My family learned a valuable lesson this weekend. It's still so fresh and new that it's hard to evaluate to what degree and how far reaching this lesson will be. The lesson is three fold; first a plug for goal setting from this fitness professional, second a lesson in perseverance and lastly, surrender.
They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindications from God their Savior.
Most people would not consider a bike crash a blessing. We were no different. June 24, 2012 my husband crashed his road bike in a TOAD series (Tour of America's Dairyland) criterium race. He raced on a cycling team all spring and summer and was anticipating this racing series. The TOAD has always been one of his favorites. Even before he started racing - when cycling was more of a hobby of his - we would go to the Downer Days Race held on the East Side of Milwaukee in mid-June. It is such a fun and exciting atmosphere to be in. The kids love the cow bell clanging, Will loves the speed and the fluidity of the peloton and I love all things fitness - so it's a guaranteed family fun day. This particular year he did not get to race in the Downer Days Race. His crash happened before that race. No serious damage done - lots of bumps and road rash and an undiagnosed broken wrist that kept him from riding the rest of the summer. He was unable to properly grip the brake while using the drops - a certain handle bar position necessary to criterium racers. He was a bit frustrated, to say the least. His passion for racing did not go away just because he physically was unable to. He still had a fever to participate in a race - any race. After very minimal consideration, he decided to train for a marathon. Now, as a fitness professional, I was excited by this news. But as his wife, I found it hard to believe. He very rarely ran. In fact he ran as little as possible. But he was determined and I was not going to cloud his goal. He put himself on a fast-path training plan because the specific marathon he wanted to race was only about 9 weeks away. If you have ever trained for such an event, or know of someone who has, you know that ideally 12 weeks is minimal training time. Will's drive and determination were admirable during these 9 weeks. He plugged away each and every day. Logging the miles he plotted out, improving his time and running efficiency, waking up early, going to bed late, doing what he needed to do to finish what he started.
Marathon day came. He ran and did well. By God's good grace and favor, he raced at the pace he had practiced and finished in a respectable time. Thanks be to God.
He was hooked. Marathon racing was now a part of our family's culture. His goal for his next race was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In order to do that as a 36-year-old male he must complete the race in 3 hours and 10 minutes or less. This qualifying time is just over 18 minutes faster than his finishing time from his first marathon. He trained hard all winter long and registered for another marathon. This one was in April of 2013.
Conditions seemed perfect. Weather was cool. Wind was calm. Course was flat. Will felt strong and able. He had gotten a great night's sleep the night before, was at the starting line in plenty of time, and had consumed enough fluids and carbohydrates. Soon his watch was set, the gun went off and the race began. He quickly settled in behind the pacer holding the 3:10 sign. All he needed to do was stay with the sign. Flash forward three hours and fourteen minutes later. Will crosses the finish line. Yes, 3:14. Four measly minutes shy of his goal time. His qualifying time. Disappointment was an understatement.
2 Corinthians 2:16
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
We know that God's timing is perfect. What we want sometimes, in our prideful sinfulness and what He wills for us is different. This is clear. But He sustains us and provides new directions. Will set an example for the family. An example of perseverance. After about two weeks, he forged ahead with another race on the horizon. Another opportunity to qualify. This race was scheduled for late August, 2013. He started taking his training outside now that the weather was nicer and felt good about getting on the pavement, compared to treadmill running. He knew this was a set back from his training during the winter months for the April marathon. The treadmill can only simulate outdoors for so long. During the first week of August most of us in the family got sick. We caught quite a terrible summer cold that lasted and lingered and seemed to multiply by the time it made its way to Will. He was unable to run his long distance training runs that are essential. Thus, he made the decision to postpone the marathon.
It's funny how things work out, right? God's hand is so evidently displayed in hindsight. The challenge is to always see His hand. To know that He is watching out for us and to know that He is rejoicing in us. It turns out now, that Will's qualifying marathon was exactly one year to the weekend of his first - Fox Cities Marathon, September 22, 2013. His time: 3:03.
Will also sets an example of surrender. This is a huge goal for Will. He has been training hard, has come to this day not accidently. Although accomplishing this goal is important and had been his focus for an entire year, it does not overshadow God's will for him and Will knows this. He surrenders his desires and passion to God. When we surrender completely to God, it is then that His work in our lives is most evident. He is there working all the time, regardless if we notice or not. But when we can see His hand at work and acknowledge his omniscience, we can rejoice in him as He rejoices in us.
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.
*Photo credit to Jo Wendorff