Monday, December 30, 2013

Rescue the Perishing

My motivation was at low tide. All my weaknesses were laid bare and I didn't like the picture. And then there was the down time of Christmas, the departure, at times, from good nutrition; I was tired already. Ready to quit if I just barely got tipped over. I prayed about the possible decision to quit.

My Christmas luncheon was with my 99 year old Mother in the nursing home. We brought her a good Christmas meal and her appetite is still zesty. She loved it. Then some more of my family showed up. The room got crowded and I found myself gravitating toward sitting near my nephew who is signed up for Ironman Lake Placid. The fire in his eyes lit up as mine surely did, as we told of injuries, experiences, hopes, and dreams in endurance sport.

Afterwards, driving home, I had a different slant on my thinking. No big explosions, no aha moments, but I unconsciously set about to continue my training. Three days later, I found that I done some great training, my motivation was back, and I really don't want to quit, if there is even a chance - even if it is a small chance. Perhaps, my nephew was my answered prayer; a confirmation. Perhaps, without his knowledge, he was sent to bring me out and point me up. Perhaps, without my knowledge, I am being used to bring others out and point them up as well?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Against All Odds - Christmas Story

Christmas approaching and as usual for this time of the year: training is in the toilet. Stuff comes out against me like one bad dream after another. My own motivation is tottering, about to fall. The big question comes out time and again like a haunting melody: Why do this anyway?

There are so many "practical" things I could be doing with my time instead of training or resting up from training. Why do this anyway? Do I really want this? And, my asthmas has messed with my breathing lately; my leg is painful to run on; family crisis seems a daily occurrence; Christmas expenses are off the charts, and I feel so out of shape. This whole thing seems to be going on against all odds. Isn't that foolhardy? Perhaps.

But, it is Christmas: a time when Hope was brought into the world to save. And so I go on right now, against all odds "O come all ye faithful;" a child of hope myself.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Who Do I Think I'm Kidding

It doesn't look good for the home team. That was my reply to a loud pop followed wobbling instability in my bad knee. Immediately I tried to brush back the negative thought, "who did I think I'm kidding?" And I remember the scene from "Rocky" in which he is in bed talking to Adrian the night before the big fight. "Who do I think I'm kidding?" he said. "I'm not even in this guy's league."

And who do I think I am kidding? I am in way over my head here too. The ironman is so much bigger than I am; than I am going to be prepared for. Who do I think I'm kidding? I will need to run fifteen minute miles on the run to make the cut-off. I can't do that; not even close. My knee still hurts a little, but the problem is that the injury has really messed with my gait. My run is so clumsy-looking that I try to get my runs in where no one will be watching. An ironman? Who do I think I'm kidding?
My biking is improving. The long rides are getting done, but it is doubtful that I can get my biking up enough to compensate for my ultra slow marathon.

OK, so there is not much of a chance that I will even get to the start of the ironman and even less of chance I will complete it. I have said that I estimate I have only a one in ten chance of completing the ironman. That estimate takes in all the land-mine family issues hanging out there that could blow up under my feet any minute. That takes into account the bad knee which I am not sure will hold up for the long haul. That takes into account for my age, which I don't feel yet, but with the level of training I need to do, I just don't know if age will finally show up.

Listen to me. Who do I think I'm kidding now? This is perfect. Of course the chances are only about ten percent, but if I keep on with the training there is a hundred percent chance I will immensely enjoy this journey. There is not much to lose that won't be lost eventually. If I spend my life trying to save my life, trying to save my effort and disappointment, I will lose the richest moments in life. I will lose my life by trying to save it. And for what? If I try and fail, I have had a great experience, a great journey, a wonderful adventure: I have the knowledge that I did my very best. My best; it is what supporters deserve and God calls me to, and I am not kidding.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Perfect Start

Thank God for the times when it all comes together. What a blessing when the plan becomes real. It was only this week but it was perfect. This was no easy task as the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” were out in force like a bunch of defensive linemen on a goal line stand. It was as if to say, “nobody has a perfect week. Nobody.” But I did. Today I finish up with an hour and a half run in a cold rain; finally perfect.
But this is only one week. I believe there are twenty five more to go. Of course, they won’t be perfect. I am human. But, I have a good training plan, and if I follow it as best I can, I believe I can finish my course; finish my ironman.
And I also believe that God has his perfect plan for me and my life. And, if I do my very best to follow His plan – though all my days and weeks won’t be perfect – one day I can finish His course. Praise God, I will have my perfect finish in Him.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Bad Patch

Life is often a hilly course. Sometimes in the valleys, looking up at the steepness of the hill and the distance to the top, our resolve weakens, our courage softens, and dreams can give way to the urge to avoid any more discomfort.

