Monday, May 13, 2013
The energy stirred within me just checking in my bike at the transition area the day before the CB & I Sprint Triathlon. After 40 of these things it is always so refreshing to be there at a race venue. I love these people, this alive and charged environment. I seem to reconnect to part of why I do this stuff. It is my lifestyle. It feels like coming home. • Talking to a nice lady while walking to the race venue before daylight race morning. She’s done several triathlons but none this last year: cancer. This race will decide for her whether she will continue to do triathlons. She is seventy-one: heroine. • In the port-a-john line pre-race. A young female remarks in broken English from the back of the line that she hopes she get’s this bathroom business done, as she has not picked up her timing chip yet. The lady next to go calls back down the line for her to come up to the front of the line and be next. • The male contestant at the swim start dropping to his knees to pray. • My own prayer that I would get through this on my bad leg, for His glory; for His glory. The words resonated: I felt connected. • The wonderful opening prayer. The national anthem. The dawn breaking fresh upon the water. • The painting was complete: Thank you God…Lets go! Slightly crowded at the beginning of the swim; some body contact. Someone grabbing my ankle as I veer off course a little to avoid swimming over someone. My big, boney elbow thumped into flesh. That had to hurt. I say “sorry,” but no one can hear. Completely blinded in the turn. Can’t see the next buoy. I am led only by momentary glimpses into a blinding light. Turn again and vision improves: my body begins to move really well. Now threading through slower swimmers. I am on; into it! So soon, does the swim end so soon? No wetsuit strippers? Oh my, this will be interesting. Tug, pull, grapple, wrestle and finally I am out of that wetsuit: longest transition ever. Starting the bike slowly and people are passing. But, I don’t want to push the bad leg. My caution had little resolve. Three to four miles in and the ride begins to build. No pain! Rock and roll, I’m moving really well; no fatigue. The smooth pavement beckoned me to a higher cadence. I answered. I’m in. How great is this? Now I am passing people; lots of people. Yes! Is the bike over so soon? I almost walked out of the transition area for the run. It hurts, but can’t walk just yet; plenty of road for that yet. Help me here. This is going to be rough. Find the rhythm, however slow. Runners are passing me in droves. Keep the rhythm; for Your glory. The leg hurts with each step. Try not to limp. Many of the people passing me saw my age printed on the back of my right calf and said things like, “you are an inspiration” or “I hope when I am your age I can…..” One man even patted me on the back and said something nice about my performance. “Thank you,” I always replied. Try not to limp, keep the rhythm. The leg didn’t seem to hurt as much. There’s the finish. Focus, rhythm. I hear, the announcer, Jon Walk, calling my name as I approach the finish line. His hand goes out in congratulations. “Good job, Marvin.” I am so into it, I absent mindedly keep running through the finish line chute past the volunteers. “Sir, sir, can we remove your chip? “ I finally stop and a finishers medal is placed around my neck and the chip removed from my ankle. Now the leg really hurts. “Where is the medical tent?” I hobble over there for my first time ever to be in the medical tent. The announcer - again Jon Walk - for the awards ceremony calls out the 3rd place winner in my age group. My expectations for an award were not high. If my age group were sparsely populated I might have slipped into third, but now that didn’t seem to be the case. The 2nd place winner was announced : not me. Oh well, I did the best I could; no regrets. “ And first place is Marvin Dittfurth!” Is this for real? For Your glory – Amen.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Never thought it would come to this. I just want to beat the course cut-off on a sprint triathlon. Gone are days are hoping for a PR. Could this be my PW (personal worst)? Sure took the tension out of the race prep though. This weekend I am scheduled for the CB & I sprint triathlon in the Woodlands and I know the injured hamstring and buttock won’t let me run. This could be my slowest 5k ever. Perhaps, I have lost it because when I write that, it makes me smile. Smile, because I anticipate a great time this weekend, a fun race, and just being out there, just being able to do any part of this, well, it just makes me smile. And I know, I have faith; I will heal. I will run again without pain. I will be competitive again. But, for now, I get to enjoy the laid back and just smile at my predicament. There is a joy yet in the experience, because I can still experience and my best effort will be pleasing to God. I feel blessed . I didn’t train into that. As the song says, “the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.”
