5 Life Lessons Learned from a Triathlon


Steve Anderson         Ken Davis           Cliff Ravenscraft

On the 16th of May I competed in my sixth triathlon. It was one of the toughest I have done.

This year I ran with two friends who deeply inspired me.

There is something about confronting physical challenges that brings to the surface lessons that serve us well in every day life.

Don’t miss the short video clip at the end of this post.

Lesson 1. WINNING isn’t everything.

Take on challenges that force you to live.

This year I had two friends who competed in the race with me. Notice they didn’t compete against me. They competed with me. Together we challenged our bodies to go beyond the norm.

Cliff Ravenscraft, The podcast Answer Man, has been working for months to get in shape. Cliff has NO DESIRE to win a race, but he is fiercely committed to being the best man he can be.

Cliff is the man who helped us build our podcast The Art and Business of Public Speaking. He told me this,

“I don’t care about winning this race. Every day I run a race, a race to live a lifestyle that day that keeps me in top Physical, Spiritual and Emotional condition. Every day that I discipline myself to workout, I win “


Cliff has lost well over forty pounds and feels a renewed energy and excitement for living. Regardless of how he felt about the triathlon, Cliff is a winner.

Lesson 2. FINISHING is everything. 

Don’t miss out on the joy of making it to the finish line.

My friend Steve Anderson is a first class trainer of men and women in the insurance industry. He only recently started paying close attention to his physical condition. Like me, for Steve swimming is not an exercise, it is a way to keep from downing. Steve is a pretty good biker but running on this day was not possible.

But he didn’t quit. Steve walked the final part of the race. None of the three of us are ever going to be great athletes, but we are all committed to living life fully alive. I admire people who accept challenges outside their comfort zone. I admire people who finish what they have started.

Lesson 3.  LOOKING good doesn’t matter. 

“Doing good” trumps “looking good” every time.

Because of a hamstring injury, I was unable to run for the month before the race. I didn’t drown in the pool – success! I rode the biking portion with wild abandon – success! But because of my injury, I could barely move when I got off the bike. I shuffled through the run like an old man.

Oh wait! I am an old man.

Okay, I shuffled through the run like an old man with a walker, minus the walker.

All I could think of during the run, was how awful I would look crossing the finish line like a hamstrung turtle. When I heard the cheering of the crowd at the finish line I knew my grandchildren would be there taking pictures. I rounded the last turn, gathered all my energy and like a gazelle sprinted the final hundred yards.

This is the amazing video of that sprint.

Lesson 4. If you have beloved grandchildren screaming Go grandpa Go…… You’re sprinting!

Lesson 5. Spandex has nothing to do with living fully alive!

What lessons have you learned from the challenges faced in your life? 
What value do you find in spandex?

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7 thoughts on “5 Life Lessons Learned from a Triathlon

  1. I have to say, that you not only make me laugh, but you inspire me as a man after God’s heart. I too am also aging and as a former athlete, I can relate to the challenges that come when your mind says go and your body says no. I still workout, but these days I am more committed to being a musician, ministry director and deacon for God’s Church. Praise Jesus! God bless you as you continue to be that inspiration to me and countless others!

  2. Congratulations!! Great Job!!

    ok…so let’s just say for my 40th Birthday in April of 2015 I wanted to do my first triathlon, but I am 60 pounds overweight. Where would I start?

  3. That’s awesome, Ken! Congratulations! On the subject of spandex… 🙂 our son just got a great job as an engineer in the premier spandex producing plant in the nation (in Virginia) and his boss is wonderful. That’s the value I find in spandex! (Plus it’s super comfy.) Haha! Might not be what you were looking for but there you have it!

  4. Ken, I know about about the Finish and not the winning! as you may remember, when we met I was around 300 lbs. 3 years ago Laureen was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had 33 radiation treatments, well as you would expect it was life changing, in many ways, we started eating the right foods and exercising 3 times a week and included walking. in the last 2 years I have lost 90 lbs. (my friends pass me on the street don’t say hello,They don’t recognize me!) Laureen has lost close to that and we are still dieting and exercising, She has a clean bill of health and has been blessed for the last 3 years.Not only did my shy wonderful soul mate of 48 years beat the cancer but she has been my co-host for our Living With Victory Christian Talk Show, (all about how to get through the storms in life) and she was asked to help to encourage the women at the cancer center. we did a program on how her faith in Christ brought her through this storm. the doctor allowed her to put the CDs in the waiting room for any of the patients free of charge, We have given out over 1,000 free CDs to this date. The radio program is thanks to attending the Dynamic Communications Workshop and the Professional Communicators Summit. At 72 I am looking to start Public Speaking again and have been asked to expand our broadcast,,Yes, You are so right it is not about the winning but how you finish! You Talk at Gatlinburg Gaither Fest really put a fire under this old puppy! We are now looking to expand our Social Media. (I know how to spell it,but that is where my expertise ends we are a Mom and Pop Ministry but the floor is shaking under our feet, I am so blessed to have caught up with you again Thanks.

  5. Hi Ken.

    Yes, finishing is everything. At times, it may be the only thing.

    Because of your inspiration and encouragement participating in and finishing the Cedars of Lebanon Triathlon ended up on my list of goals for 2015. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it may end up being my major stretch goal for the year.

    As I have reflected on what it means to me to have finished this race, I keep coming back to the thought that many things in life are easier when you have a friend.

    You said it well, “swimming is not an exercise, it is a way to keep from drowning.” I couldn’t agree with you more! The 10-mile bike ride really wasn’t that bad. While I didn’t set any speed records that was the easiest section for me to complete.

    But that 2 mile run…

    After the 1st mile, I didn’t think I’d be able to finish. I stopped to take short breaks. I slowed my pace down. I just kept thinking about putting one foot in front of the other. I wondered why in the world I was doing this.

    And, I knew you’d be waiting to cheer me across the finish line. That helped me to keep going.

    But you even did better than that. When I didn’t know how I was going to take another step — there you were, with your phone up, taking a video as I was rounding the last corner – for the last quarter-mile – up that huge hill – to the finish line.

    You came down to walk with me. You told me I could do this. And that made all the difference in the

    My lesson? It’s so much easier (and better) to live Fully Alive when you have a friend alongside you.

    Now if you could just learn how to take videos with your phone, I could prove I actually crossed the finish line.

    Thank you, Ken.

  6. Sometimes don’t fight it, God always has a plan for you. Challenge of my daughter renting a very small house and always worried what happens if they don’t always have the rent. God has allowed me to purchase a house the can rent from me. God doesn’t want me to retire yet. Thanks to you for showing me how to Live Fully Alive.