Training is not always easy, nor should it be. Today, we made it a little harder for ourselves, but then the circumstances made it even more challenging. We made it harder for ourselves, first of all, due to our schedule. We actually could not begin riding until 2 p.m. on a hot muggy afternoon. We began with much heat and humidity. Secondly, we pulled about 40 pounds in our bike trailer. I don't know how much the trailer weighs, but that would also be additional weight. Twenty-six of those pounds came from my weight set at home. We wanted to build up our strength to prepare us for this trip.
As the ride started, it was great. We were traveling downhill on a very slight grade. We were glorying in all the beauty around us. We were also glad that there weren't too many people out on the trail. However, we also saw to our west some dark clouds. As we hit about the 15 mile mark, with about 5 miles to go to the end of trail (we were going to turn around then), we decided that even though the clouds were getting darker, we would push on to the end. We hoped we could find a place of dryness at the end of the trail before it began to rain. We were wrong. It started to rain. Not only that, the wind had blown over a tree across the trail. We then had to pick up the bike and the trailer with the extra weight (the tandem and the trailer is about 13 feet in length) and get it across the rail road tracks around the tree, and then naturally, we had to re-cross the tracks to get back to the trail. By then it was pouring. Providentially, at that point we met a couple in the same predicament who knew there was a "shed" about 1/2 mile up the rail. We got there soaked. Then it began to storm with thunder and lightning, and here we were standing in a metal shed.
After 40 minutes it stopped thundering and lightning and raining. We decided to turn around there about 1 1/2 miles short of our halfway goal, and head back. We commenced our journey back with totally soaked clothing and shoes. The sun was beginning to pop out and warm up again. We had to cross the tracks around the tree again. The trail was muddy. Nancy got a lot of road splash caked on her back, and the trailer was also caked with mud. Well, if the first part of our trip was mainly downhill, the second part was mainly uphill. Not only that, the tires sank a 1/4 inch to maybe 1/2 inch into the mud of the trail. Of course, don't forget that we were pulling extra weight. It was obviously more challenging and draining on the way back.
But isn't that what training is about? If we practice in the hard times, then when we actually run our race or ride our ride, we are stronger for it. Was it fun? Not really. Not at the end. Training isn't about getting your desires met, it is about preparing for the contest.
If we spend time with God on the normal days ("practice"), then when the going is tough we are all the more ready for it. If we do the spiritual exercises of daily time with God, or giving to God, or attending/sharing in a group of followers of Jesus, it is not always delightful. We often have to say no to other desires to do these exercises which seem more appetizing, which make the exercises less desirable. (However, I have found great joy at times in these spiritual exercises.) But through these exercises we grow strong, and then we are more prepared for the challenges of life and to face them with joy and peace. And since we spent those times with God doing those "exercises," when life becomes tough we are confident in God's presence.
Training isn't always easy, but it is vital. By the way, as I told that couple in the shed, "If they had stayed home and sat on the couch, they would not have remembered this day. But now, since they went through this storm, they will remember this day." So will we.