1.6k Swim, 4k Bike, and 10k Run. These are the distances of an Olympic size triathlon race. And these are the kind of triathlons I did when I was living in Hawaii. I absolutely loved competing in three sports in one competition. And living in Hawaii, where the temperatures were practically near perfect year round, made the sport ideal for some good times. Now I was really not that great at any of three legs of the race. I feel swimming and running were my strongest since I swam and played water polo in high school, and ran cross country in college. My biking time consisted of recreational activities…..mountain biking in Colorado for two summers and road biking here and there.
Before taking on the races, I would do a little bit of training, but not as much as I should have. I did it more for the pure enjoyment of the sport and a sense of accomplishment that never gets old. In each triathlon I participated in, the one mile swim was an open water ocean swim. There were waves that each swimmer would go up and over. It was strenuous work, but I always did somewhat decent in the swim, finishing in the top quarter.
During the two transitions from swim to bike and bike to run, I usually took my time getting ready. Like I mentioned, I was participating for the pure enjoyment of the sport. So the speedy transitioners had their way with me and always passed me with ease. During the first part of the 40k bike, I felt like I was going in slow motion, as some of the other competitors would literally fly by me. Biking wasn’t my strong suit, but after I got in a groove, I would hold my own.
By the time I made it to the 10k run, I was all gassed out, with my goal being to finish. So I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, keeping a nice steady pace to finish the race. The race was not super long compared to an iron man triathlon that is, but it still took me over an hour and half to complete. I was definitely exhausted at the end of the competition, and my legs felt it the most as I used them to the limit in all three areas. But the thrill of competing and finishing brought me back time and time again.
A committed triathlon competitor, like an Olympian athlete, always makes sure that he or she puts an equal amount of time and practice into each of the three sports. They make sure they are at their peak performance before competing. They eat properly, train properly, and make sure their body is in tip-top shape. They do it because they want to win. A Bible verse that comes to my minds is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
Winning a race requires purpose and discipline. A Christian’s life also takes hard work, self-denial and grueling preparation. As Christians we should be running towards our heavenly reward. The essential disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship equip us to run with vigor and stamina. Don’t merely observe from the sidelines; don’t just jog a couple of laps a day. Train diligently – your spiritual purpose depends upon it.
In case any of you are wondering, no I never got to stand on a podium in any of my triathlon races, let alone even finish in the top 100. I never trained like a hard core athlete and prepared my body like I should have. But today, I can honestly say I’m preparing my mind, body, and heart the way God wants me to be; to be that witness, and to get ready someday for my future home with Him. That’s the podium I’ll be standing on!