Friday, September 30, 2011

Hot in Texas

Training in this heat is getting pretty old. It is supposed to be officially autumn but it was a 104 degrees one day this week. It is 86 right now, mid-morrning. Rain? What's that? The geography of this area will change significantly if all the trees that have turned brown, really do die. This area could be a rolling prairie next year, a rolling desert the next.

It is so hot in Texas that the birds use pot holders to pull worms out of the ground. Potatoes cook underground and all you have to do to have lunch is to add the salt and pepper. The cows are giving evaporated milk and the trees are whistling for the dogs. I heard a neighbor praying, "I wish it would rain, not for me, but for my 7 year old. He's never seen it."

Oh well. Better get on out there on the road and train before it gets much hotter. Asphalt does have a liquid state.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What to Do With Old and Fat Photos

I look old and fat. Recently, it has been hard to find a photo taken of me doing a triathlon in which I don't look old and fat. Must be the angle or perhaps the lighting, or perhaps it is that I am old and fat. Notice I don't even look like I am running, but seem to be trying to hurry to medication dispensing time at a nursing home. Yeah, no matter how pictures are taken lately, I look old and fat.

But, who could know that from inside I see something completely different. From inside I see myself as young and thinner. It is always sort of a shock to see my pictures. Who is that? Oh, that is me? Boy, talk about self-delusion. Inside there is this young guy on young legs springing across the course. Inside there is someone who is fit and capable of going the distance. If the truth were told, I think I feel better in my late 60s than when I was in my 20s. Back then, there were late nights, drinking, and bad foods. I feel much more healthy now.

So what do I believe? Do I believe the pictures or do I believe my delusion? Shucks, I'll take a good delusion any time over any old photo. I guess I like who I think I am, however misguided that could be. And perhaps the best way to avoid aging up and getting fat is to not believe the photos and believe the scales, the capabilities, the smile inside. Yeah, the smile inside; I am going for what I feel inside. In a Rocky movie, Rocky was being taken to the hospital after a bruising brawl. A reporter asked Rocky if he thought he had any brain damage. Rocky answered, "I don't see any." Old and fat? No, I don't see any.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Beaten By the Best-Rose City Race Report

It was sort of like going on a new job: my first triathlon of the year. It didn't feel like I was prepared: no swimming in three weeks, minimal bike and run the past week, and all day, many days previous to event, working in 100 + degree heat on my tractor.

If this had not been such a top flight, quality event in the past, I might have opted out. At the end of the day, I was so glad I had not. Again, this was a quality, well-run event, that I am so glad I did not miss.

Everything went smoothly race morning. We began on top of the dam on Lake Tyler. Old friends from previous years were there to add to it all. The swim went really well. Doubtful, I could have done any better had I been swimming every day. It had been so long since I swam, it was like visiting old friends too. Reach, down, pull, follow-through, ah ! this is good stuff. Now I can see I am passing people. The swim support in kayaks were plentiful, well-placed, and competent.

Transition was good. Our places had our names on them and we didn't seem crowded at all. The bike course; oh I just love this rolling bike course. The road crew were on the job and doing it well. Coming back there is one short but steep hill. It has given me trouble in the past. The first time I did this event, it was raining, and I got caught in the wrong gear, and ended up having to walk the bike up the hill. Last year was a struggle to avoid that repeat. This year, I was on and in the right gear, yes ! As I was turning the cranks coming over the last of the incline, I thought, "you ain't so bad, you ain't so bad." Can you imagine a grown man and grandfather having these childish thoughts? But, I am not ashamed yet.

Off the bike onto the run. I do feel good. Just love this run course too. There is so many opportunities to see all the other runners. Coming into finish, there was my wife behind the tape to slap my hand. I stuck my hand out and another spectator slapped it. What a great finish!

Myself and some other finishers waited for the last bike to come to the transition area, so we could take our bike and gear to our vehicles. Here he came-running, carrying his bike on his shoulders. I don't know how far he had to carry that bike but it was a ways. Needless to say, this man got a big round of applause from all of us. What guts to do this, knowing that the best he could hope for was to finish last. Undeterred the man, transitioned and went on out to the run. That is the spirit we all admire. What we came to see. What we came to be. Finally, the man finished the 3 mile run to another round of applause. He was tired, but standing tall.

