Thursday, December 20, 2012

Beyond the Nonsense

Just an animal, I suppose. When I get hurt, injured, I just want to be left alone; to just go off and die a little bit, like some animals do. No idea why. Perhaps it is a defensive posturing or something? For some reason my back and hips are killing me, and there seems no relief. And, I wonder: is this the way it will end. Scary too, I know I won't go peacefully. My M O is to mope around a while, then do something outlandish with myself; like going out for a 100 mile bike ride just to spite my bad back. Beyond all that nonsense though, lies an underlying, foundational peace and acceptance. And my next question is what I am called to learn through this? Advanced degrees in living for me have always been procured by facing down the hard times. The ironman is my dream, and I still believe; my calling. Failure will be fought with my last drop of resolve. But, if failure comes, I will know that I have earned yet another advanced degree in patience, endurance, and acceptance of the will of God upon my life. Failure isn't final.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Still Standing

I'm still standing and about to enter week 6 of this Ironman training. Still standing, I keep pinching myself to see if I really have made it this far. Oh my, but the obstacles came out of the woodwork when I made this plan. And, the plan is sort of like the event itself. I don't have to be real fast. I just have to stay standing and keep moving forward. And there have been many failing but another skill I am learning is how to forgive myself for not living up to my expectations and, again, keep moving forward. Take another step, train another day, and another. And another week is put to bed and I am closer and the journey keeps getting sweeter the more vested I become in it. Next week will be are all sorts of obligations with the Christmas season upon. The challenges in time and energy management will be great; just like the event might be. With all that has been thrown at me, I am a little surprised that I am still in the game..moving forward: still standing. "Nobody hits harder than life.....And it's not about how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." Rocky Balboa

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It Was Stupid

Into the fray once more. Week # 5. It was was stupid to do heavy work here on the place right before a 60 mile bike ride. It was stupid to go on with the bike ride after I had hurt my back and hip here. It was stupid to ramp up my pace to a race at mile 50 when a friend joined me on my ride. Of course, he was fresh and uninjured, but my pride just wouldn't let him go. It was stupid. Now after four days of very light efforts, I am almost healed enough to resume training. It was a lesson learned. But my hope is that it will be not just be learned but acted upon in the future. I have be blessed with too much to squander this just because I was stupid.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Journey Continues - The Storm is On

Not perfect, but who is. Week three was tough. Fatigue: I have it. Ironman training, you hurt. The sifting process goes on. The greatest change is not just the increased training but the number of other life obstacles that want my time. And, lots of time, I just want to rest or sleep like death. This week - the fourth - is supposed to be a little lighter -transition - training week. Today, I went out for a 50 mile bike. Felt pretty good in spite, and was about 15 miles in when I heard the beep on my cell phone. I usually don't answer my phone but call back when I stop at the end of my 20 mile loop. Today, for some reason, I stopped and answered the phone. My wife - a storm - really bad storm - coming my way. Thank God I answered that phone. Thank God for the support of my wife. She said there was lots of lightening with the storm which gave me incentive to get back to the truck quickly. Away I went, thankful for the roads still being dry, the winds not fierce, and no lightening in sight.....yet. I put the hammer down, breathing in gasps, redlining going up the hills; screaming down the downhills, hammering on flats. With only a couple more miles to go I still had dry roads. But, the winds were in my face and I could see many flashes of lightening up ahead. Hammer time. I turned into the driveway to the parking lot where my truck was parked. Off the bike, gasping for air, running with the bike, large drops starting to fall hard on me. Wide, white, crackling, zig-zags of light, were followed quickly by bomb-like booms and rumbling. I didn't stop to load the bike but quickly, and almost on the run, laid the bike in the back of the truck, then immediately got in cab. Thank you God ! I had made it. In a few moments, the rain was a downpour. The storm was on. My bike ride had been cut short, but I did have one solid time-trial today. I really don't think I have ever done any better. And the journey goes on. Like in the story of the Alamo, my flag still proudly waves from the walls of my life. Thank you God this isn't boring and lacking adventure. I am loving this journey. Even if it ends tomorrow. I am blessed.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ironman - The Journey - Week Two

Sometimes it still hard to believe that am on this journey. Today is about six months to Ironman Texas. Six months of training one notch above anything I have ever done. If someone would have asked me what would be my personal dream six months ago - besides world peace and stuff like that - I would have wished for 6 months of over-my-head training to an Ironman. I am blessed. Week two was no smack-down training week but considering I had vehicle repairs and Thanksgiving thrown in: it wasn't all that bad. I am not overly fatigued and that is good because I have a pretty tough week scheduled. In the mix this week is a doctor appt for my wife, but I have scheduled all that in. My job is to work the plan; follow the schedule. My overall plan is to focus on accomplishing one week at a time; knowing there will be obstacles regularly strewn across my path. This isn't supposed to easy; if I am to continue I will have to constantly overcome. So, I begin week three with joy, plodding forward one step at a time, depending on God to get me through or stop me cold. I will be just moving forward the best I can, the rest of it, the results, are up to God.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thirty Years - Thanks to God: I Can Run

Today marks 30 years at this. It is hard to imagine that 30 years ago I couldn't jog a quarter of a mile. Fitting that the anniversary should be on Thanksgiving. I am so very blessed and eternally thankful. Below are some excerpts from a story I wrote about the experience. Several times when I was young I came close to dying from asthma, pneumonia, or the medication itself. Many times I really wondered if I was going to be able to take that next breath I had no shoes to run in so I laced up my hunting boots and started a slow jog down the dirt road in front of my house. I was going to run the quarter mile to the end of that road if it killed me. It very nearly did. In fact, after only a few moments, after less than a hundred yards, I was bent over with my hands on my knees, seriously struggling for air. Asthma had beaten me again. To think that I did all that, yet knowing all the time I am really nothing special, just a no talent, ordinary person who hung on. I am so grateful! I feel so blessed!! May I never lose that childlike wonderment at all this. May I never forget that first frustrating Thanksgiving morning in 1982. But even more importantly, may I never forget to give God the thanks, that I can run!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Journey of Adventure: Week 1

I love it, this ironman training. such a challenge to get all this training in. Such a challenge to sift through life's moments to try to choose the most important to do with what time and life force I have. Such a challenge to say no to the tempting "good" things to do with myself, and say yes to the best thing I should be doing. The challenge seems to involve an ongoing personal audit, beginning with introspection and ending in prayer. I did OK in week one; not great but pretty good; a learning experience. This is not going to be easy. And, I can see the need to develop more focus, a tougher mind. It will come, along with the thrill of this journey of adventure with all its unknowns, scaring me some, drawing me closer to God. I prayed a lot out on the roads that my efforts might not be ego-bound, but truly be for the Glory of God. And, I prayed for a strength and endurance I do not have. But, my prayers brought realization of those in tougher straits than I: those that are hurting, or going through terrible trials, those that have serious health issues. And my prayer list got long as I contemplated their struggles while I was blessed to be out on the roads reveling in life. So, I pray for a person from this tree to the sign post or something like that, and then pray for another between this marker and that, and so on. When the list is completed, repeat. As I begin week 2, I feel so blessed for these days and this opportunity even though I am really not that good at this sport. But, heh, its all good. Emanuel: God is with us.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Miles of the Journey: Ready to Be Offered

Miles of the Journey: Ready to Be Offered: Beginnings can be a little scary sometimes. Beginning my ironman training today, carries some worry baggage into this day. Last year I ha...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ready to Be Offered

Beginnings can be a little scary sometimes. Beginning my ironman training today, carries some worry baggage into this day. Last year I had signed up for this same ironman event and cancelled my quest about a month in. Wife was sick, my mother in the nursing home had some problems. I got a URI. All that, and I just lost heart. Something is especially scary about this new adventure. This year, my mother in the nursing home had a minor operation, my wife has been sick for almost a month. Again, I got a URI in October. And, right in the middle of all that - some of the things that broke my spirit last year - I signed up for Ironman Texas. There seems to be a different resolve, and a no-matter focus this time that can be scary too, and take me unto my own undoing. But, I have prayed and prayed about this, and feel the calling to step out in faith; to go forward into the teeth of all that seems reasonable to fear. So it begins today. When I get up from this computer, I will go outside and run. Who knows where the run, the journey will take me - prayerfully, hopefully, to the finish line. It is out of my hands. I give it all to God. Take me, break me, or let me lift my hands under the banner of the finish line in praise. I am ready to begin: ready to be offered. And when I push beyond myself, when my steps grow weary toward despair, continue to carry me on, that I might finish this race with grateful humility. In Jesus' Name---Amen From Miles of the Journey: This Triathlete's Prayer - http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5768864484024943517#editor/target=post;postID=8807813372005395687

Saturday, November 3, 2012

There All the Time

It was there all the time. The storm clouds covered us all afternoon. Then, in late afternoon, the clouds opened up and the sun's light burst forth in an instant. The sun had been there all the time. In spite of what I call my own limitations to do an Ironman; in spite of my own storms that sometimes keep me inside myself, in spite: there is the light, waiting for the moment, in the "fulness of time" to burst forth and put forth rout to all that is that would keep our souls in hiding; to give light, to shed hope on all that is possible. Beyond our clouds, and through our storms, is an overarching Radiance above us.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

That's You

“That’s you, Pop-Pop.”
“What?”
“That’s you,” my granddaughter said again as she pointed to a picture in one of triathlon magazines.
“It is?” I was amazed. She was showing me a picture of one of my favorite pro triathletes with arms raised, crossing an Ironman finish line.
Again, “that’s you, Pop-Pop.” A feeling of sadness crept in upon me. Only in my dreams, I thought.
“I love you for saying that, but that is someone else.”

