Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Today - I See Only the Silver Linings



Rose City Triathlon - 9-11-16. This would be my 50th triathlon and the morning came to me with promise, fresh and alive. The sun peeking over the eastern horizon revealed a few clouds with the dark threat of rain on their bottom side. Yet, above the darkness the cloud shown brightly like they had silver linings. Today, I could feel, was special. I saw only the silver linings. Something in this day had already made my heart light.

Yes, it could have been the friendly participants and spectators, or the peaceful setting from which the national anthem was sung on this special day. Or, it could have been the huge flag being raised up by the firemen. Or, it could have been that opening prayer. It could have been a little of all that. I just know that I felt God had blessed me this day more than I ever imagined or expected.

I got out of the swim warm up with a smile. The 650 yard swim to start the event was fun.
The bike ride and bike course were great. The beautiful winding run course along the lake's edge made for a great running experience. The volunteers and other participants were so awesomely friendly; almost other-worldly. The finish was a celebration of life at its best, seeing and believing only the silver lining of this day.

Almost to the day 15 years ago I began my triathlon experience. Now 50 events later, having come full circle, I found myself as excited, hopeful, fulfilled, and thankful as I was at that very first event.

And, the renewal of my first experience brought a renewal in my commitment to live life to its fullest with a deepened gratitude that one this aged can find such joy, such hope, such enthusiasm for life and its challenges. I thank you and praise you God for all You are, and all You are in me. Among the storms sure to come: keep my focus, keep my vision, keep my belief only on the silver linings

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I'm In

And again, I am in: Ironman Texas, April 22,2017. In the past signing up has been a slow process to crash and burn: failure. Ironman registration seems to call out the dogs of war upon me. I seem to always find a way to fail at this, and I've gotten so good at failing, that I am not as afraid of it as previous years. But, given my history as an ironman failure, why did I sign up again? This is expensive stupidity. Seriously now, I am too fat and too old to be an ironman rookie. I am an asthmatic with one crooked leg and the other one perpetually injured: my run times stink; I walk with a limp. I will be competing as a 74 year old. Seriously now. Where is the wisdom which is supposed to come with old age?

However, I am still drawn like a moth to a flame to the ironman experience. Lately several people in my circle of family and friends have died. As Jon Blais said, "This is it: your life. This is not a dress rehearsal." Pragmatic reasoning can be turned around: it is not that I shouldn't attempt another ironman because I am old, but it is because I am old that I should. Time and vitality are in short supply. Why not? I am already good at failure. Besides, no one expects an old geezer to do all that well anyway. There is a extremely high "Did Not Finish" percentage among my age group. There is not much to lose anymore. If I fail yet again; so what? No surprise. At least I didn't fail by giving up. If, by the Grace of God, I did finally succeed: wonderful, amazing, marvelous, off-the-charts.

But it is even more than that. The struggle toward the previously thought impossible is the centerpiece of what is ironman. I think of Elizabeth Thompson, coming back from a serious stroke to learn simple life skills, to finally doing an ironman. Or, Teri Griege, mother of 2, full time nurse, going through chemotherapy for stage 4 colon cancer and training for an ironman. And there are the older people like Lew Hollander, Sister Madonna Budder, Harriet Anderson who defied age and finished ironman events in their late 70s and 80s. And, of course, there is Jon Blais, doing an ironman with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). I like what he said: "It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, and the adventure of being alive." Yeah, I guess I will risk looking like a fool again. How can I not with all that has been overcome by others to not only dream the impossible dream, but to live it out as well.

And perhaps, fail or succeed, this old relic just might be someone's inspiration to keep trying following failure after failure; to keep getting up each time knocked down. I have taught my grandchildren. "What's the first thing you do when you get knocked down?" Their answer: "Get back up." Living out my own creed is a great opportunity to inspire. Maybe someone is watching?

But there is an even greater reason not to give up. God called me out for this and He isn't through with me yet.

GET YOUR FIRE BACK. IT'S NOT OVER UNTIL GOD SAYS IT'S OVER. START BELIEVING AGAIN. START DREAMING AGAIN. START PURSUING WHAT GOD PUT IN YOUR HEART


And if I don't make it. Or if the training or the event should spell my end, it will still be well with my soul. For, I have an inheritance, which cannot pass away, cannot fade away, "reserved in heaven.." (I Peter 1:4) Yes, I have reservations for this event, a place to go, a place to stay. I am in.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why Not?

Why not sign up? You have already embraced failure at this ironman thing three times, haven't you? You should be tough skinned to failure by now, shouldn't you? You have practiced failure enough to be good at it. So what's the deal? You can do this: fail or succeed, can't you? You were called to this; weren't you? You said you were. Were just making that up? Who knows?

Perhaps now the fruit is ripe and the time of harvest has come, finally and maybe things will be different? Some things are already different this year:
1. The event date is about three weeks earlier in the year: less heat on the run.
2. The bike has been changed and should be faster, giving me more time for my slow run.
3. The swim could easily be wetsuit legal, giving me more time for my slow run.
4. I have learned how to run with a brace for my bad knee helping out my slow run.
5. I was able to book rooms right on the course and at the finish. My wife will be OK.

