Friday, September 26, 2008

3 Sports Tri-Hard

It was race day. I couldn't have asked for a better day to do my first Half-Iron distance triathlon and to top it off I had a dozen of my best friends show up to cheer me on for the huge race that was ahead of me. During my warm-ups I tried to stay focused and do what I always do-visualize all the training that got me to that point. The summer before this race I had one of the most incredible opportunities to work at K-2 as a counselor and triathlete coach. So when it came time to think about my training a lot of my thinking was about the time I spent inside the Kanakuk gates. I thought about not only the physical training, but emotional, mental, and SPIRITUAL training that came along with it. Being pushed to my upmost limits was something that Kamp got me used to so this race was going to be nothing out of the ordinary.
The last call for my wave in the swim came over the PA system so I zipped up my wet-suit and waded my way into the 73 degree water-much better than the Table Rock Lake during third term. During Kamp we had done some open water swims in the lake with the triathlete specialty, but nothing this far. While at K-wet I remember swimming across the cove and back with my Cabin 12 boys, but still, this was 1.2 miles and I didn't have a life jacket like I did at Kamp. The starting gun interrupted my worries so I said a quick prayer and dove in the water.


I found a rhythm, got mauled by a few people, and before I knew it I was done with the swim portion in 45 minutes and was jumping on my bike. 1.2 Miles down-69.1 to go no sweat right?The 56 mile bike loomed ahead of me and I knew it would take me around 3 hours to finish so I focused my mind on other things than the lactic acid build up that was going on in my legs-or as we triathletes like to call it strawberry milk! Once again I thought about Kamp and the people I met there. All the awesome Kampers, Counselors, and Leadership guys that displayed more toughness everyday than any race could simulate. The mental toughness that not only is displayed in sports, but in every day situations that challenge our integrity as Christian men. At Kamp I saw kamper after kamper learn what it takes to be "set apart" as Christian leaders and that the small compromises we make are really the things that hurt us the most. This same idea became evident in my race because my pace started to gradually slow and as the running portion came closer I was hitting what we distance guys like to call "the wall."

It was a big one too.

I came to my 2nd transition and jumped off my bike, threw on my hat and running shoes and took off for my half marathon run-13.1 miles to go.

I finished my cycling portion in 3 hours or so and had thought about Kamp for the majority of the time so my brain was moving onto new things. My thoughts gradually just started turning into prayers and as each mile became more miserable than the last I was eventually in constant communication with God.

During Kamp I remembered Hunter Lee talking in our Bible Study about how sometimes we can be selfish with our prayers. That instead of asking for the Lord's Will to be done NO MATTER WHAT we ask for safety and security instead. I applied his wisdom to my prayers during that race and asked God that no matter what His name be glorified today and not me. That He get the credit for this and not me because without him I wouldn't even have air in my lungs. Genesis 2:7

My race was almost over. I had the last mile left and it couldn't come any sooner. My goal time was 7 hours and I looked down at my watch and saw I was going to finish well before 6 hours. Then came the part of the race that made me realize why God had called me to do this.

You see, there was about 1,000 people in attendance to watch the race that day and they all lined the .1 smile span of the "finishing run." Athletes would come in to finish their race and the crowd would cheer them on and the announcer would read the athlete's "bio form," where we were asked questions like "Who are you, where are you from, why are you here, and what are your goals for the race." I forgot what I put for the last question until the announcer read it out loud in front of a VERY secular crowd of 1,000 people.

I wrote that my goal for this race was not to win or even finish, but my MAIN goal was to glorify and worship God with the ability He has given me. When I crossed the finish line I was glad I had sun-glasses on because tears started to fill up my eyes. My friends swarmed me and the race officials threw a big, gold medal around my neck and a T-Shirt that read FINISHER on the back. It was one of the happiest moments in my life and words only take away from it.

Guys, when you think about ways God can use you for His kingdom NEVER put a box around His capabilities. I went into a half-ironman triathlon thinking it would be a race for ME, but after 1,000 possible non-believers heard a 30 second testimony about my faith I knew it was God using that race to glorify His Kingdom. Some people feel it's trivial to say God would use sports for his Kingdom. My question isn't what God can use, but what can't he use? Nothing. He can use us in ANY way we just have to strengthen ourselves and make ourselves available to Him when he calls us. Guys, I pray you're sharpening yourselves DAILY in his WORD so when the time comes for him to call upon you you're ready. We are the tools His hands use and sharpened tools are much more effective than dull ones. I love you all, grace and peace.

Philippians 1:9-11

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