A memory popped up in my Facebook timeline today; the first duathlon I’d ever participated in 7 years ago. I had just spoken about this race and how sore my legs were during it (remembered it all by myself without Facebook’s help, how about that?) with a friend of mine a couple weeks back so I thought I’d write about it too.
This particular duathlon consisted of a 2 mile run, then a 14-mile bike ride, then another 2 mile run. I had a few goals in mind, but had no idea if they were realistic or not since I’d never tried anything like this before. Keep in mind that I’d done some running in preparation, but barely any biking. I felt pretty good after the first run and not bad for the first half of the 14 mile bike ride and so I tried to keep up with some of the faster bikers, but as I rounded the corner for the second 7-mile loop, I thought to myself, “what WERE you thinking Nate?”
I was just on track to make one of my goals and needed to be as strong the second half of this race as the first in order to meet that goal. I pushed as hard as I could, knowing the run ahead was going to hurt…a lot. As I hopped off the bike and started out on the last two mile run, my legs were cramping. I had to make a decision…was I going to finish? Can I really allow myself to stop in front of all these people cheering me on, watching how I run the race?
I did my best to focus on the finish line, and not all the obstacles to getting there. As I did, a funny thing happened. I began to notice the things I did at the beginning of the race; the fresh air, well-landscaped lawns, birds, and Iowa scenery. I went from in the dumps about what hurt to enjoying what was going on around me DESPITE the pain I felt. The cramps slowly worked their way out of my legs and by the time I reached the finish line, I was running the pace I hoped to be running and to my surprise, I had beat my goal by 5 minutes! My legs were sore for the next few days, but I hardly noticed because I had done what I set out to do.
Sometimes in life we feel bogged down by all the hurts and pains and daily grind of life. We begin to tire out and start to see only all the obstacles piling up in front of us and we’re faced with a decision…do we go on? Can I really make it to the end in the midst of all this junk?
Paul says tells us in Hebrews 12 that we are to stop focusing on all that negative stuff and get rid of the things that slow us down so that we may “run the race with perseverance.” Verses 1-3 say, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
People are watching how we live our lives, the decisions we make, and the attitude we reflect especially in difficult times. We’re called to get rid of all the unnecessary baggage and press on in what God has called us (the race marked before us). We have a reason, someone to run for, and when we keep our eyes on him; our legs will regain their strength and bring us to the finish.
Be a witness,