Ironman – Part III – The Finish Line – “You are Ironman!”

Tucker Dunn

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Jordan Zarraonandia

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Sunday June 23, 2013 was the most amazing day!  The alarm went off at 3:30 AM.  The big day was hear.  Tucker & Jordan were heading out to the car, their bikes were already checked in the day before as well as their race gear.  All they had to do was dress and get themselves to the starting line for the swim.

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My son Ty and I were volunteering all day at 3 different locations during Ironman.  We had to be at our first assignment by 5:30 AM, which was the first bike aid station at mile 6.  Ironman begins with a 2.4 mile swim, so we did not expect to see the frontrunner cyclist until around 8 AM.

Next at 11:30 AM we reported to the transition area from Bike to Run, where we helped the athletes transition to their running gear.  Transitions are very important for racers, so if we could help them shave a few minutes off their time, that would be a good thing.

We ended the day with the final shift at the finish line from 8:30 PM – 12:00 AM where we expected to see Tucker & Jordan cross the finish line.  It was a long day, but more fun than you should have on a Sunday.  We met lots of interesting people and were able to help hundreds & hundreds of people achieve there dream.

We saw Tucker & Jordan a number of times during the day as they passed through each of these stations.  We were able to get updates and encourage them along the way.  They both were doing well, but were tired coming off of the 112 mile bike…with lots of hills!  Jordan had broken 2 spokes on his bike and was delayed significantly while he figured out a repair.  He had time to make up in the run if he was going to finish.

We were able to follow their progress on an app called IronMobile, both of them were slowing their pace especially on the 2nd half of the marathon, but each would find the finish line in time to hear the words of Mike Reily, “You are Ironman!” before the 17 hour deadline.  They had hoped to cross the finish line together, but due to Jordan’s bike troubles that did not happen.

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What does it feel like to swim, bike & run your hardest for over 16 hours?  What’s it like to get the the point of absolute exhaustion and have to keep going and going?  What are the things you endure, think about?  How do you find the will to keep yourself from quitting 100 times along the way when you so very badly want to?

The Apostle Paul talked about a race in Hebrews 12:1And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Paul also said in I Corinthians 9:24 “Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  In the case of Sunday’s event, the prize was crossing the finish-line and getting that medal around your neck that says “Ironman.”  Not to mention bragging rights for the rest of your life! Tucker said he was going to add Ironman to his resume!  I guess he & Jordan have both earned that.

But what is the bigger picture?  Paul tells us, life is like a race, a very difficult and challenging race, the Ironman of life.  If you are going to cross the finish line and win the prize, you must keep focused and disciplined.  I think the lessons that Tucker & Jordan learned by doing Ironman will be lasting and have application in their careers, family and spiritual lives.  We can all learn from this and we can run the race of our lives to win the prize that Christ Jesus has in store for us.

Congratulations Ironmen!  You are truly amazing!

Ironman – Part II – Slaying the Giant

2013-06-22 12.15.51Well, the day has arrived…Ironman is tomorrow!  Months of training, discipline and hard work will come to bear on one of the most physically challenging athletic competitions on the planet.

As often happens, sometimes life will through you a curve ball or two.  Ten days ago, Tucker came down with a very bad cold including a fever, aches & upset stomach.  The Doctor diagnosed his issue as a virus that needed to run it’s course.  So, he has been slowly nursing himself back to health.  Today was his first day feeling well again.  This severely cut into his ability to train and taper his workouts…bummer!

Jordan had his own issues, he tweaked his neck, and could barely turn his head.  He nursed it with patches, massage & rest.  He is also feeling pretty good heading into tomorrow.

Race day waits for no one.  The alarm will sound at 3:30 am and no matter how they slept or how they are feeling, they will rise and face the giant they have been training to slay.  Even if they feel they only have a slingshot and a few small stones to do it with.

It takes a man of great character and strength to face his giant against all odds.  The words of The Quitter by Robert Service seem appropriate on a night like tonight.

When you are lost in the wild and scared as a child,

and death looks you long in the eye,

and your sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle

to cock your revolver and…die.

But the code of a man says:  “Fight all you can,”

and self dissolution is barred.

In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow…

It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.

“Your sick of the game, well that’s a shame.

Your young and your brave and your bright.

“You’ve had a raw deal!” I know–but don’t squeal,

Back up, do your damnedest, and fight.

It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,

So don’t be a piker, old pard!

Just draw on you grit; it’s so easy to quit:

It’s the keeping-your-chin-up that is hard.

It’s easy to cry that you are beaten–and die;

It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;

But to fight and to fight when hope is out of sight–

Why that’s the best game of them all!

And though you come out of each grueling bout,

All broken and beaten and scarred,

Just have one more try–it’s easy to die,

It’s the keeping-on-living that is hard.

Our hopes and prayers will be with you tomorrow and throughout your day you will spot me here and there along the way.  See you at the finish line!

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Ironman – Part I

Jordan

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Tucker

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This week we are in one of my favorite places, Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho for the Ironman race this next Sunday.  My oldest son Tucker and his cousin Jordan are competing in this penultimate athletic challenge of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike race and finishing with a 26.2 mile marathon.  Ironman draws the elite in terms of athletic ability, discipline and mental toughness.  I am both proud and in awe as these young men attempt this endeavor.

It’s a gift that this elite athletic challenge takes place in one of the most pristine places on the planet.  If you have had the good fortune of visiting this God kissed place, no one needs to tell you of its serene beauty.  We are blessed to have a place here on the Spokane River where we come to rest, recharge and build memories as a family.  Ironman will be imbedded deep within our memories from now on.

There are places and experiences in life that take us to the edge of ourselves and cause us to depend on God in a new and fresh way.  Having run 2 marathons, I know the feeling of pushing yourself to the edge of your will & physical ability…to the point of supernatural dependance, and the great connection & intimacy with God that comes in that place.

King David in Psalm 27:4 says,

“The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.”
When we come to the end of ourselves whether it is result a self-imposed athletic challenge, a moment of divine encounter or just ending up on the short end of the stick of life, the result is the same, our priorities come into focus.  We come to the end of ourselves and realize like King David, that the most important or even only important thing is to live in God’s presence everyday.
Tucker and Jordan, may you experience God’s presence with you in a supernatural way on Sunday June 23, 2013, like never before in your lives.  Go Ironman!