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.

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 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 ! 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.