It is rather apropos that this is the song that was next on the list to learn with my kids. The song for after our triathlon.
The song title is O Church Arise, by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty. The first couple verses are rather martial in nature, but the last stanza has race themes.
It is one of those songs that stirs my blood, and sometimes brings tears to my eyes. Especially as I apply it to real racing experiences, but also to the Christian race.
-So Spirit come, put strength in every stride, give us grace for every hurdle...
You know, this tri was one of my hardest races ever. I think because of the non-stop movement for over 2 hours (2:12:22 to be precise), plus moving from one discipline to the next. Your legs feel like jelly, your muscles burn, and you are trying to find a new breathing rhythm for each activity.
In the bike portion there were a couple hurdles. The race description mentioned the rolling hills. Snort. Personally, I think that is rather euphemistic and optimistic. Rather Eric the Red-ish, naming Greenland Greenland because then maybe more people would like to live there. But, it is as icy as Iceland. Yeah. There was not much rolling about these hills.
But, the biggest bike hurdle for me was at the very end. You are supposed to dismount your bike before entering the corral. They are somewhat anal and insistent about this. So, I stopped, and I am having the hardest time lifting my leg up over my bicycle seat, without falling over in a big heap. Yeah, graceful is NOT my middle name. I did manage it. Whew!
-That we may run, with faith to win the prize of a servant true and faithful...
There were winners-who finished their run before I finished my bike. I was no where near first. There was no prize for me. Well, except for the bumper sticker and the t-shirt.
But, I won my race. I finished. I did something I have wanted to do forever. Not the prize for first, second or third-the prize for the faithful. The one who kept on even when it was really tough. Who didn't give up.
-As saints of old still line the way, retelling triumphs of His grace, we hear their calls...
This is the first race I can remember that I had people there cheering for me. Who came out specifically to watch my race and encourage ME.
My sil brought her two oldest, plus my three oldest with a banner. At the start, and each transition, and at the finish, they were lining the way. They were shouting, "Go mom! Go Bernadette!" My mantra for the last 1/2 mile was reciting their names. Knowing I'd see their faces at the finish kept me putting one foot in front of the other.
And then, there is a sweet older gentleman who invited Mr. Hippie and I to his weekly triathlon practice. And he rode with me during the practices, teaching me how to shift. Throwing his knowledge of hundreds of completed triathlons behind me. As I was racing I heard his voice in my head telling me to shift down. Shift into an easier gear. And I did. Well, he was an unexpected part of my crowd lining the way. He was at the top of one of the bigger hills. And he cheered for me. And it was so encouraging. It helped me keep going. Gave me a new burst of energy.
You know, as you come around the last curve on the route, there is always a great crowd lining the way. And they cheer for the people they know, and they cheer for the ones they don't know. It gives me that tightness in the throat every time. And it gives me that last burst to finish-strong.
I think it chokes me up because it is the best picture ever of our Christian race. Those saints of old lining the way...their stories, whether in the Bible or in biographies are telling the triumphs of Jesus Christ's grace. His undeserved and unearned favor to each one of them. Daniel and David, Abraham and Esther, Josiah, Ruth, Rahab and Moses. Hudson Taylor, George Muller, Eric Liddell, Edith Shaeffer, and Elizabeth Elliot. These are the saints who line my way.
They don't know me, but I know them. I know their races. I know their stories. And they are cheering me on. They are saying, "just keep running, keep relying, keep depending on the grace of God. Don't give up even though it is hard. Be faithful. You are going to be here with us soon."
I finished before Mr. Hippie. I started before him too. I got to be part of his crowd lining the way. That was awesome in and of itself.
I have been completely bitten by the triathlon bug. I am looking forward to more training and more races next summer.
If at first you don't succeed, tri, tri again!