My sharing about the lessons I learned during the triathlon come in three parts. First, I was taught that the number one, most essential element in accomplishing something hard is to TRY! I must resist the temptation to be afraid of how I look to others or to be embarrassed by how my skills stack up to my competitors’ abilities. Second, I am never alone. The Lord is my constant companion in carrying out any and all tasks, and often he rallies ordinary people to cheer me on.
Finally, I want to share several little things I observed in others and in myself that might make the next challenge I face (race or not) a good experience.
Enjoy the view:
The country surrounding me was absolutely beautiful – desert red plateaus in the foreground and snowcapped mountains in the distance. I made a conscious effort to bike and run with my head up. It reminded me of the advice I’ve received in facing other challenges, to not focus on the problem. As I looked out and tried to drink it all in it seemed to help me forget the hill I was climbing (the problem) and my tired legs (my own weakness).
Don’t be embarrassed by baby steps or using first gear:
I know President Kimball counseled us “to lengthen our stride.” I want to, I really do, but sometimes baby steps are all I’ve got in me. When I’m exhausted and tempted to sit down in the middle of the trail and be done before “it’s” over I remember that baby steps and first gear are a blessings. They keep me moving forward. Even if my progress is almost imperceptible, it’s real. Just pick one foot up and put it in front of the other.
Be prepared for surprises:
I should have seen it coming. It seems that no matter how familiar you think you are with the route, until you have actually, physically traveled the course, there will be some element of surprise. The first time I ran a half marathon I did a lot of training, at least more than I was use to. Down the mountain trail I would run Saturday after Saturday. This was a downhill event, and I love going downhill!!! My daughter and I ran the marathon together. I remember thinking, “Down Down Down! This is the only way to run a race!” Ahead of us, as far as I could see, was a stream of runners. Remembering my first race (10K 1992) and the solitary experience it had been, it was fun to keep my eyes on the other runners. This was progress. But suddenly I observed them doing something that immediately brought a sinking feeling to my heart and my legs. The whole group made a hairpin turn down below me and started jogging up hill. “No way!!!” I exasperated to my daughter and anyone else in earshot. “You said this was a down hill race!” The answer, of course, was “It mostly is Mom. SURPRISE!”
During the Triathlon 2009 I had a surprise as well. Just as I was finishing what I thought was the entire bike ride and thinking the 10 miles had gone unbelievably fast and thinking, “Yea for me!!!” – The biking official said something that clued in me to reality. I was only half way done. I would need to bike the entire hilly loop again. SURPRISE!
Biking finished; I was on to the run. As I looped back to where I had started the run there was little doubt in my mind. “We run this loop twice too, right?” “That’s Right.” Surprises are part of the adventure. They keep things interesting. Surprises cause me to rise to the occasion. Surprises make me do things that are hard that I wouldn’t have signed up for. Surprises make me strong.
It’s not about being finished:
When I was half way through the biking portion with the run still to go, to my total dismay, I saw that there were actually people walking their bikes back to their cars. Why? Because they were FINISHED! I mentioned my astonishment to the Lord and the thought that came back to me was, “Nannette, they’re not finished. They’re fast. They’re fast because they will be up every morning next week putting themselves through the paces again. They are going home, but they aren’t done. Being “finished” is a fantasy.”
Finally, it’s never going to be “all down hill from here”:
Sometime during the triathlon someone yelled out to me, “Hey, it’s all down hill from here.” They had no idea where I was in the race. I had many hills ahead of me. One of the most helpful things I have learned is that every important journey has lots of ups and downs. It doesn’t serve me well to imagine that I am going to magically arrive at a place where there is no more challenge. In fact there is a kind of serenity that comes when I accept the reality that I am not going to simply coast across the finish line, not in a race and not in life.
By Nannette W.
Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2009
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