Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Just over 3 1/2 years ago, my son was telling me about doing Triathlons. I told him that I would do one with him, after I got my knee replacement done. Well, April 9, 2013 was the day for my knee, and Augusts 24, 2013 was the day for my Tri! I didn't expect to still weigh 259 when I did it, but, here I am, and I worked every bit of my body......I'm still amazed that I did it! This was the Sprint, Splash, 'n Spin for Habitat for Humanity, run by the Park/Rec department for Morgantown, West Virginia. My son felt that it was a good one for my debut into the world of Tri's. The plan was for me to rent a recumbent bike, since the seat on those give support for my back, and was a better angle for my knee. However, as the saying goes, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." We found out that the bike shop in Morgantown did not carry recumbents, and anyone in Pittsburgh who had one for rent would only rent it out on a daily basis. So, after flying from Tucson to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Wednesday we rented a basic bike, and my son spent an hour or more, out front of his house, re-teaching his mama how to ride a bike. Balance is a tricky thing when you haven't been on a bike in almost 40 years!
Saturday dawned, and we headed out of the house by 6, and with the temp hovering around 74* I wondered just how warm that outdoor pool would be!
Getting ready for the race
The pool was declared a "balmy 75*" by the announcer before the first groups took the plunge. Our starting time was 7:30, and we were to swim 300 meters. Because of the size of the group, we only had 10 minutes to do so. I gave it all I had, but I just couldn't make all those laps in that short of time.
My bike is the one on the left that you see the wheel of, my son's racing bike is the gold one beside it. The bikes were hung on a huge saw-horse type structure, and you can see the gear laid out, ready to get into after we were done with the swim.
After the swim, we got on our bike gear. Ever try to put spandex on while you are wet? It was not a pretty sight. But we headed out on the 11 mile bike ride, from the Marilla Pool up to Star City on the Rail Trail. About 1/4 the way into it, there was a tight corner where a rock retaining wall just jumped right out and attacked me! Well, I made sure that I was the victor, and with a myriad of scratches from my wrist to my elbow I convinced the wall to not attack any other biker! I was still rather wobbly, and I am still even now a little saddle sore (4 days later), but I managed to make it back to the dismount area. By then I was downright shaking, and was glad for the woman who helped me off the bike and put it away for me. Ken patiently waited until I was safely off until he crossed the dismount line.
We took off our helmets, I grabbed a handful of grapes and we set off for the final part.....the 5K. Most people ran, but since I want my knee to last I walked. My son, Ken, stayed right with me, even though I knew it must be hard for him to throw the race, he never left me in the dust. Nothing can compare to the time we were able to spend together as we walked that final part. Throughout the race, other racers encouraged me, cheered for me, and prayed for me. Since Ken was 33, and I was 34, and the racers in the 100s were passing us, I'm pretty sure they could tell I was a novice. Ken told me that is one of the best things in the running/biking community in Morgantown.....they always encourage each other.
As we neared the finish line, Ken insisted I cross before him, so I wouldn't be "dead last" as I had told him I expected to be. He said that what got him through so many of his first races was this: DLF-->DNF-->DNS. Translation: Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish which is greater than Did Not Start.
You can see in this last picture, if you look closely, my battle scars from the rock wall. My kids insisted I rub creme on it, and you can see that I had to lean up against a post. But, oh, what a feeling!!!!
Monday, February 04, 2013
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
One of the coolest things that happens when you start to study Scripture is how you begin to view life through the lens of God’s perspective. You will literally begin to “think God’s thoughts after him” and see applications of The Word in everyday life. I would like to share with you one of my own applications from these verses:
Everyone who signs up for a marathon (26.2 miles) is allowed to run, but there are rules to the race. There is a race course mapped out, not by the runners, but by the Race Director. Time limits are also set, if one is going to be a “finisher” before the event closes. Perhaps modern marathons are a little more applicable to the thrust of this passage, in that all finishers get a prize – the Finisher’s Medal. To get the medal, I had to train with a purpose, train for the event. I ran four times a week for nearly four months. Each run had a specific purpose – speed, pace, or distance. It was physically impossible to daily perform every kind of training needed to prepare me – but I could do something that contributed to achieving the goal every day. I adjusted my diet, planned my days, changed what I read and the kinds of advice I sought out. Training didn’t go fully as expected – I got sick twice, battled through several nagging little injuries, and my longest run was 16.5 miles (had planned to work up to a 20 mile run) – but still kept at the goal. The race didn’t go as planned, either. Wind, pain, and darkness came at me in ways I didn’t expect. There was an occasional urge to cut the course, to jump into the opposite lane before the turn – but I knew that at the very least I would lose the respect of my fellow runners and at most I could have been disqualified from the race entirely. That choice would have labeled me a cheater. I knew that if I had completed the race after cheating, the medal would be tarnished, would have meant significantly less…no matter how many people congratulated me. But I persevered and ran the entire course set out before me. The Finsher’s Medal was heavy, especially when it was placed around my neck immediately after finishing. I like that there was significant weight to it, because there was a lot of effort that went into obtaining the medal, and it symbolizes more to me than it possibly could to any other person. I was completely spent when I finished, when I stopped running. I hope my life is like that.
