This weekend, almost 20 of my teammates from Triatomix will complete either the Olympic or the Half Ironman in our backyard, the imposing Sierra Nevada. Today, 7 of them completed the Olympic, 1500 meters swimming, 40km cycling and 10 km running, most of which is completed above 1500 meters or more above sea level. Just standing up there watching them finish I feel the lack of oxygen and my legs complained of little pressure and felt quite swollen.
This race is one of the most physically demanding in the world, and is incredible to watch, let alone participate in. I'm going to take pictures tomorrow with my husband, and with a bunch of the girlfriends/wives or other friends, hand out water at the halfway mark for the Half Ironman. They guys will already have swum 2.5 km, and cycled 93 km and run 11 km by the time they reach our water/fruit stand. They will have another 11 km to run before finally crossing the finish line.
The men in our team (this time we have no women competing) are amateurs. They do this for their hobby, their down time from jobs like IT, businesses, doctors, office workers, teachers and we have a few students, (both undergraduate and grad level)most of whom completed today's race. We have several that are at pro level, and could compete on a national level if they so choose. However, most of the time they compete with us mortals and encourage us to push harder, faster and better.
Maybe those of you who follow my blog are tired of me using this as a metaphor, I hope you are not, and can hang in there with me for just a few more minutes. :)
These men who have trained all year, have accomplished numerous races in the process, have trained for this very moment. For several hours, mostly like 8 or so, their bodies will be "on" and they will be in constant motion. They have cried, sweated, eaten pasta until they burst, swum hundreds of kms, cycled thousands of kms, and run again and again and again until their bodies are so finely tuned, you can see every vein and muscle even if they are wearing shorts and a tshirt.
Paul talks about this in I Corinthians, and one of the triathletes actually quoted the last two veres of the below passage to encourage the teammates this weekend. I would like to look at it and take a slightly different look at it.
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (I Cor 9:24ff NLT)
Disqualified. A horrible word. One you fear most as you compete in a race. In a tri, several things can happen in which can disqualify you. You can touch your bike before putting on your helmet, you can run off course (cheating) in an effort to try and finish sooner, etc, etc etc,
When was the last time you thought about how you could disqualify yourself from the race of life? In my personal reflection, how do I, as someone who has set my face to serve God, be declared disqualified?
I've watched it happen. I'm not that old yet, but I've watched people who have dedicated themselves to a task, and two, three, four or more years down the road, throw in the towel, quit, either physically or emotionally, and they are finished. They walk off of the race, and disappear.
I do believe in second chances. I do believe there is more than one race to win. And I recently have watched friends NOT complete a race, and have to try and supersede that barrier in the next race. It is painful, but can be done.
And even more so in the race of life, I believe in a God that wants to show me and you what it is to run the race with Him as our trainer, leading, guiding, encouraging, and running with us. I'm so happy He doesn't just watch and cheer from the sidelines, but He too ran this race, and runs it with us daily. Come, let Him run with you, and see the difference in how you run this race.