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.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"I Hear Footsteps"

Will I ever get old enough not to miss my father? I am 4 years older than he was when he died of cancer. Shortly after that long and painful ordeal was over, I wrote the following which is in my small book, I Hear Footsteps. Tomorrow is his birthday.----------------------------------------

“My Father was very ill. For months he had been passing blood. He had a cough he could not shake. The once toughened skin had the yellowish, clammy pallor of a cancer patient in the last stages. IVs were attached to both arms for the transport of nourishment, blood transfusions, and pain medication.

“I read to him from the Bible. ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you….’ Unable or unwilling to accept fully what I knew in my heart to be true, numbed somewhat to the whole experience; I was unwilling to confront the obvious.

“I went about my care giving life acting as if I thought I could make a difference; as if my love, my caring, would stem the tide of the ravages of cancer on my father’s body. This day, this attitude was held in spite of the realization of the gravity of the situation only a few weeks ago.

“After seeing the cancer specialist in the finest cancer hospital, my Father had turned to me and said, ‘Marv, they have just messed around and let this stuff eat me up, haven’t they?’

“I could not lie. When the report was given, I had been there. Trying my very best to control the quiver in my voice, trying my best not to cry, I summoned all my courage and said, ‘Yes, Daddy, I think they have.’ We never talked about it again.

“This one night later was another day of the waiting game, making sure the nurses gave him the morphine at the prescribed intervals to keep down the horrible pain. I needed to go run. To get away, to push myself, to exert myself, somehow soothing my own pain. He understood. As I dressed to go run around the hospital parking lot a few times, my Father talked to me about my running. He had never really thought very highly of my running before. Somehow though, as his illness became more severe, he had begun to try to understand and appreciate my commitment. As I opened the hospital room door to leave, he stopped me with, ‘Marv?’

“He looked at me and smiled across the dim lighted room, across the tubes, the machines, the bags and bedpans, across the generations and across the personal differences that had often separated us. Grinning a familiar grin that I will never forget, he said,

“‘If you hear footsteps coming up behind you, just look around and it will be me, running behind you.’

“‘Oh, Daddy, I wish it were,’ I replied and left quickly to cry out of his sight.”

Many years later now, I do hear the footsteps. He is running behind me. I cannot let him or others like him down. Yes, I am called and yes, I am driven by the footsteps that I hear in my heart. ------------------------------

Happy Birthday Daddy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blurred, Beautiful Moments

"Either good outweighs the bad or we forget the bad...." is a line from on old country and western song by Tom T. Hall. Looking back at my 30 years in endurance sport, the past has blurred to beauty. There have been no bad events, no bad experiences. Oh I have hurt horribly during some events, and I have disappointed myself countless times in my performances. But even the tough times, the disappointing times, breathe a smile upon reflection. It was all good.

And with that smile embraces a hopeful future of other events; successes and failures, disappointments and exhaltations. The best is yet to come. The pleasant memories are just that, but the future is before me, to be lived; and to join my collection of blurred, beautiful moments that make me smile. Thank you God.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hill? What Hill?

That last hill is the worst on the course. Today, my ride begun in a misting rain that got worse and worse. By the time I was finishing the ride, coming to that last hill, it was a torrential downpour. However, there was something sort of exciting about it. There has always been a reluctance to go out in bad conditions, but once out there, it seems to become a kind of exciting adventure. A little strange maybe.

As I pondered these mysteries of my personal universe, a flash of light illuminated the dark sky. Lightning. Ooooh. Not good. But the thunder took a long time to make a sound. From the length of time of flash to thunder, the lightening did not seem to be that close. Moments later there more lightning, but now the times between the lightning and thunder seemed closer together. Without realizing it, I had begun pedaling much faster, even though my vision was limited in the half light and the pouring rain. I was rocking and rolling when I came to that last and worst hill. Suddenly, an extra bright flash of lightning crackling and sputtering all around, instantly followed by a terrific blast of thunder. Already going pretty fast, "shock and awe" found another gear inside myself. I popped over that hill like it was a speed bump. Hill? What hill? Hitting the flatter sections of the course, I moved so fast, I was afraid of hydroplaning.

