Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"You Are NOT An Ironman!!"

Toward the end of the movie, “Saving Private Ryan” the character played by Tom Hanks was lying in the road, wounded, and shooting his pistol until empty at an approaching German tank? That fruitless, heroic , yet pathetic effort, made my heart wrench. He was doing all he could, but the tank was impervious to his efforts to stop it.
After a year and a half of struggling against the tank of my own personal injuries and enemies; after firing all my rounds at the approaching ironman distance event; after all that: I lay on the ground, spent, empty, impotent. Today, I feel that same heart-wrench that I felt in watching that movie scene.

The Miles of the Journey to my ironman effort have lead to failure – one might call it a heroic and courageous effort , but the tank still rolls past me and my dream. Sure I paid the price. Day after day, week after week, month after month, I was out there, battling the self, taking the pain, pushing past, and overcoming. Yet, at the end of the day - today - I am at the end of my journey. Today, the last vestige of hope oozed out of me despite all the “never quit” platitudes, the great plans, the high hopes, the prayers, the vision of a finish line in tears of gratitude to God, the ironman tattoo with a cross over it - no, not to be. I am out of bullets, out of energy, tired of fighting, tried of swimming upstream, and I just want to lie down and let the ironman tank go on past me.

Who knows where I went wrong. I have made a lot of mistakes; failed at this so many times over the years. (see It’s hard to tell where the final damage came from . It takes a pretty special person to make it to the ironman starting line. Perhaps , quite simply, I am not an ironman; never cut out to be one. Perhaps, I was overmatched to begin with: the enemy had a tank and I had a handgun. As surely as a finisher is told at the finish line, “you are an ironman,” I am being reminded that I am NOT an ironman. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but It is the truth.

No more wars for me- that is - no more ironman quests. The stinger has been taken out of the bee, meaning ; I am not sure what this defeat will leave me or what future is down the road. But I doubt I will ever again possess that wonderful passion that my ironman hopes had. So there it is. This is where the Miles of the Journey have taken me. This will be the last past on this blog.
Yet, there is a certain satisfaction even in failure. I made mistakes but I know I truly did my very best. My best just wasn’t good enough, but it was all I had. And perhaps God is not as disappointed about all this as I am? No doubt He knows how much I poured into this. No doubt he saw me shoot my last bullet at the approaching ironman tank. Perhaps, He will say after all, “well done my good and faithful servant. You gave all you had. “

"I fell hard because I reached high."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Humbled Yet Again

A couple days ago I made it upstairs without knee pain. That was the first time in six months, yet I didn't notice the gift-at first. Of course, the thought went to WOW! Thanks God. And my running is improving - longer runs, faster paces.

It is amazing what we can learn to accept. Now I am excited to run a 15-16 minute mile. From my smile after those runs, you would think I just broke the world record or something. And The fact is pleasantly ignored that my running is still not good enough to get me to the finish line before the time cut-off. At these times it is easy to forget that each morning I hobble and stumble when I first get out of bed every morning.

However, the other morning I could not ignore the truth. My surging confidence must have lead me to get out bed too quickly. The bad knee wouldn't hold me. I started down; fell into my bike on the trainer and careened back across the bed, face down.

And I am going to do an Ironman? Yeah, sure. In almost a metaphor of this whole process, I slowly pulled myself up and cautiously stood; slowly walked. I had been humbled yet again. Perhaps that is part of the process; part of learning experience of this journey. Ah, there are so many lessons being taught in these Miles of the Journey. Thank you God. I managed a patient seven mile run that morning...and I didn't fall.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Worst of Days-The Best of Days

January has been full of set-backs in my ironman training. At times, it seems, I have fallen apart nutritionally and eaten like a starving couch potato. There were missed workouts; times I felt sick and tired or tired and sick. It's hard to tell. There were times, I was ready to throw in the towel and any other linens which confirmed total withdrawal from this journey. I really don't know how I got through all this so far without going belly-up, but I did. I prayed a lot and I guess my answered prayer was that I was basically just too tired and zoned-in to quit. Maybe being brain-dead with fatigue caused me to default to keep moving forward?

At any rate, I'm still standing - barely. Got in my 10 mile run yesterday: a major milestone. And, this morning I can actually get out of bed and make it to the bathroom without crawling. Good news! My bike miles remain good and my running miles are increasing. I have lost a few rounds in this fight but I have won a enough to keep me plodding forward on this wonderful journey. Thank God.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Longest Day

Ironman training has been an journey in self-discovery. In some areas I have found myself to be stronger and more resilient than I thought I was. For instance, I found I can hang with a tough indoor workout. I can do an extended strength session even though I dislike strength training. I can become severely discouraged by my slow times in training, yet I can keep going out there again the next day.

