Monday, August 30, 2010

Triathlon

I had the privilege yesterday of attending my first triathlon. A dear friend, Marni Dodd was competing in Tri to Beat Cancer, a fundraiser to help low-income cancer patients. As a registered nurse Marni has a real heart for the cause, but even more so because her mother fell victim to the disease after a brave struggle of many years. Marni trained for months as one of the Workout Women Boot Camp team, but she knew the triathlon would still be a challenge, because less than a year ago she had a hamstring replaced.

I arrived at around 6:30 a.m. and found the park where the event was held overflowing with people. Over 650 athletes were there as well as their friends and family. The event consisted of 400-yard swim, 16-mile bike ride, and a 5K run.  I stood on the beach in the first light of morning and watched wave after wave of competitors churn up the water on the almost quarter mile swim  and was amazed as they made their way around the course. I was pretty sure if it'd been me out there, the canoe people in the lake would've had to pull me out of the water at buoy one. A strong swimmer I am not.

When Marni came out of the water, her face conveyed exhaustion, but I watched her as she pushed on up the hill to her bike. She seemed to rally a little as she headed out. When she returned from the bike ride in good time, she seemed high in spirits as she put on her running shoes. I followed her with my camera as she headed out for the last part of the event. 5K doesn’t seem that far, unless you’re using someone else’s hamstring and you’ve already swam and biked the distance equal to a quarter of the way around the Atlanta Perimeter. As Marni faded into the distance, I knew this run would present the biggest challenge. When she made the turn for the second lap, she appeared to be suffering, but I was sure that more than anything else she wanted to finish. She wanted to finish for the cancer patients. She wanted to finish for her Mom.

And finish she did. In just a little over two hours she completed the course which was in her words, “the hardest thing I ever did.” I salute her for her perseverance in completing something few would ever attempt.

From Hebrews 12:1-2, “…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.”

Some of us may be suffering from a long swim in what may have been choppy water, or a strenuous ride that seemed uphill all the way, or maybe you’re in the home stretch and just don’t know if you have the strength to continue. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Remember why you’re running this race. Look for the joy.

And like Marni, you’ll be so glad you crossed that finish line.

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