The Lord has given me a week since I posted my last blog to really see and hear some things to make me think. God has shown me things that make me so thankful and so gracious for being in the position I am in. It has taken some time for me to realize how much I should be grateful for and how blessed my family and I are.
Let me start where I left off on my last blog. Have you ever dreamed a dream? Have you ever wished you were capable of accomplishing something pretty cool, something that seemed out of reach and so far away? For years now I have watched and re-watched the Ironman World Championship races that take place in Kona, Hawaii. There are so many inspirational stories of the athletes that take part in the day. The best triathletes in the world compete in Kona for the coveted title of being the world champion Ironman!! It can be incredibly hard for some people to qualify for Kona. Some have tried for years and are still trying. Just recently I read a story of a guy who has been trying for 13 years and he finally got in this year. Some people will pay up to $40,000 on eBay to register. Some qualify through a legacy lottery. In order to enter a legacy lottery you have to have done at least 12 Ironman races. Some never qualify. It’s the Olympics of Ironman. It’s an honor to compete at Kona. I respect every athlete that tries to qualify or that has a goal to qualify. It’s an amazing accomplishment. I understand how much work is put into training, how much effort it takes to qualify. I always dreamed of qualifying and I trained like I was going to but deep down inside I never actually thought I would.
Monday morning after the race Jamie and I went to the Olympic Oval to celebrate the 3rd place finish God blessed me with. While there we decided to head up to the high school just to see if I qualified for Kona. I didn’t think it was possible but figured it would be fun to check out. There were only two slots in my age group and they went to the first two finishers. I was the 3rd finisher so it appeared as though I just missed it. We were advised to go to the roll-down meeting though because there was a good chance the first place girl wasn’t going to take one of the open slots since she probably already qualified. Jamie and I had a quick discussion and decided we would accept the Kona invitation if it was offered to me. They instructed us at the roll-down meeting that they would say our name 3 times and if we did not accept the roll-down immediately it would go to the next person. My name was the first one called up in my age group. I had, in fact, qualified for Kona. I can’t begin to describe how I felt. I just felt like I was in a dream. Never, ever did I think I was going to be able to participate in the World Ironman Championship. What an honor. I was so excited to go to Kona and represent the blessings God had granted me, to represent my family and my support crew, to represent MTC and Maine. Mentally and physically I felt ready to go. I would rest up a bit and then hit the training hard. I wouldn’t want to let anyone down with my performance. My head was spinning; I couldn’t believe what was happening. Seriously, I just can’t even describe the feeling. I still can’t believe it and my stomach still gets butterflies thinking about it. Oh, what I would do to go to Kona!!! Jamie and I thought about the flight over, we thought about being in Hawaii and vacationing a bit. We were so excited!!!
Jamie and I embraced each other and thanked each other for the hard work we had both put into this accomplishment. Jamie was such a strong force behind the scenes. We both felt like God had blessed our efforts and was rewarding us with a sweet little vacation to Hawaii. Wow, what a treat!!! We could only dream of going to Hawaii. I was ready to do another Ironman too. Things were about to change drastically in a matter of minutes though.
After I handed over my credit card and registered for the Kona race, which was about $800, and after I signed my life away we left the building and headed down to the Olympic oval to celebrate our 3rd place finish. After celebrating the podium finish my dreams were all of a sudden dashed. I was informed that the Kona race was on Sabbath (Saturday). That was it. I was expected at that very moment to pass up the opportunity, throw the golden ticket away without second thought. I was expected to forget about the World Championship and never look back. How could I even think about accepting the qualification? Well, let me tell you what, when you put so much hard work into so many months of training, when you feel like God is blessing and leading, when you feel like God actually gave you the opportunity you can’t help but consider the offer. Maybe some would NEVER have even considered but please don’t judge until you are in the very position I was in.
