This year represented my 4th opportunity to compete in a World Championship level event in Duathlon. Since there is no Intergalactic Championship to take part in, this year’s race in British Columbia, Canada represented the end of the road for competitive Duathlon in 2017. Nothing bigger than a World Championship…at least, not yet.
World Championships are always memorable. The Parade of Nations makes you feel like an Olympian, albeit with only half the number of countries represented. Putting on the National Team uniform and knowing you represent the USA for all to see is humbling yet empowering to the spirit of adventure that lives in all of us. The overwhelming sense of funk that all athletes exude when their race is over and they socialize with other athletes is the source of great olfactory assault, yet mildly reaffirming that you just finished something that is difficult and special.
The best part of the 2017 World Championship was getting along with other TeamUSA athletes. Run 1 turned into a fun run with my friends Mike and Rob. We ran side by side for the first 5k, averaging about a 6 ½ minute mile and we all reached the transition point within 10 seconds of one another. We talked to each other, often, keeping each other encouraged. Rob said that our banter was the only thing that kept him going during those first 40 minutes of tough running. The bike was super-fast, as the terrain was flat. Run 2 was more of run 1, and I hit the finish line, setting a personal best for that distance, despite a few cramps.
I got to meet some great people and connect with some old friends. I traded clothing with a Team South Africa athlete, and I got to meet the coach of Liberty University Triathlon and connect him with my youngest son. Can’t tell you how proud it would make me feel to have both of my sons attend Liberty! Rob and I attended an essential oils party with a couple of girls on TeamUSA, Melissa and Kerry. We laughed so hard that it hurt! Lastly, getting to experience the solar eclipse, minutes after crossing the finish line is an event I don’t ever see replicating.
Each year’s World Championship has had a unique focus in my memory. Year one, the top of mind item was trying to reconcile my desire to compete with a lack of training due to injury. Year two, I was overwhelmed by the distance and effort required to complete Powerman Zofingen and was grateful to finish the race. Year three challenged me in that I was trying to become a better Ultra Marathoner while simultaneously getting stronger on the bike. This year, I attempted to have a greater balance of training, life and work, with Spirit a part of every task.
After all, balance isn’t something you find. It is something you create.
This year started with a far-fetched goal of competing and finishing the Badwater Cape Fear Ultramarathon in early March. I hyper-exceeded goals there, coming in near the top in the standings, both for age and for overall. The end of the year includes 3 Ultra Marathons in a 7-week window, including one in Nepal to raise money for school building and another with our scout troop to help boys develop into men. Although neither event has happened yet, I am sure that joy will come while running with Nepali natives and with our scout troop. Both events shall be my “highs” of 2017 with regards to fitness.
After all, seeking fitness for fitness sake is selfish. Using fitness to build the Temple of God while helping others hits at the core value of the human experience.
It is my heart’s desire that each of your reading this, regardless of where you are in your fitness journey take a few moments to answer the question, “how can I use my fitness achievements to help others?” No matter how many medals I hang on my wall, none of them are worth as much to me as the smile I see when I help another athlete achieve something new.
That is the balance that I want all of us to create. That is the selfish application of fitness that can make you happy. Give it away, and you will have more wealth in your heart than you can imagine.
My bike now sits in the basement, with only a day or so a week of riding happening between now and the winter. My running shoes are now my weapon of choice, and the finish line now has images of people I am running for, not of places to see and things to accumulate. Follow the story on http://thenepalproject.org for ongoing updates of the impact of the Annapurna100 on the people of Nepal.