Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Making a Difference --- or Not

Perhaps, I thought I could make a difference in his fight with cancer. My half ironman distance effort was dedicated to John (my brother-in-law). He got the race shirt, the 1st place age group trophy, and the quilt my wife made. In addition, there was a ton of prayers offered in his behalf. He was moved by it all and bravely faced his treatments.

Now things have taken a downturn and all the good intentions, the high hopes, seem dashed against the rocks of reality. It was my toughest race, my hardest effort, my most fervent prayers, and yet nothing seems changed except for the worse.

Doubtful I will ever understand. Nevertheless, there is no other good choice other than to keep on praying, keep on running my race, holding John close to my heart; believing that love can make a difference, love can span the distance heart to heart, and between this world and the other.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Perfect Start

I am playing way above my head-Every workout of this training plan, every day-perfect, not a day or workout missed. Three weeks now and still on track. It has sort of grown, and taken a life of its own. I remember the first day; I had to run at night in the cold to get that run in.

The regimen seems easier, since it has become part of the day, and again, part of my life. Sure, I will miss workouts sooner or later. I will have bad patches. But a homing habit is being built in these early weeks, which, when I fall, will take me back to the plan.

At the same time, it seems that other parts of life are beginning to achieve a certain clarity they did not posses before. I seem to be training new eyes with which to sift out the day to determine what truly matters.

I have been here before. At the end of the sifting, at end of the event I am training for, I will find myself left only with the love of my wife, my family, my friends, and a deeper love and relationship with God. It doesn't sound like much, but it more than enough, and all I will ever need.

Thank God for training days!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Being the Turtle Man

"You're the turtle man!" the runner at the post-race activities said.
The man introduced himself and began to tell a story of another 10k race several years ago, in which he had been trying catch me for quite a while. We had come upon a turtle right in the middle of the race course. Of course, the turtle had retreated inside its shell while runners sidestepped or jumped the hapless turtle. The man went on to tell that I stopped, picked up the turtle and put it on the side of the road. He seemed so impressed that I would stop my race to remove that turtle-and possible road hazard-from the race course. It was a suruprise to me that he had remembered all that. At the time, I had supposed that everyone was totally into their own race and had paid no attention. I was wrong.

This incident brings to mind that we are witnesses whether we realize it or not. We are ambassadors for what we profess, what we hold dear, Who, and what we stand for. Folk are watching us; folks are following us-to see what we do with the turtles on our course.

"Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful---"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Rising Against the Wind"

My hat's in the ring for another half ironman distance event. I have heard this is a tough one , but it is also one that I can qualify for the Ironman World Championship at Kona or the Ironman 70.3 Championship in Las Vegas.

Usually, there are not many participants in my age group. Maybe, I thought, I can win a war of attrition here and qualify for something? Check the participant list: 9 other men in my age group have already signed up. My goodness ! Check the names against last years rankings...Yikes ! Some of these guys are really good. One did a half ironman distance event two hours faster than I did last year. That is a lot of time to make up. Looks like qualifying chances are pretty slim.

So why am I so pumped up about it? It is just what I needed to hear. Now, I know that during my training all this will come back at me, and I will push just a little harder, a little longer. I love being the underdog. Against all odds has a wonderful ring to it that fires my imagination, and enhances the whole experience; training and event. Oh sure, It would be nice if I had just a tad of talent, but I don't. It would be nice if I were a razor thin, light weight with thunder thighs, but I'm not. So, plodders like me have to try harder, work harder. That's what underdogs do.

"A certain amount of opposition can be of great help to a man- Kites rise against, not with the wind." John Neal

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This Triathlete's Prayer

Standing at the edge of the lake, waiting for the event, the day, the remainder of my life to begin; I humbly ask your blessing for Your plans and purposes to be fulfilled in all that lies before me. May I fear not to enter the waters cold, or to climb the steep hills of this course or the course of this life. Help me to remember that I am "beautifully and wonderfully" made, and you have placed all I need within me. Give me courage to step out in faith: to try more, to risk more, to care more, to be more than I am now, that I may grow toward all you would have me be.

And when I push beyond myself; when my steps grow weary toward despair, continue to carry me on, that I might finish this race with grateful humility.

In Jesus' Name---Amen

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Flame on My Shoulder: the Dream in My Heart

I was at a loss. No plans for the coming year? Unheard of for me. What will be the next challenge? Didn't have an answer. The flame had not lit upon my shoulder. There was nothing left but to be still, pray, and wait for direction. All kinds of options were entertained. Quitting endurance sports altogether was on the table. Maybe, age and circumstances should be considered? Maybe I should become a person who does regular things for someone my age? Perhaps, I should invest my time and life force into some good cause and organizations, and not drain myself down this year with this training thing?

Then I remembered that time my grand daughter was on my lap and I had a triathlon race shirt on. She pointed to the figures on the shirt that were swimming, biking, and running and said, "that's you Poppy."

Yes, that's me, indelibly me. The wisdom of a child brought me to realize that planning for the year was essentially: who do I want to be? Who I want to be will determine what I wish to do.

Ultimately, I want to be an ironman, and I want to continue this journey toward it. When I get to the point of absolutely can't, there will be plenty of of time to do regular things and be "normal." From those thoughts, evolved the plans for 2011. Ultimately I want my grand daughter to see my photo finish at an ironman distance event and say, "That's you Poppy." Yes, God willing, that will be me.

For 2011:
CB & I Triathlon

Buffalo Spring Half Ironman June 26th.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Worthy of the Rescue

Several years ago, I flipped my vehicle and it caught on fire. By the Grace of God, a back window just happened to be down, and I managed to escape the flames. After crawling out of the vehicle, I turned to go back, to try to reach inside to get my planner, but the flames were already consuming the interior of the vehicle. All my plans and contacts were ashes.

There was a heightened awareness brought about through that encounter, and the direction of life changed. As we enter a new year, and I reflect on that incident, I find a certain peace with knowing that no matter who I think myself to be, or what wonderful plans I have, or how organized I can get with my planning, it can all be ashes in a moment. I keep this photo on my wall, lest I forget that God saved me out for some reason, and in 2o11 I want to be found worthy of the rescue.