Last year, when my oldest son was training to compete in an IronMan triathalon (2.4 mile swim - 112 mile bike ride - 26.2 mile marathon RUN) I learned endurance athletes use a scientifically formed substance called GU. There is only one thing it is designed for - sustained energy. They have multiple flavors to choose from: blueberry, chocolate, banana cream pie and exotic others. But no matter what flavor they may add, it still looks and tastes like a melted weird Gummy Bear, it is "goo" with the emphasis on "ooooo."
But make no mistake - it does its job. It keeps them going. For the average non-professional athlete the full IronMan competition takes between 13 and 15 HOURS to cross the Finish Line! During the race they are not taking a lunch or dinner break. They are burning, on average, 11,000 calories, and during the course of the event they lose (in ONE DAY) 5-7 pounds. They are not stopping to order a Whopper and fries.
The athletes are carrying little packets of pure energy, easily slammed back and digested. The surge of scientifically designed caffeine and sugar enters the bloodstream and they make the next mile, or two or 26.3!
Last July, when it came time for the IronMan race in Coeur d' Alene, my youngest son and I traveled to Idaho, to hold signs of encouragement, cheer and give support to his older brother. After 15 hours of watching on the sidelines he was determined to complete his own IronMan, and has been in training ever since.
His older brother has offered him seasoned advice. But at our weekly family dinner, two things I hear him consistently repeat:
"trust your training"
"train with nutrition."
And you know what that means -
While those deliciously sounding flavors might trick your mind into swallowing that melted-weird-slime, bottom line - if you haven't "trained" WITH the nourishment, when the GU gets to your stomach it - it can't handle it - the consistency GAGS you. When you're swimming, biking, and running, burning thousands and thousands of calories you NEED nourishment. Whatever form it comes in, if you don't train your mind to empty that little packet of energy down your throat, and drink enough fluid, you'll dehydrate, your muscles will cramp up, your internal organs can start shutting down and you will not finish the race.
"You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally.". 1 Corinthians 9:25 The Message
During the season I haven't been on the road, I've been busy "training." The Wounded Warrior Weekend (sponsored by Joni and Friends) truly is a spiritual marathon of emotion, engagement with pain and suffering, and dressing wounds of the broken-hearted.
But the blessed thing about spiritual training is it only requires disciple - no GU. The discipline of prayer, daily reading the Word, fellowship with like-minded "athletes" who compete in the marathon to save souls and make an eternal difference in the lives of others.
It goes down easy, and it goes to work fast so you don't have to slow down.*"
While my youngest son and I were making the drive down to San Antonio, I shared, "This is my IronMan competition." There is a "tri-athalon" of ministry - "bringing joy, engaging those crushed in spirit, and binding up the broken-hearted with Godly friendship, love and intercession. After finishing a half-Ironman (70.3 miles: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 run) last month in Galveston, I could feel his "yeah right mom!"
We arrived, set up the "Imagination Station", the "Craft-a-Palooza" area and began the volunteer training. It can be overwhelming to the first-timer. There is a tremendous amount of terminology (DOD, BAMC, SAMMC, WFSC and the acronyms go on). During training he felt a sense of anxiety as the Army Chaplain and Veterans Administration representative presented information ranging from statistics to medical complications. What was designed to bring a sense of comfort failed to work for him. He shared last night, before they arrived, he got a little freaked out. He said, "I half expected them to arrive on stretchers! But when they got here, I saw they're just people."
(Some of them just might be missing a few parts...)
Thank you for being OUR cheering section. If you ask an endurance athlete, they can tell you the importance of those on the sidelines. People shouting, "you can make it, hang in there, run like you stole something!"
YOUR prayers, your posts on Facebook, your emails of support ARE a lifeline to the ministry of this "marathoner." We ARE stealing back hearts and souls the enemy had in his grip.
I have trained well. And together, we will cross the finish line!
"THIS is the only race worth running. I've run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that's left now is the shouting..." 2 Timothy 4:7 The Message
Slamming back my spiritual GU
Trusting my training
and you can be sure I'm smiling!
*Official website of GU Energy Gel
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