Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"The Axe is Laid Unto the Root of the Tree--"

Dug it up, cut out the roots, pulled to fall in a safe place. That tree in the front yard was rotten at the center and leaning to fall eventually into an area causing damage.

Some things in life have been like that. Left undug,stumps of bad habits, attitudes, and negative propensities can sprout into a life again. Some things need to be dug up and cut off at the roots before they fall upon our life to cause damage.

The tree left a sizeable hole so a cold frame was built in and over it: a place to start fresh young seedlings for the garden to encourage new life that will bear fruit in due season.

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Season: Yeah, I Am Scared a Bit

Today I officially kick it off. I am going for it again. My plans are to do the Buffalo Springs Half Ironman June 24th.

Word is that this is one tough Half Ironman. Last year temperature got up to 112 and the winds supposedly blow hard all the time. And hills? Some of the biggest and baddest. At least that is the report I have been getting from race reports from: http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/directory/?catid=154&t=r

Yeah, I am scared a bit. They have Kona slots there though. There is always the chance that I could place well and get the chance to enter the big one: the World Championship in Hawaii. Then I looked at the participant list and nine other old geezers have signed up. My age group will contain the best of the best from all over. Yeah, I am a little intimidated.

But, I'm prayed up over it. I know how it must feel to succeed at this, but I am pretty good at getting beat and getting over it by now. Getting up off the floor is my speciality. Someday, maybe a bouquet.

In the meantime, I have a half marathon to do in about 4 weeks. Almost forgot that bad boy, in my trepidation over Buffalo Springs. http://www.thewoodlandsmarathon.com/

Oh yes, there is the Athens Triathlon (a sprint). Must not forget that.

Then another sprint in the Woodlands, Texas: the CB & I Triathlon. Usually tough competition there. http://www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/index.aspx?NID=306

Yeah, I have a lot to worry about before I face down the heat, hills, wind, and competition at Bufflao Springs. And that is the only the first half of the year. I am leaving that open for now. Who knows? As long as I am breathing; as long as I can finish; there is always the chance that I could win a slot to either the half ironman championships in Las Vegas or the Kona slot. And If I fail, I know I have been blessed in the joy and hope of the efforts. And if I fail, God willing, I will get up again.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Terminator Triathlete

It is probably a bad trait. Over the years I have had more than my share of event disappointments. Sometimes, I get a little beat-up about it for a while. The picture of the terminator robot in the movie "Terminator" (I don't remember which one) comes to mind. He gets blown up, shot up, mashed, melted, but somehow his pieces find each other, and the terminator puts himself back together again.

I don't know how this is going to work out. Maybe it is time to be blown up or mashed, but the terminator triathlete is beginning to find the pieces and come back together.

I am in for the Buffalo Springs Half Ironman http://www.buffalospringslaketriathlon.com/bslt.php#

I think I am almost together except for a few loose screws. "I'll be baaack."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It IS You

I couldn't explain it. Dropping out of my ironman training was really a hit and I wondered why this should matter so much. My wife was friend enough to allow me to talk myself through it. Why do I want to an ironman? Why do I want to do all this training-this work? My haltering speech rambled through several thoughts but finally it came down to that endurance sports is more than hobby or pastime. It was a need, and yes, it is a calling. There is something spiritually intertwined in these efforts that I can't completely explain, except to say it is a calling. But, why?

How can these alleged games be so important anyway? How can it compare to the allegedly "important" things of life, that perhaps, I should be busy with? I have all these other work duties and roles to perform like husband, care taking son, father, grandfather, child of God, and last of all there is endurance sports athlete.

My wife listened intently several minutes to my questions and thoughts. When I was through she calmly told me that endurance sports is not last of all.

You can't quit. It is deeply embedded in who you are that it would be hard to separate the two of you. And, who you are is what balances your life, and gives you strength and competence, and hope to do what you have to do in your other roles. If that were lost, the rest of it would suffer greatly. Endurance sports IS important. It IS a worthy pursuit. It IS you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Embrace the Risk

The nursing home can be a depressing place. The blank, mindless stares of some of the residents, the pill line of wheelchairs, the somber tones of the last days of life, provides stark contrast to what is going on in my heart and head. I see a different world.

And the thought came to me: whatever risk one takes, however depleted one may get out training, however difficult an event may be, however it pours you out; all the fatigue and failure of a lifetime of endurance sports is better than one day in a nursing home.

Most residents don't wish for more stuff, more money, more prestige. They want capability again. "If I could just .......again." What word would we put between the "just" and "again" in that sentence?

As the saying goes, "the first wealth is health." I have health. I have capability. I have today. The only thing that can keep me from embracing the risk of losing or the possiblity of success is my own limited vision. Perhaps I can go deeper, higher,farther than I can yet see?
Perhaps, I can  today be found worthy of the capability God has granted me. Perhaps I can embrace the risk and "just" ....... "again" and "again" and "again."

