Sunday, July 31, 2011

That Is How Winning Is Done

If I do this right, I will see dawn every morning on the road this week. Keeping training volume up in this heat is a real challenge.

It is miserably hot here in Texas and the best time to train is early. No sign of cooling or rain in sight. My pond is drying up. In over forty years, it hasn't come close to drying up, this year, it is likely to happen. Trees are dying, turning brown everywhere here. There are some grand old oaks going under that have survived many other droughts-not this one. We haven't had substantial rain here in over a year.

Many have prayed for rain but God has answered "not yet." I don't pretend to understand or to know the answers, but I know that life is a journey, and this drought is yet another mile of that journey. And I know, as I have been taught by the discipline of endurance sports, that finish lines are reached and droughts are outlasted by steadily moving forward; each day, each hour; put the foot down and keep moving forward. I like the line from the movie, "Rocky Balboa." Rocky says, "It isn't how hard you can hit. It is how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done."

On down this road are my hopes and dreams, the realization of the person God has called me to be. Tomorrow morning, I will be out on this road; one foot ahead of the other, moving forward. That is how winning is done.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Season-Testing the Training

This ought to be in "whisper print," but now that a week of lesser training, and the subsequent recovery has come, the training seems a little easier. Oh, it is not easy by any stretch. It is still hot and humid. While certainly no speed has been gained, a certain resilience and a greater confidence has been achieved. Counting hours and miles, this is my best training year ever. There are no nagging injuries or illness at this time. Beyond these hot sizzling roads, there will be events where I will try this new fitness on. I am so grateful to God for letting me have this health, this fitness, this season. So here is where I plan to go with this, should I survive the heat and humidity for another 45 days or so, and God be willing.

Rose City Triathlon (Sept 17): A sprint with a 650 yard swim, 15 mile bike and 3 mile run. (Tyler, Texas) Great little event -this year it is the USAT Regional Championship. There will be some great elder athletes in my age group. I will probably get beaten up pretty bad here but love it.

Ft Hood Bike Race (Sept 24-25) : This will be new territory for me: a two day bike race on a very hilly course. Should get beaten up here too. My son is doing this with me. That is good because he can drive what is left of me home.

Huntsville Half Marathon (Oct 22): I have done this one for several years now. Hills, lots of them. This is a great confidence builder for a half-ironman distance run.

Oil Man Texas Triathlon (Nov 6), Montgomery, Texas:
This is my main event, the one my training plan is built for, pointing to. It is a half-ironman distance event. Did this one last year and my plan and prayer is that my increased fitness will result in a better finishing time. But, mainly, I am looking toward having a good time with the experience.

Bryan/College Station Inaugural Marathon (Dec 11):
God willing this will cap a great season, a sort of personal victory lap around Bryan/College Station, Texas. I have done 32 marathons but none in the last decade. Secretly though, I will be trying the legs for the distance, looking toward a full ironman.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Line in the Sand-The Tractor Time Trial

The The tractor seemed to be accelerating when it came upon me making my turnaround on the bike. I could hear it coming on behind me. It was moving rapidly for a tractor; too much speed for me, no better than I feel, I thought.

Training had been in the fatigue pit this past week: just going through the motions with training for now. Why not slow down a little more and let him pass quickly? Why not let him get that noisy tractor on down the road, and let me go on back to drifting in body, mind, and spirit? But for some reason, I didn't.

A couple good pedal strokes and I felt the remnants of a rhythm I had almost forgotten. A few more and there is a little wind in my face. The tractor was still about forty or fifty yards back. Do I let him pass?

For some reason there seemed to be a line in the sand drawn for me this day. Do I keep downgrading my training, blamng fatigue, heat, life circumstances and all that? Or, do I put my face into the wind here? Out here on this lonely road, no one knows or cares. Basically, it is just me, the bike, the road, the tractor-and the guy on the tractor surely has no clue as to what is going on there.

The challenge comes down to this: will the will to push past myself remain only as a picture in my old scrapbook, or will it passionately step out of the pages to push me hard towards who I can be; who I am?

Down in the aerobars, moving well, the body, mind, and spirit coming alive. The tractor is not gaining. A downhill and I soar, tucked low. Gosh, this feels good ! Bottom of the hill, and I keep the tempo up. Breathing hard feels good. Moving really well.

No looking back. I don't hear the tractor now. He must have turned off on a side road. But, I don't need the tractor now. I am into it! Up a hill, another smaller one, I ride hard on my self-imposed time trial until I see my truck. I had done about four to five miles of the best riding I have done in months. Thank God for that tractor!

About five minutes later as I was getting the bike in the truck, I heard that tractor. He was still there. The tractor was back and now, so was I. As he drove by he smiled and waved. I waved and smiled at him-but I betcha my smile was bigger.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lifting Eyes Unto the Hills

Walking after two miles of a three mile run. I was done. Recent weeks have been breakthroughs in the level of training. However, while I was setting my personal training records, so has been the heat. Maybe an indoor swim would resurrect these dead bones? Nope. My planned one mile swim was cut short at a 1000 yards. No doubt, I was done, in the valley.