I didn’t tell her, of course, that crossing that Ironman finish is now only a dream of mine; only a vision of myself as I would be, if it were possible; if I could. Revisiting a lost dream brought me down just a bit. Here I am, with the opportunity passed, wasted if you will, in my late sixties; a little old to be an Ironman rookie. That picture my granddaughter was looking at was of a younger athlete, who lined up and realized his dream. Of course, my granddaughter sees me differently than I see myself. She has seen me swim, bike, and run since before she could walk. Of course, she has this larger-than-life view of me. Her vision is a child’s vision. It is just not real. Or is it? Perhaps she sees me, as the song says, “not as I am but how I could be?” Perhaps, in her naiveté, her innocence, her lack of prior assumptions, she does indeed see the reality that my preconceptions won’t let me see? Perhaps, God is trying to tell me something through the love and admiration of a child?

“That’s you, Pop-Pop,” she said again softly.
“You may be right,” I finally conceded.

Over the next few days, the limited vision of myself began to free itself from the mire. Courage slowly began to outweigh fear and doubt. Obedience began to replace the false security of giving up on a dream. A fresh wind blew in upon my soul as my expanded vision looked toward embracing the journey and the adventure. Maybe I am too old, but I am not too old to try. Maybe I can’t be that Ironman finisher that my granddaughter sees me to be, but I can try to be. And, just maybe I will be. I have been called to attempt this, no doubt. There is no other good choice but obedience, no matter. I prayed. I prayed hard. When I went to my computer, I became a little short of breath. I signed up for Ironman Texas http://ironmantexas.com/. It is crazy, I know, but I must at least line up in obedience for the chance to be that man in my picture, to try to be that finisher in my granddaughter's eyes. That’s me. She was right.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Looking On the Wrong Side of the Road

It was gone. When I reached back for a water bottle, there was only an empty holder. Turned around and looked on the side of the road I had been riding on but no bottle. On with the ride; on to my turnaround, and back to finish my ride. I wasn't looking for that bottle anymore. My thoughts had drifted off to something else. There it was! Right on the edge of the pavement but on the opposite side of the road as to where I had been looking for it. I had been looking so intently at one side of the road, that I had rolled right by the waterbottle without seeing it. This was a familiar feeling. I have done this before, too often. While endurance sports teaches us to focus intently, sometimes we can roll right by what we might be looking for that is hiding in plain sight. I can think of relationships that needed attention while I rolled by oblivious. I can think of opportunities that I passed by and in doing so left gifts unopened. I don't know the answer. How do I train to focus, and yet be aware of the periphery at the same time? So, I just ask God for forgiveness for wasting it so, and seek Guidance and Enablement in the future to focus and search for what truly matters on both sides of the road.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Do I Dare?

Do I dare be confident? It is all going so well. Do I dare? The half marathon I ran a few days ago really went well, and I hit the time goal I had hoped for. My swimming is not any faster, but I am able to swim much father without getting fatigued. My bike training may be the best I have ever had. I have set PRs in events recently. I feel good with no real injuries. Do I dare?

More importantly, I feel at peace. This is hard to quantify. I just know that since that ride to the emergency room on Father's Day this year, when I thought it was my last ride on this earth; since then, peace has come easier. Reducing life to a few precious moments had a de-toxing effect. I hope this heightened awareness doesn't go away. Right now, I seem to spend a lot of time in a state of revel and thankfulness. Maybe life finally got real? Perhaps deep inside me, I finally got it that on this earth, everyone is simply experiencing a life on loan. Now more than ever I want to live deep, taking it all in; the big things, sure, but most especially the little things; like a granddaughter's smile, the beauty of the sunrise, the smell of fresh coffee in the morning, the patter of my running shoes, the hum of my bike tires, the soothing feeling of water warbling over the body, the intricacies of a flower, and the feeling of love in my heart for those I can't agree with. Do I dare be confident? Of course. "God has not given us the spirit of fear---." I have nothing to lose that I will not eventually lose anyway. All the things of earth will be stripped away and I will be back to the beginning: "In the beginning God -----." God not renewed my lease on this life on that Father's Day ride to the emergency room and each days calls me to renew that life I have been called to live. Yes, I cannot but dare.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Risk It Again?

One year ago today since I signed up for my ironman. A few weeks later: my ironman bust. Ironman Texas - so full of hopes, fears, and dreams; so excited it disturbed my sleep. That was an exciting time of my life; just great! And as exciting as that brief foray into ironman hope was, it was equally as disappointing when I had to withdraw. That was a tough hit to get up from. Now after one year of rehab, I wonder: Do I have the guts to risk it again. Do I want to go to my grave one day, having never lined up for an ironman? Gonna pray about this.

Pre-Event - Feeling Blessed

I still get tense before events. Perhaps that is good as it means I am still in the game. It still means something. Tomorrow in Bryan, Texas I plan to attempt a half marathon event. http://www.brazosvalleymuseum.org/events-and-news/news/4th-annual-buffalo-stampede-half-marathon-and-5k-race Of course I am not ready to do an all out half marathon but I am prepared to practice my half ironman distance run on legs with some bike miles in them. This week I have leaned heavy into the bike miles to ready the legs for race simulation tomorrow. The preparation for this event is so simple compared to triathlons. My biggest concerns are which shoes to wear, how many gels to take, what to do with the truck keys while racing and so on. I am feeling especially blessed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Trying to Prove Something

"Do you do this endurance sports stuff because you didn't play enough sports in childhood? Or, are you trying to show or prove something to yourself?" Clearly, I must have a problem here. Maybe I should seek psychiatric counseling for this endurance sports business. Maybe there is a name for my psychological malady like enduromanic or tricotic. Who knows? And this person wondering why I am trying to "find myself" in endurance sports, is 25 years younger than I, 40 lbs overweight, cannot run, takes blood pressure meds, and is a diabetic? Of course, I am crazy. I am spending my children's inheritance and my meager fixed income on stuff and events to ensure I can go out and hurt myself. Yeah, nuts. That's me. Must be trying to prove something. Could be I just want to be different. As the scripture says: "And be not conformed to this world but ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable, and acceptable will of God." Romans 12:2 I know of no better way to be renewed that to pour oneselve out in effort. Maybe that person was right. Yeah, I am trying to prove something.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Through It All - Rose City Race Report

The older I get the sweeter the aftermath of each event seems to be. Readying my transiton at the Rose City Triathlon in Tyler, Texas this past weekend, I felt especially blessed. The trail to this day had been strewn with back problems,knee problems, urinary tract problems, and bike mechanical problems. But, this morning, here I stood, alive and well, preparing for a great day.
It all went so easy that I thought something surely must be wrong. I must have missed something. But no.
On the open water swim there was lots of contact; the most I have ever encountered; sort of exciting trying to survive. And the guy doing the back stroke: I think he got crushed. Finally, about half through the swim I freed myself from the crowd and had a great swim. Transition from swim to bike was seamless, and I again thought that I must be forgetting something. But no.
This was my fourth year in a row to do this event and had never done really well on the hilly bike course. One hill,in particular was my nemisis. It comes near the end of the bike leg, is steep, curves around to the right, and then goes on up at a lesser yet demanding grade. The first year I did this event the hill got me. I had to get off and push my bike up the hill. The next few years I made it up the hill without having to get off and walk, but just barely. I dreaded that hill. The course is an out and back and after cominng down the hill on the way out, I found some landmarks to use to ready myself for this hill. Sure wanted to be in the right gear and ready this time. All went well and I was having a really good ride. Finally, I knew that it was about time for that hill to show up, and I started looking for my landmarks. No landmarks yet, but ahead of me was a rider who didn't look all that fit, and was wobbling all over the road. I sure didn't want that guy in front of me when I got on that hill. He might fall over in front of me, stop, or anything that could break up my run up that hill. So I ramped up, and gained quickly on him. However, when I was about to make my pass, Mr Wobbly decides to make a race of it. "No, we are not going there!" And, I put the hammer down harder and went by. This little race had me moving pretty fast. I was going to look for landmarks, but I found one right in front of me. I was on the hill already. Some quick shifting and I am still moving well, passing strugglers on the hill. On up I go around the curve, over the crest of the steep part and on to the lesser slope. I am passing lots of riders. I was in zoom mode. "Yes!" The short remainder of the ride was about the same except for two riders who came around me one after another. They were really moving and I wondered how they caught and passed me as fast as I was going. After they got around me, they slowed and one pulled up alongside the other, and they began this conversation. The gist of it was that they were really tired, and just didn't have it to push the end of the bike leg. Shame they didn't figure that out before they did the gut wrench shuffle to pass me. They continued to chatter, so I pulled out, "on your left." I never saw the guys again. The bike to run transition was perfect. The run was my usual plod with me feeling like someone was choking off my airways for three miles. But I found my rhythm and eventually found myself coming down the finisher's chute with my wife on the sideline yelling encouragement at me; graciously lying to me about how good I looked. God bless her. And at the end of it all, I was first place in my age group: the only one in my age group. I told everyone that the nursing homes in Texas must have been on lockdown and my usual competitors couldn't get out to come out and beat up on me.
After all the fears and doubts, I really did make it here, and I really did have a great race; my PR here for the bike and for the event. When one can set PRs at this stage of life, one is exceptionally blessed. And I think it was the scares, the problems, the fears overcome, which made this a very special race. But more than that even, I think it made me a better racer, a better person, a more grateful, humble child of God. Like the words of the song: "Through it all, through it all. I've learned to trust in Jesus. I've learned to trust in God."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Just Going a Little Deeper

