It was about a year-and-a-half ago that I sat in my basement with my dad watching the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii. At the time I was in peak training for a marathon, spent quite a bit of my time thinking about training and endurance. The Ironman is the ultimate endurance sport. You begin by plunging into the water for a 2.4 mile swim. After emerging from the depths, you immediately make your way to the transition area where get you bike and gear, jump on the saddle and head out for a 112 mile spin, only to return to the transition area, put on the running shoes and jolt out for the last leg – a 26.2 mile run. Throughout high school and even college as I competed in cross country, I stood intrigued, curious and in admiration of someone engaging such a grueling day of physical exertion and mental challenge.
As I sat on the floor, that particular Sunday afternoon, I once again had the thought that I had had years earlier – “I would love to do something like that.” This thought was quickly followed by something to the effect, “I’m training for a marathon/26.2 run, but could I do that after all the swimming and cycling…? Further, could I even do the swimming and cycling part to even get to the part I can do, i.e. the running?” The mental conversation soon ended as I probably unconsciously concluded I could never do such a epic exploit.
This spring, once the snow, ice and signs that we were soon coming to the end of another artic Northern Indiana winter, I laced up the shoes and began training for a season of road (running) races that would conclude with a marathon in October. It wasn’t long before my intentions shifted, significantly. A conversation with a friend, some unearthing of old desires, and an emergence of new impetus to push myself beyond the threshold of what I’ve ever physically attempted. Something that would require perhaps a greater amount of intentionality, planning, training and effort than had previously been exerted.
Last Thursday served to finish up 7 months – 30 weeks – three-hundred-and-fifty some hours of training, as my dad and I loaded up and drove from North Carolina to Florida for the Great Floridian Challenge – Half Ironman Triathlon.
The Great Florida Challenge is a1.2 mile swim, followed by a 58 mile bike ride through Sugar Loaf Mountain, followed by a 13.1 mile run. The trek took me 5:28:43.
Something significantly happens when we push ourselves beyond the thresholds of where we’ve been before. This is true whether it’s physically, mentally, relationally or spiritually. What’s more amazing is how each of these areas of our life influence and interact with other areas of our lives – we are one.
I’ve found that something happens to my mental and spiritual outlook during these seasons of intense and intentional physical training. Yet, isn’t it astounding how often we can so easily settle in to the status quo of life with the numbing effects of a mediocre existence?