Thursday, July 17, 2014

The most important things in life are not things.

 Before 5:30 a.m. I was on my way to the 5i50 Boulder Peak Triathlon at Boulder Reservoir.  On the morning of a race, I am always filled with all sorts of emotions, so I was doing my best to stay relaxed listening to some music on the radio when the morning host brought up a quote that I had heard many years ago.  It stuck with me this morning.  “The most important things in life are not things.” 

As I looked around at the amazing bikes, the expensive aerodynamic helmets, and all the other gadgets and equipment that make triathlon so exciting, I couldn’t help but think about that quote.  I walked to the body marking line and noticed an older gentleman getting marked whose age looked more like a race number than an age, and that someone is someone who makes triathlons great.  It's not the bikes or wetsuits; it’s the people.  There are very few sports where the elite athletes compete side by side with the age group athletes, and that is something important, as it is a family event.  The idea of triathlon is to push one's physical, emotional, mental, and perhaps spiritual limits to the test.  Each one of those characteristics I tested today, which I take pride in.  Not the things used in a triathlon, but instead the concept of triathlon is what keeps bringing me back. 

If you are unfamiliar with my racing tactics, I like to start each triathlon by digging myself a huge hole in the swim portion which gives everyone a head start.  It happens every time, despite my fluctuation in swim training, so I am starting to think that this may just be the way it is.  After getting to the beach and making it to my bike, I couldn’t wait to get started.  Midway through the bike portion of the race, I came across my longtime friend Jim Halberg who was yelling at me to get in a bigger gear and get rolling.  This little push reminded me to have courage and push my limits which I did en route to my fastest bike split average ever at Boulder.  Off the bike, I had exciting feelings flying through me.  As I took off up the first hill, I thought once again, "This high, this excitement is what triathlon is."  The run is always fun for me because I get to fly by those larger swimmers or the cyclists who can hammer it while biking.  Passing them right and left, even seeing some walking really helps build my confidence as I go.  The dirt trails of the course do not bode well for fast times, but compared to my competition, I flew as I clocked the 4th fastest run. 

When the race was over there is a sense of achievement.  It's not a finisher medal that gives value to the race; it’s the feeling of doing something with your day that most could not do in their life.  I ended up finishing 14th in the Men's Elite division which should qualify me for the Hy-Vee 5i50 US Championship.  Depending on my team's schedule this fall will determine if I can race, but it is still a nice accomplishment after such a dreadful swim. 

I understand many who read this blog are not triathletes, or even runners, but I would encourage you to slow things down.  Many of you are athletes still in college who I coach or know.  I am not telling you not to focus on getting that diploma.  Graduating is very important, but look around at what really matters.  Fill your life with people who want to enrich your life, and do your best to do the same for others.  This may involve sacrificing some of the “things” that we pursue, but look to bring value to your life in whatever direction you may be heading, and there will be a sense of satisfaction that will last longer and bring more happiness than anything else ever can.        

July 13th 2014 (1500swim, 27mile Bike, 10K Run) Boulder Peak
2:19:58. (Swim 28:50, T1 1:58, Bike 1:10.28, T2 :59, Run 37:41) 14th Elite

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Round Up 12K

Yesterday I raced the Summer Round Up 12K in Bear Creek Park in Colorado Springs.  This was not my typical triathlon race or even a fast road race, but a very hard single track trail race with difficult hills and terrain.  After the race, I was not happy at all with my performance.  I placed 6th and had pretty much fallen apart for miles 5-6.  Seeing other friends do so well while I was struggling was not easy to accept, and on top of the race, I have just been drained emotionally lately.  Later on in the day after spending some much needed time at home on Bailey Ranch, I realized I was being too hard on myself.

Just the other day I saw a video of a friend’s child who took their first step.  To me the baby stumbled to the ground and really didn’t walk at all, but I suppose from a parent’s standpoint this was a huge step, regardless of how small it may seem to outsiders.  This got me thinking about how hard I have been on myself.  Whatever happened to the days when we celebrated small victories?  In any great story, the final product of success is not achieved without many small steps.  Instead of beating myself up for losing in a trail race to some of the top runners in Colorado and also a few Africans, I should be celebrating that I won my age group and that I ran a competitive trail race while I have not been training for such a race at all.  Instead of looking for how I have come up short, I need to be looking for how I succeeded.  Is this not how God looks at us?  We fall short nonstop by our standards, but as long as we accept our failures and have goals and continue to better ourselves, God looks at us like a parent watching their child take their first step.  He celebrates our small steps because he knows what we are capable of.  If we would do the same with ourselves and the people around us, just think of how much better we would be.  Yesterday’s race may not have been graceful like a baby’s first steps, but I had the courage to race, the courage to try as a child does.  In life if there is something you want to accomplish, a place you want to be, or a person you want to be with, you must have the courage to try.  You might fall after one step, but you will be closer after that fall than you were before.  After several falls, you will eventually get the goal, to the place you want to be, or with the person you want to be with.  Failure is somewhat an endearing quality when it is partnered with passion and courage.  Relish the small steps that bring you closer to the end goal of your dreams. 

The race yesterday was well organized and a lot of fun.  I was able to see many friends and to compete in my favorite city with Pikes Peak in the back ground.  It may not have been the perfect race, but it was a success.