Yeah, the sun is out. Just got back from a five mile run. And, its a great time to go for good bike ride; embrace the day, embrace the risk while the rush of life courses within me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ironman Confession

It feels like time to finally write about it-to say it. Sometimes our best efforts end in failure. What can I say? It happens. With my ironman effort, it happened.

For various reasons out of my control, I dropped out of my ironman distance effort about a month and a half ago. That hurt. For about a week I was in a mental funk. Then over the next weeks, training became inconsistent. Oh, I have had some good bike rides, but my limited training is generally unmotivated. It is as if I were in mourning. And, in a way, maybe I have been. Didn't feel like writing about it until now.

It seemed like the death of a dream. At my age, how much longer can I exxpect to be able to train like I need to in order to do an ironman? How can I expect to be able to be dedicated to ironman training ever, when life situations and family seem to always require my dedication?

But, there were good times in my short-lived venture into ironman. For about a week I was so pumped that I couldn't sleep. My thoughts in quiet times went to ironman, and I was already visioning my effort on event day. I was intensely alive for that time, and I thank God for how it made me feel. And I thank Him for the humility I have received in having to cope with this disappointment. But sometimes it is hard to be thankful for a broken heart.

At the same time, I have also achieved an even higher level of respect and admiration for the folks that manage to somehow overcome and make it to the starting line. They should give these folks medals for just getting there. Somehow their courage, their triumph won't let me give in. I see the faces. I view the pictures and sense that feeling of being in ironman training.

I want that picture of me back. How? I don't know. I honestly don't know. But I do know that life says try and something says I must. Now my goal is not only to cross the finish line and have it said that I am an ironman. No, I want the whole package - the entire experience, the journey. I pray that God will one day honor me again with the opportunity and bless me with the discipline of training for an ironman. I want the honor, the thrill of getting into the water with my heroes to start an ironman day.

Yes, sometimes our best efforts only lead to failure, but as the song says,
"Failure isn't final with the Father."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Free Wheeling Easy

Things were a little tough out there. Previous bike rides had been great. That day, I felt like I was dragging something behind my bike; just couldn't seem to get the rhythm. The hills were especially difficult. The down hill runs weren't as fast. Everything was sluggish. Still it was a good day because I was out there, and I could do this. As dead as my bike felt, I felt alive and blessed.

After getting home I notice that my front brake looked a little close. I worked the lever and the caliper didn't move that much. When I opened the calipers with my hand, they sprung apart. The brake was sticking and, I had done that ride with it dragging a bit. No wonder it felt sluggish.

The next ride was free wheeling easy and I wonder how many other little things are putting up a slight drag to keep me from having the ride in life that God would have for me. What part of my life and habits are stuck in closed position, keeping me from getting up to speed to free wheeling easy, on hopes and dreams out there on the course?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Snake That Didn't Bite

We had rode hard in the half-light and pouring rain the other night. My son and I were on a lightly traveled road heading back to the truck. It went well. It was exhilarating.

Today, I was checking my bike tires and found a slight bulge in an area of my back tire. Inspecting it further revealed that the tread was separating from the tire pretty dramatically in some places. My goodness. I had been out there in bad conditions unaware that my tire might be about to come apart.

It was the last ride for my son as he will be moving away. How awful it would have been to pollute that perfect experience with a tire coming apart in a pouring rain. So, I smiled and said, "thank you God. I appreciate the time out from trouble." And, I wonder how many other bad experiences I have been protected from where I was unaware of that protection. How many snakes in life have I walked right by that didn't bite me?
Emanuel-God is with us.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Certain Joy

Great day! My son and I rode hard in places, slowed to talk in others. It could have been our last ride together in a very long time, perhaps ever. Yet, there was no sadness; only the moment: the thrilll of the ride, the peace of the relationship, the joy in those moments. Coming back, it started to get darker and rained on us. Riding in the half light and rain, trailing one another, it was symbolic of the times in our lives. In life too, we are riding together into an indistinct future with difficulties to be confronted and overcome. But God will be there too.

Yet, we rode on into the rain, even with a certain joy of confronting the elements and the unknowns. No matter what happens, we will have that. And I thank God for that the joy as those moments live on.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I'll Come Back

Finished, finally finished. The accounting-with pictures-of my triathlon life; my triathlon scrapbook is finished. I hope I am not finished also, but finishing this work was one of the ways I am preparing for it. All thirty-six events are documented in this work. No, I am not trying to sell it. In fact, I will only get three to four copies printed. Of course, I want my grandchildren to have copies. They may not remember me, but at least, when things gets unbearably predictable and sane, they can see that they do have a heritage of something a little off dead center; something fun, rewarding, challenging, and inspiring. Who knows the impact

My plan is not original, but came from the movie, "The Notebook." When I can't go anymore; when I can barely remember who I am, I would like some caring person to show this "notebook" to me and read it to me. Maybe some of it will come back to me, and I will smile at the wonderful life, full of great memories. And if I am gone, and the work inspires those I leave to try harder, reach higher, become more, I will smile from heaven. By their reading this work, I will have come back.