It was the most contact during the swim that I have ever experienced in the forty triathlons I have done. Hope I didn't hurt anywone; certainly didn't mean to, but it was rough out there for a while. But, it was good too, and it fired me up for the rest of the swim and the rest of the race. About mid-point of the swim I found myself swimming alongside, and almost stroke for stroke with another swimmer. something made me think that this might be a good test for the effect of form on swimming pace. I did a quick inventory to find that I was pulling a little shallow. What would happen if went a little deeper with my pull. So, I did. My next breath and quick look showed me I had put about two feet on my tandem swimmer. And soon, he had dropped off and got in behind me for a draft. I wasn't turning over any faster; I was just going a little deeper. On the run-my worst event-I was getting passed frequently. And, I thought: I am going as hard as I can. I can't help it if I am getting passed. This is as fast as I can go. The swim lesson came to mind: go a little deeper, push yourself a little more, hurt a little more, you have more, go a little deeper. And, so I did. Before long I could hardly breathe but I held on; keep that cadence up; you are out there now, keep digging deeper. And I did. After the finish, I just walked off to the lakeside where I got my wind back and prayed a short prayer. I almost got up and walked off, but then I reached down and prayed longer and more thankfully; just going a little deeper.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why I Tri - Rose City Triathlon II

Did my best but it wasn't enough last year. In fact, I set a personal record for this race last year and didn't place, even in the old folks age group. I love this stuff. It is so honest. In a couple days, God willing, I will again be in the half-light on Lake Tyler, awaiting the swim for my fourth try at this tri. There is a good chance we will have rain: nice. The first time I did this one it was pouring rain. Since then I have done a bit of rain-riding,
and feel better about my prospects should it be raining. I love this antsy feeling about going to this event. There is a a grin most of time on my face now, like I have some secret I am not telling anyone. The feeling is heightened by the fact that I had a great bike ride yesterday on a hilly course; hammered it, felt great. It is all working. Thank you God! Winning my age group this time? I doubt it. The competition in the geriatric age group is the best at this event; another reason I love this event. If I do place at this one, it will because I put down a great performance,not because I was the only old geezer there. Times like this with all the hopes and anticipation are a big reason as to why I tri. Again, thank you God.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Friendly is a Choice

Friendly is a choice. I made it. When I started using this bike route regularly, I noticed an occasional large tanker truck sharing the road with me. For some reason I decided that I was not going to get into the road rights thing here on this route with a large tanker truck. So I chose friendly. When the tanker truck came up behind me while I was climbing a hill, I didn’t make him risk a dangerous pass or chug, chug that big engine along behind my slow self. I got off the narrow road and let him go. He always honked thanks. Sometimes, I would come upon him pulling out onto the narrow road with all that truck and it was obvious he could not clear the road before I got there. Times like these, I slowed down or stopped to wait. He honked. Other times he just honked when we passed on the road.

A couple of days ago, I again let him get that big truck out on the road before I tried to get by. As we began to pass each going opposite directions, I waved. He creaked to a stop and I turned around to see what he wanted. He had an arm out the window. Surely, he is not giving me the bird? No, he had a bottle of water in his hand, holding it out to me. The afternoon was hot. I was very hot and the water in my bike bottles was more than lukewarm. This water he had was ice cold! Yes! I gushed my thanks to the driver, telling him I was going to put some this water on my head too. "If you are going to do that, do you want another one?" Seems like this driver had made the same choice that I had: biker and trucker, different goals, different purposes for being on the road, we had decided that as much as we are different, we are all the same. We are all just people trying to do what we do on the same roads. The roads are not mine; not his; they are ours. I told him thanks so much and left with an extra cold water, refreshed, and smiling. Friendly had made my bike ride that much better. I hoped I had made his day better too. Friendly had been a good choice.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Its Been Quite a Party?"

"It's been quite a party," said the character Gus to his lifelong friend Call, as Gus lay dying in the movie, Lonesome Dove. When I look at the quilt top my wife made with some of my triathlon shirts, I have to say the same thing: It's been quite a party. As I look at the quilt top, read the names of the events, recall the struggle, sometimes the pain, I cannot help but smile. The quilt gives a warm fuzzy far beyond its ability to cover and warm the body. And I have done other types of events as well: several hundred 5Ks, 10ks, half marathons and 32 marathons. I have Two other quilts made of marathon shirts. Ah yes, it has been quite a party. Sometimes, it seems a little greedy, that after all these wonderful excursions into the best and worst of myself, and deep into hard, yet meaningful experience, after all that, I would still want more; still think there is more out there for me. Just reach for it. At present, I am signed up for Ironman Texas in the 70-74 age group. When all this is over maybe that would be a good place to hang up my swim googles, my bike helmet, and my running shoes. Maybe it would be a good place to pack it all in, and learn to relax and revel in memories of yesteryear, wrapped snuggly in my triathlon quilt. But, as I contemplate all this, as I look at the photos and the shirts of events from the past that are on my quilt, I realize that this is not just a "party"; something I went to, something I tried. No, this is a lifetstyle, my lifestyle: who I am. And I like who I am. I won't change that. Yes indeed, this has been quite a party and --- it still is quite a party, and God willing, it will continue to be quite a party. Praise God, the party is still going on.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Finish Line is the Only Way Home

I was done. I remember it well: mile 19 of the marathon, 36 degrees, pouring rain, wind, and I was exhausted. Stopping in my tracks on the sidewalk, I just wanted to lay down. I just wanted to quit. Take me to a warm place. I am done. But, the volunteers were mostly gone. There was no one to quit to. I was in an unfamiliar city very far from home, and had no idea where I was. There was only one way home: the course, the finish line. So, the miles of this journey, this day began with a single step; one step closer to the finish line. Just another step and another; it is the only way home. Over the years of racing and training, I have faced this demon many times and the answer is always the same: keep going forward, the course is the only way home. Times are that this journey grows weary and the elements seemed aligned against my effort to keep running "the race that is set before me." There have been many times I have not been able to run. But, I could always take that one step into that course before me, chiseling away in obedience at the distance between myself and the finish line; an act of faith both in the course, and the Course-Maker, and of course the finish line awaiting me, rewarding me for the many painful steps, with the words, "well done my faithful servant. You are My Ironman."

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Best Is Now

My first quarter mile run just amazed me. Just couldn't believe I could do it. But, the more I believed the farther I went, and the the farther I went, the more I believed. Sometimes in present moments this gets forgotten. I smile at the doubts I had about my first 800 meter open water swim. But that day, I got all prayed up, believed, and swam farther than I had ever thought I could. My first 1500 meter open water swim was the same. Fear, doubt, prayer, believing, and going farther, praise God! Thank goodness God has not let me get too reasonable that I would fear to confront conventional wisdom. Sometimes when things get really rough in this sport, I get the impulse to do something absurd. Today, I did the absurd thing and just went out and swam 2 miles. This is farther than I have ever swam, done with recent back problems still reminding me of their visit. So, at a time I have wondered if it were time to quit, I am able to complete the best swim of my life. Is God saying go on? I think so. And who knows how much farther and better, I can swim-bike-run? No, it is not time to quit, but to indulge in the worldly absurdity of going from fear and doubt with prayer, faith, and believing; believing that the best is not behind, but the best is here; the best is now.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A No-Boast Post

It is easy to take myself too seriously along this journey. Boundaries are confronted and overcome, hardship and disappointment dealt with, and the gravity is to say look what I have overcome. Look what I have done. Over the years I have found that that attitude is essentially calling in fire on my own position. God is teaching me humility, and I guess I must really need it because I keep getting repeat lessions. So, today, after a good 51 mile bike ride, a lessening in back pain, an absence of urinary problems on the bike, I am not going to boast at all about what I have done. Thank you God, is about allI am going to say. I am a slow learner, I suppose, but maybe this time, I will get it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is It Time for the Plain Sock Life?

