Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ironman Lake Placid: The Race that Wasn't

Not that I didn't do Ironman Lake Placid. I did. I most certainly did. I was out there for almost 15 hours. But it just wasn't all that. I didn't get that rush of awesomeness in the process of doing an Ironman, like I did in 2008 at Ironman Florida. Nor did I feel elated as I crossed the finish line and heard my name from Iron Mike.

I was just glad it was finally over.

It seems as if something as significant as an Ironman should be...well...significant. 

Now, nearly 6 months later, except for a brief period in the immediate aftermath of the race, I have continued to struggle with the whole idea of training and racing. It doesn't appeal to me. I'm not motivated. I gave myself a break from being an athlete while I was on vacation in November, hoping I would come back rejuvenated and ready to run again.

But that didn't happen, and most days I dread swimming, biking, or running. I have a great coach who knows exactly how I'm feeling and has minimized my workouts for now and encourages me to just stick with it. She assures me I will find mo and jo again soon.

In the meantime, someone suggested to me that I didn't really need to be that athlete. That I could stop seriously training and just focus on being a mentor and a coach.

But he's wrong. I can't do that.

God has given me a certain set of talents. Among other things, I have a good amount of mental and physical stamina. But I am not a star athlete. I was never the best. I don't have the credentials to be a Bill Bowerman or even a Debi Bernardes. My credibility comes from my doing. The folks I have the good fortune to work with put their trust in me precisely because I am not special or elite...I am just like them (with perhaps a little extra fortitude). And if I can do it, and they can see me do it, run with me, ride with me, swim with me, then they believe they can do it too.

Last Sunday's lesson at church was about generosity. God wants us to be generous in every way...with our money, with our time, and with our talents. If I stop being "that" athlete, I am being stingy with what little talent I do have. I am foregoing the opportunity to share not just a capability but also a belief in self, a sense of achievement, and feelings of self worth…

So, I slog through the workouts, rehab the nagging injuries, coach, train, encourage. 

Yesterday, a large group of runners from our Fleet Feet training group completed the Mississippi Blues Half or full Marathons. I stood just before mile markers 12/25, wearing a goofy pink wig, my "coach" shirt, cheering, high-fiveing, hugging. The smiles, the tears, the grimaces, the "whoop, whoops"…they all make it worth it. They all let me know I'm doing good things…that despite my doubts and misgivings, what I have to offer is meaningful to them. 

And it doesn't matter that IMLP wasn't "my" race.  

My abilities to run, swim, and bike don't belong to me. They belong to them.

"Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." 1 Corinthians 4:2