Thursday, April 20, 2017

Close to the End of the Journey

This will be the last post before Ironman Texas 2017. Tomorrow we leave for the venue. What a journey this has been. There have been so many hurdles and setbacks, I won't bother to go into all that. But, it has been one hill after another for almost 5 years now, just trying to get to the starting line of Ironman Texas. Unless something else comes out of the woodwork and goes terribly wrong, I may just line up for the swim in a little over 40 hours. It is close.

But God is close to. In fact, I think He is closer now than He has ever been. He didn't move. I made room in my own heart and mind to scoot on over closer to Him. It has made all the difference this time. And sure, I have some tenseness. Sure, I realize my knee still isn't that good, and odds are I won't make it all the way to the finish line in time. But, I am going to line up to try, and that is one huge blessing and worthwhile destination of these miles of the journey

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Looking for a Well Done From God

Ironman Texas 2017 - my best chance. After years of trying and failing to get to the starting line of Ironman Texas, I find myself a week away from going to pick up my packet for the event. And,it is less than ten days from getting in the water; beginning the event for the first time. Nothing hurts right now. No one is sick right now. I am getting rested little by little. My run of an hour and twenty minutes today was easy and painless. Am I being blessed? Even though I am several years older than when I first ventured into this failure fraught journey, I believe this year is my best chance.

Worry and fear have matured into a dulled concern. Down there somewhere I must be very scared but I don't feel it. Am I being blessed? And, although I really don't think I have a good chance of finishing within the cut-off times, at least I have some chance: a chance to venture out there; to do my best for those who stood by me through all this, and for myself. But most of all I want to do my best for God. He has been there steadying my boat through this; gave me courage and hope to get up from the canvas each time I was knocked down. Whether this ends with me broken down on the course or crossing the finish line, my dream is a "well done" from God. And if so, I will have been blessed.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

And My Flag Is Still There

"The rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag is still there." That is how Francis Scott Key could see and know that the American flag was still flying from the fort in the midst of the bombardment: by the light of rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air. He could see the country's true colors by the light of the very things sent to destroy.

Which brings me to this ironman thing. There is a bad knee that won't ever be well - sounds like popcorn popping when I run. There is an ongoing urinary problem aggravated by sitting on a bike; my bike and run times in training are pathetic: and besides all this, I am just too old for an all day and half the night event. I am outmatched, under-gunned, and very low on ammunition. A surrender flag seems appropriate.

But the fort still seems to be holding despite all odds. It's crazy, but looking through all my setbacks - though I have been bombed by ironman for years now - through it all I see by the rocket's red glare of troubles, that my flag, my hope, my dream, is still there. Put away that surrender flag; there is fight in me yet, and I still want to do battle for the Glory of God. In answer to His calling, I still want to be an ironman and my flag is still there.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Second Chance for Life

Last night I had a dream that I had been given the death penalty. It was so real. In the dream I remember that I thought, "Yeah, this is only a dream and I will wake up from this." Then another thought followed, "No, this isn't a dream. It's real. You have been given the death penalty." Like most dreams, it didn't make sense that I was convicted and sentenced for some error I had made on my taxes or something. And, I was walking around a mall waiting for the suits to get the paper organized to go on and execute me. I thought that I won't be able to run anymore; better do it now. And, I started running in the mall among the people. That felt so good so right; so sad it was the last time. And I had wished I had settled things more from a material standpoint for my wife. I wished I had said good-bye longer and better. And, there seemed to be a hypersensitivity to life. Even small things had richness and meaning. And I wished I had more days to live it out better. Then I woke up.

It is almost like a second chance; with a revised perspective, and here I am in the teeth of training for Ironman Texas. Is this something I would do if I knew I was going to get the death penalty? Absolutely. To live out a passion, purpose, plan and dream, shouldn't be taken lightly. If it beats me up, or I don't live through it, at least a big part of my life won't be left undone. The dream made me fully realize that this is life. You can't save it. You can only use it, or lose it trying to hoard it. Scripture says, "Whosoever saves his life shall lose it and whosoever loses his life for My sake, shall find it."

I have prayed and prayed about this; told God that I am scared to death; told Him about all my ailments, disabilities and injuries, and even reminded Him about my advanced age. He seemed to answer, "So, you think I don't know that: do what you are called to."

