Friday, April 29, 2011

Hope Looks Up

When really tired, I run like someone boxing a very short person: all hunched up, looking down. Lately, I have been trying to improve my fatigued running style. Bad part of that is: I have to get really fatigued to work on it.

It is taking extreme measures to overcome this awful running style, so I play games upon myself. When I feel my body start to creep into hunched position, I fight back by pulling my cap down low over my eyes. No, I can't see where I am going unless I look up. But my head must tilt back to view the road. When I do, I seem to feel an imaginary string pulling my head up. My other body parts then seem reminded and inspired. The shoulders go back, the hips go forward, and the scuff, scuff is taken out of my step. And it all started by looking up.

Sometime life gets as tiring as the last miles of a long run, and we might be slogging along on a scuffing survival march, looking down, hardly aware of where we might be going. But, hope looks up. Perhaps we were made and set here to give expression of this Hope, so that others may feel reminded and inspired to become part of that Hope God has set within us. Hope looking up may just take the scuff-scuff from our journey.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Finding the Defrag Zone

It happens sometimes. Something just seems click. The mind, body, and Spirit seem to sing the same tune in harmony, and training just gets into a zone. This week, there have been two such sessions. Out there alone on the road, with minimal traffic, it all seemed to come together. I seemed to come all together, like I hit that special button and life does a defrag. I was blessed.

Sometimes I think the miles of this journey are as much about finding that button, finding that defrag zone, as it is about the events themselves.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Stone Was Rolled Away

The same winds that have been pushing the Texas wildfires, pushed against my bike and I this morning. For a couple weeks now my training has been less than mediocre. My rides have been short, mostly on an indoor trainer. Sometimes, in times like these, I wonder if I have anything left, mentally or physically. Oh, I have been doing enough to maintain fitness and well-being. It is a signal of serious slippage, when I start thinking of only doing enough training for fitness.

I went to the course with the hills this morning, and rode generally south, mostly into the gusting winds. Today will tell, I thought. About two miles and the hills began. The first one wasn't all that bad. There were several more, and the wind is rocking the pine trees all around me. I can't hear much but the wind. The next hill, the next and I am smiling some. The last hill and I know: it is still there! Yes, thank you God! It was as if on the eve of Resurrection Sunday, when we celebrate that "death has lost and Life has won," that I had been resurrected myself. The stone to the tomb my training had been in, was rolled away on that windy, hilly course.

Tomorrow, we get up early to watch the sunrise, to praise, to worship, to celebrate, that the stone was rolled away for us all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Need Chocolate !

This urge, this craving; all I seem to think about in quieter moments is the taste of creamy milk chocolate. No, I don't swoon over the healthy dark stuff. I want the down and dirty chocolate, the simple sugar rush.

I have been here before and generally just go on a milk chocolate binge for an hour or so, until I can't stand it anymore. Then I go into confession mode, repent, and back on track. Just another mile of the journey.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Poisoning Anger

I didn't hear or see anything until it was right upon me. As I was running yesterday, facing traffic, a person in a vehicle couldn't wait, and passed another vehicle right where I was running. Whooosh ! It went within inches of me. I could feel the breeze. Startled, I sort of jumped and ran off the road into the ditch. After being startled and fearful subsided, I was really mad. The vehicle must have been going over eighty miles an hour, and trying to read the license plates was out of the question. The anger built.

What scared me the most however, was the anger inside me, fuming, boiling. It was as if a monster got loose inside me. There was no blood in my veins, only venom, aching for a place to poison. It messed up the tempo, the beauty, the peace of my run. It clouded my soul turned the colored beauty in my life to a dull black and whit. I fumed for a full hour or more but at the end of the day, coming to myself, I found it all pointless, and the only thing I had poisoned was myself.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Just Love Overcomers

Read a most inspiring post on one of the blogs I follow: In that post it talks about the joy and inspiration of those who "finish." The folks out there, pushing themselves to start, pushing themselves to continue, pushing themselves to finish, overcoming personal obstacles, overcoming circumstances, overcoming self-perceptions, overcoming physical limitations. These folks are winners; heroes! Can you guess? I just love overcomers! I love them so much that I want to be one too. Having been at the back of the pack for most of my 32 marathons, I have seen some trench warfare with the self out there in those last miles. I also love first timers, and hopefully been help and inspiration as I coached and ran with some folks doing their first. I remember running with my friend Ken on his first marathon. Half way, he was done, I thought. He told me to go on and he stopped-I thought to go to his vehicle. Coming back in my own vehicle on my way home, there in the street, a couple miles yet from the finish line, was Ken still plodding ever forward, ever forward. I couldn't believe it ! Well, Ken has gone on to finish 60-70 marathons, some ultras, and has completed 20 marathons in the past six months, some on the same weekend, some on consecutive weekends. Oh yeah, Ken is 70 years old or will be very soon. Henry David Thoreau wrote something to the effect that it isn't how good your behavior is that determines whether or not you are truly good, but it is the amount of evil you had to overcome. I think the same is true here. Generally, every one out there, gutting it out to finish, has overcome their own set of demons to get to that place. And when I watch these heroic finishers, I wonder what price they paid, what all they overcame? It makes me mist up. Did I tell you, I just love overcomers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Expectation to Appreciation

