As the days drew closer to my first half Iron Man, my mind began to make a shift.

For nearly a year, I had been in preparation and training. Though I thought I was in decent shape, I soon realized my body, now close to 50 years old, wasn’t taking too kindly to the longer distances, and tasks I was asking of it.

My feet ached, my knee felt as though it was going to snap, and my ability to run past 8 miles was severely in question.

However, I kept at it, and after a few physical and mental collapses, I began to grow stronger. Eventually, the knee brace was no longer needed, my feet no longer felt like pins, my toenails stopped turning black, and I was able to complete the individual hurdles.

Now, the moment had arrived. It was time to compete, and in my mind I declared it was time to “slay the dragon” and tackle the physical challenge of IronMan. But there was also the mental, and emotional challenges – I had to face my fear of not being able to complete the task.

I soon realized I was going into this thing like some kind of warrior, like someone engaging a battle with a grimace on their face, and tension in their bones. I was waving my sword like Wallace in Brave Heart, which is definitely one way to go about it, but that’s not what I really wanted.

Rather than “slay the dragon”, my heart’s true desire was to dance with it. To enter this competition with excitement, and eagerness. I want to embrace the moment and enjoy making it this far. I want to take in the scenery, and the energy. I want to be among the herd of athletes, and enjoy the good health God has given me to even be out there.

Yes – I want to dance with this dragon. Not to fear it, nor dread it, not to kill it, but to enjoy the challenge. For as it’s been said, to have a fulfilling life is to be challenged.

And challenged I was, towards the end my legs cramped up and I could barely move. What’s most cool about this whole thing however was when I prayed for God’s strength to help me finish. Rather than take my pain though, He sent my wife and kids to find me. And they literally dragged me back in the race to help me finish within minutes of the cutoff.

I had to dig deeper than I ever had in my life to finish this challenge, but I didn’t do it alone. It may have been me out there on the field, but it was God’s and my beloved family’s love that got me across the finish line. What a dance indeed!

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