Friday, April 22, 2016

Bogged Down

"Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you," were the words of Satchel Paige. Such is life. The photo on this page is of a portion of my dry pond bed in 2011. As long as one would step quickly and lightly, and kept moving, the bed could be traversed. However, if one stood still too long, the thin surface would give way. The feet and legs would sink into a couple feet of black mud. The going would get slow, very tough, and nasty. You can't go too far like that. You can't go far in life, bogged down.
After almost two weeks of limited training, and I seem a little bogged down - like I can hear and feel the mud sucking at my ankles. More and more each day passing, I want to get on top again; to step lightly again, and cross this bad patch more quickly. I think God is shaping me still for something besides being stuck in the mud. I think that is always the case. And little by little, day by day, I feel the spirit building again for stepping quick and light again, moving on with the journey.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Inside Empty

Sometimes the journey seems to grind to a halt. Then, is it really a journey any longer? A week and a half of almost no training has healed a lot of stuff but left an empty inside. Is it a journey if all you are doing is wandering? Without a beginning, a plan, a destination, is motion and travel, by itself a journey?

The word "journey," to me, conjures up much more. It is purposeful travel, often with hindrances and obstacles to be overcome along the way. "Journey" suggest a quest, a theme; it is to enliven. Thoreau wrote that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." My opinion: that would be because "the mass of men" are not on a true journey.

After this time of inactivity, I can feel this indescribable need. And I wonder do others feel that need to go on their journey? Is there that same empty inside feeling I have with aimless living? Then again, maybe it is me. After thirty one plus years of endurance sports, have I seen too much to be satisfied with being a good husband, father, grandfather, citizen? These are all good things and the world needs these roles to be filled, no doubt. But there is more, I have known it. And, as for me, life is not to be lived in circles. Cirles leave me inside empty.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Revelation of Reality and Acceptance

Another morning of tentatively getting out of bed and trying not to fall. My left leg; knee, hamstring, calf just want to buckle in pain with me. It takes some stretching to get moving to the bathroom. This has been going on for a while in silence. It was my plan not to give air to the pain, and perhaps it would eventually go away. A foolish notion, I know. But, the idea of an ironman is a foolish notion to begin with, and what is one more foolish notion? This was not meant for me and I can accept that. I think I have been preparing for that acceptance for several weeks now: with every painful planting of my foot.

Plus, the last minute bike course situation has only ushered that acceptance along; made it easier. Speaking only for myself, there is something lost, when this close to race day, there is only silence as to what the bike course will be or whether there will be an event at all. There has always been something special about ironman, an aura to it, a wrongly given status of semi-holy. For me, ironman came crashing to earth: feet of clay like everything else except God Himself. I put ironman in the clouds; on a pedestal. Now it is resting on the same turf we all walk upon; where I should have placed it all along.

But, even without that revelation, I cannot finish that ironman without seriously, perhaps permanently, injuring myself. That is a fact. So I have to face down both the revelation of ironman reality and the reality of my own physical limitations. This ironman is over for me, regardless, but I don't regret a thing. I poured the training on after medications I was taking almost got my ironman back around Christmas. There is a peace knowing I gave it my best and gave this one to God, but He starting closing doors. That's OK. "Nevertheless, not my will by Thine be done." Now to getting healed and enjoying the prospect of the next adventure with myself that God might put me into.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Incredible Power of Recovery

A half mile into the swim and I bonked: just had nothing to go on; felt anemic, weak, and terribly fatigued. Over the decades there have been many times on runs, and bikes, when I just didn't have it to go on. It is a scary shutdown making one realize how vulnerable we are, how human after all. Yes, I have spent some time, humbly sitting on the side of the road waiting, hoping, to get my stuff back. This is the first time I had sat in the pool and waiting and hoped - new experience, even at my advanced age. Twenty minutes or so passed with me enjoyed the quiet, soothing water surrounding my body - I was the only one in the pool. Little by little, I could feel I was coming to myself again. Why not try again? Why not keep moving? Why not complete the course?
It began and at the end of the all, I found that I had swam another mile.

Amazing how I can recover. Amazing how, when all looks like weakness and fatigue, given time and rest, I can find the strength to go on. And, in that process I grow stronger. As I grow stronger it gets easier to not believe the moment, and have faith in the incredible power of recovery, of renewal.

