As I write this I am sitting on a plane heading back home for Christmas. This last week, my teammate asked me, “Excited to head home for the holidays?” My response was “Yes and no. I’m excited to see friends and family, but I’m pretty humiliated.” Coming into this season I felt I was better prepared than years past, yet I feel like I am going home with my tail between my legs. Struggling to find my shape on skis and struggling a bit on the range, I was disappointed in my performances this first trimester of the season.

These ups and downs are inevitable in the sport of biathlon, both because of the complexity of the sport, but also because of the long season. It is difficult to remain at peak physical form, as well as mentally sharp, for 5 months of the year. Navigating through the ups and down of the season are sometimes difficult as training sometimes is more of an art than a science. Again I was reminded of this this past trip, trying to balance training and nutrition to get back to the place I know I am capable of. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not a quick fix that happens over night, but may take weeks to reignite different physiological systems.

One thing I told myself was I would write a blog post before I got home. After the Hochfilzen World Cup I decided to put it off, hoping to have a better performance in Le Grand Bornand to boost morale. Unfortunately that didn’t come to fruition, and I told myself I would write it on the plane ride home. Unsure of what to write, I picked up my book Tuesdays with Morrie and started reading. It’s a book about an old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lessons. Morrie, the old man, is dying of ALS and Mitch, the young man, comes every Tuesday to visit with Morrie. As Morrie continues to fight against ALS, his body starts to wither away. I read, “I saw the paleness of his skin, the stray white hairs, the way his arms hung limp and helpless. I thought about how much time we spend trying to shape our bodies, lifting weights, crunching sit-ups, and in the end, nature takes it away from us anyhow.”

After reading that line, I stopped for a second. I thought about how much time I spend working out to get my body into peak physical form. It reminded me of one of my favorite Bible verses, 1 Timothy 4:8 “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

This past trimester, at the end of each disappointing race I was met with a flood of emotions. As negative thoughts knocked at the door my brain, I was careful to not let them in. It’s in moments like these that sometimes we get too consumed in the moment that we neglect to see the big picture. We can get so consumed with our physical bodies that we forget our bodies will one day be consumed by nature once again.

We make life a constant race against time. We fight for another second in a race, to make the yellow light or fight for another day with a sick loved one. But in this race against time, what are we fighting for? Are we running towards a prize set before us, or are we trying to outrun death breathing down our neck? As I have had a difficult start to my season, I am reminded of how we are judged by our performance, especially in sport. On the days when I miss the mark in biathlon, I walk away thankful for the fact that Jesus doesn’t look at me differently when I fail.

When I started biathlon, I was told many times, “Expect to fail. A lot.” I knew that I was going to have rough shooting days, missing 3, 4, maybe even all 5 targets. I knew this hardship was waiting for me, but I didn’t let it deter me from doing what God called me to. Just like 2017 years ago when Jesus was born on Christmas, he knew he was going to suffer. He knew all this suffering would be to save the very people that would spit in his face, but he didn’t care. He did it because he loved those people. He wanted to show them the way and save a corrupt and perverse generation from the inevitable grip of death. He came to show us that we don’t have to run from death, but to show us there is promise both for the present life, and the life to come.

Tim Burke shoveling off the sketchy rental van of ours

Sean and Leif on their way to go thwap some targets

View while skiing in La Crusza, France

Our awesome Chalet we stayed in Le Grand Bornand

Made a friend on one of my flights who helped me get into the United Lounge. Truly flying the Friendly Skies.

Just living that Birkie Life.

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