I’ve taking up being more physically active these days. Obesity among children in America just hit 16%, they say “sitting is the new smoking,” and loads of research is touting physical activity as good for your brain, body, and spirit. Maybe it’s being in my mid-twenties but I’m finally becoming more organized and regimented with physical exercise.
In the first couple weeks back in Thailand I did a half marathon with some of my ex-pat friends. No, I did not run the race in flip flops. I roomed with Steve (second on the right.) He’s an experienced runner from England so I mimicked his pre-race routine. We woke up at 3:45 AM, ate a banana and two banana bread snacks from 7/11, drank some M-Sport (Thai Gatorade), took a nap, then woke up at 4:45 to leave for the race. I ran a 1:53:00, which wasn’t my best time but I felt really good during the race. I’d like to run a marathon sometime soon as well.
The guy on the far right dropped out after 7 km and gave me his GPS watch to use for the rest of the race. It was a pretty dramatic hand off, reminiscent of wartime movies.
“I can’t go on… Here, Ozzie, take my watch,” said Ryan out of breath, sweat dripping down his pain-ridden face. He winced with every step from a lingering ankle injury.
“Don’t you want it?” I replied.
“It’s no use to me anymore. Here.” He handed me the watch as he slowed down. I began drifting away from him as he cried out, “Look at me! Look at me…” I turned back, Ryan gasped for air. “Don’t forget to press the button on the left when you finish.”
“Are you sure you want this?”
“Yes. Just go.”
Perhaps the story is a little embellished in my memory but it was still a hilariously dramatic episode. Knowing my pace, km times, and overall time was really cool and helped me run negative splits. Thanks to my dad, I now have a watch like this of my own!
In an attempt to be more environmentally friendly and physically active I also bought a bike. (Check it out: I’m wearing one of Uncle Jim’s ties!) Last week I did an 73 km ride with my Chiang Mai Triathlon Club friends Jake and Lauren. It was a gorgeous ride through the mountains.
The bike is a Trek 1.1 – their most basic road bike. I got it at Jacky’s bike shop. Jacky is an awesome guy and said I could bring it in for free servicing for life. He also gave me loads of free stuff, discounts (it’s 2/3 the price as in America), and told me to come along with his club on their monthly 100km ride, which includes free lunch.
I love Thailand. It’s that type of community-building and relational business practice that makes me excited about business. I am not a businessman. But I’m versed enough to know that profit is a vital piece. Jacky, while caring about profit to a certain extent, obviously sees relationship and his passion towards bicycles as his end goal. The whole experience has got me thinking, “What is the end goal of my work at Payap?” Is it profit, prestige, pride? A stable life, perhaps? If so, I would say I’m in it for the wrong reasons. On the other hand, if my end goal is relationship – and I mean relationship in the broad sense of the word – then I am hopeful that my work will be of use to God and the world.
Lastly, I’ve been swimming. When it comes to hanging out in the pool, cliff jumping, or going to the beach, I’m a good swimmer. I’m terrible, however, at swimming laps.
I have an amazing and experienced coach named Brett. He coaches me along with a Cross Fit trainer named Matt. Initially when Brett offered to train me I was doubtful. “Can he really teach me how to swim laps? I can’t even swim 25 meters without becoming totally out of breath.” The first day I was very self-deprecating and Brett stopped me and said, “Do you even want to get in the pool?” Part of it was that I didn’t really believe that Brett could teach me… Still, I decided to trust him and at least try. He had me use a kick-board at first. The only one I could find at the store was a Winnie the Pooh kick-board – admittedly, not confidence inspiring…
After doing my first 5 X 50 meters with the kick-board, I thought to myself, “Man, I’m so tired. I’m never going to be able to do all 5 reps.” 1500 meters later I was amazed at what I could accomplish under Brett’s leadership. I am learning to trust in Brett and trust that he knows more than me what I am capable of doing in the pool. He guides me, walks along the pool as I swim, and shouts out encouragement and technical tips to improve my stroke. Last Friday, after only 3 weeks, I did a 2000 meter workout, which included 3 X 200 and 1 X 300 meter continuous swims.
In many ways, this experience has parallels with my spiritual journey. Oftentimes I feel inadequate and doubtful in my ability to do good in the world. I don’t even want to get in the pool, so to speak. But I hear and feel God beckoning me, encouraging me, and teaching me along the way.
And it takes me jumping in and trusting in God who knows a lot more about doing good in the world than I do…
Loving you all. Loving the journey.