A Triathlete's Devotion

"And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." 1 Cor 2:3

Fear and trepidation are key ingredients to a triathlon, or at least they are for me.  I have always been a gym rat; I like going to the gym and working out. But it was a huge leap for me to get into the sport of triathlon.  I started doing multi-sport by participating in a couple of duathlons in 2006.  I had always been interested in doing adventure racing, but that required a team of like-minded crazies.  At that time, my only idea of triathlons were the images of the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. So when I heard a friend of mine talk about short sprint-distance triathlons, I thought that it would be a great way to stay in shape while I looked for the like-minded crazies to do adventure races with. After all, triathlon was a solo sport so I did not need a team.  (Those that know me would probably say that it is a natural fit for me then, as I am generally a quiet guy.)

Four years later, I have completed more than thirty triathlons (most of them sprints) and find myself part of a production and timing company that puts on these events.  I have joined a local triathlon club, find myself maintaining their website, sitting on their board, and acting as their chaplain. It was all a natural progression that could only happen after I pierced that first wall of fear and ignorance.  I marvel at what the last few years have shown me.  What would have been different if I did not choose to tackle that first duathlon?

The progression of my triathlon-life is such a mirror for the progression of my Christian life.  I only grow when I put the time and effort into growing and getting better.  In triathlon, that means that I am putting in ten workouts a week as I get ready for my next 70.3.  In Christ, that means that I am reading, praying, sharing, and listening.  I cannot get ready for the next race by sitting on the couch, I have to get up and go train.  Swim - bike - run - eat - sleep - repeat.  That is how you get better.  At everything.  Practice makes perfect.  That is the way that it works in my spiritual walk with Christ as well.

Back in 2002, I was faced with the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Romania.  HUGE risk and leap of faith on my part, let me tell you.  I faced fear after fear, doubt after doubt, just making the decision to go.  Well, I went on the trip, faced my fears and learned and grew so much that I lead a trip to Romania and Moldova the next year.  In this case I did not challenge myself, it was a friend of mine - he asked me to go.  It took a month of battling myself inside before I admiitted to anyone that I was even considering going on a mission trip.  But once I broke through the fear and doubt, I was remade.  I hear the same thing from many people to finish their first triathlon.

"It is a feaful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Heb 10:31

My first year doing triathlons was not fun.  The swim was always a race to not drown.  The bike was always a test to see if I would cramp or not.  The run was always a test to see if I would walk (I always ended up walking at some point during those first two seasons).  But I finished all of the races that I entered, and I could see improvements everywhere.  I could not have improved if I had not have been in the race, done the training, been willing to let myself change.

We grow in spurts, the growth can be obvious or sublte.  Others can see it, or we might be the only person who is aware of it.  But the growth does not come without you exercising yourself in order to get there.  That exercise is physical (swim, bike, run) in triathlon.  In your spiritual life it can come in many forms, but it will always involve an encounter with God.  The only way to grow closer to Him is to spend time with Him.  Some people feel closest to Him when they are excerising.  Others do it in quiet contempation and Bible study.  But however you get to know God better, it is worth the time and effort.  The changes that it will mean in your life might not be as obvious as the physical changes that some find in doing triathlons, but they are life changing.

Oh yeah, I still like to make time to do one adventure race a year.  I am still looking for my crazies...

Stay fast, my friends.
-rich

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