Just like each of you reading this post, I too have a calling and anointing over my life. Many times, I have come to realize that when we are called to do something we are removed from our comfort zones. I don't find comfort in traveling, especially to another country. I don't find comfort in flying in airplanes. I don't find comfort in leaving my children behind, and I don't find comfort in the hours I put into training. I do however find comfort in a father who has His best interest in me. A father who goes before me and prepares a way. A father who I can find rest and peace in when I am uncomfortable in this world. I know that I am right where He needs me to be and I will serve Him in the ways He asks me to.
It is never fun going through the airports carrying a hand bike, pushrim, 2 wheel cases and our regular luggage. We look like a problem before we even make it to the check in desk. I can see the look on their face. Disappointment that they got us in line and confusion of what to do with us and all our luggage. It always starts out good. Kind people who are trying their best to do their job and us being on our best behavior because we know we are the "problem child". Many times, things go smoothly and a lot of times they yield to us as we explain what is medical equipment, what is not, and what is going to oversized luggage, what is being checked with them and what we are taking to the gate to check in. We always know what equipment will be the biggest struggle to argue over and always come prepared to do so but hoping we don't have to. After all our biggest fear is that something goes missing or when we get it at our destination it no longer looks the same.
That is what happened this time. My carbon fiber wheel to my pushrim was cracked in two places upon arrival and my tires were flat. This is devastating. It could potentially mean the entire trip was made and we cannot race. A trip paid for, time, training and travel and now we are at our destination, unable to compete.
Luckily, the tires held air when we pumped them back up and we were able to duct tape the disk together enough to get through the race.
Every time we travel, we find some new creative "set back". Although frustrating in the moment, we find comfort knowing we are right where we are supposed to be if we are facing push back.
The air held for the race and the duct tape did as well, I was cautious at first putting weight on the chair and on some of the turns of the course but in the end it held together. Praise be to God!
Preparing for the Race
Thursday, September 1, we landed in Portugal. We got to the hotel to unload the van and then we took off to the grocery store. It's always important for us to keep our nutrition on point while away and make sure we have plenty of water (many times water is a hard thing to come by when traveling). We spent all day Thursday resting. I'd actually say that this might have been our best "resting" yet.
After race familiarization we went back to the grocery store to get some meats and cheeses to make some sandwiches for a reasonable bedtime (we were in bed before European dinner had begun) and some for after the race as well.
We were not disappointed!
We woke early that Saturday, happy to not be jet lagged and able to get some sleep the past two days. I had two cold coffees that I had bought the night before and brought up to our hotel room since there was no coffee available the morning of the race. I drank them, got our picnic breakfast from the front desk and headed off to the venue. There is no describing how beautiful watching the sunrise was, so I will just attach a photo for you to see for yourself.
We set up our transition site and talked over our plan. Preparing ourselves as much as possible. Then it was off to sit and wait, and wait, and wait....
I took this time to do some warmups and socialize with other wheelchair athletes as the other divisions began their race and we waited for a boat to come as take us to the start. To put this in perspective, we arrived at 6am (parking was already full) and my race did not begin until 9:27am.
I took off in the swim, got hit right in the face by another athlete and stung by a jellyfish. My swim was ok, I was able to keep with the pack better this time then I ever have been able to in the past. I exited the swim where my wife and wheelchair were waiting. Tes pushed me up the small incline and then we were both running for the transition area. Once there we were able to get me onto the bike in good timing and out onto the course. I was able to pass four other athletes while on the bike. I came into transition third on the bike. Tes was waiting there and pulled me right into position and we were able to have another great transition onto the push rim.
Shortly after getting out onto the course my cracked wheel left my mind and it was all on the course. During the straight aways I could see the athlete ahead of me, this kept me motivated and pushing but still unable to gain any ground on him. I came across the finish line in third place.
We were happy with our efforts in Portugal and happy to be on the podium again, of course we are always shooting for first place, but at minimum a podium finish.