Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Liking My Definition

Dog days of summer and I was not sure about the workout today. Even early, the heat and humidity combine to make for instant perspiration upon leaving the house. The schedule I have put myself on calls for a two hour bike ride with a one mile brick run after the first hour and another one mile brick run at the end of the second hour.

Who designed this schedule anyway? Oh, I did. What was I thinking?

The first thirty minutes were the worst. When my body gave up on trying to convince me to quit, I slipped into the zone again. The miles rolled by, the run was sweaty, but easy. The other hour passed with a heightened enjoyment of the ride. I really didn't want to quit. The last brick run; that dreaded last brick run, was easy and even faster than the first. Praise God ! Something good is happening to me! I felt and feel so blessed in all this.

Okay, I know there will be bad times. Sooner or later I will be broken, weary, and cast down. And again, as in so many other times over the years, I will have to answer the question: Will I get up? Will I go on?

The answer will be part of defining myself to myself at that moment in time. May I live so in the arena of life that I like my definition.

Monday, June 27, 2011

"Castles in the Air"

This run had to be early. It was barely light enough to see a snake on the path when I left the house; straining to see, stepping gingerly for the first couple of miles until full light. My wife had a dental appointment early several miles from home, and this was the only way to get this run in. Sometimes, it seems so hard to get the workouts on my schedule done.

On the last mile of the run, knowing I was putting this one in the bank, I smiled and thought, "I really want this, don't I?" This may be a small and insignificant thing in the big scheme of things, but like Martin Luther King, "I have a dream."

With that dream, there is a vision of dawn on race morning, the water, then the wind in my face on the bike course, then the applause of the spectators trying to cheer me on during the run, and finally, the sight of the finish line just ahead. I remember. I want it again. I am willing to pay the price.

And when this dream has been realized or squashed, I know there will be yet another in this life driven by dreams and dedicated to God.

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost: that is where they should be. Now, put the foundations under them."
Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Revelation in the Wildfire

The air was filled with a smokey haze. Plumes of smoke were on the horizon. Wildfires were out there. The drought, the intense heat, the strong winds, had already prepared the earth for just such an incident as this. It was blowing our way. First, we were so glad that our family was in a safe place. Then we started to pack for possible evacuation

Amazing what we packed first: Bibles, laptop (containing a lot of pictures and writings), our photo albums, my wife's sewing machine, and my bikes, then came the food, the water, bedding to possibly sleep in the vehicle with. About the time we thought we had were prepared, my wife remarked that we had not even included a change of clothes.

The fire never made it to our house, but we had been forced into the revelation of what was truly important. When the air quality was good enough, I went for a run. It felt like coming home, and I thanked God for my family, for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Believe

Woke up feeling "poured out like water." Training in the heat has taken its toll and I woke with the thought that I am too old for this: let the young folks go out and buck the wind and bear the heat. Today, I had scheduled a three and a half hour bike ride. A good day to take a day off. Yeah, sounds really good.

Somewhere between the first cup of coffee and the completion of a great breakfast, it started coming back. And, all the negatives I thought of myself began to give way to all I believe.

I believe that I should remain true to myself in all I try to accomplish.

I believe that others are watching me, supporting me, hoping for me, and I must not begin to unravel, if for no other reason than they believe in me - maybe more than I believe in myself.

I believe that deep down there is more to this old frame than I have plumbed and I believe God is leading me to it.

And I believe that the prayers I prayed before this venture, were answered "go!"

It was rough: winds 15-25 mph for three and a half hours; heat that warmed the fluids in bike bottles to the temperature of warm bath water. My thermometer in the shade read close to a hundred. I was poured out like water again but smiling, and thanking God for the will, the strength, to follow today, what I believe

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Week Two: Blessed

Consistency, momentum, building like a train leaving the station. Last week staying on track with the training plan was a real struggle. Everything wanted a piece of me. It was like trying to fight my way out of small closet full of clothes.