Life will keep you down, if you let it. For almost a week, we had no internet due to someone drilling a posthole and cutting the phone line - yes, we have dial-up, hence no blog posts. And for almost a week my back and hips have been giving me the blues causing serious pain and serious doubts as to whether I can continue this training. Maybe I am finished? When I look at the race results of triathlons, Ironman events, etc, I see that the number of participants and finishers really taper off. By the time my age group is reached there are seldom more than half a dozen; sometimes only one or two. What happened to the numbers in younger age groups I once raced against? Perhaps it could just be life, and the toll it takes on the human body and more importantly, the human will, that cuts the numbers of survivors. So, with the aching back that won't seem to go away, the question rears its ugly head: is this it? Am I finished? Is there going to be even one less in my age group results? I pray about this with no clear answer. This morning, I reached for some athletic socks to wear and walked in the other room with them. When I began to get dressed and to put on the socks, I saw they were not the plain socks I thought I had, but socks for biking that I got in the packet of the half-ironman distance event I did. Maybe I am reading more into this simple mistake, but I began to fill my water bottles, pump up the long deflated tires on my bike. Perhaps there is still enough "stuff in the basement" that I really don't want the "plain sock life" just yet. So today, my prayer is for my name to remain among the few on the older age group results. And, when my name is finally taken away, I will have the assurance that I have "not gone gently into the night."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Confronting the "Fervent Heat"

Just an observation: Everything moves slower in August. In Texas these are the “dog days.” Heat, humidity, and a searing sun saps the energy of the earth and its inhabitants like a giant parasite. The deer that once ran off upon my approach, now just sort of amble to get out the road. The dogs that once came out on the road and vigorously barked at me, now just stay under their respective vehicle homes as I go by and bark weakly, “whoof.” A herd of wild hogs usually runs away quickly at my approach. But now they just seem to grunt their complaints that had to move at all to get out of the road. The Bible says “the earth will melt with a fervent heat.” Yeah, it has to be talking about August. August in Texas challenges the strongest commitment, the most lofty aspirations, and confronts resolve with the questions: How bad do you want it? How much, how far, how deep, are you willing to go? Praise God that in the midst of the “fervent heat” my calling still stands. If I were doing this solely for myself, I would have broken and ran in July. But, this is for all those who have believed in me; who have been inspired, who have inspired, who have supported me; who have loved me even when I was broken and cast down at times in this “fervent heat.” But most of all, this is for the glory of God. No, August in Texas hasn’t beaten me just yet. Like the scripture says: Rejoice not against me, oh mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me. Micah 7: 8

Monday, August 6, 2012

The August Brain Wharp

Didn't know I had it. Usually get it every year about this time: the dreaded brain wharp. Overcooking in the heat is the usual cause. This year, though, I have made a special effort on recovery from the heat infested training. I thought it was working. Then I had an idea for a blog post and tried to put it all together. It was a maze of confused thinking and unintelligle writing. I have the August brain wharp, again. Oh well, I know this won't last. How many times has this happened and each time, I have been brought back to where I make sense again, if only to myself. Life seems to be about ebb and flow along the journey and God has always let me ebb long enough before I flow to give me humility, yet, not so long that it would destroy my spirit. Tomorrow, I go out for another heat treatment. Today, it was 103. It will be OK. I will be OK. All the brain wharps I have been through haven't made any smarter, as you can tell. But, perhaps those experiences have made me wiser. I hope this makes sense...after all I am in the midst of my August brain wharp.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just Begin

The week was getting away from me. Hold on. I need that long bike ride, but I feel so whipped. It is so hot. And, the internal dialogue continued. "Fix your water bottles for the ride" "But" "Just begin, Marv. You'll never make it happen unless you begin. Come on, take the first step: fill that water bottle." "How am I going to do this?" "Just begin." That was the same conversation I had with myself when I did my half ironman distance event. The water was so cold. My doubts were working overtime on my confidence. My thoughts became, "come on, let's just begin." http://milesofthejourney.blogspot.com/2010/11/put-your-face-into-it-and-move-on.html Over 30 years of this stuff, I have faced this many times, and have always found that if I will just take that first step; start the momentum, I will usually get the job done, and sometimes, unexpectedly, have a great day, a great workout. If I had one only one piece of advice to give to those considering entering the fitness arena, it would be this: just begin. You just might surprise yourself.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Training for Tribulations

“Every night can’t be something to remember,” wrote the poet Rod McKuen. Sometimes days seem to fall apart right from the get-go. I had prayed about this bike ride and felt good as I pushed off on my morning venture. A rattle in the front of my bike. Where is that coming from? The brake? The wheel? Maybe a bottle rack? Oh well, but that rattle make the downhills scary. What’s that? My bar tape is dangling off the bar end. There goes the bar end cap. Better stop and retrieve it before a car smashes it. So I tied the loose end of the bar tape to the handlebar. Let’s finish this ride. Another 15 miles to go. What’s that? My Road ID just fell off and is blowing in the wind down the road. Turn around and get that. What else? Shouldn’t have asked. My Garmin started reading “ low battery.” In a few miles it went blank. Oh well. I was surprised at the ease in which I accepted all these little irritations, that kept me from really getting into the flow of a great ride. But, the end game is, that I did get training in handling irritations and inconveniences, and I will need this kind of training too. Things don’t always go smoothly. Every ride is not one to remember,but we can learn from them even if we don’t remember. The Bible says, “In the world ye shall have tribulations.” Why would I be an exception? Now if I just could just find that rattle in the front end of my bike.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My 12 Pak Ride

Taking a 12 pak with me tomorrow. Yeah, 12 bike bottes. It will take that with the heat and humidity, maybe a little wind too, on a 66 mile bike ride. My 12 paks used to be different. In fact, a weekend's activities and personality were usually lubricated with at least two 12 paks. Looking back, it seems strange that that was me. But, as new things came into life, some old things that did not fit well had to go. I began running and became a Christian quite independently but at the same period of time in my life. And, the two 12 pak weekends got fewer and fewer. I did diffent things, liked different people, had diffent causes and different dreams. It was not an immediate reversal, but an evolution that is still in progress. There is more to real change, real growth than changing habits, but the real work is the changing of heart; to the heart God would have for me. There is so much to work to be done there. Tomorrow morning, when I return from my 12 pak ride, maybe I will have made a little more progress.

"You Need to Go Run"

It would have been a good day not to go out early to train. My grandchildren were staying over and being there when they woke up was some of those rich moments. As I talked with my oldest grandchild, right out of blue, she said, "PopPop, you need to go run." "You're right." Out of the mouth of babes, so to speak. She had gotten it already. And so without further delay, cutting this post short: PopPop needs to go run.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Is My Flag Still There

The national anthem had a new meaning-a personal meaning. As us soon-to-be swimmers listened to "And the rockets red glare; the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there." Oh how true, I thought. It is the rockets hurled at us and the bombs lobbed on that illuminates, whether we are "still there." I had been dealing with a urinary problem for the past few days. It had been painful every time in the restroom that morning. What does my future hold with this? Can I ride my bike today? The swim went fine. Time to know about the bike. What if it hurts a lot to sit on that seat? Will I quit? What will I do? It seemed forever pushing my bike to the bike mount line. Finally, I swung the leg over and rested on the seat. Oh that hurts. A short of shudder from the pain came up through my abdomen to my stomach. I felt almost a little sick at my stomach. That "rockets red glare," and those "bombs bursting in air," did give me proof, bolstered my faith that God would take care of me in this, win, lose, or whatever. My "flag was still there," known by the light from the glare of the rockets and bursting of bombs upon me. And the farther I went on the bike, the less pain I had to endure, until finally it was gone entirely. And my banner of faith yet waves as I travel the miles of the journey. Praise be to God.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Event: Bike and Run

I was ready. Things felt right about the bike. The course was meandering at first but the pavement was so much smoother than that I train on. The open road and riders were getting passed in droves. I was into it. A few good athletes passed me, but generally, I just worked my way through the field. In most cases there was no straining to pass, I just went by in another mode. This was so much fun. On the second loop I was moving along well about 21 mph when a group of young men down on their aerobars, passed me. They were obviously in another league above me, but for some reason, today, I thought I wanted to go with them. Somewhere I found another gear in my spirit and I did. I stayed with them almost to the transition area. This was a great ride. I had pushed myself almost to reckless abandon, not fearing the price I might have to pay on the run to come. The run wasn't bad at all - a first. Then the heat and the cost of the bike ride began to take its toll. It was time to pay my dues. The course twisted and turned, jumped up and down curbs with me, as I just plodded on. It was hot and humid; regular summer Texas. I was passed by a 74 year old man. Way to go! The only thing I had going for me in this miserable run was that I didn't want to walk. Oh, but I wanted to. Finally, I was on the last incline and could hear the crowd. Then, I saw the finish line, and my ever-faithful wife, cheering, taking pictures, like I was winning the race or something. I felt so blessed. Thank you God. I was wobbly on my feet when I stopped to have my timing chip taken off. The volunteers thankfully had ice bags and iced towels for the finishers. I put the ice on my head, wrapped the cold towel abound my neck and wandered about a minute or two. With such a slow run, I was surprised to find that I was second in my age group. I am thankful for that, my trophy, my great swim and that great bike ride where I had the courage to extended myself. Would I do the bike like that again, knowing that the run would beat me up like it did? Call me a slow learner but the going up was worth the coming down. Of course, I would.

