Thursday, July 30, 2015

From the Ashes

Next week I begin regular training for a half ironman distance event.....

Somewhat subdued in this one. Failure does that, I suppose. However, I am no less determined. Perhaps, I don't want to over-promise and under-deliver on these long distance endurance events as I have done in the past? Self indulgent rah-rah is not going to help. I just need to purposefully do the training and the event.

However, there is one aspect of this that I do not want to be subdued about: the wisdom and guidance of God in all this. Failure has made me aware and a different type of different than that if I had succeeded. Failure has brought me a deeper understanding of humility, forgiveness, and perseverance. I have learned wholly how to fail and get up again. I have learned how to ask God to pull me from the ashes and I have witnessed His power and love in doing that for me. I have experienced a degree of thankfulness to God I could have never attained if I had not failed so many times.

"All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose" Romans 8:28

Thank God, praise God for He has called me from the ashes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Child In His Eyes

The eyes of the eighty-one year old man glittered alive when he began to tell how he once did triathlons. Years have passed and the world has changed, but his core hasn’t. Now he was training for the senior Olympics. In the corners of his mouth was a sort of peace-with-oneself grin. He had been touched where the spark still remained. Ever so slightly you could see him straighten as his grin grew to a large smile, and like a child, he excitedly told me more. You could tell he felt at once alive and, for that moment, resurrected from obligatory life, and transported to the child he had always been. It was easy to see the child in his eyes.

And there is Jason, less than half that age: father, husband, hockey player, ultra-distance runner, and now an Ironman. He tempers his many obligations with a childlike enthusiasm for life and big bites of it. I can remember at a family gathering once, when I sat down beside him asked him something about his endurance training and exploits. The lights came on. He had that same look of that 81 year old man telling me about his triathlon past and training for senior Olympics. Like my 81 year old friend, Jason spoke with confidence, hope, and enthusiasm for what he had done and what he was training for: Ironman Lake Placid. He had an injury he was trying to work through; time constraints to be overcome, but you could tell he had the “bit between the teeth” and would not be easily turned aside. Jason had that child in his eyes. He made the hard training. He took on Ironman Lake Placid when conditions were not the best. One step and then another, no matter the conditions: He wanted to be an ironman. It was his dream. And , down the finishers chute, here comes Jason, overwhelmed with childlike exuberance in a culmination of all the hard training the early hours, the long hours; all worth it; celebrating the gift of life by living his dream.

And God bless those unafraid to dream big dreams, to put it all on the line in pursuit of that dream, unafraid: unafraid of failure, unafraid of pain, unafraid of expressing the joy of life, unafraid of letting themselves go; unafraid, ready, and prepared, reaching up to put the child in their eyes again and again.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Outrunning Normal

Take the Hill !! Feel the pain, consume the fatigue, smile into it. It’s life. Bathe the spirit in it, it’s life. You are part.

Sure I can feel improvement, health, vitality from this. But mostly, I just feel renewed; thankful to God that I can do this. No excuses; I have stepped out over the edge; gone too far to go back, to ever be "normal" again. And, I am incurable, but not hopeless. Hope drove me past "normal." Hope made me reach, stretch, get beat up, and torn down. Hope raised me up to try again, and again, and again. I can look back and see that the life of comfort, ease and normal is chasing after me. It screams that this is all for my benefit if I would just slow down and act my age. But I know of the withered others - many dead now - who have believed this business about the alleged benefit of acting their appropriated age. And yes, it would be so easy to slow down and act the age that I am told I am, or --- I can act the age I feel. The age I really am.

Breathe hard, deeper: take the hill, feel the pain, keep up the pace. I can't slow down for this is a race I must daily win or be lost in a hapless, hopeless life of "normal things." I don’t want to ever go back; don't want to be "normal." This life just makes sense. Bathe the spirit in it. It's life ----Thank you God.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Life Is Now

What better reason do I need to keep trying until...?? What do I have to lose that won't be lost anyway? The brevity of health at this age is an open window that can close at any moment. Should not the fine breeze be let in to flow freely through this house until that window is shut and not before? Shouldn't life be lived out and lost on the course rather than eroding away while warming the bleachers? Am I strong enough? Am I committed enough? Is this the right time? The answers are meaningless. This is the life and time and health are NOW: no guarantees, no certain tomorrows, no health warranties. Life is NOW. God is in the present tense.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ending With a Whimper: Beginning With Prayer

It wasn't what I worked for but it was what I got. Ironman week was a stress fest on several levels and got worse when I jerked my bad leg avoiding traffic, twisted on my bad knee, and pulled that leg from hip through hamstring to heel. My chances for finishing got even slimmer.

A walk to the finish line area the night before was the clincher. I would never see it. I knew it. There was a tightness in my chest. My breathing was restricted. My chest felt like it was full of fizz or something. I felt out of control. Back at the room, it became even worse: belching constantly; Excedrin did no good at all for the throbbing headache and I could not sit still. I was a mess.

All night long I wrestled with the shortness of breath, the tightness in my chest, and a few times I broke out into a heavy sweat. My wife cooled me down with wet towels and I tried to sleep. What is wrong with me? Finally, the wake up call, but I did not get up. I was sick, tired, and scared. I did not start.

After all I have been brought through, this is how it ended: sort of with a whimper. My heart and head down, I went to get my bike and gear bags. Coming back a nice lady saw me going the wrong way to participate and she asked what was wrong. Sick, I told her. She asked was I going to be OK and I told her I hope so.

"What is your name? I will pray for you." In the midst of my worst day, God is still in my life; God is still God. God still cares. I had met His messenger and she had prayed for me: I could feel the prayers. It will be OK.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ironman Texas Getting Close - Doing the Best I Can Do

Packet pick up today at Ironman Texas. Oh, it is getting so close. So much doubt. After years of training, why so much doubt? I didn't do enough 100 mile plus bike rides. I didn't run enough. I didn't do long enough runs. All I could do just doesn't seem to be enough. If I don't make this, it will be a brand new experience for me. I've done all I could with the hand that I have been dealt. If it isn't enough: it was the best I could do.

And, I think that is all God requires of me; requires of all of us: the best we can do. We are human. We fall short. We fail. But the pursuit of excellence is what I think is really required of us. This Saturday I will be in hot pursuit of doing my best. The results I will leave to God.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Journey Continues - Last Week Before Ironman Texas

And the journey continued today when I took my bike in for a tune up. After being on this taper for three to four days, something is coming back. I want to ride. I want to swim. I want to run. I want to pour myself out. I want to even fail to finish, if that is the case. Whatever—I want to begin the end of this marvelous journey.

This has been a three year journey over personal mountains and minefields, but I am still standing and I am here prepared as best I can for Ironman Texas. Praise God. I’m not that talented, or dedicated, or persistent, or consistent on my own to have come through all that. I had help, leadership, and strength. I had God and He had me. And, I have God now for my event- win, lose, succeed, or fail; “nevertheless not my will but Thine be done.” This event in my life is because God got me to it, so-this event is for God, no one else: this ironman effort is for God.

When I enter the water it will not be by my own courage and determination but by the God who gives me that courage and determination to begin. I cannot fail even I can’t complete the event; finish the course. This is my hope and through that hope and faith may I give it all I can, and to God be all the glory.