Sunday, August 26, 2007

Results...How Important Are They?

I never made a varsity team of any type in high school. Since I went to a very small college, I was able to go out for track as a Senior, having never run before, and make the team. That's how bad off the team was. I also high jumped one meet and threw the javelin one meet - now you really know how weak a team we had. So, one afternoon our coach loads us up in the van we drive to Eastern Kentucky University, a NCAA Division II university.
What in the world was little NAIA, Asbury College doing competing at the EKU Track and Field Invitational? An "invitational" is where a number of schools all show up to compete. We were by far the smallest and weakest team, from the smallest school and I had been a competitive runner for about...let's see...3 weeks.
I wasn't a sprinter, so that season I would run the longest race at every meet which was usually the 5,000m (about 3 miles.) At the EKU Invitational the longest race they had was 2 miles. That's only 8 times around the track. I walked up to the starting line in the fake running shoes I had purchased at Sears. (I didn't know that much about running at that time and finances were the biggest consideration). They were blue and had white stripes on the side, so they kind of looked like track shoes - no cleats though. Sears - too bad this wasn't a competition dealing with refrigerators, washing machines or dryers - I'd have been ready for that!
It was a night meet and kind of chilly. We were running under the lights. The runners around me looked very fast and serious. That's because they were. There was some big-time intimidation going on and it worked. I was scared to death. The gun goes off and immediately I'm towards the back of the pack. Long story short...I'm on my 6th lap, noticing that the leaders are way, way ahead of me. In fact, they were so far ahead that I had to turn around and look back to see them. This only meant one thing. The realization hit me like a brick. I could get LAPPED in this race. A race of only 8 times around. So, I dug down deep into my soul, looked down at my Sears fake running shoes (no inspiration there) and tried to pick it up.
But, fate would have it's way and while I was on my seventh lap, the big boys came flying by me on their 8th and final lap. Embarrassing? Humiliating? Devastating? Yep. Sheepishly, I finished my 7th lap and started into my last while the winners were probably already showered, changed and in their cars heading for home. Results? Second to last. Guess things could have been worse.
Results. Most competitions are about, results. We rightly honor and recognize the winner and perhaps second and third place. There are gold, silver and bronze medals. As I think about Worlds...and results...I get a bit scared to be honest. What if I have a really bad race? What if, out of the almost 100 from around the world who are in my age group, 30 of them beat me? Or, 50? Or, 80? What does that say about me?
Yes, most races are about results, but not all. Sure I hope I do well. I've got goals I want to hit. But, so many things can go wrong during a triathlon. What if I get a flat tire? What if I pull a muscle and have to walk? What if I crash and can't finish?
How will I measure results? 1) Did I do my best and give it my all? 2) Was I a good sport, representing the Lord and the USA in an honorable way? 3) Did I encourage other athletes around me? 4) Did I thank the volunteers out on the course when I went past them?
If I can answer yes to these questions I'll consider that "success." I do hope to place well and will race harder than I ever have and push the boundaries of pain past anything I've experienced. Ultimately, it's in the Lord's hands. Proverbs 21:31 says, "The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord." Our part...God's part. I've done my part with training and preparation and now, it's in God's hands. My utmost desire is to bring Him glory in all I do. This horse is ready and will run hard, hopefully not looking back over my shoulder seeing the leaders coming up behind me! The bike course IS multiple loops. Naaaa...once was enough for that!
Measure your results wisely,

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