Last week was overcomer's week.
Monday was a brutal day of four disciplines leaving residual fatigue for the Tuesday 40 mile ride and brick run.
Tuesday , tired already. Out on the ride as early as mile ten, I started to sag. I didn’t want to go on. Maybe I will just do twenty and rest up? When I get back at the truck, do I quit or hang on? It is a ten mile out and back course and the ride back to the truck seemed to take forever. I was so tired; tired of being on the bike. My thoughts went continually went back to a nice shower, a soft recliner, and rest. Finally back at the truck, I got something to eat, lots to drink, and began to feel better. Maybe?
Isn’t this is where it is at? I am training for an ironman, for goodness sakes. Did I expect to feel rested all the time? I am training to endure fatigue, and here I have a massive dose and I want to take it to the house and rest? Do you want to be an ironman or a recliner jockey ? Which one do you think God is calling you out to be? Maybe I will just do the 40 miles and just skip the run? I am not sure my injured knee will hold up anyway. Whatever ! Just get back on the bike and get out there!

The legs soon found a rhythm, a good spin. The bike moving very well. Energy was returning. The wind was in my face; turn-around, the wind is at my back. I was soaring. And I was a little surprised it was over so soon. Having forgotten all about hedging on my workout, I grabbed my cap, a fresh water bottle and was out running on the road. It hurt some, but at the same time, there was a certain rush to enduring into discomfort. And, I ended the run with a smile. Thank you God!

Two days later, I had a 70 mile bike ride scheduled, but the first twenty really took it out of me. This time, though, I did not consider hedging my workout with a retreat to the recliner. Instead, I thought of ways to work through this bad patch. And I did. There was another bad patch at miles 45-50 more or less, but I got through that one too. It was almost as if I were training in bad patch intervals. For once, I had the sense that I was indeed, I am training for an ironman.

Two days later was my dreaded long run. Previous knee problems had me timid and afraid in the face of this long run. The bad patch was right at the beginning. Everything seemed to hurt. I was so tired, already. I almost called it quits the first quarter mile.

Keep moving, you are training for an ironman. This is just a phase; a mood. Keep moving. Learn to endure more, then endure more. You said you would try. You said you would train. Is “your honor greater than your moods. Yes!

And the running got better. The discomfort got stowed away. I was into the moment. I was enduring. I was totally alive. Thank God.
And today, I am mentally, personally, and spiritually closer to being ready for my ironman attempt than I have ever been. But today, I am also terribly tired. Ironman training seems to be a series of hill repeats in fatigue tolerance.
Life is a hilly course. What applies to ironman, applies to life. There will be fatigue, self-doubts, discomfort: there will be bad patches in everyone’s life. But, in pushing through to the other side, in going on, confronting the bad patches, the fears , and failures, we can become the persons God called us to be, and live out our faith in the promise of that great finish line for all those who believe.

"Behold, we count them happy which endure.---------------"
James 5:11

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting For My New Blessing

I have been injured for most of this year. Can't remember the last time I ran without at least some pain. Running once was my passion, my get-away zone, my freedom-feeling time. But now it has been reduced to something to be endured. Once a good friend; now, often feels like and overwhelming enemy. Yesterday photos of me running have been taken down from my wall. I just don't want to remember; just don't want to go there. It breaks my heart to see photos of others striding out. I would so love to do that again. Yes, I appreciated that ability when I had it, but not nearly as much as I would appreciate it now if I had back.

Life is like that too. Amazing how endurance sports easily becomes a metaphor for life. Blessings come into our lives, stay awhile, then they are gone, no matter how much we want them to stay. But, life resupplies. The empty space left by the departure of one blessing, can be filled with another one. God is faithful. Who knows how this will flesh out? Who knows how that empty spot of present heartache will be filled. Adventure can be right there on the dawning of the new day. So, I wait patiently, expectantly, hopefully, and prayerfully for my new blessing, or my new quest, or the restoration of the old blessing I love so much and so long.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"You Made My Day"

"I hope I can be doing this when I am your age." That is something I get all the time when I am being passed on the run of a triathlon. Perhaps, it is inspiring? Perhaps it is a testament to the fruits of long-term perseverance? Perhaps seeing some old dinosaur plugging along at turtle's pace lifts the spirit and brightens the hopes of others? Perhaps, it helps make their day.

The other night I visited my 99 year old mother in the nursing home. Upon leaving, as we hugged, she patted me on the back and told me she was so glad I came. "You made my day." What a great thing to consider that my meager love offering of time could make someone's day. My, what power for good, for engendering hope must we possess to make another's day better. Yet, how many days in the lives of others have I left unmade. How many times have I neglectful, consumed with my own race; making my own day; my own ego? How many opportunities to impact for good have I squandered? I pray that at the end of it all, I will have made more days in the lives of others than I have neglected.

