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.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"Fear Strikes Out"

>Fear Strikes Out is a book by Jimmy Piersall, a baseball player plagued by his own set of challenges. But, I like the title as it exemplifies my own battle with ironman. Confession time: I am relatively healthy, everything seems to be working out and the event is getting closer: I am scared to death. There it is; I am scared. It's out. Now to deal with it. Quiet moments I have to deal with all the negatives: number one is that I am too old for this. Number two is I have a gimp left knee that could go bad. Number three is that I can't be sure I can keep going for seventeen hours. Yes, it's scary and I am too old to have to face this crisis down, right? For goodness sake here, next year - if I live that long - I will be racing in yet another age group: as a 75 year old. Isn't 32 marathons and 50 triathlons enough? Where is that rocking chair anyway?

Now that women and wild parties are out, and I can't afford to be a heavy drinker on a fixed income, letting go of my grip and getting old are my greatest temptations. I want to at times. I really do. But, when I visualize that life without fear and challenge, I find myself shaking my head side to side as if my heart has already said "no!" Fear strikes out remember? The other life seems a sort of death, like walking back to the dugout after watching three strikes without swinging, and the umpire has called me "out." "Face your fears and live your dreams," are the words of Jon Blais. So, I must continue to resist the temptation to cave to my fears and have my life die before my body does. I must resist the temptation to die before my time. If I let myself believe all this old age stuff, it will come true. My theory is to make advanced age prove itself: don't give up anything; make it come and take it. I won't be caught with the bat on my shoulder with a good pitch crossing the plate. If I strike out it will not be because of fear, but because I swung and missed.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Years; Getting Up One More Time

New Years Eve: I have failed at getting to the start of the ironman many times, yet as I listen to the fireworks out there in the night, I yet have hope, and I yet have the will to keep trying. God just won't let me quit, Somehow, I still find it inside to keep training: to keep hoping. I get older and older and fail and fail. Yet, in the end, I somehow still hope. That Hope is more than I could muster on my own. I like that quote: "The miracle is not that I finished but that I had the courage to begin." So this New Years Eve I am thankful and feel blessed that I have been given the courage to begin and begin again and begin again, and again. Tonight I am thankful that God pushed me to simply have the will, the hope, to get up one more time, to have the courage to hope. In the process doubt and fear had to be dealt with and overcome and all the arguments for mindless moderation must be argued down. To me it sometimes seems that the world would level us off into clones of one another. And if we are not "acting our age," or following some less courageous predetermined pattern, it is as if a violation of the natural order has been committed.

So my resolution is to be myself. To hope where there doesn't seem to be a reason to; to keep getting up to reach for more. Who knows. I might just inspire someone else to step outside the preordained prescription for their lives. You never know who is watching or reading this post; someone waiting for inspiration; waiting to see if I will get up yet one more time than I get knocked down, and finish the "race set before me."

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Cable in the Dirt

At first the thought was sort of frightening. Then fear evolved into something else, and I knew I must do it. Almost three months ago I had gotten off my bike to relieve myself and fell crossing a cable across a dirt road. The fall broke my hand and I had not biked outside until today. I had driven by this spot several times in my automobile to see the cable across the road that had taken me down. I must climb over that cable. This was stupid. Why? I just need to do this. Crazy, but there is something in the back of my mind that says fears should be faced; and if possible, overcome. Yeah, I know. It doesn't make sense.

Up ahead I could see where the little road entered the road I was on, and there was a slight quickening of the pulse. I will not fall this time. Yeah, let's do this. However, when I stopped my bike and successful got off, I could see there was no cable across the little road anymore. It had been there just days before; what? Just like before I pushed my bike to the dreaded spot. There lying impotent in the dirt across the little road, was the cable that had disabled me. There was no barrier to cross. It had been laid down for me. I didn't have to reach down and overcome the trepidation of crossing the cable safely; the cable had already been taken down. It was as if God was clearing my path; making my way for me. I know I read a lot into this but couldn't help thinking that maybe this time, maybe this time, I will be at the starting line for my ironman. After all my failures,perhaps, God is making a way for even me. Yes, even me, this no talent ancient.

And I thanked God for the cable in the dirt; thanked God that I had come through the injury intact; thanked God for the opportunity, the thrill, the adventure, and the opportunity to serve Him in my journey. But, even in my gratefulness, I became aware that the cable was not removed from my path, but it was just much lower now, there in the dirt. It can easily be raised again. I can be injured by this or any other cable thrown across my journey. But, the cable in the dirt tells me that God is with me, and I must continue to nurture and maintain a grateful heart to begin and finish my journey for Him: Ironman Texas.

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 -