Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Birthday Grip on Life

Tomorrow is my birthday. Last year at this time ironman training was skidding from slow to stop. It was a tough time. Back pain, muscle and joint pains in various places made me unable to train without the session being a suffer-fest. But my greatest concern was that I might soon be physically disabled. A few weeks with very light or no training had no effect. The pain was awful. It was a somber birthday and Christmas. Finally on January the 5th, I agreed to go to the doctor.

An X-ray of my back revealed that I had the back of a twenty five year old, but blood tests revealed that the statins I had been taking were having huge side effects. The doctor had another kind of statin he thought I should try that might not have as bad of side effects as the one I had been on. I considered it, then gave the pills back to him and went on a plant based eating plan. After a week or so off the medication, I could tell the pains were lessening. Hope began to creep in. Could I still train for Ironman Texas, even yet? I had had so much down time; missed so many workouts. But, why not at least try? What was there to lose that I haven't felt the loss for already? Sure, this was too much too soon, but six months or a year from then would I regret pushing hard and failing or would I regret more that I settled for less and played it safe? What would God want me to do with this renewed grip on life? No brainer: I tried. I piled on the training volume. The scary back pains subsided. Yeah, I was pushing the limit, but I was out there, alive, not disabled, only beat up from the training. Eventually, my old injured knee began to feel the strain of the too rapidly increase training volume. And, in spite of all I could do, the ramped up volume took me down. My bad knee took me as far as it could; until I could barely walk. However, when it was all over, I still had the smile. I had had my time.

Now a year later, no meds, plant based eating and my blood numbers are good without any medication. I am running and biking without pain. I am recovering faster from hard workouts better than ever. And, I am entered in Ironman Texas 2017. I have my grip on life back, and I can only thank you God. So, whatever happens with Ironman Texas; as far as I take it, all the struggle, all the pain, all the success, all the glory is for God. Take me out of the loop Lord; this journey is just for you.

Below is last year's birthday post -


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hardships With Gratefulness

Hardships with Gratefulness; seems a contradiction. This holiday season is the first since the loss of my Mother: a hardship. Dig deep within and find the gratefulness for having her her for so many holiday seasons; grateful for the love and warmth she brought to the room I made for her in my life; grateful that I could love so deeply hurt so much, and from all this feeling alive: alive in God.

Hardships with Gratefulness in the ironman quest; seems a contradiction as well. Grateful for the deep fatigue which means I have empowered purpose, that I have purpose; grateful for the setbacks, and failures, which have made me more humble, yet grateful for the great workouts which fuel hope and confidence; Grateful to know that the ability for a no-talent such as myself would never have been possible without being given the strength to endure from above. My prayer is to keep moving forward with gratefulness to the honor and glory of God.

Draw from Him the strength to endure. No one has the ability within himself to endure hardships with gratefulness. Only by relying on the Lord can believers go through adversity with an appreciative heart.

Now, think about that circumstance you would like changed, and with a new mindset, offer this prayer to God: "Lord, I accept this situation as coming from You. In faith and trust, I place myself under Your loving authority, and draw from You the strength I need to endure with gratitude."

Charles Stanley



There is a testimony behind the storm you are going through.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Day - In the Beginning

Thanksgiving 2016: Bittersweet. First holiday without my mother. We always took her Thanksgiving lunch to the nursing home and she so appreciated the meal and the company. Now, that is not needed anymore and there seems a hole that I can't seem to fill.

But, there is another first on Thanksgiving. Thirty four years ago today, I began my endurance sports journey. I tried to run. It marked a new beginning much like holidays without parents does. But, the running, the biking, and swimming bear no pain of remembrance; only joy. Those memories bring a smile, even now, to these old lips. I was blessed to have parents that I loved so much and I have been blessed by thirty four years of a wonderful life in endurance sports. Thanksgiving ... I am giving thanks to God for it all.

Below is an excerpt from my book, "I Hear Footsteps," accounting that groundbreaking Thanksgiving so many years ago.

Prologue: In the Beginning

Several times when I was young I came close to dying from asthma, pneumonia, or the medication itself. Many times I really wondered if I was going to be able to take that next breath. In those days treatment options were quite limited. Consequently, prolonged bouts with this stuff seemed to keep me in an emaciated physical state. At age fourteen I weighed just seventy-eight pounds and was four foot, eleven inches tall. There were many nights in my life spent sitting up in bed just trying to breathe. My back grew bowed and one side of my chest protruded out much farther than the other. I looked deformed and I guess I was. For me, playing sports was quite limited. I was always the last one chosen for a team.