Service is the virtue that distinguished the great of all times and which they will be remembered by. It places a make of nobility upon its disciples. It is the dividing line which separates the two great groups of the world—those who help and those who hinder, those who lift and those who lean, those who contribute and those who only consume. How much better it is to give than to receive. Service in any form is comely and beautiful. To give encouragement, to impart sympathy, to show interest, to banish fear, to build self confidence and to awaken hope in the hearts of others, in short –to love them and to show it---is to render the most precious service.
Bryant S. Hinckley

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Again Trusting

It seems I have been injured all year. Looking back over my log and journal, there aren't many painless days. This blog spikes with one resolution to continue after another. Sometimes, I really wonder. Sometimes, I fade in my faith. But, all times thus far, I have pulled up, found the faith, the trust to continue. It has been worth it. Even the bad workout have been good. Even the pain and disappointment have become an endurance effort of their own, like a big hill in every workout.

I know not what lies ahead in the fruition of my efforts. Four complete days off from training did absolutely no good at all. Stuff still hurts. Time to just move on into the half-light of my future capabilities...again, today---trusting.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Brutal Brick

Tuesday got out the door hoping that perhaps the assertion to continue on would somehow prevail over the hurting leg. Perhaps, something special would happen because I just went on with it. It has happened many times before when I was beaten down, injured or discouraged: just move; get out there; things get better on the road.

The bike ride went well. The legs felt strong. Hope opened a blossom. The run was a nightmare. Each foot strike was a smashing pain. I changed the stride. I quickened the gait. Slowed the gate. Landed midfoot, forefoot, heel: pain. I was sweating profusely, not sure if it was because of the activity, the heat, or the pain. And, I had only gone about a quarter mile. Why I am torturing myself?

Oh, it felt so good to stop and just be still a few minutes. I was done. It will be a while before I have the guts to try to run again. I have no idea what the future holds but I know Who holds the future. Now I look at pictures of people running smoothly and I so wish I could. I see pictures of myself running and so wish I could do that again. Perhaps never again; perhaps I will somehow recover. Whatever -- I will be found trusting still.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Staying Loyal - Getting Out the Door

"I Can't Get Started" is the name of an old song. And, the title and the tune pretty much embody how I feel starting this week of training. Where did the "want to" go? My knee is much better, thank God, but I seem lethargic in using and enjoying this gift. Perhaps the new car smell has left the ironman effort and now it is down to the day-to-day, grind it out, ironman training: accolades, no cheering section, no high-fives, just me and the struggle. There is no where to go to blame this on or hide behind. I "have met the enemy and he is me." After all the down time with the injury, I think I have an inertia problem.

"A body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force." ~Newton's First Law of Motion

Write these last lines. Hit "Publish." Get out the door. Just begin because: “It’s difficult to follow your dream. It’s a tragedy not to.”

Commitment means staying loyal to the what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Journey Continues - Trusting More

Trusting doesn’t come easy. When I began this I said I would trust and thus far I have: hanging in; hanging on. It seems I have been injured all year. For a couple months now I have been dealing with knee pain when running, and to a lesser degree, when biking. Afterwards, the knee becomes swollen back and front. It gets better; it gets worse. But it doesn’t go away. The question I never like to seriously ask: is this the end? Is it time to sell my bikes, trash my running shoes and become seriously sedentary until safety, comfort, indulgence and ease kills me? Sounds pretty much like a cure the appetite for life than for a sore knee. The shallow side of me says, lay it down; take it easy. You have done enough. My goodness, Marv. You will soon be 70. You have ran the equivalent of three times around the world . You have biked thousands of miles each year. Look at all the events you have done: all the hard gut checks you had. You deserve it. Eat, drink, and be merry, and when you gain weight, just buy bigger clothes; no problem. All this sounds good sometimes, especially when I am very, very tired or when injuries just come and move in with me or when I just can’t find the right reason right away to pick myself up off the canvas yet one more time. At times like these the easy, good life sounds appealing.

But I wasn’t called to the good life. I have been called to the best life; the best life, to be the best meto be all I can be to utilize the abilities and opportunities God has placed before me, to be all He has called me out to be. And besides all this He said, “trust me” and I said I would.

Did I think this was going to be easy? The orthopedic surgeon said I have some wear on one side of my left knee which could be creating some of the pain and swelling, but I think there is more to it than that. The first run in his brace was a torture tour.
This morning I got up in the dark to prepare for my run. I dreaded what I knew would be a pain fest. And I want to do this? It doesn’t make sense. Trust me. OK, got it. I strapped on my brace on the knee and this time put on a compression brace on the lower leg as well. Very little pain. What? This feels good . I can stride a little bit. I am losing my fear of the next step. I am wearing my wife’s brace. What? Yes, somehow in the dark I had put on the wrong brace and it all “worked together for good.”