Food was plentiful for everybody and was very good. There were even volunteers there to take the dirty dishes and bring drinks. All of this was under a very large tent with a stage up front for the awards ceremony.

This was the Southwest Regional Championship and I knew there would be some of the best older guys there to give me a good whuppin. Most of these events I have gone to, I am the oldest one there and win a trophy by default. Not today. I was 4th in my age group; no trophy, no award. I had been beaten by the best and that was OK.

Monday, September 19, 2011

10 Years of Triathlon-Earning the Numbers

It was my 36th triathlon and my 10 year triathlon anniversary. Doesn't seem that long but this past weekend, this triathlon I did, marked a decade of triathlon. I still stand amazed that I can do this. Back when I was a runner, I would see these folks in magazines, with their body markings on their lean, fit bodies. Yeah, wouldn't it be great to be one of those, I thought.

Ten years ago at that first event, there was a certain pride just getting body marked. Now I am one of those, I thought. But I knew I had to earn the numbers. With limited training and experience in swim/bike, I had my reservations and some fears. But, I got all prayed up, got in the water; let the race begin. Time to earn the numbers.

Over this past decade I have had some great disappointments, some greater exhilarations, spent thousands of dollars to arrive at this past weekend, a man bettered by earning those body markings.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Truly Blessed

Well I did get beaten but not too badly. In fact, this is my third year to do this course and I set my own personal record for it. But, like I stated in an earlier post, this was a regional championship and there would be old guys there that are really good. I was 4th.

Yeah beaten, but it was one of those efforts that I always hope for: strength, power, and enthusiasm at the end of the swim, strength and skill for the hills on the bike, and a cadence on the run that just kept getting quicker. My goodness I had a good race; for me, that is. It is really what I hoped for. Oh sure, I would have liked to place within this highly competent field, but I didn't. But I did have a great time, gave a great effort and life today was full and rich. Though I had been beaten, there is a joy from my doing my best and that effort being found worthy. I am truly blessed.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Joy of Getting Beaten Badly

Finally, I am preparing to leave for a triathlon. It is a regional championship and my geriatric age group will be populated with some folks that have trained and were good to begin with. My tractor work for the past couple of weeks has precluded any swimming. My bike mileage hasn't been too bad but not too good either...Running: well, let's not discuss that. But the worst thing that can happen barring a disaster, is that I will have a good time getting beaten badly. God is good.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Teaching of the Miles

A nice fallish morning for a 10 mile run though I really didn't feel quite up to it. But, once out there, with the pavement moving beneath my feet, the cool breeze blowing on my face, running got easier. Funny how this pace years ago would have been an awful day, but today, after 28 years of running, I just feel blessed that my knees are good, my heart is strong, and I can still do this. Maybe I have ran around the world several times only to find contentment in myself. It was there all the time waiting for me to peel away the ego, the pride, the comparative struggles, and discover what I already possessed.

Oh, I still keep records and I do love to do well in events, but my focus has changed to a different type of pursuit of excellence: to be the best me, however slow and cumbersome that might seem. Oh perhaps this is just a form of resignation, but then again, it could be the onset of a form of wisdom, a lesson plan written by God and taught by the miles themselves

Friday, September 2, 2011

Somebody's Watching

"You make that look so easy."  I was drying off after a 2000 yard swim at the indoor pool, when this man about my age came up to me.  It took me by surprise.  "You really do.  You make that look so easy, and I know it can't be that easy.  You hardly splash much water at all. Are you a competitive swimmer?"

I told him that is was not even close to being a competitive swimmer but he was impressed by what I would have termed a pretty sorry workout.  Truth is:  I had not swam in two weeks.  Truth is:  my form was awful until the last 500 yards or so.  Truth is:  I didn't think I  looked good swimming  at all.  Truth is:  I have never thought of myself as a good swimmer compared to other triathletes

What surprised me is that somebody was watching.  And I wonder how often people are watching that we don't know about?  How many times have we inspired others who see us on the roads, in the pool, paying our dues for fitness and a healthy lifestyle. 

And so it was inspirational for me, an old duffer, almost 68 years old, to be complimented on my swimming.  But the real compliment is that there was somebody watching.  More than simply doing my laps and completing my workout, I have been watched and they have been inspired.  At times, this training business is so  solitary,it seems, but I contend the influence left on those who may be watching, is not completely lost.  Our training, our lifestyle is simply more than the sum of its parts.