As far as the event itself, it doesn't look good, but I know I must, at least try; to line up and get in the water anyway; risk the temptation to play it safe. If I fail, I fail at a worthwhile pursuit, doing my best.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ironman - I Don't Understand

The next three weeks will decide. The really brutal high-volume part of my training is over the next twenty two days. If I can survive intact for just twenty two days, I feel I will have my best chance to attempt Ironman Texas, April 22nd.

I can't believe I am doing this; so tired already. But, in the morning I will probably be on my game, to come crashing back down to earth tomorrow night; day one done, twenty one more to go. And, this is where and what God led me to and for the life of me I can't make sense out of this. What and how can He possibly use something like this ironman sufferfest? Can't I just teach Sunday School or do mission work or something? Sure would be easier that to face this beast head on.

But I doubt I am the first believer to not understand. "My ways are past fining out." I can surely believe that. Maybe I am like Jonah, spending my three weeks in the belly of a whale - the belly of ironman beast - so to speak. Maybe good things for God will be thrown up and thrown out on land when this belly of the beast time is over with. Yeah, I'm in, but I don't understand, and I may never know why.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Somebody's Hero

When she was about six years old my granddaughter told me: "Pop-Pop, you are very, very brave, and you are very, very, strong, and you are never afraid." Now she is eight years old and I think she still thinks I am some kind of hero. I wish I were totally the person she thought me to be.

I am in the belly of beast in my training for Ironman Texas April 22, 2017 right now, and really don't feel all that heroic.
Mainly, I just feel tired, sore in spots, and thinking with half my wits it seems. Last weekend I couldn't complete my long run. Today, I find a piece of my tooth fell out. There is construction on the road to go ride my bike. Now it makes my trip over 30 minutes each way. Not another trainer ride. The fatigue and the tedium are oppressive. It is a fight to remain civil to loved ones sometimes, and I don't like that. They are my support and don't deserve any of that. I am vulnerable at this time to any reason to pull out of this whole business and ease up on myself.

However, the other day, I showed my granddaughter my Ironman Texas notebook - where I keep my lists, my training plans, race reports, instructional, and inspirational material - and she asked for a piece of paper to draw on. She drew the illustration below for my notebook.

This picture is worth a thousand words. It tells that no matter how old I am (73) or beat up and beat down I get, I am still somebody's hero. That's nice at this age when accolades are few and far between; when winning one can be defined as getting from the bed to bathroom without falling down, or not being last in a race. That is not how she sees me. I think she sees me as strong, capable, brave, and enduring with an unshakable faith in God. She knows I am old: God knows I'm old, and neither care.

So my quest is not just to complete the training or the event within the time limit, but that I remain steadfast to be that person God has defined me to be; like my granddaughter sees me to be. May I keep refreshing my perspective by looking on this drawing many times over these last few weeks, and never forget that somebody is watching my witness. May I never forget that I am still somebody's hero. Praise God .

Friday, January 27, 2017

If Only for the Moments

Moments: would I do it all over again? The long rides, sometimes very hot, humid. Try to dry off, get the bike loaded, and get in the truck: air conditioning. Ah, thank you for auto air conditioning. It is hard to stop sweating; drink, drink. How nice. My wife has a small towel on top of some ice in a small cooler. Does that feel good on the back of the neck, or what. And the cold recovery drink in there is sooo good. Call home. A shower feels like heaven. She has a meal for me - good but can't eat it all. So tired, go to the bedroom all made dark and cool beforehand, lay between fresh cool sheets and sleep like death.

Such a blessing to have that kind of love and many days, so many times she has been there, propping me up when I was coming down. What does she get out of all this for herself? Not much. I so wish to be able finish this training, completed this ironman, for God but for her as well. And who knows but she is God's agent here to be the "wind beneath my wings." Long ago during the training for one of my many failed event, she made a visor to place on my office wall. It reads on the bill; "Marvin MY Ironman." I so wish I can have made it true. But, even if I don't succeed yet again, we have our journey to reflect upon as I am doing now. All the moments over all the years bring a slight smile and a warm feeling. Of course, I would do it all over again, if only for the moments.