Monday, September 10, 2012

Tri-training: Counting down the days

It's less than two weeks now til the triathlon.  I did no training this weekend, just enjoyed the wedding festivities and time with family.  Now, it's the final push to get ready for the race.

Today was, as usual, our long ride day.  Same route and a nice cool morning, but goodness I was tired starting out.  I wasn't surprised to be a minute slower this morning but was happy again to feel strong on the hills.  Strong, not fast.

One day last week, I was feeling scared about doing this race.  What if I inhale a bunch of water and get choked up?  What if I crash on my bike?  What if I have a flat tire?  What if I am so tired after the swim and bike that I can't keep running?  What if I just can't do it?  What if, what if, what if ...

Those "what ifs" are real.  I could inhale a bunch of water.  I could crash on my bike or have a flat tire.  I could go out too fast in the swim and bike and be completely wiped out for the run.  They are not completely irrational fears.

Fear is the battle many of us face in attempting new things.  When we've never done something before, we're not sure how it will turn out.  But here is what I am learning about fear in this aspect of my life.  It won't get me to the finish line.  My training will.

I've been working hard.  I've seen a lot of improvement.  I'm starting to narrow in on my time goals for the race.  I'm working hard in the remaining days. I'm reminding myself of what I've done - of the miles on the bike and the feeling of hills getting easier; of faster running times, being less out of breath, and going longer distances; of the exhilaration of swimming a mile in the pool and wanting to do more.  I've learned that when I feel crummy at the beginning of a workout, if I just keep going, I will feel better.  I have become much more confident in my body's ability to do what I push it to do.

There are so many carry-overs from this physical training and growing confidence into other areas of life.  I have thought so much these last couple of months about the spiritual connections and the ways in which physical training is like, though not nearly as important as, spiritual discipline.  In Mudhouse Sabbath, Lauren Winner addresses this idea with a music analogy.
"'Spiritual practice' is a phrase that means what it says.  Madeline L'Engle once likened spiritual practice to piano etudes.  You do not necessarily enjoy the etudes - you want to skip right ahead to the sonatas and concertos - but if you don't work through the etudes you will arrive at the sonatas and not know what to do.  So, too with the spiritual life.  It's not all about  montaintops.  Mostly it's about training so you'll know the mountaintop for what it is when you get there."
Will I be on a mountaintop when I get to the finish line on September 23?  I think so.  But if I am, it will only be because I've done the training, day in and day out, whether I felt like it or not.  And in my walk with Jesus, I will only know mountaintops if I have day by day "practiced," day by day walked in the spiritual disciplines, day by day read and meditated on scripture, prayed, died to self, served, confessed, offered forgiveness.

Life is not mostly about mountaintops, is it?  It's mostly about training and working, discipline and consistency, keeping going and daily doing the things that lead to increased confidence, sure hope. Even if we don't feel like it.  Especially if we don't feel like it.

So, what about those triathlon fears?  I'm planning to leave them behind where they belong.  I don't intend to take them to the starting line.  Oh, I expect there will be jitters, but from what I've heard and read, this Ramblin' Rose race is a bit of a big swimming, cycling, running support group, with women encouraging each other on all the way!  A little like, but without the eternal weight of another crowd of witnesses  that encourage me to press on.

1 comment:

Kathie said...

Amen Beth! I will be cheering you from here!