In life, there are a few basic questions that men, at one time or another will ask themselves. Who am I? How did I get here? Where am I going? How do I get there? These are questions, if we’re honest, all have contemplated. I know for myself, I began thinking about these very questions early in life. However, I was told only to "believe" or "you’re not supposed to ask those type of questions." God's Word has the answers to these questions that man seeks for his life. By the way, the truth is never afraid of questions! (Thanks Chris via Frank for this quote. I like it a lot.).
Therefore, the past three years, I have been on a journey in seeking to live out the answers to those questions, which God has revealed to me through His Word by taking better care of my temple (1 Cor.6:19-20). This journey started out with walking once or twice a week three years ago. Now, it has ALMOST come full circle with me completing my first ever 70.3 mile Challenge Family race in Knoxville, TN. If you would have told me three years ago I would be competing in a 70.3 endurance race, I would have told you that you had lost your mind! But, that's exactly what took place yesterday.
|Me at 290 and Me at 190|
|Dylan getting ready for the Glow Run|
After the meeting, we headed back to the hotel to rest, while my wife and mother took my boys to watch the University of Tennessee and Mississippi State play baseball. This was a perfect set up that allowed me to get about a 45 minute nap before dinner. When they arrived back from the game, we got ready and headed to Market Square. This was a very interesting venue in downtown Knoxville that was made up of all types of people and restaurants. We ended up having dinner at the Blue Coast Bar and Grill where I ate an all natural steak and chicken burrito. Perfect fuel for a 70.3 race. Right?
|Family at UT & Miss.St. game|
|Family at pre-race meal|
Saturday night, I was told I would probably not sleep very well. However, I slept like a baby, to the point that I woke up about 30 minutes later than I wanted to for the race. Once awake, I scurried around eating my 2 bananas, 2 tablespoons of all natural Jiff peanut butter, and a cup of coffee for breakfast. I was ready to race. I took my sidekick (and future triathlete), Dylan, who wanted to go with me to transition. He is a great help in keeping my head straight. I made it to transition at 6:30 with my wave set to leave at 7:10. After I got all my things laid out for the race, I borrowed a bike pump, gave my tires a quick pump or two, put on the wet suit, and off to the water I went. Where we started our swim was about a half-mile walk from transition.
|Headed to the swim|
|Representing Borden Dental Racing|
Beginning the ride, I felt good reminding myself of riding 30 minutes aero before turning up the notches. The bike course was very sporty with a lot of rain, turns, hills, roller—and did I mention slippery roads? Around mile 10, I saw the aftermath of a serious wreck with an athlete holding a bloody and cut up right arm in a lot of pain. Not much later, I was passed by a speeding ambulance in pursuit to care for the athlete. During this time, I missed the first water station, as it was right after a right hand turn, which made it hard for this rookie to grab while turning. However, I had around 900 calories of Infinit in the bottle on the aero bars, which helped fuel me through my ride. Around mile 25, the bottom fell out and it was a pretty torrential downpour. At this point, I was glad I brought my sunglasses. The glasses helped block the pouring rain from getting in my eyes. Through the rain, I was doing my thing, riding my race and keeping it at an easy pace. Mile 45-55 proved to be a challenge, as there was quite a bit of climbing. Not long after the climb the championship, race riders intersected back with the halfers. I caught myself pushing on the pedals a little harder when there began to be more traffic (for some reason?). Climbing the last hill, I tried to keep my heart rate down by climbing the hill not easily, but not roughly, trying to preserve my legs for the run. Finally, I made it back to T2 safely without any accidents.
|Finishing up the 56 mile ride|
|Crossing the finish line with my boys. Awesome!|
|Here we come...Dylan out ran us:)|
Lesson I Learned from the Challenge Family 70.3 Knoxville, TN.
What did I do wrong? Swim: I believe I lost time on the swim by not focusing on the sight buoys enough. Therefore, swimming too wide instead of staying close to the buoys cost me some time. Having to deal with foggy googles doesn’t help matters when trying to sight the buoys as well.
Bike: I began to push a little harder and faster when I got with more riders from the championship course. Pushing a little harder and faster probably got the best of my muscles on the inside of my thighs, therefore affecting my run. A power meter would probably help quiet a bit in training and racing.
Run: I really didn't have time or the legs to do anything wrong. They were shot coming off the bike!
What did I do right? Swim: Breathing every two strokes and being conscience of my swim form. Stretching, reaching, rotating, keeping my face in the water as I swam. Ultimately, enjoying the open water swim.
Bike: I rode my pace at the beginning, easing into upper aero, lower tempo pace, taking on the hills not really easily, but not too hard. I felt as though my ride was right where it needed to be for the most part; although, my legs didn't seem to think so.
Run: I didn't start out like a mad man. I was conscience of keeping my pace low and running at an aero pace of 8:30. However, when the cramps kicked in everything feel apart. But, the positive part of it was that even though my legs were wanting to quit, I knew I had to do whatever it took to push through to the finish line.
What did I learn?
Lesson #1: I learned that although I train in all three disciplines, most days twice a day and sometimes three times a day, when it comes to putting all three disciplines together in a race things can be different. There has to be much respect to all three disciplines being raced on the same day, back-to-back-to-back.
Lesson #2: I learned the importance of not setting too high of an expectation for yourself when you are new to an event. I had figured (I thought) if all went well, I could finish around 5:00-5:15 (perfect race), 5:15-5:30 (great race), and 5:30-5:45 (good race). I had set goals, which is not a bad thing, but honestly, I was disappointed by not reaching the perfect race. However, I find that completing the race under the circumstances was a great accomplishment in itself.
Lesson #3: I learned to remember the "why." Why was I doing what I was doing? Swimming, cycling, and running is a great way to be a good steward of my body, but there are much easier ways to be a good steward of one's body. However, the competitive side of me comes out when it comes to racing. Thinking about all the training for the last 8 months, I wanted to do my best. Even though there are several other athletes competing, the real competition is myself. I am competing against myself to be healthier, faster, and fitter, so I may have many more productive years in serving the Lord, caring for my family, and enjoy life to its fullest. Keeping my why in front of me helped me push through the mental aspect of the pain and cramps.
Lesson #4: I learned that no one can do well at this sport on their own. Even though you must compete and complete the race on your own, it takes support. There must be support from one's family. My wife and boys have sacrificially supported me through the last several months of training. From waking up at 4:30 in the morning for me to go run to going swimming with me late at night, it has really been a beautiful thing in integrating my family in with my training. One must also have a great support from other athletes. Borden Dental racing team offers just that. They’re a great group of athletes who are there for support, answer questions, and give encouragement when doubts arise.
Lesson #5: Good coaching is priceless. Coach Chris Borden dialed up the notches at just the right time. He helped me understand how my body would respond to the amount of training it was going to endure. The heads up on how my body would respond to the training was much needed. As I learned, stress on the body will often bring out the not so nice side of you. Therefore, I was able to keep things in check by not letting things get out of hand with my attitude around my family, friends, and others. My training schedules were always spot on for getting me faster and fitter, which I really enjoy! One thing I absolutely value about the sport of triathlon is there is so much to learn—not only about the sport, but also about yourself. I am thankful I have a great coach and team to learn from.
Lesson #6: (I say this as humbly as I know how). I never knew the people that God has touched or encouraged by me simply starting to exercise and now to compete as a triathlete. There has been so many people who has reached out sharing with me how they have been greatly encouraged. My prayer and plea is God would use this sport by opening doors for me to share His work in my life both physically and spiritually with others for as long as He would allow and all for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31)!
|A little sugar for the cramps|
|Mom made the trip from Alabama to watch her boy race|