"You're in pretty good health," the nurse told me. It wasn't the first time in this recent health care episode that a nurse told me that. There was always an element of surprise in that statement, like it was something sort of unusual, especially for one my age. I certainly don't think I am genetically superior or just naturally healthy. Good health is something I work for, deny myself for, remain vigilant for. Sorry to say, but I have come to expect good health and great days, and expanded capability. All is well for now but the recent experience has given me a new appreciation of each day. My sensitivity is more intense. My moment by moment awareness is more keen. And, I have more appreciation than expectation, of good health, great days, and expanded capability. Today- I AM in good health. Thank you God !

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Prepared for the Best -- or the Worst

So many similarities between this sport and in life. We train or try to prepare for the "event" and one day, it is here. We embrace the dawn, the new day of the event, hopeful, ready, but not really sure how it will turn out. Tomorrow is a life event day for me, and my venue is a doctor's office. I am hopeful, I am ready, and I am prepared for the best or the worst. My faith is that God is the race director, and I am pretty sure this event will turn out well in any case.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Officially Dead

Well, the journey I started toward the goal event is officially dead. Somewhere in the midst of the training for the goal event, life happens. Can't say I didn't see it coming but now that it is final, it has tinges of sadness, a sadness like when you have a great dream, then you wake up to find, it was just a dream. That goal may be officially dead, but I'm not. Within me there are other dreams to dream; dreams to bring to light; other roads to take, on these miles of the journey.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Enduring People

It didn't happen this morning, like planned. The medical procedure for which I had lived on liquids for a few days, and finally fasted for, had to be moved to tomorrow. Hang on a little longer, just a little longer. Yeah, I have heard that phrase many times in my endurance sports journey. Hanging on is, in a way, what we do; what we teach ourselves. And, I think it is a good skill to have practiced. Sometimes life is about hanging on just a little longer. And perhaps, even then,  something comes up, something goes wrong, and it is hang on a little longer time again. 

My view: the world needs more enduring people. Someone once wrote that "the world won't end with a bang but a whimper." I think enduring people will try to make it end with a bang; at least for themselves.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Life in the Fasting Lane

I am hungry. For the past two days, I have been scaling down on food consumption leading to today's fast. Tomorrow, I am having a procedure done (a medical test) that requires this. It comes at a good time because fasting has been on my mind as something I should so again. In the past, I have fasted and been in prayer for someone going through illness or surgery or before really life-changing decisions. In earlier years, I have been hungry for extended periods of time, but I didn't volunteer for it like in fasting. For me, the fast sort of settles things out, and gives self-denial and personal discipline some well-needed exercise. Things just don't go rocking along, business as usual; I see through "hungry eyes." It gives me some idea, however limited, of what some in this world go through on a regular basis. It brings me to believe that self-denial, is within my power, and gives personal endurance a refresher course. And how about a workout, an event, anytime we push ourselves beyond ourselves: isn't that a sort of self-denial; a fasting; a fasting built on faith toward a purpose? I have found that the platform of prayer and fasting is good place to make good decisions, because it ultimately brings me closer to God. With the liter of the world stripped away, it is easier to see more clearly His plans and purposes. And, I have grown larger by making myself small.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Struggling to Grow in the Shady Ditch

It was trying to grow in the shady ditch along the highway without success. The wisteria was just a scrub plant, an offshoot of the larger, looming parent wisteria climbing through the trees above.

Dug up, cut off from the parent plant, planted in the open in another soil, it somehow survived. Then watered and fertilized, cut back somewhat, it began to grow. The branches were trained, the weeds were kept away and it flourished.

This spring, the beauty that was always possible in the plant in the shady ditch, burst forth to enjoy its day in the sunshine at last.

Are there lessons in that or what?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Are the Waves Really That Bad?

That morning the flag at the hotel was stretched out, flapping vigorously in the wind, and it wasn't even daylight yet. Oh my ! Still in the dark at the race site, the wind blew vigorously and I could hear the waves on the lake shore. Am I going to die today? If the waves are too bad, I am not going out there. If I get out of the water alive, I could get blown off my bike: scary, intimidating, the sounds in the dark.

Somewhere between dark and full daylight, I began to come to myself. Did I come this far to fail without trying? Are the waves really that bad? The wind will be rough on everyone out here, not just me. As soon as it was light enough I was in the water; just had to know.

It wasn't that bad. Yeah, there was a little rolling here and there, some bi-lateral breathing here and there, sighting wasn't as easy as on smooth water, and the belly of the waves took me down occasionally to the weed bed, where I snagged on a few weeds.

Getting out of the water, I was on, and probably had a smile so big that all anyone could see of my face was teeth. Yes ! I can do this! Looking back, I realize that right there, I won my race