“You will survive it – just keep fighting. Fight like it’s the last half of the marathon in an Ironman.You got it- stay strong! ”
This was the message a friend sent me upon learning about some of my recent hardships. His words bore a simple idea, but one that would change everything. More than my friend could ever imagine it could have! Because while he knew that like him, I could fight my way through an Ironman to the finish line, he may not have realized WHY I fought through that last 13.1 miles of my 140.6 mile race. But as I let his words marinate, the reason I fought my way through stomach cramps and weary legs and blisters and doubts and discouragement and the temptation to give up began to surface.
You see, in 2014, myself and the rest of Team Loco raced Ironman Lake Placid in July. And we did it for more than a medal. We raced to raise money for the Capital Area Habitat for Humanity by selling tshirts to our family and friends. Not only did we raise $1210 long before race day, but our family and friends now had official Loco tees that they wore around Lake Placid! As an athlete, seeing all those red shirts lifted my spirit over the course of a long day because I knew I had people supporting me… and they were easy to spot!
Those shirts were also a poignant reminder to me throughout that incredibly long day that through swimming, biking and running I had been part of providing an affordable home to a family that needed one. Kind of makes it hard to quit when you realize that!
“Fight like it is the last half of the marathon in an Ironman.”
A heart that cramps up in pain, a spirit that is weary, crippling doubts about my future, and the overwhelming thought that there are so very many miles between heartbreak and the triumph of healing? This certainly resembles an Ironman. An Ironman of the heart!
But I WILL fight! And I will choose to wield the same weapon in battle that got me to the finish line of Ironman. Purpose! Because in the midst of this personal challenge, opportunities have been stirring. I was invited back to Ironman Texas to be part of the More Than Sport effort to work with L3 and bring Ironman finisher medals to the Texas Children’s Cancer center again! Being part of this initiative last May, and placing my own Ironman medal in the hands of a child fighting for their life was a pivotal moment in my own.
Other opportunities are presenting themselves, sprouting from my team’s efforts last year to raise money as More Than Sport ambassadors for charity: water. Before everything in my life began unravelling, I’d been considering the significance of turning 40 this year, and how I wanted to celebrate (as opposed to shying away from) this milestone! Should I return to Texas? Could I take Team Loco’s efforts in bringing clean water to a village that desperately needed it to another level? Perhaps it is absurd to even consider something epic in the middle of an Ironman of the heart. But… purpose!
After a series of messages to my childhood friend Jerod about his own purposeful trip to Haiti last year with Poured Out, my purpose was beginning to take shape.
His friend Becky is planning another trip to Haiti to build water tanks in September… Delivering clean water to towns where they are drinking pollution and the child death rate is incredibly high. The group monitors the filter tanks with GPS after leaving the area, and works with the community so they are permanent and looked after.
My heart skipped about 40 beats when I learned of this! As did the message from Poured Out leader Becky with details about the trip. The trip is scheduled for September 13 through the 20th! My heart knew what this meant before my mind could formulate the thoughts:
If I join the team I will turn 40 while in Haiti! I won’t just raise money for clean water initiatives… I will literally be part of delivering that clean water to these towns! What started as a triathlon team’s commitment to racing for a cause is blossoming into something so much bigger, and I can’t pass up this epic opportunity to be part of it!
I spent a month silently considering this chance to make an impact on a hurting world. With the exception of two people, I didn’t breathe a word of this to a soul. But today I committed to joining the Poured Out team… and committed to making a tangible difference!
I will fight like it’s the last half of the marathon in Ironman. Through enduring this Ironman of the heart I will be part of something that is bigger than me and my heartbreak! Because God has given me a purpose, I will survive!
True, my whole world is changing. And I will respond by changing the world.