Monday, November 28, 2011

Almost There

That left arm is hard to train. There is a part of each swimming session dedicated to getting the left arm to do what the right one does with the same ease of motion. Sometimes the left is tamed quickly-though never as perfect as the right- and sometimes the left resists training for a long time.

When my son was in baseball, I had neck bone spurs which diminished the strength in my right arm considerably. Knowing boys and baseball come along, pass by, and the time is gone, I did not want to miss that opportunity. So, I tried to tame the left arm to throw the baseball. Then I worked on throwing a football. I got where I could do it OK, but never like the way the right arm could do it.

Sometimes it seems like that in training and in life, I find myself trying to tame one side of me to be more like the right. I know what the right feels like, but that other side of me needs constant attention and training. And, there are good days, but these are days when I only come close to getting that errant side to be like the Right. The miles of this journey continue on.

After about a mile swimming today, I had brought the left arm into the rhythm and, I was in that "sweet spot" so long sought. With the almost balanced stroke, I closed my eyes and reveled in the closeness of the rhythm of both sides. For a few moments, I was almost there.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holding Position/Defending Hope

I ate too much! I ate too badly. Didn't train. It was cold out. We had company. I was a little tired. My knees hurt some. And, the fire is warm, the couch is soft and bottom line: I am lazy.

And passion for goals, passion for growth, is eroded away by a stream of tempting creature comforts. It is war with the natural man; the man, who would eat himself into illness, sit himself until muscles atrophy, dull himself to lack of self-respect. God calls us out from the natural man, to be all we were created to be, to say no to the beginnings of erosion that would destroy our bodies and the hope that He placed within us.

So, during this holiday season, with the "rockets red glare" of tempting unhealthy foods all around us, and the "bombs bursting in air" of all the excuses not to train, not to exercise, may I hold position and defend my hope.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks For the Life That Found Me

Endurance sports began for me 29 years ago-Thanksgiving Day. About that time also, my faith life began. I became a Christian. There have been no regrets about either, except that I wished I had found both earlier in life. Wow! What a great run at this I have had. That Thanksgiving morning in 1982, I could not even jog a quarter mile. I haven't forgotten to give thanks. So on this Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks for the Life that found me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful

You bet, I am thankful. No kidding. Grateful won't cover it. I stand in awe and amazed, and so thankful to God for what I can do, and for what I can do, does to me. What I can do adds so much peace, so much joy, so much hope to life.

And sleep is deep and restoring. There is nothing left at night to fret about what happened, what's going to happen, what might have been. I am dead in sleep and "the rough places have been made smooth." Things don't seem so serious after sleep like that. Besides, another day training awaits discovery.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wouldn't Miss This Misery for the World

It's true. I have finally completed a full week of ironman training and only missed one workout-a 2000 yard swim. This is the first ordered week after four of just scrambling to get at least some workouts in, here and there.

Ate lunch after my long run, laid down and just died. Woke up several times but just couldn't get up. It was as if something was holding me down. I went back to sleep. And this is just the beginning. This is only about 17 hours of training this week. When in full swing, I can imagine that all I will be doing is training, eating, and crashing. Do I really want to do this?

And miss this fight? And miss the chance to see if I really have what it takes? And miss the growth opportunity that will most assuredly occur both on a personal and spiritual level? No way...wouldn't miss this misery for the world.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Learning to Walk the Rail

She was teeter-tottery when first put on the porch rail. Looking toward the next porch post, she took a hesitant step on that four to five feet balance journey.

I was holding my grandaughter all the time and there was no way she could fall but not fully aware of that fact, she was doubtful. Her muscles were tight and tense, and she lacked control at first. Step after step, her boldness grew; her muscles relaxed, the steps became sure until she reached the post, turned around with a smile and said, "again."

Even geriatric grownup athletes are not immune from first doubtful steps as we walk our own porch rails of life. And we can walk them surer, steadier, if we are not tensed in fear of failure; fear of falling. After all, I cannot truly fall and I cannot truly fail because my Father is holding me closer than I can realize.

So, let today's training begin. Let me walk the rail, ah yes, "again."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The No - Talent Triathlete

I have often prayed, "Lord, why didn’t You give me any gifts? Why didn’t You make me any good at this?"