Tomorrow, I will still be moving forward and God help me, I will continue to do so until He breaks my legs or brings me through. Whatever – “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil 4:12-1)

Though he slay me - I have no dependence but God; I trust in him alone. Should he even destroy my life by this affliction, yet will I hope that when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Job 13:15

Monday, July 22, 2013

You Win Every Time

My 6 year old granddaughter thinks she would like to swim/bike/run. She also thinks she would like to learn more about using my computer. The other day I was showing her how to pull up and view photos. She went through every photo and movie of my latest effort July 14th at the Aggieland Triathlon. When she came to the one of me crossing the finish line she saw I was finishing by myself. Probably, she thought I was finishing first and said, "you always win."

How do I explain age groups to her? How do I tell her that even on my best day, if I can only beat 50% of the participants? How do I tell her that I am just another old middle-of-the-pack person doing this because I love it? How do I tell her that really, I don't always win?

Yeah, I love this stuff even if I might finish last someday. But, no matter how I finish, I still feel so blessed to have the health, the will, and the ability to do this; to be an inspiration for those who come behind me. After 47 triathlons, I have found no downside to this life, other than I wish I had found it earlier. I have never regretted doing an event, only the ones I did not attempt. So strike one up for the wisdom of a child. My granddaughter is right after all: Yeah, I do win every time.

Blessed To Be the Answer

Nothing went right. About three years ago a bike ride was beset with all kinds of physical and mechanical problems. Enough! I had planned on a 30-50 mile ride but 10-12 was all it was good for. The bike went back on the truck; my many full bike bottles mostly full of water, were boxed up. Headed home. Not a good day at all. Driving home on this small country road, I kept revisiting all the problems I had had.

It was hot, very hot, humid; typical Texas summer. On the side of the road up ahead I saw an old automobile with the hood up and stream spewing up from the radiator. An old black man stood at some distance, watching, sweating in the heat. Several vehicles passed, but no one had stopped yet. Should I stop? Everyone has a cell phone, surely. Maybe it will be all right. I pulled over and stopped.

Sure enough, the elder gentleman had no cell phone. He had been trying to make it to his daughter's house about three miles up the road. I could take him there, but what about his car? Wreckers cost money. The car could be driven, but the old leaky radiator had run out of water in this intense heat. Water, I thought, we need water. Maybe get just enough water in the old radiator to get him to his daughter's house. The country was hot and dry and the ditches had no water at all. Plan B: I could call his daughter, but wait.

Back at my truck, I loaded my arms with all my bike bottles with water in them. We emptied every last drop into the radiator and the steam hissing subsided a bit as if to say, "ah, thank you, so thirsty". My new friend got in his car and it started. The temperature gauge wasn't in the red and off we went, me following in my truck.

The man was so thankful. Such a small thing but for him, he was truly touched almost to tears. "God bless you," he said as I left. And He had. And perhaps I was not the one to be thanked that day. Perhaps, my ride was trashed just to be at that one spot on the road at that one moment in time, to help an old man in the sweltering heat. Perhaps he had prayed and I had been blessed to be the answer.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Finishing Strong

There is something about the finish that inspires me. In training, often I finish the workout stronger than when I started. It seems that my biggest drawback is not starting stronger. Maybe the interim of the workout or the leg of an event comprise the necessary time and experience to convince myself; to make myself aware that I can do more, push harder than I thought of myself.

Yesterday at TriAggieland Triathlon on the campus of Texas A & M University, I started slow on the 400 yard swim. My wife did a video, and I can see my stroke cadence increasing with each 50 yard lap. Several people passed me but by the last lap of the swim I was putting those people behind me one by one: finishing strong.

The bike was much the same, get the rhythm going and by the end of the first loop, I am in, passing tons of folks, keeping a cadence and a speed I don't usually maintain. Finishing strong.

The run on my bad knee was going to be a challenge. I knew that going in. A couple hundred yards into the course and I was walking, limping, making up my mind to finish this even if I had to walk the entire run. It was a walk/run affair but somewhere around the last mile, I found my rhythm, managed the limp and the pain, and didn't walk again. It wasn't fast and it wasn't pretty but I was stronger finishing than when I started: finishing strong.