And there are some normal negatives too:
1. My knee isn't anywhere near 100% and I still walk with a limp. My wife said so.
2. My hamstring to hip has been sore for a while and could get worse.
3. I seem terribly fatigued and motivation to stay long is not as good as it once was.
4. The biggest negative is that I AM SCARED! Yes, scared of getting seriously beaten up
5. And I am scared of failing again.You see, I really never got comfortable with failing

Still, considering everything, I am hanging back; waiting for a sign this time; not going on my own whim and what seems right to me. I have failed at this so many times that I am not going into this unless God goes with me.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Get Back In the Boat

Yesterday, my 102 year old mother died. Yesterday, hotel rooms close to the finish line for Ironman Texas were available. And so, the "yes or no," "stay or go" prayers begin in the midst of grief. As my role as caretaker ends, perhaps this is another beginning; a respite from the dwelling on the past?

I remember how I took her fishing all the time until she fell and broke her hip. Her mantra, her prayer, was to heal, recover, and get back in the boat to fish again...She did.

This could be the "take away": heal, recover, and get back in boat, throw your lines in the water, fish fervently again. She would want that for me and all her loved ones.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Yet

It was February 1987; the Woodlands Marathon, my first marathon. It was all new and about as hard as I thought it was going to be - no piece of cake. Of course I wasn't prepared. My wife, my mother, my sister, and my two nephews were there at the finish; a great experience; my baptism into endurance sports.


When I began doing real estate in 1984, my first sale was two city lots to began a church on. It was a tough closing, but somehow it was accomplished. When I got out of real estate, the last thing I closed was property for a church to build upon: bookends to a career. Today, both churches are flourishing and I feel good about them when I drive by and see all the activity.

Today, I received a Father's Day discount for the Woodlands Marathon in March 2017. If I were to do it, it would be thirty years, since I did that same marathon; bookends again. Have I reached the age of one last hurrah and then tone down life to what is appropriate for one my age? It is tempting.

But I like what God told Joshua when Joshua got old. "Now Joshua was old and stricken years; and the Lord said unto him, thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed." Joshua 13:1

I read this to mean: Yeah, I know you are old, and so? There is still much to be possessed. You still have your calling and your quest. That is what I take it to mean for me as well. I am still hanging fire on yet another attempt to do Ironman Texas and it could in the same time period as the Woodlands Marathon. I have my calling and there is YET much land to be possessed - Amen

Sunday, June 5, 2016

My Plight and My Prayer

Its been raining for days; large amounts of rain. Outside - when you can get outside - is wet; soggy underfoot. The mosquitos are taking over the world, it seems. The grass is growing and cannot be mowed. My Mother is in hospice care and doesn't know who anyone is, and training has to be forced. Nothing comes natural anymore except the rain and mosquitos. All I want to do is sleep and, with the steady rains, that is a nice option.

One of my few visits to a fast food restaurant happened today. What a world. What a lifestyle. Somehow, I am going to paddle my way out of these doldrums until I find my place where the wind blows full in my sails, pushing my craft off into the pursuit of life as it was called to be.

This is my plight and this is my prayer on this mile of the journey.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Discount Store Ironman

The morning that I was supposed to do my ironman found me limping around a large discount store. About the time I should have been stepping out of the water from the 2.4 mile swim, I was stepping around boxes in the crowded, narrow aisles. Discount store life was going on unaware and unconcerned that there was an ironman in progress. I felt out of place; like I was outside looking in to the store and me in it. There it is: outside looking in; feeling that I am in a place that on this day, I don’t belong. It was as if the train had left the station and the struggle, the challenge, my passion left me behind to mindlessly drift life away in a large discount store. In the midst of the crowd and the noise, I felt alone.

Discount store life might be great stuff for many. The thrill of finding a bargain, the aisle fellowship with part time friends and complete strangers; a community of like-minded. I certainly understand that. In principle it might not be much different than the sense of community sometimes felt in an endurance sports crowd, pre or post event. Discount store life is a little less demanding though which is probably why it is so popular. You don’t have to train, or get in shape for it. Consequently, the stars of discount store life come in many different shapes and sizes. On another day other just watching all this might be entertaining. But, my ironman was going on without me.

Thoughts drifted again to the event. About this time I might have been about to begin the bike portion of the ironman. I could almost feel the wind in my face and push of the pedals. I could almost hear the yells from the crowds. Instead I was trying to get to the check-out line so I could get out of this place. What am I doing here?

The crowd got worse and I felt claustrophobic. Finally, I asked my wife if she could check out. I just had to get out of there. She understood. The knee hurt from all the standing around as I hobbled across the parking lot to find my vehicle. I didn't feel ashamed I wasn't doing the ironman. Physically, I couldn’t have done the event. I knew that. But, being in a large discount store buried in crowd of unlike people, at the very time my passion was going on without me was a little much. It just seemed like piling on. Enough.

There has to be something in this besides my regrets, some lesson God wanted me to learn from all this. And despite my pretense at wondering, I knew the answer: I really have no choice. There is no going backwards. Painful knee or not, there is nothing to do but keep after it, keep being me. To me, discount story life is a sort of personal hell, a place I might go, a person I might be if I give up. For me, breaking down at an ironman event and being carried off on a stretcher would be better than settling for a life like this. So I resolve, for me, there are no bargains in any store. My best deals will be found by responding to this calling within and living out the passion God has placed upon me.