Today was crazy busy. I tagged along with the boys early this morning on an informal mini triathlon with our local tri club. It was super fun and relaxed and so enjoyable to race it together with my sons. That was the “fun” part of the day. The rest of it was spent prepping everything for tomorrow’s big Ironman race simulation. I was fetching ice, bottled water, bike chain cleaner, marking paint and more. The boys and I marked the run course through the neighborhoods and the key turns at the midway point of the bike. I set up the transition areas and scoped out the swim start again. Finally after all that, I pulled my personal gear together and now I’m hitting the hay.
I’m tired, but at peace. As I prepare to close my eyes, I realize I’ve spent most of the day serving others. And I’m fulfilled by that. While it was sometimes stressful trying to transform my driveway into a triathlon transition area, the day was enjoyable. I was focused. Life was in it. It was a good day.
How’s your serve?
The shoes in the image above are mine. I’ve run more than 1800 miles in them over the last three years. I’ve learned much on the journey. My skill as a runner has increased significantly. But there is still room for improvement. My Ironman training regimen is designed to help me finish stronger than I start. The workouts tend to have tougher components toward the end. Such was the case Sunday afternoon. I was scheduled for a two hour run. The first hour was to be run as a warm up with low intensity just to get good and tired. The second hour was split into three, twenty minute intervals at race pace (or faster) intensity. I started at 1:30 PM in the afternoon on a mid-80’s degree day to simulate the race day run timing. The Texas humidity made sure I was warm right from the start.
I kept my pace measured and easy as I clicked through the first hour, marked off by my regular refueling every fifteen minutes. Then came the work. I laid out my run to have more hills in the second hour. That’s how the course is in Chattanooga in September. Just as I hit the first twenty minute interval, I was heading up one of the steeper hills of the day.
When you’ve been moving at a slow and steady pace for an hour, your body adjusts and kicking it up to a fast gear pushes everything out of whack for a bit until your body acclimatizes to the new pace. But I held it; I hit my pace goals during all three intervals. My software tells me my fastest kilometer of the day was my last one. I was speeding up as I finished! Yes! Real progress! But that second hour, that second lap was tough and demanding on my body and concentration.
Now that I look back on it, the first year after Kristi died was all about survival. I was thrilled just to get to this date last year. So much change. So much hurt. So much adjustment. I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I made it. We made it. Together and smiling! I knew we would be OK.
But as this second year without Kristi has drawn to a close, I realize that it has been much like the second lap of my run. This year wasn’t just about going through the motions just to make it to a certain date on calendar. This year was about making real progress toward thriving again. And we have. But it has been hard. The pace has picked up and life is churning onward. We’ve had to adjust to the new pace and the reality of the new normal has settled in. This isn’t a sprint. Its about endurance. However the path to thriving again is in moving forward, not back. I know it. Its exciting to have progress. But there’s a price to pay. I’m willing to pay it. My goal is not survival. My aim is to thrive!
I was surprised this evening as we celebrated my birthday quietly at my parents’ house. A knock on the door and a friend from church delivered this birthday cake for me. His daughter,
who had made it, delivered it with him. What a delightful surprise! Its the Ironman logo. What you can’t see is that on the right edge of the cake it says “Ironman” and on the other it says “Chattanooga”. How cool is that?
Friends and family carry you along the way on this journey of life. I know so many have prayed for me and for our family. So many have extended themselves to care for us. This was the latest example of the Father’s love expressed through His children. I am grateful… grateful to live among such excellent people. Last year I rode up a mountain on my bike. This year I took the day off training. I’ll be back at it tomorrow, sharpening up for the big race simulation on Saturday. But today was a day to savor being alive.
While this cake is a symbol of my racing goal for the year (Chattanooga Ironman, September 27th), it also puts a stamp on what it takes to keep living, keep loving and keep laughing. It takes an iron will. I will not back down in the face of loss. Oh yes, it hurts. Oh yes it claws at me. But I will overcome. I choose faith, hope and love. These three remain. They are the fertile soil that produces joy.