By Lisa Huddleston

Chuck and I just returned from a weekend in Panama City, Florida, spent watching his brothers participate in the Ford Ironman Florida triathlon.  Bart had already finished one Ironman about 7 years ago, but this was Jon’s first time to compete in the grueling and prestigious event.  We were a little less worried this time around since we knew that Bart had lived through it once before; but, it was still mind-blowing to consider all that the athletes were there to put their bodies through–633 women and 2,277 men there to swim 2.4 miles in the ocean, to bike 112 miles, and then run a marathon (yep, 26.2 miles)!

On the morning before the event, Chuck and I walked down the beach from our condominium to the Ironman location to look around.  I was tired out by the 3 or 4 mile hike through loose sand, but I toughed it out and managed to stroll around the area looking at bikes, clothing, running shoes, and so on.  There was a lot of cool stuff, but one t-shirt really drew my attention.  On the front were the words “Lost in Transition.”  I knew enough about the Ironman to get its meaning.  “Transition” is the term for the area where athletes change clothing and get what they need for the next event.  Shuckers peel them out of wetsuits, volunteers slap on sunscreen, and athletes slip into appropriate shoes as quickly as they humanly can.  But the transition tent looks pretty chaotic and stressful for all involved.

Thus my attraction to the shirt.  Of course, there are many metaphors to pull from this weekend’s event.  Many, many ways to see truths that not only apply to the Ironman, but also to life.  But I’m in the stage of life where it’s the transition that can really pull me down. 

Get it?  It’s the transition times that are so rough on so many of us, because too often we arrive there without bringing what we need.  Sure, preparation is vital to smooth transition–but how can we prepare for the unknown? 

Just like the Ironman competitors, we can talk to those who have gone before us, and we can get the help we need.  And we can ask lots of questions.  How can I train for what’s coming?  What kind of equipment is best for the next event?  Who can help me shed my old skin?  Is there anyone who can protect me from getting burned by foolish mistakes? 

To make a transition as smooth as possible, it pays to be ready.  Even then, confusion may take over from time to time, but perseverance and preparation pay off in the long run. 

Have you finished your swim?  Then get on your bike.  Finished pedaling?  It’s time to run.  Just keep moving through and don’t get lost in transition!

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