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Nothing could make it feel better. Some things could help me to accept it, but it hurt just the same. Right after signing up it was as if the devil and all his angels showed up, each with a pack of bad dogs. Stuff just kept happening. It was like I was play tennis against a top pro, just trying to get the ball over the net one more time, one more day; keep the ball in play. However, after several months of some pretty hard training, plowing through a series of physical and personal obstacles and problems, I was still standing; still going for my ironman. The knee and hamstring problem gave me grief on the run training, but I pushed on through, praying it would get better. It didn’t. It got worse until the pain went into my hip. Even sitting became uncomfortable. Running became a dreaded discipline. How will I ever get a marathon done after that long bike ride? Then one day I found myself limping out to run. Each step, the pain in my hip, hamstring, calf and knee just radiated up and down my leg. I was walking, limping badly, the first hundred yards. My head hung and that spirit sag that precedes defeat poured in on me, washing away all hope. I almost cried. I knew I was done. Days, weeks, and months, in all weathers, believing, training in hope, but I had failed. I had been beaten. Back at the truck, I felt like I had been punched hard in the stomach. I prayed not really knowing what to say. So, I just prayed silently, but God knew my question was “why”? Long moments I stood there leaning over the truck bed in prayer. Long I listened to the quiet to somehow sense the answer: “Trust me. Trust me.” Failure is not easy to take for a no-talent like me. All I had going for me was my ability to take punishment, to have the will to go on. Now, I had not even done that. When I got home I saw a picture I had taken of some vultures. Appropriate, so I put them on my desktop. Day after day, I saw the vultures seemingly waiting for my hope to flicker out, my dream to finally die and be carrion. But, I could not get those words “trust me, trust me” out of my mind and the flames of the dream flickered but did not die. My pity-party soon gave way to counting blessings. I have a wife who is total support, all in, ready to do whatever to get me to the finish line. I have my own garden, full of fresh, nutritious foods. I have a wonderful bike course to train on with very little traffic and some nice hills to challenge me. I have a pond that will be good for open water swimming soon. And, other than the injured leg, I am quite healthy. Sure, I may be aging up, but is that really a drawback when the ability is there? Besides, I have a good chance to qualify for the World Championship in Kona because my upper age group is so sparsely populated. And, most important, God is with me, the “wind beneath my wings.” The storms clouds began moving away, only distant thunder could be heard, and the sun came out. Me and my world became still-and then the rainbow - the beautiful colors of hope arched triumphant over the mist of all that was. The buzzards came off my desktop. Praise God, I will try again.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Beginning the second day of the juice fast. Fasting certainly changes perspective. Yesterday I noticed all the reflexive eating habits I had; eating out of habit rather than need. The headache which was probably from the coffee withdrawal was a real nuisance, especially while running the chainsaw. Now that is gone and I didn’t miss my coffee this morning as much as I thought I would. A fast is a personal shakedown. It makes me realize how weak and dependent I can be: a good thing to remember before I think about ridiculing those same traits in others. Yesterday I spent a lot of time by myself, working outside; prayed a lot, listened a lot and at the end of the day found a small degree of peace with my ironman withdrawal. God seemed to show me that, indeed, I still limp a little while walking. My hip still hurts just walking. The very slow trail running I do is ponderous and painful at times. My run is not fast enough to beat the cut-off time, nor could I have even walked fast enough to finish the ironman before the cut-off time. Let it go, Marv. Let it go, God seems to say.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
--and bark at the moon like the wild dog you are." I love those words spoken by the late Jon Blais. Wild dog, barking at the moon pretty well tells the story. That's what is inside. Sure it is covered in the trappings of civility, but wild dog moon barking always connects me and quickens my pulse. Today I talked to a friend whose elder father had recently passed away. The father was an independent soul; a wild dog type. When the father's disabilities became too great, they had to put him in a nursing home. He only lived about two more months. He died the caged animal, homesick for freedom. I would be no different. I am too long in the tooth to become truly civilized or normal now. Recovering from this injury has this wild dog pacing across the front of his cage. I am looking for, thinking about, that next event, that better way to train. I am beginning to remember who I was and want to be poured out again. Last night I went outside, listened to the moonlit quiet, and reveled in feeling of the fresh spring winds on my face. It is time. Open the cage. There is some wild dog moon barking to be done. "One cannot consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar." Helen Keller
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Very close to pulling the plug on my ironman event. There is so much wrong going on in my body I don't even take inventory of it anymore. And, in tired times, the wrongs overrun the spirit. Why do this? Then there are days like this after a good night of sleep, good food yesterday, and an awesomely beautiful, practically windless day. And the humbled spirit raises its bloodied head to catch the sunbeams of hope; a deep breath, a small smile: just one more day. I don't have to do the ironman event. That is a couple months off. But, I just have to do justice to this one wonderful day; give more breath to this great feeling inside me. Try - just one more day. One more day: Bless me Lord in it.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Whatever madness made me sign up for an ironman? I’ll never make it. It is apparent from my sad spectacle of a long run today, that I am suffering from a bad case of I O M H (in over my head). To finish the ironman run (26.2 miles) before the time cut-off, the race director would have to grant me special immunity from cut-off times. Even then, God would have to grant me another lifetime so I would have time to finish. Yeah, I’m really slow. It wasn’t comforting that buzzards circled me all day, probably thinking I was going so slow that soon I would fall over and be road kill. Pigeons tried to land on me all day; I suppose they thought I was a statue or something. It doesn’t look good for the home team here. I’ll never make it like this. Guess it is about time to find out what old men do when they are put out to pasture by the facts of life. Where do old triathletes go when their time is up, and their best days are far gone? Where do they go? What do they make of themselves? Who do they become? Perhaps some get wheelchairs and scooters or a big cushy recliner. Maybe some take up less physically demanding activities. But then again, there are some that go on. The elder age groups are not that populated, but there are still some who have their names s on the results pages. Some go on. They take what they have left and are thankful for it; use it, and go on. Ability may have diminished. Goals and expectations may change but their passion for life doesn’t. The embers still glow giving light of who they were and who they still are.----------------------------------------------- I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” George Bernard Shaw