i could write a book of all the things i learned yesterday between the hours of 1 and 6. (that’s not how long it took my team to complete the triathlon but it’s roughly how long we were together–we completed in just over 2hrs 45 mins)
the biggest lesson i learned is that i don’t ever want to do anything without God by my side. what does that have to do with a triathlon? glad you asked!
i’ve become accustomed to running with at least one other person beside me. when i run on my own, i don’t feel as secure. it’s not that i’m afraid of falling. it’s that i get unspoken reassurance when i know someone is right there. as i ran the first leg on the beach, i ran out of steam pretty quickly. the last time i ran on a beach was in august and the last time i ran before that is non-existent. so that tells you just how ready i was to run on sand, run in water, sink slightly in muddier patches, and all with the breeze from the lake and the already cold temperature. and there was no one beside me. i talked to God a bit. guess it’s just You and me huh? yet i felt very alone…i was so focused on me.
i passed off the pink wrist band to my teammate Annie who completed the 2nd leg of the beach run and i had to force myself to keep walking. my chest ached, i was cold, i was disconnected.
Annie’s great long strides took her swiftly to the end of the beach run. i watched her pass a few others and smiled with pride. then i got a strong desire to be at the end of the beach when she past the wristband to Teela, our first biker. so i started to run again. more water washed into my shoes. it was a welcomed wash now. it was motivation to keep going. i wanted nothing more than to be were my team was. i wanted to witness that exchange and cheer Teela on. but i was exhausted. my chest ached. i was cold.
then i saw two of my teammates walking toward me. one had my sweater and “tear away” pants in hand. i was too tired to change but it was so good to see them. they smiled and congratulated me as we walked to the car.
never before have i wanted so desperately to feel like a team. i kept thinking of all the ways things good be better if we’d practiced together and worshiped together. if we’d hung out as a unit long before the day. but there really wasn’t time to wallow. we were off to the next meeting point–the river.
on our way we passed Teela was biking her heart out. we stuck our heads out the window and screamed encouragement at her. she looked good! then we passed Jody. she’s been one of my running buddies and she and another girl did the race as a duo. They came in second among the female teams. so proud of her! finally we got to Jenn, our second biker who would take over from Teela. Jenn was pumped. it’s in her nature to be pumped even though she’d emailed me horrible self-fulfilling prophecy earlier in the day about falling b/c of her 1-inch tires (for which i scolded her!). we stopped for a moment to cheer her on. and wouldn’t you know it, she did great! zero falls! it felt so good to watch her ride into the canoe area all smiles, wrist band in hand a ready to hand off.
by that time Darchelle and Cara had watched other teams get into their canoes and had a good strategy planned. and off they went down the river with the aid of the river damn’s current.
now it was time to head home for a few minutes, change gear, and get positioned for the final run. it still hurt to laugh and the dry cough sounded so awful. but the race had to continue and i was determined to do my part. but i no longer felt alone. there was no more “it’s just you and me, God” talk going on. this was about the team now–i wanted to run for the team.
a dry pair of sneakers and leggings, a drink of hot water, a few crackers for energy, and 2 bathroom breaks later, Annie and i were off to our respective locations to end the race. i did the first leg once again so i went down to the river bank to see Darchelle and Cara come in. Jenn and Teela were already there. Dean Burrill, our driver, came down as well. it was good to be among teammates at that moment. others were there waiting for their respective teams. we all cheered everyone in. but there was nothing as great as seeing our own two paddling down the river. and finally the wrist band was back in my hand and i took off….uphill.
oh, the joys of uphill running. Annie (an experienced runner!) gave me tips for the journey. the initial run was just a slight incline and then i got to THE HILL. i’ve walked it before. i’ve run in before. i’ve never raced it. everything changes when the word “race” is attached. but i was okay. Annie’s words played in my head. take long strides and lean slightly forward. and i did and it worked. the higher i got, the more deliberate every step had to be. the higher i got, the more determined i got to finish this thing. and with even pacing i was soon at the top on flat lands!
but it wasn’t over. i slowed to a slight jog for a few moments just to catch my breath, get my heart rate down. and then i got back to familiar pavement, the pavement i’ve been pounding with at either Jodi or Cara for a few weeks now. i was at home. i was confident. i picked up speed. a car of guys drove by and cheered me on. i’ve seen them before but don’t know them and it didn’t even matter. someone was cheering for me and i was running for my team so my team was on the move! and then my teammates drove by to meet Annie and i at the very end. go team!
and then came the second hill, not as major, but still a hill. and i soon heard Annie’s voice. come on Michaela, you’re almost done! i was definitely pumped now. i took of the band and began speeding up a bit more and then ran as fast as i could to Annie. and she ran, and she ran, and she ran. and i got to the track just in time to run a few more steps with her, Teela and Cara. then she took off and ended the race in a beautiful sprint. and even though she ended by herself, she wasn’t alone. none of us were alone.
i don’t want to go anywhere unless God is there. i don’t want to do anything unless God is in it. i don’t want to make any decision unless God has blessed it.
i’ll run again. i’ll do triathlons with a team again. and next time will be better, stronger. i won’t be focused on me. because anything done in a spirit of praise to God takes the focus off self. that’s why i want to be right were He is, always.