I recently competed in my first half ironman. I had previously done triathlons but never at that distance. For the past couple of years I’ve had my mind set on doing a half ironman. I remember growing up and watching Ironman competitions on TV in Hawaii and thinking to myself, “How on God’s green earth are those people doing that? That seems impossible. I wish someday I could do that.” Now, I don’t know after doing the half ironman if a full is ever in my future but I can tell you that up until recently I didn’t even think a half was something I would actually attempt let alone complete.
For those that know me, one could say I didn’t plan like I normally do. I certainly did the training and was ready for it but unlike the other “big things” I’ve accomplished in recent years I didn’t ever lay out an official training plan. I just had an “idea” in my head of what I should be doing. I did get very sound and great advice from some amazing people but failed to actually write out a plan. What made me, someone who had never attempted anything like this before, believe I could do it without having a full plan laid out? I did it and I was successful nonetheless.
The day didn’t come without its struggles however. The weather that day saw temperatures in the 90s and humidity close to 100%. When I was riding the bike I just kept repeating to myself, “Just get to the run! Just get to the run!” The run, after all, is what I am best at. Once I was running though all I wanted to do is walk. The first five or six miles were painful, miserable and bordering on disastrous. I was starting to unravel and fall apart. Those early miles weren’t going as planned and although I told everyone the goal was just to finish I secretly had a time that I wanted to be under. I really had no business even thinking about that. The real goal should have been what I was telling everyone else – Finish!
A bright spot at that point was seeing my kids and parents about every three miles on the run. My Mom is always my biggest cheerleader and I know she’d give anything to be out there doing it with me. I got very emotional when I saw all of them. My son was always ahead of the rest of them checking on me. It was very touching to share those brief moments with him as he encouraged me. My first lesson of the day was remembering to never, EVER underestimate the importance of family.
In those first few miles I began to feel sorry for myself and quickly was letting my head take over the day. That is ludicrous. I was out there trying to accomplish an amazing feat and nothing, surely not my own thoughts, should take away or diminish what I was about to complete. The mind however is a very powerful thing and I was allowing it to let doubt and fear begin to take over. I was forgetting that I was strong; that I was capable; that I had prepared and could not only finish, but in spite of the conditions, finish well.
At that point, I’m embarrassed to say, I prayed. Embarrassed to say you prayed? Yes! Embarrassed because I only asked for God’s help when I was seemingly in trouble. I was hurting and only then did I turn to Him for help. Only then did I ask Him for guidance and strength. That is so true in many aspects of our life. We take things for granted and are not appreciative or thankful for them until we are in dire straits or, even worse, they are gone.
I can’t say that I didn’t pray to God earlier in the day or the days leading up to the race because I’m sure I did; even if it was only once or twice and only for a brief moment. What I know I hadn’t been doing regularly up to that point recently is having conversations with Him. I had been taking our relationship for granted. That can certainly be true in a lot of our relationships in life. It is easy to get “busy” and neglect those that truly are important to us. In spite of my actions something amazing happened.
God didn’t judge me on my past actions or my neglect of our relationship when I looked for His help, His comfort. He didn’t take away the pain and suffering on that day, in that moment, but I did, somehow, feel better. I was quickly reminded of all those, like my Mom, that can’t do what I was doing but wished they could. It gave me a new perspective and I actually got faster. There was a comfortable peace that came over me and I knew I was going to be alright. I had gotten caught up in how I was going to potentially let others down and somehow not meet some unknown expectations that others and I had. It was not only cray but ridiculous to even think that way.
What a great lesson I was taught that day. God didn’t ignore me because I neglected our relationship. He didn’t leave me in a moment when I really needed a pick me up. He was there. That is so true in our own lives as well. How often do we find it easy to be vindictive or to write others off when we feel we have been mistreated by them? By doing so we have chosen to make a judgement on them and their actions without knowing their full story. We don’t know what is going on in their life and they may have some real struggles. Maybe we should reach out to them and be their support. That can sometimes be hard to do but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
In the end I believe it comes down to this: Be kind to others, don’t judge and when you do neglect someone have the courage to reach out, admit your shortcomings and start over. I know I don’t always get it right but I’m thankful for the lesson I was taught that day and vow to be mindful of it.
Be Great! Be Strong! Be Determined!
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