Friday, February 25, 2011

How Old Would You Be If You Let Go

A story goes that a young boy asked his grandma how old she was. She answered, "39 and holding." He thought for a moment and said, "Well then, how old would you be if you let go?"

How old would I be if I let go: if I took to heart every time someone said, "pretty good for someone your age," or if I believe the "take it easy" scripts society seems to have written for folks my age, or if I exercise all the horrendous caution it seems I am supposed to have about doing things. I got this much figured out: you only die once. So, why die to day after day beforehand, letting go, trying to put off that one day that is going to happen anyway?

Yeah, I am 39 and holding; ain't letting go: that's my story and I am sticking to it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pushing My Rock

It is fading in the mist. Various considerations are being stacked against my goal event. Eight weeks into training and fruit seems to be drying the vine, unpicked. This has happened before while training for other events with consequent episodes of despondency. This time, there is very little. Seems as if I went into this on the chance - slight chance - that it might work out. I wasn't picked to win this one anyway.

So now, there is nothing left to do but go get lots of unhealthy snacks and inebriating beverages, crank back the recliner, limber up the remote, and slump into couch potatoeism (a new word??)

Doesn't even sound like fun. Besides, I don't even have television here. No, this training is too much fun in its own right, for its own sake to quit now. I have always felt like I have been called to push against this rock, not necessarily to move it. So, I will keep pushing against the rock God gave me, and the pushing will keep me strong; ready for the event He has in store.

The Best I Want To

"Are they really doing the best that they can?"
"Yes, I guess so."
"Or, are they doing the best that they want to?"

Sometimes the answer is pretty obvious in observing others, but turned inward, the question is confrontational, demanding that I either ignore it, or explore the possible self-revelation. Am I really training the "best" that I can, or the best that I want to? When it gets to the event and "dig-down" time will I have experience in going past "want to" to get me to the" best I can?"

And in life, in dealing with, in caring for others, how am I doing? Am I just getting to "want to" in my relationships, and not doing the hard work of relationship, to get to my "best."

Time to go get my training in and meet that decision on the road, and on the road of life:
"Am I really doing the best I can or only the best I want to?"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Sum of My Days

Hard to believe ! What a journey this has been, indeed ! Some time ago I embarked on a project to write a piece on all the things, or adventures, I have had in my life. In doing so, I find that the training for triathlons is just the latest in journeys. It is not an original. The big question is: how did I survive all that?

Another question is: why am I writing all this down into a collection? Who knows for sure? But I so enjoy reliving all those miles of this journey called life. And, sometime right down the road, when I have nothing left but time to reflect, I can still read these stories and get a smile. Even now there is a certain satisfaction reading this stuff, and seeing, and knowing, that the sum of my days, my years, is not as great as the sum of my life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Preparing for the Fatigue Storm

Am I intoxicated? I think so - (TIS) Training Intoxication Syndrome. Somewhere in all this, my training hit a stride, volume ramped up, and I seem to be carried along by it. The energy level is good. Mental acuity is fine...well, as good as it can be - has ever been. This won't last though. Today I woke at 2:20 AM and could not go back to sleep - ready for daylight and the training day. This mental thing will carry me only so far before the crash. Then it will be hangover time. I have been in the eye of a storm, and this feels something like it. Just a few more days, then transition - a little backing off, taking in the lawn chairs, boarding the windows, and preparing for the fatigue storm.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Am Dad

What is my son going to think when I get older, and my athletic performance drops dramatically? Right now, I believe he sees me athletically, as someone he has to work to keep up with on the bike. His vision of me is of one who is capable: I am dad. He hasn't got there in his thinking yet, that I am aging up.

I can just see the future. We are on a bike ride and taking a big hill. He looks back when I can't keep up and says, "What's wrong, dad?"

"I don't know. Maybe being 96 has something to do with it, but I am not sure."
Maybe I haven't got there yet in this aging up business either?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Can!

Just done ! After doing indoor bike workouts for the last several days (cold weather) I just don't have much left in my legs. This feel is reminiscent of my finish at the olympic distance triathlon (Wool Capital Triathlon) in San Angelo, Texas in August. The 6.2 mile run of this event is mostly over the aptly termed, Dirt Road From Hell. The picture is how I looked after finishing. That is sort of how I feel, today.

So, am I ready for all this? Am I sure? Perhaps, I am just too old and have too many miles on the odometer to keep this training up, and do another half ironman distance event?