All of a sudden I started having a lot of people telling me what to do. People were immediately judging me (us). People were putting pressure on my shoulders to both compete in the race and to not accept the offer. I had some people tell me that if I decided to go to Kona they wouldn’t support me and then I had some people tell me that no matter what I decided they would support me. Man, I never knew how tough things were going to be regarding this whole Kona thing. What a mess. I learned a lot of things during this time. We noticed that some people don’t like to see other’s succeeding. Some people have a hard time being happy for others. Then there are others that are so generous and so gracious. I had some wonderful people give Jamie and I beautiful bouquets of flowers and massages. We were so grateful and felt so undeserving. Still others (even some people in my training club) had to try hard to act happy. Some haven’t said a thing. Please understand I don’t believe I deserve much but one can tell when they are being kind of snubbed. None of them knew the turmoil that was going on behind the scenes. I guess I was looking for their support since I wasn’t getting it in other areas of my life. You see, I started to feel sorry for myself. I’m ashamed to admit it but it’s true. For so many years I had finally accomplished something surreal and it was hard to choke down the rejection I got from some people. I was looking WAY too much to myself and to people. My eyes weren’t focused on God and God alone. I was confused and a bit bitter. I wasn’t bitter at God and I wasn’t bitter about the Sabbath, but I was and still am fighting bitter feelings toward some people and how they treated me (us). Lesson number one learned: You cannot, EVER, look to people!!! Keep your eyes on Jesus and nothing else. It’s a lesson I am still trying to practice.
Let me take this opportunity to explain why the Sabbath is so important to me. God set aside the 7th day to rest, to spend time with Him, to care for others, to reach out to the poor, the needy, and the lonely. The Sabbath day should be spent with God and for His honor. I am such a competitive person that it would be impossible for me to participate in Kona and not compete. I would be in race mode. No part of me feels comfortable racing on the Sabbath day. I will be the first to say that I don’t keep the Sabbath the way I should. There are so many different things I should do but I try to make some good decisions regarding the Sabbath. I firmly believe that in the end times the Sabbath will set apart God’s people. It’s of utmost importance that we stay firm in our beliefs and that we follow God’s will. My muscle to stay firm for God and to do what I feel like God is impressing me to do is weak and needs to be strengthened. Thus, I decided, with God’s help, that I must not compete in Kona. I do not judge other people and the decisions they make regarding the Sabbath. God works in different ways. But let me just remark that God impressed me not to compete in Kona and I must listen. I decided not to listen to what everyone was saying around me. I had to listen to God and that’s what I did. But to this day I am left with some emotional baggage. I am still confused about some things and I don’t totally understand why everything happened the way it did. With blind faith I chug along the path of a Christian waiting for the day that God will make everything clear to us. I am sure I will have much harder decisions to face ahead and I just pray that this challenge will make me stronger. It’s pretty cool to be a strong’ish athlete but its way cooler to be a strong Christian. There is no other greater satisfaction but it can be hard to remember that.
Because going to Kona has been a dream of mine for years and years I am still having a hard time just forgetting about it. It may seem stupid but I have shed many tears over not being able to go. Every time I think about Kona my stomach does flips and gets butterflies. I still think about ways that it would be possible to compete. I still wish that there was a way I could go. For some reason I still have a lingering hope that it will work out. Hope is everything. If only they would move the race to Sunday but I feel assured that’s not going to happen. Every bike ride I have been on since Lake Placid I have shed tears about the whole issue. I shed tears not only because I’m sad about not going to Kona but also because I am hurt and upset in so many ways. You see I feel like I made a big sacrifice (so small compared to God’s sacrifice but big compared to a lot of people around me) to respect the Sabbath and to listen to my heart; a sacrifice I don’t regret. But then I see people around me, who were quick to judge me, making decisions about how to spend the Sabbath that aren’t necessarily that much different than racing in Kona. I see people doing things on Sabbath that I think is no different in the long run. The Lord states that breaking the Ten Commandments is breaking the Ten Commandments no matter if you don’t keep the Sabbath day holy or if you murder someone. It’s all a sin. Obviously there are greater consequences for murder (rightfully so) but a sin is a sin. Why have people expected me to make the right decision about the Sabbath when they aren’t making any effort to respect the Sabbath like God would want? I know the answer!!! The answer is you can’t look to people!!! You can’t look to people!!! You can only look to God. Keep your eyes on Jesus!! Even though I know the answer I still have an awful hard time with how I was treated. Those who so easily judged me have no problem going on their marry way doing whatever they want. It’s hard to let go; very hard.