Afterwards I went to the medical tent, took some pain relievers and iced down the knee.
I have another sprint to do, a half ironman, a half ironman and ultimately an ironman to do, and I have to gut out a sprint. How can I ever do that? It doesn't look good for the home team right now. But, I have trusted and I will go on. It is out of my hands. It is up to Him. "I have learned that in whatsoever state I am to be content." And I am and if I am patient and trusting enough, I will continue to be content. And in that contentment, perhaps the pace will build and perhaps there will be healing, and strength. Perhaps, next year at Ironman Texas I will line up; "ready to be offered." Winning or losing, succeeding or failing - and when my time comes, may I be found pushing hard toward to finish my race God help me to finish strong.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Triaggieland Tomorrow - Yet Very Much Land To Be Possessed

Am I ready? Yes. Tomorrow AM I will leave home very early for the Tri Aggieland in College Station, Texas. Am I nervous? No. And that is the scary part. Usually, I anticipate endlessly. Today, I hope I remember to get everything ready. So laid back about this one it makes me wonder if it is time to quit this stuff?

I have often said that when I don't get all spun up over an event, I might consider taking up other activities. Maybe I have had my day, my time. The race published a chart of participants and their ages. My column on the chart was just about the last on the wasteland of right hand side. One had to look close to see if that was a column there at all. There are fewer men over 60 in the event than under 18.

Am I a relic? Should I quit and leave this game to these younger folks? Should I take up a more sedentary pursuits more indicative of my age? That might make some people my age feel more comfortable.

But I think it would make me uncomfortable leaving active life while there is still fire burning inside and capability is still present. My goodness I set a PR last year at the Rose City Triathlon. My running isn't that great but in training, I keep getting better. It doesn't seem like the time to take up shuffleboard and game shows just yet. It does seem like almost a slap in the face of God to just lay down and quit while He has placed all that is needed within me, even at my age.

In the Book of Joshua, God told Joshua, the leader of the Hebrews, "---Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed." Caleb was 85 years old and he said, "As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in."

So why am I not as nervous before this race? Could it be I am having my best year of training EVER? Could it be that this is not a priority race and I have the big picture perspective that this is a testing event to see where I am at on the way to a much larger challenge? Could it be that this peace God is giving me will translate into a really good performance tomorrow? I feel as strong as ever and, God willing, am ready for war.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chosing Peace

Running on my trails the other day, I was practicing a more upright running position. Too often I watch so carefully for obstructions at my feet that my running form gets distorted with far too much forward lean. On a part of the path clear of major obstacles I had the shoulders back and head up moving well - for me. A glance down, a shape, the markings - snake! A copperhead stretched out right across the trail. My foot landed just a couple inches behind its tail and I did a one-foot spring jump that I didn't know I was capable of. The snake never moved. Should I kill it? It is a poisonous snake, right? He could be out here again on the trail, couldn't he? But, the snake still lay stretched innocently across the trail, with my large footprint right behind its tail. We were at peace. I let him live. He had chosen not to bite and neither would I. I chose life for the snake and for myself: a beautiful morning of life not marred by violence, bloodshed, and a need to destroy because of something or someone's markings, and capabilities. Oh for a world like that! Oh, that I might live more often in that peace. Perhaps I should choose peace more often?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Saying No to Say Yes

There never seems a perfect time to do this ironman training. Life seems to always be standing in the way, barring the path. And then there is the physical and mental part of all this with myself. Just getting myself through this is hard enough. Twice the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" have turned my charge back. Nothing has really changed. I still have this place here to take care of. There are pastures to mow, trees to cut down, roofs to repair, roads to repair, fence lines to be cleared, fences built, and garden tended. And I have a ninety-nine year old mother in the local nursing home that I see about several days a week. Plus, I have two grand daughters that spend a lot of time with us and want as much of my attention as they can get. Yeah, nothing has changed, except me.
God help me, I think I am starting to believe. I am wading well through all that might diminish my effort. I have said "no" to many second best things I could be doing. I have said "no" to the impulse to train just a little bit more instead of focusing on recovery. The impossible is becoming to seem possible and I am more able to peaceably say "no to the good things and "yes" to the best thing: that impossible dream that may just be possible.

Too often we wait because the time is not opportune. If we wait for a perfect set of circumstances, we will never begin at all. If we want a miracle, we must take Jesus at His word when he bids us to attempt the impossible.

The Gospel of Luke
William Barclay

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fathers Day - Walks On Thin Ice.

Fathers Day two years ago we were threatened by wildfires here. Tense moments. We had to pick out what was important and put it in the car for a fast departure, if required. Amazing how truly important things rise to the top without a lot of thought, like life buoys popping to the surface of the water when released from underwater.

One year ago on Fathers Day, I had an allergic reaction to something, creating serious problems. I truly thought I was going to die as we made the trip to the emergency room. And I remember that on the way to the emergency room we passed by the intersection where I get on my usual bike route. And, I thought of the great times there, thanked God for those times, and wondered and doubted a little, I would ever experience that again.