So too, I can be renewed no matter how many times I have failed, and failed myself, or failed God. "Failure isn't final with the Father" and no matter: there is forgiveness and restoration built in by God to fix my spiritual bonk at the foot of the Cross.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Other Side of Wisdom

Woke up to a beautiful morning here in the country, and in the "sound of silence" I prayed for wisdom. It seems that the prayers for a sign, a hint, an intimation of what I should do have lead me, not to the solution, but to the right request. This is the last day to drop out of Ironman Texas and get any of the entry returned. I need the ability to make a wise choice: I need wisdom. And so I prayed.

Limping to the bathroom on my bad knee should have told me it was wise to drop this whole thing. Remembering my pathetic running pace should have evoked a wise decision to quit. Considering the expense of this most likely failed venture should have added wisdom enough to back off from all this. No, really, I think the odds are very long that I will finish within the time cut off for the event. The 70-74 year age group results are littered with participants my age who didn't make the cut. Is it wise to go through all this; put my family through all of this to only add my name to the list of those my age who did not make it? Wisdom would seem to say let this go.

So I go to this computer to officially ask for a partial refund of my entry, and I just can't do it. That is not wise -at first I thought - then I pondered if I might be accessing a greater, God-given wisdom, than the practical and logical can afford. And, my fears run rampant about the pain to be borne and the probable failure of it all - yet, I can't withdraw. It doesn't seem wise.

So wisdom has become to take this as far as I am carried. There is some rough training to be done yet. My first goal is to just make it to the starting line; to step out into the water for the swim, like Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on water to Jesus. And if I finish the swim on time; finish the bike on time, get through all the highs and lows in between, I will be so thankful. On the dreaded run, however far I get before being taken off the course will be a blessing. At the end of that day, my hope is to have stepped out in faith, run the race set before me, looking to God for strength, and did the best I could, for Him. That sounds wise to me. I think my prayer for wisdom this morning has been answered.

Use me God, show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for purpose greater than myself.
Martin Luther King

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Can I Stand That Much Normal?

Questions - as decision time comes closer, the more questions, the more doubts. In the past few days several things have come up that could negatively effect an ironman effort, and consequently, effect my decision to try to do this ironman.

A supposedly accurate reading of my running speed shows it to be pathetic. If this is correct, to finish before the cut off, I would need a bike and swim that I presently am not capably of doing. Can I improve the bike and swim enough in the period of time remaining? Questions.

My support for the event is in question. Can I do this event without support? Questions. And, on the other side of the big question: can I not go; not try ironman; and at the end of the day find enough self-respect to have a life without regrets? Questions.

My fear is that without "some war to fight," I might just shrivel up as a person. So much would seem mundane. Can I live with all the normal ho-hum, to age quietly and obediently, and go peacefully into the night, to die at the appropriate time and manner? More questions. There is not much chance of me making the cut-off, so maybe I should give this up? But, can I stand that much normal? Down deep I know though, that there is no other good question than "what does God want?" And then I found this quote: God didn't create any of us to be average. He didn't make us to barely get by. We were created to excel.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Decision to Try

I am tired; s little sore in places; fifteen miles done on slick and muddy trails. Tonight, I feel a little brain-dead. But, even brain-dead I am thankful for the progress made. It has been only a little over two months that I went off the statin drug and went on a plant based eating plan.

Recovery didn't come immediately and I can remember that I tried, but could only run a mile and that was with lots of walking thrown in. It was just to painful to even remotely enjoy. I thought I was done and ready for the rocking chair. But, I started feeling better, little by little. The pains diminished little by little. I ran three miles, then four miles without walking. With this encouragement, I went on my fast-forward training plan to catch up on my ironman plan. The ten percent per week increase rule was thrown overboard. I had nothing to lose. What was the worst that could happen? I would be injured. I had done safe and prudent training, taking my medication per instructions, and had stayed injured for two months. How could I mess that up? But more than all that, I prayed, and I prayed. That brought me a lot of peace, but it brought me to the decision to try. Sometimes that is the only decision ones has to make; just try. Amazing things can happen sometimes if we just trust, and try before we give up. And so, I am still trying and I am grateful for this opportunity. I am grateful for how far I have come.

Today's 15 miler was not nearly as hard as my first 8 miler on my fast track training plan.

Right now it is not certain if I will make it, but as I try, each hurdle seems to get cleared. This has been a big week of training. Right now a warm feeling - total body fatigue - is creeping in on me and that feels like peace; peace with myself and peace with God. And, it feels like love; the Love of God, taking me to and bringing me through now and evermore.