After adulthood and years of treatment, my health improved somewhat. Eventually, I grew out of my deformed chest; but still, I was occasionally besieged by bouts of severe asthma attacks. It seemed that being an asthmatic was my lot in life, my own piece of hell, a curse from which I would not be set free.

Thanksgiving morning, 1982 found me once again suffering from an asthma attack. Having been up most of the night trying to breathe, I was a man much out of sorts. Somehow though, on this one day in time, a whole lifetime of frustration seemed to culminate right then and there on that Thanksgiving morning. I was just fed up. I was just angry—very angry. For some reason, I just wanted to run. Absurd as that reasoning might sound, I just wanted to make my lungs suffer, to strike back at something, at anything. “Enough is enough!!” I thought. If I were going to be gasping, struggling for breath, and wheezing, well by golly, I might as well have a good reason for it. I was going to run! What was I thinking? It was crazy, I know. Could be I was just a little bit over the edge at the time?

I had no shoes to run in so I laced up my hunting boots and started a slow jog down the dirt road in front of my house. I was going to run the quarter mile to the end of that road if it killed me. It very nearly did. In fact, after only a few moments, after less than a hundred yards, I was bent over with my hands on my knees, seriously struggling for air. Asthma had beaten me again, I thought, as I walked slowly and dejectedly back to the house. Surprisingly though, sometime later after I had fully recovered, it seemed that I could breathe a little better than before. And some of that anger—no, a lot of that anger—was still in there bubbling, simmering around inside. I would have another go at it the next morning. This wasn’t over.

The next morning I got a little farther down the road than the day before, but it was still a suffocating experience. Beaten again. But, I had gone a few feet farther. It wasn’t much farther but there was some small satisfaction in it. Afterwards, I again found I could breathe a little better than before my run. The next morning and the next and the next found me making similar attempts and being met with similar defeats. But, with each effort I was getting a little farther down the road. Anger had matured into firm resolution. My mind and spirit now had “missile locked” on someday getting all the way down that road, the whole quarter mile. Finally, one day I just hung on, suffocated more than I ever thought I could, and made the whole quarter of a mile. No, it wasn’t an Olympic finish. No bands were playing. No crowds were cheering. No one cared, but I knew. It was just my own ecstatic experience, a private victory on a little dirt road in the middle of nowhere.

No stopping me now; I had tasted it. My asthma was getting better almost daily. Finally, one morning I ran all the way back to the house—a half mile. I was elated! Then the day came when I ran a whole mile. Like a prisoner breaking out of his jail cell, breathing fresh air for the first time in a very long time, there was no containing me. I was out of control and still am, I hope. Thank God!! I traded my hunting boots for slip-on deck shoes and, when my long runs got to around three or four miles, I finally bought real running shoes.

The rest of the story is about longer runs: 5Ks, 10Ks, Half Marathons and, in 1987, my first marathon. Sometimes, even now, having completed over thirty marathons and many triathlons, it is still hard to fully comprehend. To think that I did all that, yet knowing all the time I am really nothing special, just a no talent, ordinary person who hung on. I am so grateful! I feel so blessed!! May I never lose that childlike wonderment at all this. May I never forget that first frustrating Thanksgiving morning in 1982. But even more importantly, may I never forget to give God the thanks, that I can run!!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Moments: Fix It

Moments: Fix It: Visits to my aged mother are tough duty now. One factor is that it drives me out of feel-good, rah, rah and forces me to confront the truth... (more below)


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

More Steps

The broken hand is being dealt with. It's not pretty but, I am glad it's not worse. So I'll take this and deal with it. Training is going on as best as I can manage. Last week: 30 miles running and 112 biking. And, the spirit is strong. Hope is abundant. I am at peace about this because I sense God's purpose in even the broken hand - although I can't see the end of it. My job isn't to know but to just keep taking steps forward toward the goal, for Him, through Him - amen

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Broken Hand - Taking Next Steps

Hard to type well with a broken hand. I will get better. Healing time is six weeks. My half ironman distance event is in five weeks. Swimming is out. No hand around the handle bar or jolts on the bike Indoor biking seems to be the order of the day. "Cast down but not destroyed" the scripture says, and seems appropriate as to how I feel towards this predicament. A new challenge now awaits; a next step to taken on the journey. Whatever. I am in this for God anyway. My calling; my job, is to just keep taking next steps toward the ironman.

My new ride for the next few weeks.

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