I can honestly say that NONE of this has turned me off from my religion. None of this has made me bitter at God or the Sabbath; quite the contrary. It has made me realize that ONLY God is consistent. Only God makes complete sense and stays the same. Only God is faithful, fair and forgiving. Only God is gracious, loving and supportive. Only God knows your heart and only God has the best intentions for you. I have learned that God is the only one I can count on and the only One that matters. I feel as though this whole experience has made my relationship with God more real. I love Him and I am so thankful for the Sabbath. Now God has to help me forgive and forget my hurt feelings, my bitterness and my anger towards people. It’s going to take some time but hopefully soon I can let it all go and just move ahead.
Some of you may wonder why I was so confused about whether to or not to go to Kona. Well, let me tell you a little more of the story. First of all, I am very thankful for my overall Ironman time but it was not a Kona qualifying time. If you check out the past three years of Lake Placid results you will find that I would have been in the top 10 or 12 but not 3rd place. I honestly feel like God really blessed me this year with the right athlete field, perfect weather and enough energy to actually place. It was literally a miracle that I placed, let alone qualify for Kona. I did work hard and trained with all my heart but I never would have placed 3rd without God. So that would be miracle number one. Miracle number 2 is it was quite amazing I was able to finish with the time I had considering the fact that I trained the minimum amount each week. The average athlete trained anywhere from 18-30 hours per week for Lake Placid. I trained, on average, only 12 hours a week; goes to prove that God did, in fact, give me strength on race day. I also didn’t have the equipment that the top placing gals had. No race tires, no race helmet, etc. Miracle number 3 is that I actually got a roll-down spot for Kona. They are rare and few between but not only did a get a spot I was first on the list. Wow, what a blessing from God. Miracle 4: Jamie and I knew that we couldn’t afford to pay for plane tickets to Hawaii, housing, and all the other hidden costs of a trip but we were informed that a big group of people had already started a Trott Kona fund. I feel so underserving and yet so honored to have such supportive friends. Wow, I’m blown away still to think about how generous people are. I thank each and every one of you for your readiness to help Jamie and I make it to Hawaii. Financially the trip was coming together and looking possible. Miracle 5: we had several offers from friends who were willing to fly to Hawaii and split the cost of housing. An athlete we met in Lake Placid sent me info and contact information of a place we could stay (on course) for only $100 a night. I kept wondering if God was making this all possible. I kept wondering if God was leading me to go to Kona. Was there a ministry in it? Jamie and I wanted to make sure we did God’s will so we were considering every option. The whole time though I just felt uneasy and felt deep down inside that I was not to go. In the end, I have no regrets about my decision. I feel at peace and being at peace with God is the best feeling; far more satisfying than anything this world has to offer. I think as time continues I will realize that even more. I have a lot of growing to do and a lot of learning to do. But I pray that this experience will make my family and me stronger.
My golden ticket to Kona has slipped out of reach but God’s hand has grasped mine and promised not to let go. When I fight my feelings about this whole ordeal God gives me peace and reminds me of His love.
Just within this past week I have seen so many people fighting for their lives mostly due to illnesses. I have seen people who would do anything to be in my spot. Kona is such a small challenge in comparison to what some of my friends are experiencing. It makes me sick to think about how much I have struggled with this issue when I see my friends praying for another year of life. I apologize for my shallowness and self-pity. I apologize for my selfishness and for feeling sorry for myself. I have nothing to feel sorry about. My family and I have much to celebrate. We have much to be thankful for. August 29 (last day to get a partial registration refund) will come and go but until that day passes I don’t think I will give up on a little hope. What’s wrong with hoping? I can’t wait until Oct 13 has passed because then it will be all over and behind me. Until that day my human heart aches to race. My type A personality desires to compete. But, thank the Lord, my desire to please Him and to listen to Him is MUCH stronger and much more determined. Doing God’s will and following His instructions is going to be the hardest and greatest race I will ever run. Can I do it? No. But, I know God can carry me when I get weak. I know, without a doubt, that through God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!!!!! That’s what I have learned!!!
Good bye Kona. Your image has been too much of my focus. God must be my primary desire and my primary focus. Health and fitness are important but neither are possible without God’s help and blessings. I still plan on racing and I still plan on doing another Ironman but to God be the glory.
So this closes my Ironman journey. Not sure if I will continue to blog since my only purpose of this blog was to talk about my Ironman journey. The journey has come to an end. My family and I are entering a new chapter. It promises to be full of many more adventures, challenges and learning experiences. May God lead us to His heavenly gates. I hope to see all of you there.
Good bye my dear friends. Thank you for your support and for following me during this Ironman journey. I appreciate you all!!