Back at the truck, dripping wet, I revelled in a great ride. Wow! How did I do that? What has been going on here? The ability to perform like that had been in me all the time waiting for sufficient challenge and motivation. What else is down there buried in habit, laziness, misconception, and limited vision? What else is in there only waiting for lightning enough to be lived out fully, climbing hard hills in hard times; to revel in life and in a great ride?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wild Again

Would the shoulder hold up? Only 8 weeks from surgical repair of a severe tear in my rotator cuff, and I was doing the Athens triathlon. Just take it easy, roll on through, and just get it done. I had done this grand old triathlon many times, so I didn't expect any surprises. But there was one: I won first place in my age group-a first for me. And, I thanked God for the surgical success, the rapid healing, and recovery beyond my most bold expectations.

That was two years ago - though I have aged up - I am in much better condition, and am so looking forward to turning all the dogs loose on this one. I love this event. Perhaps, just being there; revisiting that comeback, I will recover and retain a certain amount of boldness in faith that gets mitigated somewhat in safe, predictable living. Perhaps, like the song says, "I want to be wild again."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

He Is Us

This bike course used to be tough. Nothing has changed about the course or the landscape. Perhaps, it is my landscape that has changed.

Today, I took my truck in to be serviced, and while all that was going on I did the old bike route I have done occasionally over the years. It has some hills, it can be windy, and I thought it a little tough.

Today, it didn't seem that tough. The hills were not that steep. Even when a headwind came up, blowing 20-25 mph, the course still did not seem that hard; not as hard as I remembered on even on good weather days.

There was a good feeling about this ride to go with the good nastalgia. There have been gains if only in my thinking. Perhaps there are other things I might consider too daunting to try. Perhaps, there are other courses of action I consider just out of the range of my ability. Perhaps, I am my own number one limiter. Maybe, like the saying goes, "I have met the enemy and he is us."

Monday, March 5, 2012

No, Not Today

Today I am off. Perhaps I need an off day. Legs feel like jello and I am tired in my head. Almost two weeks without a day off, hitting the hills on the bike most days, it has all done a number on me.

And, this is probably the prettiest day of the year: perfect weather. All I want to do is rest, sit and listen to birds sing their excitement about spring; maybe doze a bit here and there for me. There are a thousand things I need to be doing if I am not going to train, but no, not today.

Really, shouldn't I be doing some overcoming, and go on with the training? No, not today. There is that "peaceful easy feeling" that must taken in and absorbed fully-recovery fuel. What a day! Thank you God.

Friday, March 2, 2012


It is going so well. This is only so vividly apparent and joyfully appreciated because of the recent hard times - times when things weren't going so well. To say I am grateful, doesn't seem to say enough. It makes me realize how important this lifestyle is to me. In a way, it is worship. No, I don't worship this old body. I am just an old no-talent geezer who has been blessed. No, this stuff is a kind of worship to me because in bad or good times, I feel close to God, out there. I don't know how or what. It just does. There is just something about sustained effort that moves me closer into the presence of God. I love being there. Tomorrow, some running, some biking-ah worship.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lost and Found

The front wheel has been missing since Decemeber 17, 2011. I had loaded the bike in the pickup but left the wheel leaning on the truck. When I got home, I realized I had left my wheel on the side of the road but a trip back showed the wheel was gone. It was a good wheel-worth over two hundred dollars counting the new Continental tire on it.

Today, March 1, 2012, I decided to go on and do two 20 mile loops instead of one. When finished I was about to load my bike when a car pulled up and a little man got out. He asked could he see my bike. Of course, I will brag on my bike to just about anybody, so I agreed. I asked was he going to buy one and he said, "no sir, is that a new wheel on the front of your bike?" I told him it was an old wheel I was using to replace the one I lost. He then went on to explain that he had found a wheel there a couple months ago. Everytime he went into town, he would drive by this site to see if a bike rider might be there, to see if it might be his wheel. He then told me to follow him on to his house, where he gave me the wheel.

What are the odds? This has to be a God thing. To think that it was a man with a heart like that, that found my wheel, that he was so determined to get it back to its owner.

The world is not "going to hell in a handbasket." There are good people out there, ready, willing and committed to "doing the right thing." My task, as I see it, is to insure that I am one of them.