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Friday, September 30, 2011

Reflections from an aging Warrior

On Saturday, September 24th 5 "Warriors" from Amarillo First Nazarene headed to Tulsa, OK to run in the Warrior Dash, a 3.25 mile obstacle course... just for the fun of it (and yes, we paid good money to do so). Being the oldest of course I had to prove that "I still had it." Someone whom I consider a true friend, Al, and his wife Jerrie and son Chase ran it, as well as a friend from our Life Group, Brian (who by the way is visually impaired) ran it as well.

To let you get a picture in your mind let me see if I can retrace this event (that 7500+ participated in). We began our journey at 10:30 with several hundred other Warriors. We started out on a nice paved road for about 1 mile, slightly downhill. In fact, so easy was this part of the race that Al and I wondered if we had wasted our time and money (Al is a Capt. in the Army reserves about to head back to Kubul in January so his perspective of difficult is viewed through a slightly different lens). We came to some fairly easy obstacles that involved some hurdling (or climbing over depending on your perception and recollection of the day) some walls and then it hit, straight up a Tulsa mountain (okay, it was really a pretty good size wooded hill, but the farther along we went the more it resembled a mountain). Somewhere in all of this Al and I got separated. As Warriors, we zig-zagged up this wooded trail for what seemed miles, and soon realized the trail was the obstacle. Crazy people were trying to pass others and taking advantage of any flat or downhill parts would fly by those who needed to walk. Somewhere in all of this I think we reached the top and in front of us was a body of water with logs stretched across it. Entering some very cold water that quickly became neck deep we figured out the best way to go over the logs was in a partnership with other Warriors. Cold and wet coming out of the water the trail became very muddy, only to lead to a 30 foot cargo net wall that many found very difficult not only to climb up, but even more difficult to climb down on the other side (funny how your fear of heights kicks in when your atop a 30 foot structure with only 1 way down). From there we encountered some more walls that the creators of this event placed periodically along the way. Some had ropes to help you up, others only had one side and the other side was left to your imagination to get down. Somewhere in all this there were demolished cars Warriors had to run over but where they were in the course I can't remember as it all has run together. I soon figured out that what goes up must come down, some kind of law of gravity and we quickly came to the "down." Pretty much a steep, downhill rocky run that led to more walls, barbed wire crawls (can you believe "macho Warriors" were trying to go through the barbed wire standing in a crouched position instead of crawling? There is some humor in seeing them get their backs shredded by this stuff, especially with the BIG signs that read, "This is REAL barbed wire.). More walls, more crawling, a big mud pit, and then fire. Finally the finish line! A little worse for the wear and muddy we watched for each other and celebrated our victory. By the way, Chase only beat the old guy (me) by 15 seconds. Then Al came, then Brian, and Jerrie rounded us out. Rochelle, Megan, and Jack, and Mary, Brians wife, were waiting for us cameras ready.

So what did I learn, besides that people will do the strangest things for a thrill and challenge? I learned that people will still help strangers over their obstacles in life and that obstacles are much easier to overcome with help. We don't, and shouldn't have to go it alone. I learned that just because someone can't see what I see, their vision is sometimes greater than my own. I learned that friendships are strengthened in adversity. I learned that having someone waiting for you after a tough day is worth more than about anything else. I learned not to take the easier moments in life for granted because they are just rest areas in preparation for new challenges. I learned that fears can be overcome. I learned that the challenges make us stronger and help identify our character (you can always by-pass challenges or cheat your way through them but that too is an indicator of your character).

What else did I learn? That mud dries quickly in the Tulsa sun. That people should be more cautious of what they wear in certain (public) places. That mens underwear is unattractive when wet, especially when that is all the guy is wearing. That women need to think twice about what they choose to reveal. That if you want a turkey leg get it early as they go quickly. That Tulsa has hills and Amarillo does not. I learned that friends are worth having and keeping and that I'd do it all again.

Thanks Amarillo First Nazarene Warriors, it was a great weekend. Al, when you get back from Afghanistan we're definitely doing it again!

There are leadership moments everyday, look for them today.

Lead Strong.