Warning this is going to be a very long post (for me anyway.). In addition, the formatting will be rudimentary, because I am on a plane using blogger for android.
I flew out Friday morning from Atlanta to Hartford. After arriving, I headed to Bobby Sprockets bike shop in Southington CT. They don't rent bikes. In fact, nobody in Connecticut rents road bikes. But, I found Bobby online and I told him why exactly I was coming up.
"I am coming up to represent Multisport MINISTRIES at Rev3 Quassy to support athletes, volunteers, staff, and spectators that need me. I will try to most importantly, represent Christ in my travels."
He rented me a bike. No paperwork, no agreements. Based on Faith. Now to you who know me, my goal is to not make you uncomfortable with me being more open in my faith. To the contrary, I want you to believe, because I love all of you, and I want you to be with me in paradise. Surprisingly, more and more of you are becoming more open about your walk with me, and I feel blessed that you are sharing.
Back to the story... I headed to the race site and dropped of the bike, picked up my packet, and checked in with the Rev3 staff. Everyone was glad to see me, and after the visit I headed to Kent and Jess' house as they were kind enough to let me stay.
We were up late, 10 pm... but we had a great conversation about Jess giving her testimony to her whole church on Sunday. See, if I had not been more open about my walk with God, she might not have told me about her testimony. It was worth staying up late.
10:30 I was in bed. I couldn't sleep. Not a wink. I looked at my phone, it was 3am, and my alarm was set for 430 am. I sat up in bed and asked God, what was I supposed to do tomorrow? My plan was to race the Olympic Distance and to do the run again and bring in the last place finisher. With an hour and a half of sleep that was not happening. I was being directed to lpf from start to finish. I promptly fell asleep.
430. The alarm went off. I staggered awake, showered, dressed and left. I drank my infinit mud in the car, and arrived at Quassy at 545am.
Rev3 has taken over the official last place finisher this year. I will not get into the politics here, but that is unimportant. What is important are those people at the back. They need hope, support, and prayer. They need God's grace to shine down on them like that hot summer sun. That is what they were going to get today no matter what.
Sean was on the pre race mike, and we hugged, and I prayed with him. He is coming back to Christ. I will not share his story, for it is HIS to tell, but my prayer for him is to seek and he will find. In addition, I would love to see him race IM Brazil in a MSM kit and qualify for Kona in 2014. I spoke to Eric the race director, and the Rev3 team did NOT have and official last place finisher. Put me in coach!
After setting up transition, it was down to the water to lead the pre race prayer. There was some reverence for the prayer, but not near as much as for the National Anthem. I find this interesting since we are One Nation UNDER God...
I waited for the last wave to go and left the beach a few minutes later. I caught the last place swimmer within 2 minutes. He actually wasn't a bad swimmer, but we had NO endurance. I stayed with him and gave encouragement. Until the last 200m of the swim he was in last place. Then Rachel was in last place. I worked with her, and we took 7-10 minutes to get to the swim exit.
In T1, I was ready in 3 minutes and I waited 5 more minutes for Rachel. She couldn't catch her breath. We were in for a hilly ride, and that requires lungs and legs. Her lungs weren't cooperating. The ride was a struggle. We averaged 10mph, and had to make a few stops at the top of climbs. The sag wagon was lurking. At mile 10 Rachel opened up. I will not discuss our conversation, it is between us. We ran the gamut of emotions, and I still think she doesn't understand why I stayed with her. At mile 20 I came upon a relay cyclist walking her bike. She did not want me to stay with her, and I dropped back to the sag wagon after staying with her for 10 minutes. The bike cutoff was in 5 minutes, and I informed her that she would be picked up. I started to sprint to catch Rachel hoping she had made the cutoff. She didn't.
When I entered transition, she found me. She was crying. I hugged her and told her it was okay. She can fight for the finish another day. Now to catch the lpf runner. I averaged 7:00 mile, and was told they were 30 minutes ahead. My stomach was full, and with them taking down the course and the temps over 90 I didn't want to get myself into an emergency situation. A mile into the course there was a police officer. I gleaned from him that the last place runners were 5 minutes away. My pace quickened, and within 2 minutes I caught Stacia and Angela. Stacia was supporting Angela during her first triathlon ever. Angela was having gastrointestinal issues. Sorry Ang, but it's a part of our story.... We talked and walked, and I worked on building Angela up, as she was disappointed in her position.
I also learned of her amazing son, Nico. He is 7 and last year he raised $5000 selling lemonade at the end of his driveway. He raised the money for Make a Wish. He sent a terminally ill boy and his family to Disney World. Seven year's old and doing God's Work. Nico, you are a warrior for God, and you WILL BE blessed all of the days of your life! Now let's get mommy to the finish line.
We ran into Lane at an aid station. He was having medical issues, and had to stop. After initially asking him to walk with us, I assessed the situation and advised him to stay. I told him he can race another day. He agreed, and we said goodbye. As we were walking away I said a quick prayer for him. He is fine, and joined Multisport MINISTRIES this morning!