But, I have found weakness as well. I tend to let myself off the hook on hard training. It is so much easier to cruise for long periods of time during training rather than push myself. I tend to concentrate too much on my injuries almost as if I am holding on to them in case I fail and need them to hide behind. And, I fear recovery. Consequently, I do very little of it; just going from can to can't regardless of my schedule. Consequently, I often crash and burn and have to take time off. Even then I try to do physical jobs left undone by all the training. Previous recovery days have found me splitting firewood or felling dead trees, or hauling dirt, or building something. Makes me wonder why I am so afraid of complete rest.

Today, so far, I am doing well at taking a full recovery day. This is break-through stuff for me. And it could be growth, and it could be a step-up in my level of commitment. Today, I am committed to getting recovered. This is victory for me in the miles of the journey.

When I think about it; God rested on the seventh day. I don't think He was all that tired, but perhaps it was an example of what would be best for us? What a great journey this is. If I don't make the time cut-offs in my ironman, the journey itself has been worth the price of admission...thank you God.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Place I Love to Go

It rained all day. Despite my best plans, any training would have to be indoors. The indoor bike ride; not an appealing thought. What to do? Impulse was to get a movie and just piddle through the ride, nice and easy. Then the arm wrestling contest with oneself. This was supposed to be my long ride day. So how could I just do a “soft and easy” when I am supposed to be doing a long ride day?

OK, OK. I reluctantly decided to do a training dvd. This was a new one that I had never done. And, it didn’t look that hard and even if it was, I could just take it easy on the hard parts. I decided to warm up on the bike for five minutes before I turned the training video on. That felt pretty good. Five minutes came quickly. I didn’t want to stop the warm-up. I didn’t. Finally, after a fifteen minute warm-up, I had made a sort of peace with the indoor biking and felt ready to hit “play.”

It was much harder than I thought it would be. Standing climbs, intervals, tempo intervals; my heart rate was moving higher and higher. I wondered could I hold this? Can I hang on? Somewhere about the middle of the fifty-three minute session, a switch must have got flipped, and I was in. Something had clicked-in in my mind, heart, and body. I had stepped up and stepped past myself. Now I held the higher heart rate, the harder climbs, the higher tempos without feeling on the edge and about to lose grip. I had been counting down the minutes to the end of session but now I was hating to see it end.

This was not my first time to experience this track-switching to a different zone. However, it never fails to thrill me. That is a place I love to go; where limits are transgressed, walls are broken down, and the self extended past perception. And if this all be true, then what else. How far can we hope? Maybe not pushing myself enough is limiting the distance of my hopes. Perhaps, God has it all waiting for us; waiting for use to look beyond the horizon of our perceptions, and in faith believe there is more; in this life and the other.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Strange Feeling for Me

Almost fell in Walmart last night. People were here, there, everywhere, and a quick pivot left me off balance: strange feeling for me. However, earlier in the day I was helping bring a stove we bought in the house and on a step up, the load buckled my knee - backwards. It was all I could do to go down without dropping the brand new stove: strange feeling for me. And I want to do an Ironman? I want to bike 112 miles and get off the bike and run 26 miles on that knee? Serious doubts. How does one handle an unstable knee? How does one deal with the pain all day and half the night? So, to escape the "strange feelings for me," I just retreat to my comfort zone; that is, just keep moving forward; one unstable step after another.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rescue the Perishing

My motivation was at low tide. All my weaknesses were laid bare and I didn't like the picture. And then there was the down time of Christmas, the departure, at times, from good nutrition; I was tired already. Ready to quit if I just barely got tipped over. I prayed about the possible decision to quit.

My Christmas luncheon was with my 99 year old Mother in the nursing home. We brought her a good Christmas meal and her appetite is still zesty. She loved it. Then some more of my family showed up. The room got crowded and I found myself gravitating toward sitting near my nephew who is signed up for Ironman Lake Placid. The fire in his eyes lit up as mine surely did, as we told of injuries, experiences, hopes, and dreams in endurance sport.

Afterwards, driving home, I had a different slant on my thinking. No big explosions, no aha moments, but I unconsciously set about to continue my training. Three days later, I found that I done some great training, my motivation was back, and I really don't want to quit, if there is even a chance - even if it is a small chance. Perhaps, my nephew was my answered prayer; a confirmation. Perhaps, without his knowledge, he was sent to bring me out and point me up. Perhaps, without my knowledge, I am being used to bring others out and point them up as well?