It is unbelieveable how little natural talent I have to be a triathlete. Progress is made only through just pushing clumsily through. I never was any good as a runner either. One leg is crooked, and my running style is that of a cow running. I have seen runners and triathletes who have that fluid, effortless motion, and I ask, "What happened to me when talent was being passed out?" So, lacking talent, I have to work harder, and I feel blessed and immensely thankful for any little blessing I get in that effort.

It is almost as if God answers my prayer with, "No, I didn't make you talented. But through your lack of talent, you have become more humble. You are more use to Me humble, than talented."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting to a Good Place

The ride was not fun at all, at first. This was going to be my longest ride in a couple of months, and just minutes into it, I didn't feel all that powerful. Rhythm wasn't good. The little rises in the course seemed much steeper than I knew they really were. What is happening to me!

I had driven several miles to bike this course, and that alone had me vested in this effort. Did I drive this far to get to a good place and then ride a couple miles and quit? Surely not. What is happening to me!

Riding on, the south wind was strong in my face with the worst hills coming up. "These bad boys are going to kill me," I remember thinking. But - the first one didn't blow me up, nor the second. Five major hills and five major victories. Then, time to do the loop again. I felt good, and smiled at the strength I had discovered in these old legs. The wind was gusting harder in my face on the second loop, but the legs were there. Soon I was back at the place where I had parked my truck. A very good ride; a good route. I had found a good place. And, through the miles, into the wind, and over the hills, I had gotten to a good place within myself. Thanks God.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Feeling Like An Anomaly

The older I get, the more I see that many of my friends have health problems or some sort of disabling condition. Life can be simply a matter of survival. Any physical capability at all you might be an anomaly. There are times when I feel like an anomaly simply because I feel good.

And the anomaly status separates me from a lot of people my age. Sometimes it is hard to find common ground in my age group out in the world. I am not going to start getting sick before my time in order to fit in nicely with my crowd. No, it gets lonesome when most of your longtime friends are ill or dead but until my own number comes up, I think I will stick with this anomaly thing. It is a gift to be handled carefully and prayerfully. While it lasts, I think I will concentrate on not taking my own health for granted; concentrate on being humble and appreciative; loving hard, praising God for the health and capability that I am enjoying at this moment in time.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Do I Dare Start Again? Of course.

To answer my own question: yes, I am starting again. Tomorrow, I hope to take my training from "ho-hum" to "all right!" It is probably not a good idea, but I just want to see what will come at me in the next episode of the continuing saga called "trying to train for an ironman." Seriously, not starting again is seldom a good choice. There is no other good alternative.

I can still remember that feeling of that only marathon I didn't finish; that somber crowd on the "wimp bus" that took us to the finish; the finishers who had overcame where I had quit: not a good feeling at all. Don't want that feeling back. At that time, I would have rather to have crawled all the way to that finish line than to have dared to go on.

To take the question apart: I will "dare," and I will "start again." I know how I think: the question was probably posed to renew my affirmation; an affirmation of faith. I will dare and leave the results to God.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Do I Dare Start Again?

Signing up for the ironman was like calling in artillery fire on my own position. It is a month now since I signed up and stuff started falling out of the trees. It has been a regular disaster derby in my life since signing up. What's up ! I had prayed about this before signing up. Seemed like it was OK. Seemed like the right thing to do, though not necessarily practical. Was the answer to my prayer, "No Way!" and I just wasn't listening?

My wife is finally over her pneumonia and I am over my URI. I will take my broken bike to the shop Monday, and my dog bite is not infected and healing well. Do I dare start again?

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Frittered Away"

Those four-letter words: "just" and "only", can spell the death of discipline. They are so, so tempting in their smallness. Surely, someone who has trained for something for years, could easily overcome these little guys. But every year, and almost every day, this battle must be fought. After all, it is "just" one workout,"only" one day, "just" a piece of cake.

Thoreau wrote that "our lives are frittered away by detail." "Frittered" is a good word for caving in to the "justs" and "onlys" of life. It is a good word for the small beginnings of erosion of purpose.

However, without the sneaky resistance that "just" and "only" provides, what would be the value of overcoming, of seeing the training,and the race to the end. So too with life. Life is a hilly course full of "justs" and "onlys" that must be recognized if progress is to be measured by the number of temptations that have been overcome.