I’ve lost count of how many times someone has asked,
“so, why did you sign up for a triathlon?“
Depending on the level of interest I perceive from the person asking,
I’ll answer that question differently each time.
Now, for some reason you’ve decided to click on this blogpost, so…
15 months ago my friend’s mom, Carrie, planted the triathlon seed in my head when she challenged me to think through what type of woman I want to become in this lifetime. Her words: “When I think through the next five years, I want to be a woman who can say, ‘I did a triathlon.'”
(Here she is riding in front of me two weeks before my tri in San Diego.
She has the trait I like to refer to as “BA.”)
The hope and determination in her words took hold of me during a time when I needed it most–I was wrestling with faith, depression, and purposelessness brought on by unprocessed grief, deep loss, and trauma.
I felt I had been presented with a new dream waiting to be fulfilled.
I went back and forth for months.
Fear and doubt whispered, “you can barely swim… you have never been the athletic type… you will fail.”
11 months later, on March 12th, I came to another point in time filled with painful life transition and growth, and felt the familiar shadows of loss and grief creep up a few weeks after my grandfather’s death.
Given the previous experience I had with unhealthy grief, I decided to plunge into the deep end by signing up for the Solana Beach triathlon. I knew that, for me, having a structured routine, game-plan, and measurable goal as something to work towards would help in my healing process.
Somewhere along this journey, a dear friend challenged me to think through how I could apply what I learned from this experience to my spiritual life.
I was… All. About. It.
Here are the ones that stood out to me the most:
- Lasting progress, growth, and change takes time, discipline and hard work.
In retrospect, I’m thankful for the process when I think back to where I was at three years ago. Physically, I struggled with exercise–induced asthma and couldn’t run more than a mile without chest pain or coughing. After four months of what felt like a frustrating run-walk-run-stop loop, I got to a place where I could run 2 miles without stopping.
Fast-forward through a year and a half of exploring a new world of strength-training, foam-rolling, work-out apps, fueling and nutrition, and I had learned the need to re-prioritize time, resources, and energy into this lifestyle. That meant being quick to say, “no” to much in order to have a fruitful workout the next day, which would result to be fruitful in the long run. (pun intended)
There were no shortcuts on the road to improvement. There was no room for long breaks or changes in the routine over the course of the year leading up to the triathlon. I became more intentional once I reached the 8-weeks-left mark.
Here’s the program I followed to focus on improving speed and endurance: TRI.Speed_Boosting_Sprint_Plan
It was not easy for the new habits and patterns to take root three years ago, but after the first 30 days, a second 30 days became easier; and after 90 days, I began to see results.
I’ve seen the truth of these principles cross over to a universal application.
I can think through times when I sensed God ushering me into various seasons of growing in patience, humility, trust, or healing. Often, I’d wake up on any given day of the aforementioned seasons and go through the motions and tasks necessary to succeed. I knew what was required of me and I knew that it would not be easy.
At times I had to exercise a Spirit-empowered, “dying to myself” in the context of a relationship by admitting my wrongs and swallowing my pride. Other times, I had to exercise letting go of self-sufficiency and self-protection by being open about my brokenness and admitting a need.
….and the list goes on…
Those spiritual, emotional, and relational exercises did not come easily and there were times when I did not see any fruit for years. I’m reminded that in the same way one’s body takes much time/effort/discipline to change, improve, and build endurance, one’s character and maturity follow suit.
- Gratitude, grace, and rest carried me further than rigid self-motivation and fear.
Somewhere during the more intensive 8-week training, I discovered the need to “prove myself“ in terms of how hard I trained. Despite all the healing, growth, and maturity I had experienced over the years, there was still a part of me that, at my core, believed: I am still unhealthy; and I must exceed expectations or else I will fail.
Two of the biggest motivators each morning were:
1) fear of failing
2) confidence in my own natural tenacity and perseverance.
Two weeks before the TRI, I felt released from that faulty core view and surrendered those fears to God. For the first time, I harbored an overwhelming sense of gratitude while I jogged, biked, and swam. I took each breath with a mindful disposition and thanked God for my lungs, my legs, my feet, my toes, and everything He provided along the way. I thanked God for how far I had come. It was freeing to accept my limitations, my human-ness, and my God-given capacities.
At the start of training, I heard Him say, “I will carry you through this triathlon.” He graciously showed me, yet again, how He is faithful, unchanging, and kind.
I’ve seen tendencies in my spiritual life where I desire to earn God’s approval and resist grace. I can easily fall into doing more and more for God even when He hasn’t asked me to.
There is nothing more freeing than coming before the Lord just as I am and living out of the fullness of who He made me to be by accepting my limitations, capacities, and giftings.
- Network of support is required at all times. I could write a blogpost about each person who supported me with their words, time, energy, efforts, materials, gear, wisdom, knowledge, and so much more. We need people. No man is an island, etc. Instead I’ll post some pictures that can speak for themselves.