One more time Fathers Day approaches. Today, on that same course, I heard emergency vehicles coming my way. The traffic was at a standstill. An accident? A fire? As I moved closer to the front of the stalled traffic, I could see a vehicle turned upside down and people looking under it. The ambulance was very near. Not good. I prayed for whoever might be involved in this accident. And, at the same moment - like with the wildfires - without much thought, I tapped into what was really important: My relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the people I love. Fathers Day last year taught me that this life is a walk on thin ice. We can fall through any moment. Do the people I love know how I feel about them? Is there something left unsaid, undone?

At home, I made a point to tell my wife how much I appreciated her and loved her. I wrote my sisters and my son to tell them I loved them. I went to the nursing home and told my soon-to-be 99 year old Mother that I loved her. And I thanked God for giving me this past year, this past 12 months of success and failure, heartbreak, and joy, but most of all for this wonderful relationship and that supernatural capacity to love someone as I can love myself. Moments like these Fathers Days help me access and initiate that sometimes dormant capacity. And in loving more, I have found I walk more closely with Him. For after all: "God IS LOVE.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"I Saw You There"

It is hard to fully convey to those not well-acquainted with ironman, how difficult it is to accept that an ironman dream has died. The mistakes made had caused injury, and the injury crushed my ironman: tough to take. My sister, God bless her, was trying her best to understand, so I sent her a video of Ironman Texas, taken from that website. After viewing she wrote me back. She said she really enjoyed the video and that she can see why I want to do these crazy things. Then she wrote that during some of the finish line footage she thought she saw me there. Really? Yes, Marvin, I thought I saw you there. He looked just like you. I got misty. For months I had seen myself there too. Now, she had seen my dream. I am thankful for that. My prayer is that she was seeing into the future; seeing the completed picture of my moment in time at Ironman Texas 2014? Train. Paint the picture. God willing, maybe next year my sister can say "I saw you there" and it be me.

Monday, May 27, 2013


And it begins-again. Third attempt; begins today. If history repeats itself, the odds are against success. So far, this morning, the world has not come crashing down on me. Didn't even spill my coffee, no one sick, injured, that I know of..yet. Sort of holding my breath as each time I "come out" the devil seems to pinpoint my position and open up the big guns on me. As the scripture says, "I am now ready to be offered..." I'm in --- again, a little more resolute, a little more wary, and a little more hopeful. When I failed at this last ironman attempt, the answer to my prayers was "trust me." So I did and so I will.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Connected - CB & I Triathlon 2013

The energy stirred within me just checking in my bike at the transition area the day before the CB & I Sprint Triathlon. After 40 of these things it is always so refreshing to be there at a race venue. I love these people, this alive and charged environment. I seem to reconnect to part of why I do this stuff. It is my lifestyle. It feels like coming home. • Talking to a nice lady while walking to the race venue before daylight race morning. She’s done several triathlons but none this last year: cancer. This race will decide for her whether she will continue to do triathlons. She is seventy-one: heroine. • In the port-a-john line pre-race. A young female remarks in broken English from the back of the line that she hopes she get’s this bathroom business done, as she has not picked up her timing chip yet. The lady next to go calls back down the line for her to come up to the front of the line and be next. • The male contestant at the swim start dropping to his knees to pray. • My own prayer that I would get through this on my bad leg, for His glory; for His glory. The words resonated: I felt connected. • The wonderful opening prayer. The national anthem. The dawn breaking fresh upon the water. • The painting was complete: Thank you God…Lets go! Slightly crowded at the beginning of the swim; some body contact. Someone grabbing my ankle as I veer off course a little to avoid swimming over someone. My big, boney elbow thumped into flesh. That had to hurt. I say “sorry,” but no one can hear. Completely blinded in the turn. Can’t see the next buoy. I am led only by momentary glimpses into a blinding light. Turn again and vision improves: my body begins to move really well. Now threading through slower swimmers. I am on; into it! So soon, does the swim end so soon? No wetsuit strippers? Oh my, this will be interesting. Tug, pull, grapple, wrestle and finally I am out of that wetsuit: longest transition ever. Starting the bike slowly and people are passing. But, I don’t want to push the bad leg. My caution had little resolve. Three to four miles in and the ride begins to build. No pain! Rock and roll, I’m moving really well; no fatigue. The smooth pavement beckoned me to a higher cadence. I answered. I’m in. How great is this? Now I am passing people; lots of people. Yes! Is the bike over so soon? I almost walked out of the transition area for the run. It hurts, but can’t walk just yet; plenty of road for that yet. Help me here. This is going to be rough. Find the rhythm, however slow. Runners are passing me in droves. Keep the rhythm; for Your glory. The leg hurts with each step. Try not to limp. Many of the people passing me saw my age printed on the back of my right calf and said things like, “you are an inspiration” or “I hope when I am your age I can…..” One man even patted me on the back and said something nice about my performance. “Thank you,” I always replied. Try not to limp, keep the rhythm. The leg didn’t seem to hurt as much. There’s the finish. Focus, rhythm. I hear, the announcer, Jon Walk, calling my name as I approach the finish line. His hand goes out in congratulations. “Good job, Marvin.” I am so into it, I absent mindedly keep running through the finish line chute past the volunteers. “Sir, sir, can we remove your chip? “ I finally stop and a finishers medal is placed around my neck and the chip removed from my ankle. Now the leg really hurts. “Where is the medical tent?” I hobble over there for my first time ever to be in the medical tent. The announcer - again Jon Walk - for the awards ceremony calls out the 3rd place winner in my age group. My expectations for an award were not high. If my age group were sparsely populated I might have slipped into third, but now that didn’t seem to be the case. The 2nd place winner was announced : not me. Oh well, I did the best I could; no regrets. “ And first place is Marvin Dittfurth!” Is this for real? For Your glory – Amen.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Never thought it would come to this. I just want to beat the course cut-off on a sprint triathlon. Gone are days are hoping for a PR. Could this be my PW (personal worst)? Sure took the tension out of the race prep though. This weekend I am scheduled for the CB & I sprint triathlon in the Woodlands and I know the injured hamstring and buttock won’t let me run. This could be my slowest 5k ever. Perhaps, I have lost it because when I write that, it makes me smile. Smile, because I anticipate a great time this weekend, a fun race, and just being out there, just being able to do any part of this, well, it just makes me smile. And I know, I have faith; I will heal. I will run again without pain. I will be competitive again. But, for now, I get to enjoy the laid back and just smile at my predicament. There is a joy yet in the experience, because I can still experience and my best effort will be pleasing to God. I feel blessed . I didn’t train into that. As the song says, “the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.”