Miles of the Journey: This Triathlete's Prayer

Miles of the Journey: Standing at the edge of the lake, waiting for the event 2012 to begin, I humbly ask your blessing for the plans and purposes of the coming year. May I fear not to enter the waters cold, or to climb the steep hills of the course. Help me to remember that I am "beautifully and wonderfully" made, and you have placed all I need within me. Give me courage to step out in faith: to try more, to risk more, to care more, to be more than I am now, that I may grow toward all you would have me be. And when I push beyond myself, when my steps grow weary toward despair, continue to carry me on, that I might finish this race with grateful humility. In Jesus' Name---Amen

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Event Time: Prep and Swim

Didn't sleep well. That's normal for me before an event. I guess when I start sleeping well the night before, it will be time to hang my goggles, bike and running shoes up. The stinger will have been taken out of the bee. Tried something different for breakfast: A recovery drink and a powerbar. I was a little hungry at the start of the swim: good. Getting body marked, transition set up all went well. This was my 39th triathlon, so even at my age, I should have learned something by now. The pool we swam in had 50 yard lanes. I have never swam in a pool that big. And, there was not an out and back in the same lane like some other pool swims. Other than passing and getting passed, it was like an uncrowded open water swim - very nice. Felt really good in the water, swimming well. Then, I was passed on my first 50 yard lap by one, two, three swimmers. They really didn't look all that smooth and I thought then that I would see these guys and girls again. Sure enough, at the end of the second lap, there was one of the men who passed me, hanging on the wall, mouth gaping open, and it looked like his eyes were bugged out. I touched the wall beside him and I was gone. Here he came, thrashing by me. I thought, this is going to be fun. So, I tucked my thumbs down on my index fingers for a little more pull and swam along side of him to the wall, where I let him go. By the time we finished the next lap, he was gasping on the wall again. I passed and he passed back, and I drafted off him to the wall, at which time he moved way over and let me go. Then, I came upon a woman who had passed me earlier. She was obviously out of her form and struggling, but she did a great flip turn at the wall. She looked good on that, but in swimming, she looked like every part of her body was had something different in mind. It was fun, and I had one of my best swims ever thanks to the pool length and the competition. The run to transition was about a hundred yards and the carpet didn't catch all of it. There was some ooh, ooh, tiptoeing into the transtion area. But life had a smile. It was a long run with the bike to get to the bike mount line, but I have that down pretty good. In fact, I can run with my bike as fast as I can run without it, though that is not saying too much. Will write on the bike portion of this event in the next post. http://www.triaggieland.com/

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Danger of Falling Safely

It's different this week. An off day was followed by a day spent in a couple of doctor's waiting rooms-another day of. Goodness, but I feel the sag in my soul already from this. This is where I seem to go when I am not into life or life isn't into me, like it can be, should be, called to be: a sag in my soul. I had to cut down a dead tree in my yard. Due to the proximity to the house, I used a fencing tool and two logging chains hooked together, to crank the tree in the safe direction I wanted it to fall. As I cut on the tree, I would periodically crank the wench on the fencing tool to take up the slack, to capture the "give" the tree had yielded. When the tree was noticeably subdued to go in my "safe" direction, I only had to cut down, to let it fall in a lifeless heap, safely on the ground. I can't be sure about all this, but it could be a case of endurance training deficit paranoia (ETDP) or something like that. After a stretch of inactivity, doing regular stuff, I sort of get to feeling a tug of life's fencing tool pulling on me, working on me, like I worked on that tree. I can envision, the pressure, the pull, the fall, the crash to safety. Safety to whom or what? Certainly, the fall wasn't "safe" for the tree. And, falling safely would, I fear, endanger the finer part of me, of life. Funny, but I fear more getting too close to the edge and falling into a "safe" world,"knowing neither victory or defeat." I think I fear falling safely more than I do overtraining. Oh but, "be still my heart." Know that I have faced this pull before, and my faith in my mission, my journey, my God, has always sustained me against the world's logging chains and fencing tools. Too, in a couple of days, it will be "hair on fire" time. I have an event. Halfway through the bike, I can imagine that I will be thanking God that I am flying high, flying free, and I have yielded to the upward Spirit and have not fallen safely to the earth.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Open Water Swim

It can be rough and tumble sometimes, but I love open water swimming. There are no lane lines. You can't see the bottom. Sometimes there are waves and sometimes navigation isn't that easy. But, the truth is, all those negatives are really positives. For me, the open water swim captures the spirit of triathlon. We are all on our own out there. That being said, this weekend I am going to a sprint triathlon in College Station, Texas http://www.triaggieland.com/race/adult-triathlon and they have a pool swim. I will miss that group rush when the horn for my swim wave goes off. If I get tired I can just hang on a lane line or wait on the wall. It will be fun this weekend and perhaps I shouldn't be looking past this weekend to my next event: an olympic distance event; a 1500 meter swim in the Concho River in San Angelo...Yes ! http://www.ironheadrp.com/woolcapital/index.html I get to mix it up in the river with a bunch of old coots like myself. It doesn't get much better. I am blessed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rain Riding

Forty miles biking in the rain. Wasn't bad at all. It seems there is some new challenge every time I ride. And, that isn't at all bad. I remember that the first times I rode in a pouring rain, it was a little frightening, but today, it was business as usual. I was ready for it; read to enjoy it. Then, there was the two mile brick run at the end of the bike ride. I am sure motorists wondered what that old guy in multi-colored spandex is doing running off from his bike in a pouring rain: having fun, feeling young, alive, praising God, that's what.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Faith in the Difficult

"Why do you do that to yourself?" "Because that is how you grow. We grow through what we overcome." That was the conversation, coming at the end of a great week of training in hot weather. I wasn't complaining when I told about the great workouts: the 50 mile ride followed by a 3 mile run; the 64 mile bike ride 48 hours later, the 2200 yard swim with a bonk overcome in the mid-swim, and this morning a 10 miles run begun late and finished in the heat. I am a little beat up right now, but I have a faith in the difficult; a faith that I will grow from it; that everytime I get knocked down, when I get up, I'm bigger.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Smiling Underwater

I was done right in the middle of the swim. Bonking in the water I have written about this before, but it always amazes me how it happens. I had ran five miles right before coming to the pool and had not eaten enough to accomodate the two workouts. My goal: a 2200 yard swim. About midway through, I just lost my stuff. Oh my, I thought. What if this were to happen in the open lake? How would I handle that? Couldn't do the bike after something like this on the swim, right? For a couple laps I just swam on my side slowly, on my back, and just floated with momentum. Consistent with the race scenario, I was not going to quit. Each lap I seemed to be adding more freestyle to my swimming, building back. Maybe my body was burning some fat or something, having given up on me feeding it properly? But I could tell I was coming back. How many times has this or something like this happened in my decades in endurance sports. Perhaps, this is the essence of endurance sports? It was great coming back from my fall. And when a man about my age in the next lane came up swimming furiously, I was good to go. The strokes became strong and deep. The rush of the water upon me, said I was moving well. I was in. Smiling underwater. I was myself again.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Imagination Breaking Rank

Sixty four miles on the bike and only two vehicles. There, very close to the interstate, is a piece of road with hills, and woods, with very little traffic. Today was not a day to write about because everything went right. I was prepared for the heat, my nutrition was dialed in, my pace was under control. It was great. There were no other riders, either, so I spent a lot of time in the cockpit with my own thoughts. Of course, I thought about what a great place I have to bike. However, I noticed a lot of "For Sale" signs on the edge of the woods all along the course. A vivid imagination, with no interruptions, can get out of hand. My mind wandered to seeing the signs as rummblings of the thunder from the coming storm called progress. The lava flow of commerce would be creeping, oozing, into this sanctuary. Imagination broke rank and conjured a vision of 10 years from now, with concrete everywhere for various businesses, replacing the grass and trees. I could envision tall, well-lighted signs advertising all sorts of things like fast food, auto parts, and cosmetic surgery. Important people would be in a frenzy, driving vehicles to get to important places to do important things, in a hurry. And the cardinals, mockingbirds, and blue jays would be replaced by those black, raven-like birds, eating scraps from hot parking lots. Bump! I hit a pine cone that brought me back. It is today. This world is safe, is mine, today. And today, is all I have of my own life; not to wasted on the fear of the future.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Killdee Intervals

Sometimes, I just drift off there on that part of my bike course; sort of lose focus and slow down. But, there is this bird on the road there that will just have no part of that. I think it is a Killdee (some spellings say killdeer). When I am about to drop off into sleepy-time, this bird flies from the side of the road directly in front of me, flying about 2 feet off the ground. Catch me if you can! And I try. It keeps up with my acceleration, and when I get around 22 mph, it veers off: mission accomplished. I am rolling now, too. On the other end of the course is a hill that can get tough. And, another killdee is on the side of the road there too. It must have a nest nearby because it feigns being wounded when I come near. It staggers around like it has been drinking out of the fresh beer cans thrown on the side of the road. It puts one wing stretched out like it is broken. That bird must have a nest of young ones going all the time because it has been pulling this charade for months making it hard to take that hill too slowly. That bird does its wounded routine right in front of me as I pump up the hill. I can't let up. Let's face it, I may be old here, but surely I can keep up with a wounded bird? So I try to. When I get to the top of the hill the bird veers off the road. And I thank God for figuring out new and creative ways to provide me inspiration and motivation,whether it be the awesome exploits of others, or the erratic behavior of little birds.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hot Water Swimming--Stay or Go?

