Direct flights are excellent, aren’t they? Can’t tell you the last time I’ve been on an actual direct flight, but they are certainly an appealing travel option.

“Will you be on a direct flight to Denver, or will you be hauled on and off several planes between here and there too?” I wondered as I dragged the box my Specialized Shiv was carefully packed in through the doors of FedEx. My Shiv no longer. As I drove back home, the back seats that I had laid flat to fit my bike (no longer mine) in my Subaru rattled a little, now free from the weight of the carbon fiber frame that got me through my last Ironman. I brushed a few tears away.

Ironman was a layover. A stop between the runner I was and the runner I have become. A layover that lasted too long. Years.

Have you ever missed a flight because you saw a restaurant that promoted margaritas so enticing that you stopped to have one? I have! In Denver actually. I was on my way home from the Cable Tech Expo, and those glossy photos of margaritas looked so damn refreshing. I also did not take into account that my google calendar automatically accounted for the time difference, so I misread the flight as two hours later than it was. The flight departed at 5pm, which is 7pm in Denver, right? Wrong! 5pm is 5pm. Thank you, Google, for being so intuitive that I had to enjoy that margarita… and an extra night in Denver. Which is where my bike (the bike, THE bike) is headed as I type.

I’ve had layovers in Philly, DC, Charlotte, Vegas, San Francisco, Chicago… and in Lake Placid. Ironman was just a layover. Sometimes they last longer than you anticipate because your flight gets delayed. Or because of a glossy photo at a bar.

Ya know what, layovers happen. So do detours, which often skirt you around an accident, and occasionally send you down a scenic route. Triathlon was my scenic route. Because I took that route for a while, I encountered some of the most inspirational beings on the planet. I even met some of my best friends while traversing that route!

Which explains why selling my, er, THAT Specialized tri bike was slightly emotional. That was my means of transportation while I rolled down the scenic byways, scattered with heartbreak and infused with lessons, of a season of my life that is behind me now. Which is why I had to sell the bike (there, I said it).

But wait, there’s more!

More layovers that is. This time in New Hampshire. And this time I came prepared. It’s a stop on my way to where my heart has been headed since that first sunset. I have time for a margarita, even a quick bite to eat. Layovers are for refueling, whether you are the plane or the passenger. Layovers are for learning, so pack your books and your laptop in that backpack you’re carrying on, and dig into whatever it is God wants to teach you. Layovers are for uncovering your unique and precious voice. For finding your strong, and finding your song, so keep your iPod charged!

In life, layovers are often necessary and usually blessings if we are open. But it’s a balancing act. Do not unpack and get all settled in between Gate C31 and D29 at the airport, OK? But do not dismiss the value of a layover, and be THAT traveler who is stressed about their flight! I could be that chick who lets the entire airport know that her life is completely inconvenienced by that delay! But instead, I realize that it is the most unlikely, but perfect place to become a writer. To love and breathe words, day in and day out. To cultivate new skills and find fresh inspiration.

To fall back in love with running on the other side of triathlon. To fall back in love with life. And to fall in true, pure love. The kind that my bruised heart had dismissed as mythical and unattainable.

There’s nothing like the power of God’s layovers to prove that the mythical is possible. And to confirm that where you are headed is where your heart has been all along. So sip that margarita slowly… Just make sure you’re at the bar near your gate 🙂

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