Thursday, April 25, 2013

From Vultures to Rainbows

Nothing could make it feel better. Some things could help me to accept it, but it hurt just the same. Right after signing up it was as if the devil and all his angels showed up, each with a pack of bad dogs. Stuff just kept happening. It was like I was play tennis against a top pro, just trying to get the ball over the net one more time, one more day; keep the ball in play. However, after several months of some pretty hard training, plowing through a series of physical and personal obstacles and problems, I was still standing; still going for my ironman. The knee and hamstring problem gave me grief on the run training, but I pushed on through, praying it would get better. It didn’t. It got worse until the pain went into my hip. Even sitting became uncomfortable. Running became a dreaded discipline. How will I ever get a marathon done after that long bike ride? Then one day I found myself limping out to run. Each step, the pain in my hip, hamstring, calf and knee just radiated up and down my leg. I was walking, limping badly, the first hundred yards. My head hung and that spirit sag that precedes defeat poured in on me, washing away all hope. I almost cried. I knew I was done. Days, weeks, and months, in all weathers, believing, training in hope, but I had failed. I had been beaten. Back at the truck, I felt like I had been punched hard in the stomach. I prayed not really knowing what to say. So, I just prayed silently, but God knew my question was “why”? Long moments I stood there leaning over the truck bed in prayer. Long I listened to the quiet to somehow sense the answer: “Trust me. Trust me.” Failure is not easy to take for a no-talent like me. All I had going for me was my ability to take punishment, to have the will to go on. Now, I had not even done that. When I got home I saw a picture I had taken of some vultures. Appropriate, so I put them on my desktop. Day after day, I saw the vultures seemingly waiting for my hope to flicker out, my dream to finally die and be carrion. But, I could not get those words “trust me, trust me” out of my mind and the flames of the dream flickered but did not die. My pity-party soon gave way to counting blessings. I have a wife who is total support, all in, ready to do whatever to get me to the finish line. I have my own garden, full of fresh, nutritious foods. I have a wonderful bike course to train on with very little traffic and some nice hills to challenge me. I have a pond that will be good for open water swimming soon. And, other than the injured leg, I am quite healthy. Sure, I may be aging up, but is that really a drawback when the ability is there? Besides, I have a good chance to qualify for the World Championship in Kona because my upper age group is so sparsely populated. And, most important, God is with me, the “wind beneath my wings.” The storms clouds began moving away, only distant thunder could be heard, and the sun came out. Me and my world became still-and then the rainbow - the beautiful colors of hope arched triumphant over the mist of all that was. The buzzards came off my desktop. Praise God, I will try again.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fasting Day 1- Let It Go

