming outside of the buoys and off course once, and ran out of the water up the beach to get my bike. I was so excited to see my family all in matching tie-dyed t-shirts decorated with puffy paint cheering me on. All five of my kids, my granddaughter, my daughter's boyfriend, and three friends got up early to come share the day. Talk about feeling loved and was wonderful!

After getting my shoes, shorts, and helmet on, I got on my bike for the 12 mile bike portion of the event. Immediately I knew something was wrong. I was not able to get any speed on, and everything just felt tight on my bike. I had my tires filled before racking my bike and had to walk it to the gate, so I never had a chance to see how it "felt." I was pedaling along, working really hard to get anywhere, when I looked down just past the three mile mark to see my back innertube flopping around on the outside of my wheel.
Now I'm not an expert or anything, but I know this is not a good thing. I quickly learned that being a frugal optimist is not a good combination because I never invested in a repair kit. My heart sunk as I realized that the day was over for me. I loaded my bike in the courtesy van that came by but decided to run back to the finish line. I was not going to cry in front of a stranger.
I started the run back fighting back tears and disappointment, but I was not alone. Jesus sent His Comforter a long time ago to walk with me, and we hashed it out together. The Holy Spirit reminded me of God's Sovereignty, of why I was created, not to run in races but to glorify God, and that the question to be asked is not "Why?" but "How?" I took the advice I give everyone else and FOCUSED.
  • It was a gorgeous beautiful day with a light breeze.
  • I did not get injured when my tire blew.
  • I had a whole team of people cheering me on.
  • There were a lot of dehydrated dead things along the road and I wasn't one of them.
  • I had gotten in good shape during the training.
  • I took this journey with a great bunch of friends, and made some new ones.
  • I live a life that allowed me to go through this whole process in the first place, growing closer to God and learning new things about Him.
I couldn't keep track of all the blessings once I started looking for them. Immediately I felt the despair lifting, and as I ran along, I was filled with joy. The Joy of the Lord was my strength. This day stopped being about me and about the Lord, and how He could use me.

I was able to offer encouragement to many women who were struggling. I ran backwards up the hills, talking one lady to the top. I ran most of the three miles back to the start, figuring that I would push myself for as long as I was allowed to take part in the event. I was only sad when I thought about my family being gypped out of seeing me cross a finish line. I got back to the check in where the bikers were rolling in, and told the guy what happened. He told me I could keep going and do the 5k run.
Immediately I took off for the last leg after a high-five from my family.

I jogged, walked, and ran my way through the last leg of the event, crossing the finish line with a sprint. It was a celebration to say the least since everyone had heard about the bike drama. It was the one thing I was worried about happening, it happened, and the day was still amazing. Christ in me can do way more than I could ask or even imagine. The normal me would be pouty and disappointed, looking for someone to blame for the tire mishap, but Christ gives me His joy, peace, kindness, and self-control where mine leaves off. Make no mistake here..this is not about me and my good attitude, this is about the power of Christ that is available to each one of us.

When I got home and turned on my computer, I was not surprised to see John 15:5 as the KLOVE Verse of the Day: "I am the Vine and you are the branches. Those who abide in me bear much fruit, because apart from Me you can do nothing." Amen to that, and amen to a truly amazing day.

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