A couple of weeks ago Kent and I participated in the “Spooky-Du(althon)”. It was a 1.8-mile run, 20-mile bike ride followed by a 1.8 mile run. My initial intention was to complete the entire race myself. As has been chronicled here ad nauseum, running is not my forte; I don’t really even like it. So when I noticed there was a “team category” for this race, I jumped at the chance for my husband to complete the run and I would complete the biking portion of the race.
Though it was unseasonably cold the morning of the race, we were filled with anticipation . The 1.8-mile run curved through Weldon Springs State Park (a beautiful venue) while the bike portion of the race was twenty miles through the Central Illinois countryside balanced with hills, curves and flatland. I was confident about the ride, as I am a much stronger cyclist than runner, but when confronted with the added hardship of 20 mph winds directly in my face, the first ten miles was brutal and my confidence began to diminish. Even seasoned tri-athletes said it was a challenging ride. Many times during those first ten miles I simply wanted to quit, or get off the bike and walk. I can’t remember ever challenging myself as hard physically.
As I approached the turn around, the front-runners in the race passed me going the opposite direction. I looked up to find smiles on their faces and an occasional encouraging “thumbs up”. It was obvious that if I could simply make it to the turn-around I would find great relief. The race totally changed at the turn-around. Heading back to the starting line, with the wind at my back, I was able to ride effortlessly much faster than my average speed and I felt a smile replacing the scowl on my face. Crossing the starting line was sweet and more rewarding than I can say.
Often, our lives simulate a race against the wind. We find ourselves maneuvering the hills and curves of life that we never dreamed would impede our journey. Adversity mounts to the point of breaking our spirit and we simply want to quit, or at least get off the “ride” for a while. Facing life’s trials is not for the faint of heart. The knowledge that the “turn-around” is within reach, where the wind will carry us to a more contented place, somehow keeps us going. Finding the courage, energy and strength to merely make it to the turn-around is the challenge, but we do make it; where the road gets easier, and the ride sweeter, where the smile returns, and contentment rests…that is…until the next race.
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