Life Is A Race

Life is a race. Not a competitive race. Everyone's life is just a different race.

Our race may change course, there may be obstacles we must overcome, but if we keep our eyes on the Lord, we will reach our finish line and receive our prize. It is not always about the finish line, though. The journey is just as important. We need to make sure we don't miss something along the way while keeping our eyes on the prize.

Because I am a Christian and an athlete, this analogy is easy for me to see. Why do I race? Not to win (otherwise I would have given up long ago), but because it is a personal challenge. I'm a woman wearing so many hats -- wife, mother, Sunday School teacher, school volunteer, soccer mom -- juggling life's joys and frustrations. Talk about personal challenges! I hope to use this blog as an outlet for my frustrations and a proclamation of my joys as I tackle all the challenges I face in life.

One of my favorite Bible verses that helps me get through the hard times and relates to racing is also imprinted on my Road ID:

But those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giving up Control

Negative talk. It's what I do when I'm unsure of my abilities. It's what I do when I don't know what to say. It's what I do when I don't know what comes next because I'm such a planner. It's what I do when I doubt.

It's what I do when I lack faith.

I've always tried to be a positive person, but it doesn't always come easy. My mom has not always been the most positive person, and I've tried to be more positive, but she is my mother, so some of that negativity did rub off on me. I often catch myself complaining or just not thinking positively about something, and I'll try to turn it around, but I'm not always successful. I also try to be realistic.

I don't want to be disappointed.

Recently, as I shared in my last blog, I've been thinking about a career as a personal trainer and/or coach. I've been sorting through my options and just trying to decide what I'd enjoy most. Do I want to work in a gym? Do I want to do my own thing? Do I want to focus on running and triathlon? Do I want to help those just starting to exercise? Then there are those logistical questions. Who would want me to coach them? Where would I find my clients? Where would I hold sessions? How much money can I really make? When would I work? How much time will it take? What will it cost? This is where the negative talk comes in. I know I'd be good, but then I come up with some reason, some obstacle, that would make it hard for me to start my own personal training business. Who would be my competition? Can I compete with so and so? Why would someone choose me over her? I have overcome obstacles before, so why am I making this so hard for myself? Why do I keep waiting for someone to push me forward? Isn't that God telling me to do this? But....

The past couple weeks, I've encountered a big obstacle. Our school district is proposing that our neighborhood get re-zoned from our current elementary school to another one. Our current school is half a mile from our house. We can walk or ride our bikes. It is a very safe route. My girls currently ride their bikes alone to and from school everyday. The new school is 1.4 miles from our house and the route is much more dangerous with many more side streets and driveways. It doesn't make sense. Plus, I like our school. I know all the teachers and parents, and it just feels like home. I don't like change. Especially change I really have no control over and haven't gotten to plan for. In reality, I shouldn't worry because my girls are in 4th grade and won't be forced to move schools, which means my son will get to stay as well. I don't want the rest of the neighborhood to have to move, though. This is something that holds us together. I got involved and went to the input meeting, distributed fliers, and wrote letters and e-mails to the zoning committee and the Board of Trustees. I was feeling a little stressed out about the whole thing. One day, I decided to open my devotional book from a couple years ago to that particular day and read it. BAM! There it was:

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

That's when it hit me. I have prayed, but I haven't really had the faith to completely turn it over. I always have to have control. I finally gave over the Board's decision to God, and I felt more at peace. I'm still a bit uncomfortable, but I know it will all turn out o.k. Remarkably, I actually remembered the verse days later. I'm not great at memorizing verses, though. I started thinking more about it and how it applied in so many ways to my life. Why can't I let God be in control? Why can't I do that with my decision to start a new career? I keep thinking it is God's will for me to start my business, but then I think what if it isn't? Why can I not have faith that He will help me get through the obstacles and He will also pick me up if I fall?

Fear. Fear of failure. I don't want to be disappointed.

I realized how much harder it is to have faith when it involves something very close to me. If I can distance myself or if it is something I really have no control over, I have an easier time giving it over to God. When I can have control, though, it is so much harder. He never said I wouldn't have trouble. Why do I view so many obstacles as failure? How can I fail if I have God on my side, though? He has overcome the world. That means there is nothing He can't overcome. Whoa. I just need to allow Him to be in control. After all, it is just an illusion that I have control anyway.