Hot-that water was hot when I put my face in the water. After all that digging out my pond last year to have a place to swim, now the water temp is higher than that of most whirlpools. Do I stay or do I go? Do I even try this? I pushed on and the more shallow the water, the hotter it became. A thousand yards later I was walking out of the water on shaky legs. My heart was racing; pounding hard in my chest. I had to sit down on the bank and try to get my stuff back. I won't do that again. Can't say that was even a little fun. Sometimes discretion is, indeed, the better part of valor.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

It Fed Me Twice

It was wonderful! That meal was so delicious and I know, good for me. Is it any wonder that I feel so good; my blood pressure is good; I can do most to the same hard things I could do 30-40 years ago? I can split firewood, fix my roof, lift the same things I did when I was much younger. I have been told I am too old, but I don't feel it, and yes, I can still swim/bike/run. Additionally, I am blessed by a wife who enjoys putting these types of meals on the table, but I am especially blessed by the place, energy, and the knowlege to grow many of these power foods myself. My body, mind,and soul has been fed through the activity of preparation, planting, and harvest of so much good healthy food. And, when, I eat them, I am is nourished, restored, to continue the journey. What a deal! Henry David Thoreau wrote that splitting wood warmed him up and when he put it in his stove it warmed him yet again. The wood had warmed him twice. Same with the garden: My garden has fed me twice.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Will to Prepare

It was on its way to being a hundred degrees today when I finished my 41 mile bike. I was hot. It seemed my brain was cooking. What about that short brick run I was to do? Let's skip that. You could fry an egg on that pavement. I had a good ride. You are almost out of fluids. Let it go. Then in my heat induced dementia I remembered I had a cooler in the truck and there was one Gatorade bottle full of water on ice inside. I opened the bottle, took a few swigs, the poured cold water on my head and neck. No excuses, I was good to go. The short, hot brick was not bad at all and I was so glad that I had done what I came to do, not out of any athletic prowess, but I came prepared. I remember an event where I won a place in my age group, solely on the basis of a faster transition than the participant I barely beat out. I like that quote: "The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Everymom to Ironmom

She is an inspiration. Coeur d' Alene was her second ironman. Robin is amazing. I have been following her blog: Everymom To Ironmom - http://ironmom.blogspot.com/- for some time and this past year I have followed her journey getting to the event. What an inspiration! It certainly hasn't been easy. All kinds of things have thrown themselves across her path. But,like what she did in her event last night: she kept putting one foot in front of the other. She is an overcomer but her life is also filled with children, a family, and all the other complications life can throw at one trying to do something extraordinary. She is a busy lady, but she just keeps on keeping on, and that inspires me, as I am sure it has inspired others. For me, getting out there to train sometimes isn't easy. For inspiration I think of Robin, grinding away, training on her bike trainer hour after hour while the weather is bad outside: or going out in the cold rain for her run. The girl just keeps coming, keeps moving forward in triathlon and in life. Last night I folloed her progress online and was so proud of her crossing that finish line. I knew what she has come through to get there. I thank God there are people out there overcoming hardships, overcoming themselves, while inspiring me and others in the process. Congratulations Robin! You're an Ironmom!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Letting Go

It still seems surreal. There I lay last Saturday night on a bed in the emergency with wires attached all over me. And, I wondered and feared what they might find. The nurse came in, and with a serious look, asked me if I realized that I have a very low heart rate. She seemed a little surprised when I told her I did know. I asked what the rate was and she told me and I responded that it gets a lot lower than that. “How long have you had this condition?” “About 20-30 years. I do endurance sports” The nurse left and I lay back and thought about all the great times; the times I have been broken and the times I have overcome. What a journey! And, I began to pray a prayer of thanks. As the peace settled in over me, one of the monitors started buzzing off and on. It was my heart rate. It had dropped below some pre-set number and the alert came on. I prayed again and as the peace settled in again, the monitor went off again. Then it became sort of a game to see if I could focus on the peace, be into my prayer and get feedback from the monitor about my personal and spiritual state. Before they turned that monitor off, I made a lot of noise, found a lot of peace, and felt close to God at a time I needed His presence. It would be nice to have such a monitor all the time, in training, in racing, in everyday life, to provide feedback on how much of the world we are letting go and how focused we are on the truly important aspects of life. There is nothing like thinking that the night might be your last one on earth, to make me reach for the peace on the day to day monitor, set the bar high, and listen for the buzzer which tells me I have truly let go.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Scary

Last night was a pretty scary experience - a reaction to a medication. When the reactions starting creeping in over me; my feet began to flush-itched like crazy-, hands became swollen, red-itching like crazy-, head felt big and under pressure like it was going to bust. I couldn’t swallow and I feared that next it will be my bronchial tubes to swell, and that should do it. Living an early life with severe asthma, left me with my greatest fear, that of being choking to death. So now, I may get to go one on one with my greatest fear. My chest was tight and painful. It seemed I had horrible gas that I needed to belch up-at least I hoped that was the problem, but my throat was so swollen that I couldn't drink any Alka-Seltzer or anything to test my theory. It is almost 30 miles to the emergency room. A 911 call and response one way might not be any quicker than a drive. We got in the car. There was no panic. We passed my bike course on the way, and I hoped it was not the last time I would see it. Most of all,I hoped that there wouldn’t be any disability. Death could be dealt with. I know Him, I am ready. I prayed. The severely restricted breathing never came. There was some restriction, but not enough to be threatening. We passed the area where my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren live, and we passed the place where my son and I completed a bike event together. A good life. I continued to pray. We made it to the emergency room, and good people were in place to take good care of me. After many hours there, I began to recover, the flush left, the swelling went down. I could swallow again. The pressure in my head went down, and the pressure in my chest subsided. They said my tests were perfect and it looked like a drug reaction, not a heart problem. I am still alive-Praise God. My lease has been renewed! Praise God! More than ever, I want to run, bike, swim, live and love for the Glory of God. And I can. Praise God! Today I can.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bad Luck Thursdays

It felt like my pedal was moving sideways under my feet. It was. Little ball bearings scattered and rolled down the hill I was climbing. Oh my! It was a different ride back to the truck. I had planned it so well, I thought. Had lots of water bottles ready, plenty of Powergels on call, and a good breakfast under my belt. It wasn't to be. Thursdays are my long ride days. Today, I had planned a 60 miler. Last week I had planned a 60 miler on Thursday. However, helping a stranded motorist consumed the bulk of the morning and by the time, I got to riding, it was hotter and more humid than I had liquid for. The Thursday before that, on the last 20 miles, riding in a very strong wind, my bottom bracket worked loose and I could not shift the front chain ring. It was a slow go, nursing the bike back to the truck, finishing my 60 miler. The week that before that I threw a chain at 25 mph. It hung up but didn't stop the back wheel. Thank God! I gingerly finished my 60 miler. You could call these "Bad Luck Thursdays" but at the same time, I feel blessed. Stuff is going to break. Things are going to happen. "In the world ye shall have tribulations----" In an event, things can happen you don't expect. Perhaps, this is part of training, part of the process? Perhaps, I should have already replaced those old pedals that had thousands of miles on them. Perhaps I should have already had that bike tuned up so that it wouldn't be so inclined to throw a chain. Perhaps, I should have checked that bottom bracket before the ride to see if it might be coming loose? Perhaps, I should have told the stranded motorist that I was too busy and that they could find some other assistance. No, I don't think so on that one. I have been blessed in that none of these "Bad Luck Thursdays" has caused me injury, and I still get to own the experiences. And I have been blessed by the smile on that stranded motorist's face, the thank yous, and the pat on the back from God that tells me that despite all the other times I have chosen selfishly, this time I did OK.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

All In

I felt it. Just a bit of mist that could have been my own sweat. Then, drops spattered the dry road. There it was; that fresh smell of rain on pavement, a wave of wind blowing at my bike: a mockingbird real happy about it all. He seemed to be singing, “Do you see it. Do you see it. Think its gonna rain; think its gonna rain.” I smiled as he repeated the refrain again and again as I struggled up the hill. Crazy bird; as crazy as I am. Raindrops grew larger, the rain denser prompting me to think that this was really nice, biking in the cool rain. It had been so hot and humid before this. Then the rain quit; the sun came out and steamed my world; riding a sauna now. Couldn’t get enough to drink. I was soaking wet but not sure from rain or sweat. Forty miles done and time for the brick run. Only one water bottle left. This was going to be a tough run. My wet shoes squish as I trod the steamy pavement. Finally done! Thank you God! Found the cell phone and called my wife. “I’m through and coming home.” A pleasant voice answered, “OK, I’ll have your recovery drink ready.” I hope I don’t ever take this kind of blessing for granted. Sometimes I see triathletes with large number of family and friends supporting their effort and I might feel a little jealous. But I don’t have that. What I do have is one completely committed, entirely devoted person in my corner. She can always be counted upon, even though she has sometimes painful health issues that make support difficult. And what I also have the is blessing of God. He has blessed me with health and capability at an age when many are shopping for a nursing home. He has blessed me the will and the “want to” and vision to keep me moving forward on these really hard training days. And He has blessed me with that one supportive person who is all in for me. In sunshine and in rain, in heat, humidity - whatever - I pray to be all in myself,to do my best for my wife and for the glory of God.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"It Just Is"