Paul wrote this to Timothy:
…train yourself to be godly.8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8
And at the end of his letter, Paul reminds the Corinthians:
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
There is a prize! We are told to pursue it, and guaranteed that it is worth the effort.
Monday, February 04, 2013
This was for 1 February......sorry, now they're out of sequence!!
Athlete parallels, part 5 of 5
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown… 1 Corinthians 9:25
The most important part of being a runner…is actually running! Sometimes I run for enjoyment and pay little attention to pace or time. But when I am training with a goal in mind – to run well for a particular race – the running workouts are purposeful, but also vary depending on their individual aim. I have slow runs that train me to run long distances, there are speed workouts to push me, hills (both up and down) that stress my body differently, and I have runs at my anticipated race pace to practice how I will feel on race day.
Physical bodies tend to plateau when they aren’t challenged, but the same is true for us spiritually when we get comfortable where we are. When we are comfortable, we don’t grow and mature…maybe that’s why God allows so many challenges in life…
James addresses this aspect of life:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
And the author of Hebrews shows us how perseverance plays a part in us completing our mission…just like Jesus did and then received his reward from God the Father:
…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
Seasons of life may have different paces and challenges, but we must continue the race God has set out for us. The runner doesn’t get to select where the race course will take him; that is pre-planned by the Race Director. Christ is our example of one who ran the course the Father gave him, and God has promised us a reward in addition to our salvation:
25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly… 1 Corinthians 9:25-26
Monday, February 04, 2013
This one was for yesterday, SUNDAY 3 FEBRUARY
26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27
Just like the athlete who strives to have complete control of his entire body so that he is in the best position to compete, Paul strives to master his own body.
The Greek phrase for “beat my body” translates more directly as “beat up and wear down my physical body”. Paul keeps his physical body in subjection to the race set out before him – namely his calling as a preacher of the gospel. He’s making a clear correlation between his physical acts in this life and their potential to later impact his spiritual rewards for running his race.
Wanting to be clear, Paul expounds upon this idea in Chapter 10:
10 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
They were Israel. God’s chosen people. Set apart with Moses. Partakers of spiritual food, drink, and Christ.
5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. 6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.
Out of the approximate 2 MILLION Hebrews that were part of the Exodus…only 2 earned the reward of entering the Promised Land.
Paul then gives examples of how some of the other 1,999,998 people were disqualified from the prize:
7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
Idolatry, sexual immorality, testing (i.e. – challenging) the Lord, and grumbling against the Lord…each of these physical acts brought about physical death which prevented them from obtaining their reward.
27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Disqualification – very serious stuff indeed.
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Saturday, February 02, 2013
25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:25-26
Why would a mortal athlete go to so much trouble...to train so hard for so long, to sacrifice all else, to persevere through…to be crowned with a piece of pine or celery at an awards ceremony?
Maybe it’s because of what the reward represents – the hard work, the accomplishment. Maybe it was to prove to himself or someone else that he was capable. Maybe he wanted the fame that accompanied a champion.
Whatever motivation the athlete would claim, beneath that is a truth so simple, so assumed, so understood that he probably wouldn't even consider telling it to you:
The athlete believes that all his efforts are worth the reward.
…but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
This crown that lasts forever…do we believe that it is worth the effort now?
Do we trust that God has our best in mind à even when it comes to rewards?
Earlier in the letter to the Corinthians, Paul quotes Isaiah 64:4 and states:
9 However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him
1 Corinthians 2:9
Just as no one could have predicted how God would offer salvation, do we believe that God can and will blow our minds when we cross this life’s finish line? Are we willing to put in the effort now as we look forward to his demonstration of love toward us?
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