What the Tri Taught Me

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So my son Aidan and I did a triathlon this last weekend. And it was HOT. The hottest day in Texas so far. 105 with a heat index of 112. To those of you interested in doing your first triathlon, may I offer a piece of advice? Don’t do one in Texas in the heat of summer. Here’s why:I got sick.

Really sick.

For several reasons:

  1. I never eat anything before I exercise in the morning, but I reasoned that having a little bit of a shake would be a good idea. After all, I wouldn’t race for two more hours. Wrong idea.
  2. I just can’t handle the heat, having grown up in Seattle. So when I exercise, I avoid it. I run/bike/workout at 7:00 AM.
  3. Water is my friend, but I’m not a thirsty person. I should’ve swallowed much, much more.
  4. I let a little competition at the end push me over the edge.

Aidan and I started off well. He swam very fast, and I made my way through the water with relative ease. The bike was probably my best run so far. 49 minutes for twelve miles. Certainly not a record by any shot, but it was good for me. Then I started the run. By the time I saw Aidan on the run, he told me he’d thrown up. (Fie on that shake!). He walked a bit, then ran to the end. I told myself that I had to run the whole 5k, never letting myself walk.

The run was in full sun. And unfortunately there were only two water stations, spread pretty far apart. I ran into my friend Pat going one way, and thankfully she offered me some water. But by the last bit, where I could finally see the finish line after what seemed to be the longest, hottest 3 miles of my life, two women saddled up alongside me. As they did, the nausea hit in full force. “Don’t let us pass you,” they said. “Come with us.”

I tried. Oh I tried. But the moment I ran faster, my stomach boiled. Within twenty feet of the finish line, out its contents came. Then I made it across the line, and more projected. I found a tent (so desperate for shade) and fell on the cement, my head against the hot pavement while my stomach finished emptying itself. I am pretty sure I decorated several people with my innards.

Thankfully, immediately, someone poured water on me. Then the paramedics came and hoisted me onto a stretcher. Into the ambulance we went.

It didn’t take long for me to cool down and feel normal again, but the whole incident scared me. Later I heard from a veteran runner that it’s really unwise to run in heat over 90 degrees. Agreed!

Here’s my takeaway from the tri:

  1. Trust your instincts. I shouldn’t have made that shake. I knew it, but I let other voices/words about fueling my body influence me. If I had only trusted my gut! (And since I betrayed my gut, it betrayed me right back. Tenfold.)
  2. Water is essential for life. I believe this on many levels. When my son Aidan developed a passion for water wells in Africa, I caught his passion. People need water. And if we can help them get it, we should. But also spiritual water is a necessity. I need Jesus’ living water. Every. Single. Day. I can’t justify my seeming un-need for water. The truth is we’re all thirsty folks, and we all need to drink in Jesus as much as possible. It didn’t matter in the tri that I had a lot to drink the previous day. What mattered was how much I ingested on that very day, moment by moment.
  3. Run your own race. I think I would’ve (perhaps) refrained from throwing up had I not pushed myself to keep up with those quick girls. I needed to run my own race, not theirs. So many times we try to keep up with someone on a different path only to crash and burn in the trying. Be confident that God has you on this path right now. Don’t look to the left or right or try to keep up with someone else’s walk. Just do what’s in front of you, in the timing and manner that God has for you.
  4. Rejoice through the pain. The last mile, I repeated “Hallelujah” with nearly every footfall. Every pace forward meant one more step closer to the finish line. Each step I thanked God for. Every Hallelujah helped me focus completely on the Lord and the task in front of me.
  5. Finish well. I didn’t. I finished in an ambulance. Had I paced myself better, I would’ve. Which means there is much work to be done before the race and during to ensure that I don’t finish in a heap.

Side note: This picture is me two years ago at a triathlon. I didn’t get any pictures of me this year. Well, a friend snapped a few as I came across the finish line, but I don’t think those would edify you!

My question for you: What has your latest adventure taught you about life or God or yourself?

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