It will be hot on the "Dirt Road from Hell." It always is on the 10K run of the Wool Capitol Triathlon in San Angelo, Texas. http://www.ironheadrp.com/woolcapital/index.html This August 12th, the event will celebrate its 25th anniversary. I did this one 10 years ago. How much have I lost? Then again, how much have I gained? Howver, the end game is the good experience. How can this be a good experience when it is some sort of guarantee that I will end up looking something like the above photo from the 2007 event, or worse? Why is it important? "It just is," said the Blazeman (Jon Blais,ALS Warrior Poet now deceased)as to why it was important to him to do the ironman. Those who have been there know. Life is not like a half-eaten Powerbar. I can't save it until later. There is not that much "later" remaining. Who knows how much "later" any of us have? Life is the currency God gave me. Spend it well. Run the race set before me while the hot August sun is still in my sky.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Periodic Treatment of Humble

The pain is leaving. My lower back and hips have been giving me the blues lately. Yeah, it causes concern, especially, since I just signed up for several events. It is hard to think that my body won't deliver what I have promised of it. Perhaps, this is my periodic treatment of humble. Left to my own nature, I might get a bit ungrateful, proud, and somewhat arrogant. Today, at least, I am thankful and seem to have returned again to the better part of me: the one God shapes through success, and most especially adversity.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Want to Go There

I want to go there. This race report at the link below really got my blood up and coursing; great report. No, I don't want to go to Ironman France, but I want to go to that experience. For most, it is a matter of pride, fulfilling goals, accomplishment. After all the months of training, all the obstacles overcome: I did it! Can you believe? And, I know full well, that when I cross my finish line, I will share in that smorgasbord of emotions. And I know too I will have uncontained tears of joy, gratefulness, and praise to God for bringing me through; tears of abundantly blessed. http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/cms/article-detail.asp?articleid=963

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Discipline to Say No

Transition week; the week I am to cut back, and recover. I am trying something different this year on my training plan. During the heat, I usually get pretty burned down after a while. Temps in the 100's and humidity in the 80s and 90s has a large meltdown effect upon me while training most years. So this year I designed my schedule with a two week training cycle rather than a three. After two weeks, I have a lesser volume transition week. And, I have incorporated two complete days off a week during these hot times. It took some figuring to get it in but I am excited about it. But I wonder how excited I will be about this schedule when it doesn't seem enough; when I am pacing about in body and spirit wanting to get out there and overtrain in the heat. Wiil I have the discipline to say "no" to that urge to take it to the limit, then crash and burn. Can I say no to the present temptation that will come, so that I might speak a better yes for the prize at the end of the training? Tonight I pray that I can stick to my program and not be yielded to the temptation to trade in my tomorrow for today.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Moved to Commitment

Yesterday, the bike ride was tough. Very strong winds, coupled with my bike computer falling and getting lost, and my bottom bracket getting loose, made this a ride of challenges. The bike worked fine for a while, then when the bottom bracket got loose, the shifting got limited. Not good, but the experience was. The experience was that I came through the wind, the mishaps, and finished my course. Thank God! That was it. That settled it. I signed up for a sprint triathlon Rose City http://www.rosecitytri.com/ and my 70.3 Half Ironman Austin http://www.rosecitytri.com/ on October 28th. Pumped? Yes indeed. I have prayed about all this for some time and, it is counter-intuitive, but the bad breaks seemed to have moved me to commitment. And now to the task ahead: the training, the hopes, the dreams, fail or succeed, overarched and ungirded by the blessing of God.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Giving Life a Shine

Never had a lot, but always had what I really needed. As Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, he was glad he never had enough money to endanger his poverty. There is a joy tonight over a simple thing: a long bike ride in the morning with a brick run. Just got the bike back from the shop; all tuned with new white bar tape just waiting for my grip. Oh, there will be hills and hills and hills. It won't be all that easy, but the anticipation and the excitement of the challenge gives a shine to life I would not trade. It's a good day today with hope expectant of a good morrow. What more could I ask than to be filled with this hope. God has blessed.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Should Have Dug Deeper

Whoops! My hand touched a hard bottom as I swam. My first swim since I dug out my pond during last year’s drought. It was not as deep as I had hoped it would be at the end of the pond. I should have dug deeper. It is too late now. But the ground was so hard and dry back then. I should have dug deeper. Temperatures were in the triple digits most of the time back then. I should have dug deeper when I had the chance. There are relationships that should I should have cultivated but these people are gone and there won’t be another chance. I should have dug deeper. There are things I should have said, hands I should have held. I should have dug deeper. I could have done so much more of God intended for me to, gave me the ability to do when I had the chance. I should have dug deeper. Today is the day after the ironman I withdrew from months ago. Sure life got dry and hard for me while I was trying to train for the event but I should have dug deeper. Today, the ironman question would have been answered yes or no, if I had only dug deeper. God willing, may I dig deep and mine the moments I have left, for the gold that God has placed there. I will never have the chance again to dig deeper on this pond of opportunity, or at this event of life again. At the end of this life, my I not regret that I did not dig deeper at it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Beautiful Beginning

He's gone. Cancer claimed him early this morning. My friend is gone. It was only a week ago we shared his diagnosis. I had no idea my time with my friend would be so short. After hearing the news, I looked for a photo for my computer desktop; one that might convey how I felt at this time of loss. And, I found this one, a sunset with the last glow of day fading away - a sad but beautiful ending. But wait! didn't he tell me he was not afraid of dying; that he knew and trusted his Savior? Didn't he say he didn't fear death, but he didn't want to be sick. He was at peace and went quickly. It was what he wanted. And wait again! This picture - now I remember. It-was taken before a triathlon I was about to do. No, this picture is not of a sunset at all, but a photo of the promise of dawn: not an end of day, but a beautiful beginning.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Race Peace

The event had begun. My swim wave moved into the water, readying for our start. I moved into the deeper water to await the horn that would sound the beginning of my race. And so I prayed: prayed for peace in the impending open water swim, peace in the transition, on the bike, and in the run. In the midst of whatever happens out there, let be still; be at peace. The horn sounded. We were off. Almost from the start I felt the velcro strap and timing chip coming loose from my ankle. Finally, I stopped swimming, and reached down to my ankle. The strap came off into my hand. That was close. Three times the strap started coming loose, and three times I had to stop and reattach it. At last, I snugged the strap up so tight that it felt like it was cutting the blood off to my foot. But, it didn't come loose this time. In all this, there was the peace I had prayed for. I had lost time but was not flustered. The strokes became strong and rhythmic as I began to pass swimmers. Somehow,I had found the zone that I try so hard to achieve. It was my slowest swim ever at this event, but it was a wonderful swim, perhaps the best ever. Transition went smoothly, and there was a feeling of freedom running with my bike to my bike mount line. Out on the road, builidng momentum, I looked down to see my bike computer wasn't working. Bikers passed me one after another as I fiddled with my bike computer; pushing buttons, moving the receptor: nothing. The computer was broken, but the peace I had prayed for wasn't. Standing up building speed, there was a race to be run. The rhythm came; pedaling circles, passing people who had passed me while I was in repair mode. What a great ride! It felt so good that I probably pushed a little too much on the bike. When I got off the bike, I realized that I was winded. It was worth it. My legs seemed to be on strike when I started the run, but I caught a pace and stayed there. It was going well. My heart was light as I tried to thank every volunteer I came to. Less than a half mile to go, a man in my age group passed me. "Dig down," I thought, but the fire would not ignite. As hard as I tried to push myself, the man kept putting distance on me. I crossed the line about fifteen seconds behind him. Yet, there was still a peace. And, as it turned out, we were only racing for fifth place in our age group anyway. What a great event! It wasn't my greatest peformance, but certainly one of my best races: best, not from a measureable perspective, but best in that "peace that passes understanding."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Coming Back to the Poison

Someone asked me if I was going to do another malathion this weekend. I told them that I wasn't doing a malathion, but I was attempting to do a couple triathlons. Besides, I added, those things can be poison. Oh yes, I can remember at the end or near the end of marathons, feeling like I had indeed been poisoned or something. But, I kept coming back to the poison. And now, after thirty-something triathlons, I keep coming back to that flavor of poison. The triathlon and all that goes with it does indeed poison: it poisons my natural tendency to be sedentary; it poisons the negative effects of many worries and heartbreaks this world dishes out; it poisons listless life and dull, pedantic living, it poisons my doubt leaving only hope and faith. Tonight, as I prepare to go do a couple of these poisonous ventures, I offered a silent prayer of thanks to God, for my portion of that poison.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm Not That Good

Next Saturday, May 5th, I think I am in for a "whuppin." My plans are to complete the CB & I Triathlon http://www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/index.aspx?NID=306 in The Woodlands, Texas. Most likely, there will be some really good "older guys" at this event, as there has been the past three times I have done this one. I have only placed in my age group once at CB & I. At other events, there are usually only one or two in my age group and all I have to do is show and finish to get a medal. Not so at this event. These old guys are the real deal. They are good. I'm not that good. However, I usually turn in a great preformance (for me)though my great performance barely keeps me out of last place in my age group. God didn't seem to make me any good at this stuff, but don't think I haven't ask "why not?" I love this stuff! Maybe loving something this much and being able to do it at all is blessing upon blessing and good enough? Yes, I have been blessed by the experience that is endurance sports. Maybe I don't have to be all that good to get God's richest blessings from it. So Saturday I will take what I have, revel in my blessings, and do the best I can to "run the race set before me." And in my faith life, I will be the best I can be, but looking to Jesus to make me "good enough." On my own I'm not that good.

