My first 1/2 Ironman was supposed to be held in the metropolitan Muncie, IN last July. The summer was already pretty hot and a heat wave was baking the better part of the country. My wife and I drove up to the expo the day before and never saw the thermometer drop below 100. Shortly after arriving at the convention center I found out that the race had been shortened to an Olympic-esk length (1 mi swim, 30 mi bike, 6.2 mi run) because of the heat. To save you from a really long rant, I'll just say there were many bummed out triathletes, and I was one of them."They've got heat in Kona, you know! Lava fields anybody?" - that's the kind of vitriolic taunts I wanted to shout at the race director.
My mood dropped faster than a tap dancer on ice. All of my motivation was lost, and any sense of calm I had fostered in the days prior went out the window. Try as I might, I couldn't get over it. Then things got a little worse. I found out that I left my helmet and bike pump at home. "Hello breakdown. I think we've met before".
Enter my Godly wife. Sitting on the sofa in our hotel room she put her arms around me and talked me through what I soon saw to be the lesson God had in store for me the whole time. She asked why I was so upset, and I explained that I had told so many people I was going to do a half-ironman, and now I wasn't allowed to. I had promised myself that I was going to finish this thing, and through no fault of my own, I had to break that promise. Slowly but surely she worked me towards the true source of my rage - PRIDE.
I was afraid what other people, including myself, were going to say when I didn't finish a half-ironman. I was afraid of how I would feel. I was angry about not getting to do what I wanted to do. None of that had anything to do with God's intentions for the day. I and the world were the focus. Not God. Issue identified.
I started off race morning by listening to David Crowder's After All. One of my favorite lines says "Oh I've dreamed dreams of majesty as brilliant as a billion stars But they're never bright enough after all...You are Holy". I tearfully prayed for God to do what He needed to do throughout the race.
I started the race off with a strong swim, kept it steady of the bike and used my extra strength on the run to come in with a respectable 2 hr 29 min finish. (The pro's had a nice race of their own.) My real story, and my final lesson, was out on the swim.
After making the first of two turns, the swim course put the races parallel to the sunrise, so if you breathed on your right side you got a face full of rays. As I made the turn the sun's light was a reminder of the previous day's lesson. God's majesty is brighter than a billion stars and just staring into a single star had enough power to turn my head the other way. What could I hope to do to brighten a billion times that with a simple race regardless of the distance?
So what great glory did God achieve in that shorter than expected race? I don't know for sure, but all I can say is that my thoughts during the race were totally on Him, and that wouldn't have been the case if nothing had changed from my initial plan. That alone makes it worth it. That alone brings God more glory than any number of miles ever could.