I’ve had a whirlwind past couple of weeks.
On November 4th I flew home (through Vegas) only to drive back to Vegas on November 5th with my wife to compete in the Silverman on November 7th. I’ll get back to that in a moment.
We drove home from Vegas on November 8th, I was in the office on the 9th, and then my family and I flew to Jacksonville, Florida for a wedding at which I was officiating and my wife was singing. After the wedding we drove to Orlando to spend some time with my Mom.
We flew home late Tuesday and jumped into a busy work week that was already in progress.
It was a busy couple of weeks full of great memories and important lessons.
Which brings me back to what happened in Vegas.
I’d been training for the Silverman (an Ironman distance triathlon) for a full year. I did the race to fulfill a personal goal and to raise money for the four children of a dear friend who died last March–Kylee Boden. I set up Kylee’s Kids about 6 months ago and set a goal of $5000, which we have surpassed by a mile! I’ll tell you more about that next week.
I did the race with two dear friends–Bob Gailey and Travis Jacob.
Bob was competing in the Half Silverman and Travis joined me in doing the full distance.
I went into the race with a modest amount of confidence and a ton of respect for the challenges of finishing a race of this distance and difficulty, but–even so–I was quickly overwhelmed by the task before me.
I awoke at 1 am on the morning of the race, drank a protein drink, and slept until about 4:30.
At 4:30 I couldn’t eat. My stomach was in knots so I forced down an energy drink. During my training I ate oatmeal before every training session but on race day I couldn’t get myself to eat anything. This was a big mistake.
I got sick about 4 times before the race, but–by race time–I felt really good, even though I had nothing in my stomach.
I came out of the water at 1 hour and 3o minutes, which was about 15 minutes slower than my training times because I kept swimming off course. My transition to the bike was smooth and I was optimistic about the upcoming ride.
Shortly into the 112 mile ride, I felt hungry and really thirsty, my legs felt weak, and I started to realize that I was in trouble. My legs had no strength and I struggled to get hydrated and fueled as I headed out into the Mojave Desert.
Did I tell you that it was really hot in that desert, too?
The Silverman is advertised as “The World’s Most Difficult Triathlon” and I found out just how accurate that description is.
I trained by riding the hills around Greeley and by riding my bike to Estes Park, which is about a 20 mile 3,000 ft. climb. The race course for the Silverman includes over 12,000 ft of climbing. By the time I reached the halfway point of the bike ride I had already climbed the equivalent of several rides up the canyon to Estes Park without the long period of relief you get from riding down from Estes.
56 miles into the bike ride I stopped at an aid station to pick up my bike special needs bag and the medical personnel forced me to sit down. The medical volunteer started asking me simple questions that I could not answer. I thought I was hydrating properly and taking enough electrolytes during the first half of the ride, but I wasn’t and my body was failing me. At mile 65 my body just gave out, so–because I didn’t want to quit the race I began for Kylee’s Kids–I started walking my bike. My race day was over and I had learned some important lessons that apply to our spiritual race as well.
1) Stick to the plan. Not only did I not eat the same breakfast I ate almost every day in training, I didn’t eat breakfast at all. In my training I drank a half bottle of fluids every 30 minutes, but during my race I lost my focus and didn’t drink enough. When we diverge off of God’s plan for our lives and try to make our own way, we’re making a big mistake and putting ourselves in harm’s way.
2) Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition! I wasn’t eating or drinking enough so I bonked. Are we feeding our souls with God’s Word, personal time with the Lord, and fellowship with other believers?
3) Proper training is essential. Even though I trained for a year, I wasn’t physically ready for the demands of that specific 112 mile bike course. Looking back from where I sit now, I should have climbed to Estes Park several times each training session. I should have forced myself to climb faster in my training sessions. I also should have put in at least 10 longer rides during my training. In our spiritual lives, we need to do what it takes to be better trained as well. Are you studying God’s Word? When was the last time you attended a Bible study or small group? Do you attend worship services regularly? Trust me, bonking is not fun.
The Silverman was a great experience and I learned a lot about what it takes to finish an Ironman-distance triathlon and I learned a lot about myself.
I’m going to wait at least a year, but I want to finish the race. I have to. I have some unfinished business in that desert, but I thank God that–because of my friend Travis and your generosity–Kylee’s Kids finished the race I couldn’t finish.
My friend Travis finished the bike ride with 10 minutes to spare before the cutoff. He rode courageously and was in tears as he prepared to transition to the marathon. He ran over to where I was standing, hugged me, and said he wanted to carry Kylee’s Kids across the finish line, so I gave him a picture of the kids and….just short of 16 hours after they started the race, Kylee’s Kids crossed the finish line thanks to the love and commitment of Travis Jacob.
And, that’s what happened in Vegas.