The story I'm about tell is not about tooting my own horn, it's not to say how great I am, it's to show you that what natrual talent we THINK we've been given by God is probably really short sighting God. When you truly exercise self-discipline, set your mind to something, and tap into the what God has REALLY given you, you'll continued to be amazed by what you can, through His grace, accomplish no just athletically, but in life.
Let's take a walk, no, let's run...run back in history to 29 Jun 1998, nearly 10 years ago. I was 17 years old and taking on the biggest challenge thus far in my young life: Cadet Basic Training for the new West Point Class of 2002. What did Basic Training (or Beast as it is "affectionately" known) entail? Well, for me, the hardest part was the PT, or physical training. Sure, I had played sports in high school, sure I could run around the bases or up and down a basketball court, and I had run around the neighborhood "some." But, not only was my running fitness pretty much non-existent, I came from the PLAINS of Texas, not the hills and mountains of New York! Needless to say, I was hurting. I could pass the physical fitness test standards, but let's face it, 18 minutes for 2 miles is not really fit for a 17 year old in the military. I got better, and by the end of my soph. (or yuk as we called it) I think I was running in the mid-16's. But that was my peak--I couldn't get lower than about 16:15 for a 2-mile run. I rarely (if ever) ran further than 3 miles from Mac Statue to Lee Gate unless I had too, and that was never fun. I remember telling one of my softball teammates (who could run) that I would never max the PT Test because of the run (15:36 was the "100" points threshhold). I had push ups and sit ups easy, but not the run...and thought I never would. Long body, short legs, not really the leanest athelete in the world. Graduation (2002) and becoming and Army Officer about to be responsible for 30+ Soldiers in an Army at war in Afghanistan and on the brink of war in Iraq motivated me to become better. I ran, and then I ran further up to where 6 miles was totally comfortable for me. Next thing I knew, I was running in the 14's for my APFT and maintained that through 2006. I kept running, and I enjoyed it. The mental block was gone, and I contemplated things like a marathon, but never seriously, honestly, those people were crazy to me! Fast forward to Iraq Aug '06-Nov '07 and I caught the fever of running and triathlons. I dropped my Army 10-Miler time by 10 minutes over a year span, and came back to the states to run several races, Boston Qualify on my first marathon, win a couple of 5K's on Ft. Hood, and place 2nd and 4th in my AG in my first two triathlons. And I have TONS of improvement to do.
I have come to embrace the "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" and "those who put their trust in the Lord will mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint." And, one that has become my favorite, and not just for sports and races, but truly applicable to life because it highlights the effort that is required to succeed: I Cor. 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." Does God care about success, sure He does! He wants us to run life as to get the prize--the key is what is our motivation, what is our prize? If our prize merely the medal at the end? A shot at the podium? Personal glory? Or it is about self-discipline throughout your life, being healthier so you can perform better at work and home, encouraging others to be better, living as an example, being a leader in a world of followers, spreading the peace and gospel of salvation? Leave a legacy --don't just do it for today, do it for tomorrow. Get motivated! Again, embrace the challenge, challenge yourself, you'll never know where you end up and whose path you'll cross in the process, because God does those things too. You may wonder why you picked up this hobby or that hobby and just fell in love with it, and sometimes it is for you, and sometimes it is for the people you meet in the process even though you thought it was just for you!
I'll say it again, CHOOSE THE CHALLENGE! It will make you grow more than you can truly imagine! God's span is limitless!