But, I know that when down in the valleys, be it training or in life's journey, the only Way to look from there is up. So, I look up. " I lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help." The hills seems awesome to climb, but strength to climb out will be delivered and so will I. There will come a time when my brain will not be fatigue-fried like it is now, and perhaps the blog posts then, might even make sense.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Faith for Tomorrow

Today, a 4 hour bike ride in 94 -98 degree heat with a one mile brick run thrown in at the end has done me in. The legs feel like someone has been beating on them with something. I am very, very tired. Tried to stay cool, rest and recover, but it doesn’t seem working for me. And, I have an 11 mile run to do in the morning.

How will I ever be ready for that with this wreck of a body and mind? Tonight I will go to bed very early, and the sleep will help restore me. When I get a few miles into the run, something will kick in and the energy and purpose will be there. How do I know that? Perhaps,I have faith in restorative rest. Perhaps, I have faith in myself. Most certainly, I have faith God will get me through this, fail or succeed.

I wrote the above last night. This morning I was out there very early, as I stated, aches and all. Somehow I felt restored enough to pound out my path, one foot, then another, mile after mile. It wasn't pretty, but finally it was done. Faith had provoked action and action had completed the task. Thanks God for this lesson. Thank God for this day.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Heb 11:1

Friday, July 15, 2011


The water is deep there by that large stump protruding from the lake surface. I use it as my turnaround in swimming up and down this small lake. Sometimes, after making the turnaround, I look back. I am always amazed at how far I have swam already. Thank God for the childlike joy felt in considering that I really can swim that far; I really have come that far.

I think we all have turnarounds in our lives: times that direction and purpose began to change; times that we began to change; to almost become another person. Maybe it wasn't an immediate change but a beginning, however small, of something different, something better, more hopeful in our lives. And we look back and say "wow." Look how far I have come.

The other day, I looked at some old scrapbook photos and discovered that, indeed, I have made a turnaround back there somewhere. Look how far I've come! There is such a distance now between the man in the old photos and the man now swimming in the open waters of Endless H5ope.. Of course, I am not nearly done, not nearly there yet; so much to learn; so much to experience, but my sighting is good, and my course is true. And, He who has lead me from the old stumps of my past, will mark my course and lead me to that far shore. Meanwhile, I will swim; enjoying the water and the waves along the journey.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Not long ago she had a bike accident and broke her arm. Possibly, knowing how to fall well saved her from even worse injuries. This was her second broken arm in the last couple of years. She is a triathlete, a black belt, and has completed an ironman; She is an ironmom.

I was so impressed with the post today that I just have to share it. It exudes such gratefulness of the everyday blessings in her life. There is such wisdom and energy in this. And, she has signed up for another ironman event..

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Best of Times

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Meaningless Triumphs

Four AM and I just want to go back to sleep. Feet on the floor. That makes every day this week up before daylight to train. Oh why not just let this one go? And the internal dialogue: you've done so well this week with the training discipline. That 50 mile bike with a short brick run yesterday, really took what was left out of me. Surely, it won't hurt to miss a day? Keep moving forward; don't forget the flashlight.

And so it went as I began and completed another 10 mile run today. When I go to my other commitments today after my run, I probably won't even discuss what it took this morning to get out on the road and complete that run; just another meaningless triumph.

How many times over all these years have these battles been fought: some lost, some won. Most of the world will never know about my own meaningless personal triumphs in my endurance sports experience.

But, at the setting of the sun of this day well spent, I know I will find a "peaceful, easy feeling," in my heart; a slight smile will come upon me, as I still bask in the afterglow of those meaningful moments of meaningless triumphs.
I am blessed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"How Great Thou Art"

Oh that dreaded ten mile run ! Sure I got out there early, before daylight, but it wasn't long before I was soaked in sweat. There wasn't enough light yet to wear my sunglasses, and I was already dripping sweat off the bill of my cap - like rain drips off the roof of a house. This was going to be as bad as I had imagined - maybe worse.

I had brought enough liquids to put out a small fire. In fact, just getting all my bottles of fluid to the truck could count as my weight lifting workout for the day. My plan was to run three loops back to the truck. And each loop, pick up more liquid, as needed.

Not so bad. Settling in, finding the rhythm, feeling great, beginning to remember why I do this. Finally past all the fears, and apprehensions, I was into that special place where resolution rules, and patience is practiced and rewarded.

My running shoes were soaked and had begun to make a squish-squish sound with each step. The sound was annoying at first. But there was a certain rhythm to it, like the sound of the brushes on a drum. There seemed to be a tune to it - a catchy, upbeat sound. What is that song? Oh yes, I remember. In my mind I began to hear an up tempo version of "How Great Thou Art" accompanied by the squish-squish of my drummer boy feet. Over and over it played- in the heat, in the sweat, the hymn kept playing until my ten miles were completed.

It might seem strange that I didn't become all that tired or annoyed by hearing "How Great Thou Art" so many times. Perhaps it is because on this run, on this day I had lived it and knew it to be true.

Friday, July 1, 2011


This is where it is starting to get tough. Yesterday, at daylight a 6 mile run, hot humid, soaked in sweat. Back home, a cool shower, then off to the pool to complete a 3000 yard swim. Today, a three and a half hour bike followed by a brick run with heat in the nineties. Tonight, try to recover well enough for the ten mile run in the morning. It will be hot and humid. My thirst, now, can't seem to be quenched.

This is training in the Texas summer. I have been doing this for a few decades and it never gets any easier. But, like in my faith life, I look forward to a time I haven't seen yet; believing in better weather up ahead; hoping beyond hope toward the time of answered prayers and fulfilled promise.