Lord, take control and guide me in the way that I should go.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Race That Humbled

It has been 2 months since I blogged. Can I even call this a blog with so few posts? I've had all these thoughts of what to blog about, but I've just never had the time to sit down and write it down. that my friend and running partner challenged me to blog and link up with her tomorrow, I thought I'd take that challenge and spend a few minutes writing down some thoughts from the past months. I will likely write these thoughts in several blogs over the next few days, so stay tuned.

A little over a month ago, I completed my second Half-Ironman. It was a good race overall but also a bit disappointing. The weather was perfect, I saw my friend cheering on the run course, and I beat my time by about 5 minutes from my previous Half-Ironman. The first time (2 years ago), I did this same race, but the swim was quite a bit short (the wind blew the buoys) and the run was MUCH easier (they changed the run course last year). So, in reality, I beat my time by closer to 10 minutes. Most people would be really happy and thankful with that kind of a PR (personal record), but I was just a little bit happy. I had set my goal much higher than that (8 minutes faster than that). I had a good swim, a great bike, and a terrible run. I just wanted my run to be good (though I was super happy with my fantastic bike time), but it wasn't. I had to walk much of the run just like last time. Granted, this run was MUCH hillier, and I didn't throw up this time, but I still wasn't happy. I never felt strong on the run even though I had focused on running much more this time. I couldn't keep my heart rate down, so I ended up walking much more than I had planned. In a triathlon, especially one this long (6 hours and 23 minutes for me), it is hard to pinpoint exactly what is the problem. My run could have been weak just because it was weak or it could have been caused by my bike legs being weak and/or tired. I was dehydrated a bit for the run, which most certainly was a big problem (opposite problem I had last time). The bottom line is that I just wasn't happy about my performance even though I should have been. I trained well and raced as well as I could have. Most people think I'm crazy for even attempting a race this long and training for it with 3 kids, so of course they are impressed that I can even finish it and still walk the next day. That brings me to the point of all this. Why do I care what other people think?

Coming into the finishing chute

Going into this race, I've been thinking I'd like to do an Ironman in the near future. After this race, I decided I'm not doing an Ironman anytime soon. I'm not saying never, but not in a year or two like I previously thought. I don't even want to do another Half-Ironman for a long time. Why, you ask? Well, I got to thinking. First, I really start to get burned out with the long training hours. I start to not enjoy the training anymore. What's the point then? Second, I started thinking more about why I want to do an Ironman. I think I always knew why, but I just didn't want to admit it. It's not really for me. It's not because I'd enjoy training for it. It's so I can tell others I've done one. So I can call myself an Ironman (or woman). So I can get the tattoo. Whoa! What? Am I out of my mind? I had been praying about it for a while, and I think my race not going as well as I had hoped was God's way of saying I don't need to do that right now. I kept thinking I needed to do it when my son went to kindergarten and all 3 kids were still in elementary school. But why? I decided then and there that I'm just not a long distance racer, and I don't want to sacrifice all that time at this point in my life. Sure, I'll still do some marathons, but that's only a 4 hour race. An Ironman is a 14 hour race! Now, that IS crazy! I have a very good friend who will be doing an Ironman in the spring, and I hope to be his biggest cheerleader, but I don't think that I'll be joining him anytime soon.

Brian and I before the race

I feel like this is a huge step for me. Pride is something I really struggle with. I'm also VERY competitive. Always have been. I made straight As through high school and college, and I've always been a perfectionist. It was never anything my parents forced on me, though. It was just me. So, I think just giving in and admitting to myself that this isn't what I should be doing is a huge step for me. I am not going to quit triathlon. I just know that the Olympic distance, which I've always loved, is my distance. There is no shame in that. I actually know a woman who does just that. She also has 3 kids. It takes much less time, and I can really focus on getting faster at that distance. I've prayed a lot about it. I want to do some new races, like trail runs and adventure races. Doing the shorter races will allow me to do those because they cost less and take less time. Some of these are races I can do with my daughters. I've also prayed about a possible career in personal training or coaching. I still don't have the answers there, but I'm getting there. I have to quit the negative talk in my head. I know I'd be good at it, but I don't know what direction to take it or when to start. I know what my gifts are, but I have a hard time with timing. I'm not patient when it comes to something I want....NOW! God, why can't you just tell me the answer in a way I can understand?

I do know that if I just keep praying about it, He will provide the answer. I just need to be patient.