This week things just kept going forward and it was an almost perfect training week. I did the long swims, the long bike with a brick, another brick workout, the good runs, and today, the long run, my most formidable obstacle.

At the end of that run, I was not fried, but overcome with a thankfulness for this great day and this great week. Hands extended overhead, I prayed out on the road as I walked to cool down. Call me crazy but I would like to think I gained some competence and fitness from this tough week. However, I know that at the very least, I gained more insight into myself of things not easily discerned or expressed, and I have been closer to God through it. And, by this gain, perhaps I am a better husband, father, grandfather, child of God.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Making Peace With the Water

I was 57 years old when I began teaching myself to swim correctly. Until then I was just a water plodder, afraid to get my head in the water too much while I was swimming. Now, swimming is one of my favorite things to do. Oh, it is not so great at a 20 yard long pool, sharing a lane with a couple people, but out on the open water, maybe with a little chop on the water, swimming can really get into me. Most of the time vision is limited and there is an element of movement by feel that transcends everyday activities. When I hear folks say that the swim is the scariest portion of a triathlon, it sounds a little strange now.

My open water swims are done in this small lake at a state park. I have all the water to myself, and there is no motor boat traffic. Generally, I swim non-stop for forty minutes to an hour, swimming from one end of the lake to the other, and I never fail to leave the lake with a smile. I have made peace with the water and the water makes peace within.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Riding On to That "Sweet Spot"

The bike always seems at first as if it is going to be tough. My first thoughts usually are that the legs just don't have it today, and I should just cruise through the workout at pedestrian effort just to get it done. It happens so often that I find myself smiling at the game that I play upon myself. Gosh, I have been doing this so long, I have grown to expect internal conflict at the first of a workout.

Somewhere between "oh, this is too hard" and the end of the ride, it starts to flow. The pedal stroke is smoother, more powerful. The breathing is right, the endurance is there and I find I am soaring with the wind blowing in my face. And, I smile again, when I have re-found that "sweet spot;" when I have come back to myself, and touched the beauty; tasted the blessing that God would have for one who rides on in faith, believing that the "sweet spot" will come.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Week One Done; Roadblocks Overcome

The tree had crashed right across the road, leaving a large pile of limbs blocking my truck. I was on my way out to do my long run for the week and now this. All week it seemed to be something, some roadblock of some kind that seemed to resist the training regimen. Four sets of visitors were nice but didn't help me get the training done. The long bike didn't get done due to my back tire just blowing out for no apparent reason. This first week of training was sort of like the last miles of a marathon: you're getting beat up but just keep moving forward.

The tree across the road had to be removed. So I changed into woodcutter attire, got the chainsaw and spent some time cutting wood and clearing the road. There the temptation found me: hot sweaty, dirty, a little tired, the coolest part of the day spent; the first thought was just skip this long run business. But, I didn't, thank God! Back into running attire, out to the hot road, get it done. Not pretty, not fast, but a high leverage effort in terms of personal satisfaction.

Today is my rest day and there are no demons to wrestle to get the training in. Nice. But tomorrow, week #2 begins, and there will be roadblocks to be faced, roads cleared, and temptations overcome.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rejoicing in the Heat

Mother was asked if she was glad she didn't have to go out in that heat and humidity anymore. Confined to a wheelchair ninety-seven years old confined to an assisted living facility, she has little reason to brave the heat anymore. She said no, she wasn't glad. And given ability and health, she would gladly put up with the heat, just to be doing something again.

I have ability, opportunity, health, and life, for the moment. Do I really have the luxury to take this for granted? I am 67 myself. Can I afford to stay indoors on days that might be a little warm, like an assisted living resident who has no other choice. While I still have this choice, shouldn't I exercise it to chose action, commitment, and passion for life even in the face of difficult situations? Yes, "this is the day the Lord has made," and I want to "rejoice and be glad in it," even in the heat.