We walked, jogged, and ran. The miles peeled off quickly. I let Angela and Stacia go ahead in the chute without telling them and paused on one knee for a thank you to HE who made and loves us. Rev3 Quassy the Olympic was over. After tears, hugs, medals and pictures the 5.5 hours on course came to its conclusion, but I wasn't done YET.
I returned the bike to Bobby, and headed back to work the expo. I was depressed, mostly due to the lack of sleep and missing my girls. I love you 3 more than anything. The expo was discouraging, and nobody really came to the booth. Tri Inspire ended up being Sean and I, and we used the opportunity to continue a prior conversation. That is a great thing! Right at the end of the expo Sean and I met new MSM teammate Andy Martin and his wife. They are expecting a baby boy in September! The blessings continue!
I left the expo physically and emotionally drained. I returned to home base, and Kent and Jess were out, and Jake had a babysitter. The babysitter left and Jake went to sleep. I was in bed by 8:30pm.
5am. Today's Mission was to give myself away as a volunteer. I dressed an was out the door by 530am. Tonight I was going home!
I arrived at the expo, greeted Sean and gave him a morning blessing. Then I went down to the water and volunteered to keep everyone from doing their warm-up swims on the race course. After the pre-race prayer, I kept athletes informed of how and when to get to their wave start from the beach. After everyone was in the water I proceeded to the swim finish.
I stayed at the swim exit and cheered every last swimmer in, and about halfway through the swim I moved to the shoreline when the back of the pack started coming in. I cheered, helped people get their balance and even helped quite a few people unzip their wetsuits. Only the very last swimmer missed the swim cutoff. I felt bad and wished I had been out there. Before I left the swim finish the sheriffs boat came in. One of the sheriffs said. " who was that guy that swam with them in the back yesterday"? Jonathon, the swim area lead pointed to me. She said that that was great of me. I told her "I did it but it was not me swimming...". She looked at me strangely.
I took a quick break to spectate, as all athletes were out on the bike. I watched the male pros finish the bike and start the run. Then I was off to the finish line, or so I thought... I met a pastor of a church in Virginia, and he told me he wanted us to do LPF for Setup Events in VA. He then asked to pray with and for me. And he did!
As I was waiting for finish line instructions, a twenty something year old guy was being put on a stretcher at medical. I looked at him and he at me. I asked him if I could pray for him. He looked at me like I had 9 heads. I remember exactly what I said.
Dear God, I don't know this guy and he doesn't know me... I don't know what's wrong with him, and he probably doesn't either. BUT YOU DO. Be with him now, he needs you. Amen. I prayed silently for him as the ambulance drove away.
I reported to the head of volunteers and she said to me. "I have a special job for you. Since you are trustworthy, I need you to assist with the USAT doping team. Maybe if one of them fails a drug test they will want to pray with you." I checked in with them and my job was to guard a porta potty where the pros get tested. I stood guard for 90 minutes.
Then I was off to the finish line to take timing chips, hand out finisher's medals, and cheer in all athletes. This was my typical interaction.
"Congratulations, Ryan. Here is you medal, great job today, I will also take your timing chip."
I just tried to be genuine, and speak whatever came out. I put medals around the kids of finishers, caught a few wobbly finishers. Some of them called me dear, hugged me, said thanks, and some of them did not. It's all good.
I stayed and cheered near the end, but I had a fight to catch, and with clock past 9 hours I needed to go. My race was over.
I drove to the airport and got onto the plane. Then over the loud speaker they announced a 1 hour delay. We deplaned and I soon discovered that I missed my connection window. I called Mary Ruth and told her it would be tomorrow before I got home. Jess came and got me and I spent another night at the Glowas.
Jess drives me to the airport, and I get to security. There is Sean from Rev3 at the checkpoint. He looks at me. What are you doing here? I told him my flight was cancelled last night. He hung out and he bought me a cup of coffee. We soon parted ways.
I get on the plane to Baltimore. After a layover in BWI, I am writing this from the air heading to Atlanta. Soon the girls will be in my arms. God willing. I will now read what I have typed so far.
Man, I just re read this post... I sound Loony. Faith this prayer that. All Jesus all the time... Richard, get a life! Gees. This is what some of you are thinking, including me a little bit.
I have a confession, I lied to someone on the trip. As I was going to the doping area, the "Preserve Lake Quassapag Fund" people asked me to donate. I don't know why, but I told them I had already donated when I hadn't. I lied because I am FAR from perfect and I am still a sinner.
Here is the real deal. I went to a foreign place, went on constant lookout for where God needed me, and I answered HIM each time. I didn't care what anybody thought of me and this post was the output of that. I need to do this more everyday, but like you reading this I get caught up in the things of this world. I need to get better at every day.
Thanks to all of you who donated and made this trip happen. You are a blessing.