Friday, April 27, 2012

You Are My Ironman !

The idea is still exciting and challenging to think about, though I have failed on this journey once already. When I examine my realities, I have to say this was wrong; I’ve misread the vision, and my ego has drawn me off into the unreal and impossible. No, it just can’t be.
Yet, behind it all, in spite of all that is rational and sane; I know. I know. It is unexplainable; it is foolhardy and seems almost impossible. But there is a knowing I cannot escape from and a knawing in my soul that I cannot truly deny. I wish it would go away, but the harder I push it down, the more it rises to the surface of my consciousness and my conscience. I must confess; I am afraid. Perhaps I am to only try; commit to this totally in the face of what the world would term “reality.” Perhaps, my quest is simply one of obedience; to obey if only for the opportunity to try and to fail. But disobedience is failing already. With the opportunity to fail comes the opportunity to be blessed, with success as a possibility, and the voice of God sounding in my ears at the finish line.

“Well done, my faithful servant. You are My Ironman!



Friday, April 20, 2012

Exalted?

"Let's run home!" I told my two grandchildren.  We had been at their neighborhood park playing, and running home seemed to them such a grand idea.  I ran  close behind.  The oldest outpaced the youngest granddaughter and I sensed her frustration.  So, I offered to carry her stuffed bear to free her arms up to run faster. 

And there I was; macho triathlete (ha), Ironman hopeful, carrying a stuffed bear, running behind two small children. I smiled at the thought of the picture the scene made, and I thought of this scripture:  "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." (Luke 14:11) 

Exalted?  Next day I had one great bike ride.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Giving Air to the Ego

"You could do that Austin half right now.  You know that."  I think she meant it when my wife dismissed my reservations about doing this event
http://ironmanaustin.com/  in October.  

It made me think. Yeah, you know, I probably could.  I could probably push through this somehow to get it done, right now.  It wouldn't be pretty but it could be done. So, why do I give air to my fears?  Perhaps, it is to make my training seem that much more difficult and intense.  Perhaps I am giving air to my ego by giving air to my alleged fears? 

I feel the blessing of God in going for this.  Truth is, I would like to be in terrific shape for this event and qualify for the World Championship in my age group.  Today, let me face that truth, and train to make it real.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

More Real Than It Ever Has Been


It is always so amazing to see myself getting better.  Keeping records of my training tells me I am doing better and better.  It seems a miracle.  It always does. I think this is one of the reasons I train; just to experience the miracle of the growth of capability within me; just sampling the miracle again.  And as I age up, and the number of times left to particapate in this miracle decreases, I enjoy the miracle more and more, more than ever.  It is more real than it ever has been.

The celebration of the greatest miracle ever occurs tomorrow: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This year I joy that miracle more than ever; it is more real than it ever has been. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Life Cannot Be Sealed Up In a Tomb"


It is not just about the cross but also about the tomb.  Easter morning the tomb was empty.  He was not there.  "Because He lives, you shall live also."  Do we?  Or, do we call our lives hard names, and stay in  the safety of the despair of our tombs and try to call it life?

Oh, the wildflowers of Easter I see on my bike rides, the peaceful feeling of a run well done, the rhythmic power of some good swim strokes in the soothing medium of water, the little children with their Easter baskets, the vibrant green grass, the singing birds, and the eternal Hope in my heart, which says "come on out, to the life I have called you for.  I have paid the price; I have rolled away the stone from the tomb.  He is not here and neither should you be."

He is alive, and because He lives, I shall live also.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Not Just For Me

It is not just about me. Our fitness can benefit others as well. This is not a new idea or concept, and the idea was spawned by a post from one of my favorite bloggers.

The story goes: I was exiting the back door of church Sunday after the service. Coming down the sidewalk I could see a large man in a wheelchair, off in the flowerbed. A lady was there trying to help, and when I asked if I could be of assistance he told me it would really be appreciated. His wheelchair had gone off the edge of the sidewalk right into a fire ant bed. The wheel was stuck, and ants were crawling all over his wheelchair. It was heavy but I was able to lift the man and the wheelchair back on to the sidewalk, where I began knocking ants off the chair.

Afterwards, I thought how blessed I was to be able to be in the right place at the right time with the right physical ability to help. And, I thought of my family, my grandchildren, my friends. If they were caught in a dangerous situation, I would need to be physically capable to pull them from danger to safety or whatever the situation required.

And if for no other reason, I need to go on with training, with a fitness lifestyle. If I am to be of service to others, I must be capable myself.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Can Heaven Be Better Than This?

This is Texas at its best: perfect temps, not much wind, bluebird skies, wind flowers everywhere on the roadsides, pure heaven for a bike rider. The longer I rode the more I seem to soar like I had a strong wind behind me, but I didn't. I had my own magic carpet ride over and down the flowered hills.

Taking it all in, I thought, can heaven really be any better than this? Sure. But, I so appreciate the free sample of today.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Athens Race Report

Great race! Felt mentally, physically, and spiritually fit for this one; so ready for all that the event entails. This event will begin my organized training plan pointing to a long course event in the fall, God willing.

The weather couldn't have been any better. Everything went smoothly in the readying process. After setting up my bike and transition, I was ready for the water. A practice swim was easy. Things were flowing. There was a rhythm.





Into the water, rhythm and flow; not going all that fast but smooth, steady, untiring. It was over before I realized it. Off to transition, on to the bike. Gosh this great. I pass rider after rider throughout the course. For the first time ever in thirty-six triathlons, no rider passed me. Before I knew it, the bike leg was winding down.
Off the bike, put on my cap and on to the run course. Steady, steady, not fast, just steady. People pass. I pass some that had to walk. Steady, steady, and the finish line. Praise God !


And for only the second time in all my triathlons I am first in my age group. On the podium for photos and my medal. Second place in my age group was a man who was part of a three generation team of family members competing in this event. Wow! Talk about a legacy.

This was a good day. And, if I never have another, I will be so thankful for this one. But, my hopes, my dreams for this journey are that I have many more days of soaring spirit. And tonight I will pray again for that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Insatiable Appetite for Childhood

This is not my first triathlon but it still feels like it. Tomorrow, we leave for Athens, Texas for the sprint on Saturday. Even having done this event several times, even having completed many marathons, and thirty-something triathlons, I am still excited about this.

I am so blessed to have health and opportunity to do this, but I feel especially blessed in that I still love to play. I haven't grown up - and though the years say otherwise - I haven't grown old. I still have this insatiable appetite for childhood. Got to go start packing, reviewing my checklist, readying my toys for playtime. Thank you God.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rescue Work in Spandex

The vehicle's tires began to blow out as it skidded sideways down the freeway off ramp Miraculoulsy, the car didn't turn over and finally rocked to a stop right in the middle of the feeder road and blocking the exit ramp.

I had just passed that exit ramp as I was doing my bike ride on the feeder road. The vehicle and its occupants had been on quite a ride, and I did not know if anyone was hurt or worse. Throwing my bike down in the grass, I ran the short distance to the vehicle. Inside were two little old ladies just sort of staring straight ahead. I pulled hard and the door on the passenger side creaked open.

When asked, they said they didn't think they had any serious injuries. Thank God ! About that time a car started coming down the off ramp. Oh my!

I was easy to see with my bike helmet on and multi-color spandex bike outfit, but I waved the car to a stop anyway and asked the driver to call 911. Then I ran back to the vehicle and got the driver side door open. It was hot and after the ordeal they had been in, the little old ladies didn't need to swelter in the heat. I told them not to try to get out right now. Then some more cars started down the off ramp. Back up the off ramp, I got the cars to slow and every one asked could they be of assistance. Several pulled over and went to see about the little old ladies. Another helped me direct the traffic that was beginning to back up.

Finally the wrecker came, then the police, then the ambulance. Thank God. I went back to the vehicles and talked to the little old ladies one last time. They would be OK. The driver was in her mid-eighties and the passenger was older than that. The driver told me she was puzzled about all this because they had prayed to be kept safe on this journey.

Needed no longer, I slipped away from the crowd to finish my bike ride. The ride gave time and pause for reflection. For one: the world is not all bad. People can be very good when someone else is in trouble. I don't know how many people asked me if I needed anything, or could they help?

Secondly: perhaps the little old ladies should have prayed to ask whether or not they should have attempted such a trip at their ages and abilities in the first place, rather than asking God to bless their own decision. That one struck home: Yeah, I've done that.