– This Year –
The idea for Runborn 2021 emerged in early December 2020. I had been wondering for a few months what the 2021 event could be so that it would be as challenging and exciting as the 2020 event. The idea came to me on my drive back home after presenting the 2020 check to Sarah at Women’s Care Center. I had mentioned to her that I planned to do another fundraiser in 2021 but I wasn’t sure what it would be yet. I was so excited after getting a tour of their newly opened building and seeing their new billboard and Sarah’s enthusiasm to finally be opened. I was filled with joy to be a small part of it and I wanted to do more. On the way home all I could think about was I really needed to get going on planning something for 2021. I prayed to Mary and to St. Stephen to guide me on what I should do for the next event and right after I passed through downtown Lincoln I started to get an idea and more thoughts just kept flowing into my mind. And in the next 5-10 minutes, by the time I got home, I had it all scoped out.
It all started by thinking I was going to be 55 years old this year, maybe I could do something themed around that. I could do a 5 day event instead of 10 day, that would get me one of the “5”s. Do I do just 5 days of 50 mile runs? Maybe I could do a 10 mile run and a 100 mile bike ride every day? That would be a total of 550 miles – that would work for “55”. Those ideas just didn’t seem challenging enough though. The Barkley Marathons are on my bucket list which is an ultramarathon trail race held in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee. The full course is about 100 miles and the race is limited to a 60-hour period. The Barkley Marathons is the world’s toughest ultra-distance race. Only 15 runners have completed the full 100+ miles since it was first staged in 1986. I thought maybe I could mimic something like that and just see how far I could run in 55 hours? That is running straight for 2 and 1/3 days, that sounds challenging! But I kept thinking about how I enjoy biking, too, so I kept thinking what I could do for a run/bike event. Then it came to me – do a triathlon. A challenging triathlon, an “Ironman Triathlon”, and not 1, but 5 Ironman Triathlons in 5 days! There is my 55! That would be a challenge!
Then I thought to myself maybe that is too much, it is a challenge for me in several ways. My mind
started racing with doubts. Although I have done a lot of running and biking and understand how my
body functions on long runs or long rides, I have never done a triathlon, yet alone an Ironman Triathlon
which is over 4 times the distance of an Olympic triathlon. So I have no experience in how to run just 1,
yet alone how to survive stringing 5 of them together in 5 days. Maybe I should try running in one first.
Oh, and the biggest challenge is I have a fear of water and don’t know how to swim, or even float or
Then my thoughts turned back to being more positive. I have been thinking about taking swim lessons for a few years already. No time like the present to learn, and if God is calling me to do this then what better motivation than to learn now and do it for a righteous reason. I had hesitation but then I remembered watching the documentary called Iron Cowboy to give me confidence to do the 2020 event. It was a story of a man doing 50 Ironmans in 50 states in 50 days. I thought, surely if he could do that and he didn’t really start having any issues until day 8, then it could be possible I could do 5 in 5 days, even though I am probably at least 20 years older than him. God got me through the 2020 event, He will give me what I need for this one. And it downed on me also that when I upgraded my running watch in 2018 I bought a Garmin triathlon watch that can be used for swimming, biking, and running. Why did God lead me to buy that watch when I didn’t even know how to swim? Hmmm, maybe a sign and preparation for his future plans for me? I was genuinely excited about the idea and decided it is what I am being called to do and that is what I am going to do. So there it was decided – Runborn 2021 is going to be 5 Ironman Triathlons across Nebraska in 5 days!
As soon as I got home I had to look up the distances for an Ironman Triathlon because I had no idea other than the run being the distance of a marathon, 26.2 miles. I wondered just what I was getting into. When I discovered it included a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride my next thought was, “I wonder how long it typically takes to complete an Ironman?” Well the internet provided me that also.
I immediately expected it would be taking me probably 15-16 hours, or longer, considering I will just be a beginner swimmer, I have no experience doing one, I will be doing 5 of them 5 days in a row, and I’ll be doing them the end of June in Nebraska heat and humidity. Doesn’t look like much sleep for the nights
between them. I better be prepared for that also!
And that is how quickly the 2021 event was established. That was the easy part, training does not go so quick. It is the end of April and 2 months until the event. Running and biking training I think has been progressing acceptably, but learning how to swim when you are 55 and afraid of water has been much slower. Making progress, but this will probably be the most challenging aspect for me to overcome. I need to continually remind myself why I am putting myself through this and that giving up is not an option. God will give me what I need, and maybe I just need to be beaten down some so He can lift me up. I need to struggle so I can grow. I think of the scripture passage, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies it produces much fruit.” I just need to
die to my fears.
I was also motivated by this text in the Word Among Us meditation on March 2, which was on Isaiah 1:10, 16-20. I added emphasis in bold for the words that really spoke to me: “One key Hebrew word used in this passage, daresh, conveys the image of someone clearing a path. Step-by-step, they are forging a way toward a more just future…… This is the same principle that each of us can follow: rise to meet a single visible need, and then faithfully continue to tread the path toward justice. Of course, God doesn’t ask us to provide for everyone’s needs indiscriminately, but we can trust him to guide us to specific people and situations. As we respond by putting one foot in front of the other, we can also trust him to provide us with the grace and the resources to continue down that path. The Lord hears the cry of every victim of injustice, and he asks us to do the same. So consider the opportunities in your midst and how you might head toward the need instead of keeping your distance. Make the meeting of that need your desire. Then aim for it and go!”
And of course I am also reminded of the text from the Word Among Us that I shared after completing the 2020 event, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
So as slow as my progress has been to learn swimming, there has been progress. I must just continue to forge forward and let God give me the graces to overcome the challenge. He has already, and continues to, put people around me to instruct and encourage me “I can do this”. Now it just requires trust and faith on my part. And prayers. Lots and lots of prayers from lots and lots of people!