But, perhaps, this is simply an acquired lethargy from too many easy days inside? Perhaps, this is the mental/personal game being played out here that I must win, or hang up my spandex for good. Perhaps, there is still fire buried in the ashes-fire waiting for the winds of commitment and determination to blow the coals to flame? I can! That is what I chose to believe and what I believe about myself. There is no other good option.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Good Day

With the downturn in my brother-in-law's fight with cancer, every now and then, he has what is called a "good day." It might be a day with a few confusionless hours, or a day when he eats something, or is not as restless.

Lately,with all the cold, the ice, the snow, every now and then we have a "good day." This past Sunday, it was warm enough for my son and I to go on a road ride. Ah, how great that was, soaring down the hills on our bikes, the woods and streams, the air, the sunshine, the feel of liberation in my body.

It was a special day, a special time, possessing a vividness, an intensity, that I don't remember a day having in a while. The cold weather and the indoor confinement have ramped up my appreciation, I supposed-perhaps only partly so.

There has been much sadnesss over the past few weeks, and I have taking in all of my brother-in-law's reports. Few are the "good days." However, for all cancer has taken from him, it has given me a heightened appreciation for each and every moment, in foul weather and in fair. Life, health, and capability are precious. They are priceless and I want to treat these "good days" like the precious, priceless gifts they are.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Prayer for Stray-Dog Hungry

Missing a few meals in earlier days made me hungry enough to eat, and now enjoy, all kinds of different foods. It wasn't that much fun at the time, and being hungry made me determine, like Scarlet O'Hara, that I wasn't going to poor and hungry again. However, being hungry - passionately hungry - seems to turn life loose to take on a vivid intensity, that merely being ready for dinner does not afford.

I was hungry to complete that half ironman distance event last year, and now my fear is: I won't sustain that gnawing hunger I had before that event. So my prayer won't be to be stronger, faster, more enduring through this training. No - I will pray, "Lord make me stray-dog hungry." The stronger, faster, enduring, will come in the package with the answered prayer for hungry.

Ageless and Cageless-Freedom in the Snow

Get me out of here"! Snow is on the ground and I have read until my eyes watered, written a couple pens dry, and ran the battery down a few times in my laptop. "I feel the need for speed"! Snow is still falling. It is frozen outside, and I am thinking how much I admire those triathletes who live in a more northern climate. How often must they look beyond the cold and snow, and be compelled by a warmer vision of the approaching season?

But the cold, bleak days come with learning too. Incarceration has reminded me of what I have already known and accepted: I am not a parlor animal. Without activity, without the outdoors, without a challenge, however meaningless, I will die to who I am.

As a boy in the city, I just had to trap a sparrow, just to see this wild creature up close and hold it. So, I did. I marveled at the complexity of the colors and the texture of the feathers, while the terrified bird's eyes darted back and forth, only knowing it was helplessly incarcerated by this larger animal. I put the sparrow in a cage, and went on to school. Upon returning home, I found the bird stiff and very dead. If the bird would have just tamed up, I would have fed and watered it in that cage from then on. It would not have to do much but just hop around within the cage and get fat. Why did it have to die?

Several years ago I went to a funeral and at the funeral home, I started listening to a group of men (some about my age, some older, some a little younger) talking about their ailments. They were pale, indoor-ish looking men, with spindly legs, thin arms, callous-less hands, and large distended torsos. They were all sharing their medications, operations, ailments, and the treatments they were on. They sounded like a surrendering army.

That was close to the time I had begun doing triathlons, and I can distinctly remember saying to myself: I will never, ever, be one of those men, no matter hold old or sick I get. I will not consent to a life of just hopping around in my cage; fed and watered. I guess I would rather die in my cage on the first day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Giving What We Want From Others

"What is the nicest thing someone could do for you today? Then go do it for someone."
Perhaps, I should. Why not today?

I live in an area that isn't that much into multi-sport. Seldom do I mention what I love to do to others. When I do their reaction is often a blank stare that can often precede falling asleep.

So today, I would like to be listened to. That is what I want. I would like someone to seriously, actively listen, as I blabber on and on in excitement about my training, possible events, goals, dreams, bikes, courses, and so on. That is what I would like and that is what I need to give. So, today, I will actively listen to someone else, whether I am initially interested in their what they want to talk about or not. Today, I would like to be listened to someone, like I would love to be listened to myself.

And perhaps, in stepping inside someone else and stepping outside myself, I will grow, and gain more from the giving attention than the receiving? Like the words of an old John Denver song: "exactly where it's coming from is where it's going to." The song is talking about love, and I guess I am too. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Perhaps it is an act of obedience to love someone enough to really listen to them?

Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people can't tell the difference.
David Augsburger