Beginning the second day of the juice fast. Fasting certainly changes perspective. Yesterday I noticed all the reflexive eating habits I had; eating out of habit rather than need. The headache which was probably from the coffee withdrawal was a real nuisance, especially while running the chainsaw. Now that is gone and I didn’t miss my coffee this morning as much as I thought I would. A fast is a personal shakedown. It makes me realize how weak and dependent I can be: a good thing to remember before I think about ridiculing those same traits in others.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time by myself, working outside; prayed a lot, listened a lot, and at the end of the day found a small degree of peace with my ironman withdrawal. God seemed to show me that, I still limp a little while walking. My hip still hurts just walking. The very slow trail running I do is ponderous and painful at times. At its best my run is not fast enough to beat the cut-off time, nor could I have even walked fast enough to finish the ironman before the cut-off time. Let it go, Marv. Let it go, God seems to say.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wild Dog Moon Barking

--and bark at the moon like the wild dog you are." I love those words spoken by the late Jon Blais. Wild dog, barking at the moon pretty well tells the story. That's what is inside. Sure it is covered in the trappings of civility, but wild dog moon barking always connects me and quickens my pulse. Today I talked to a friend whose elder father had recently passed away. The father was an independent soul; a wild dog type. When the father's disabilities became too great, they had to put him in a nursing home. He only lived about two more months. He died the caged animal, homesick for freedom. I would be no different. I am too long in the tooth to become truly civilized or normal now. Recovering from this injury has this wild dog pacing across the front of his cage. I am looking for, thinking about, that next event, that better way to train. I am beginning to remember who I was and want to be poured out again. Last night I went outside, listened to the moonlit quiet, and reveled in feeling of the fresh spring winds on my face. It is time. Open the cage. There is some wild dog moon barking to be done. "One cannot consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar." Helen Keller

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Try-Just One More Day

Very close to pulling the plug on my ironman event. There is so much wrong going on in my body I don't even take inventory of it anymore. And, in tired times, the wrongs overrun the spirit. Why do this? Then there are days like this after a good night of sleep, good food yesterday, and an awesomely beautiful, practically windless day. And the humbled spirit raises its bloodied head to catch the sunbeams of hope; a deep breath, a small smile: just one more day. I don't have to do the ironman event. That is a couple months off. But, I just have to do justice to this one wonderful day; give more breath to this great feeling inside me. Try - just one more day. One more day: Bless me Lord in it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Where Do Old Triathletes Go

Whatever madness made me sign up for an ironman? I’ll never make it. It is apparent from my sad spectacle of a long run today, that I am suffering from a bad case of I O M H (in over my head). To finish the ironman run (26.2 miles) before the time cut-off, the race director would have to grant me special immunity from cut-off times. Even then, God would have to grant me another lifetime so I would have time to finish. Yeah, I’m really slow. It wasn’t comforting that buzzards circled me all day, probably thinking I was going so slow that soon I would fall over and be road kill. Pigeons tried to land on me all day; I suppose they thought I was a statue or something. It doesn’t look good for the home team here. I’ll never make it like this. Guess it is about time to find out what old men do when they are put out to pasture by the facts of life. Where do old triathletes go when their time is up, and their best days are far gone? Where do they go? What do they make of themselves? Who do they become? Perhaps some get wheelchairs and scooters or a big cushy recliner. Maybe some take up less physically demanding activities. But then again, there are some that go on. The elder age groups are not that populated, but there are still some who have their names s on the results pages. Some go on. They take what they have left and are thankful for it; use it, and go on. Ability may have diminished. Goals and expectations may change but their passion for life doesn’t. The embers still glow giving light of who they were and who they still are.----------------------------------------------- I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Finding My Way

How do I get through this? This was my thought as I began my swim. Yesterday, was a pretty good workout for me. And, I could feel some overall residual fatigue from it. On my last twenty miles of a sixty mile bike, a friend of mine, my age, a better biker, found me on the course. My plans were just to slack on through this last twenty miles and do a two mile brick run; slow and steady. But, that didn’t work out. My friend and I set a good pace and held it. Thank God, I was able to keep up with him. Oh, but I dreaded that two mile brick run. Surprisingly, it went really well. The fatigue beginning the swim had me a little concerned. This was the day I was to attempt my longest ever swim: three miles. Just didn’t feel up for this at all. But, I had travelled sixty plus miles to get to the pool. Sheer economics, fuel costs and such, told me this was something I have invested in; something I need to do. I felt like a water-plow the first few laps and thought that maybe I should save myself and this effort for another day. My will and want to must have stayed at home today. The early laps involved some serious self-talk. When I had a few laps behind me, I figured the percentage of the total swim done to find the level of which I was vested in this swim. Vested enough, I figured , would be like closing the back door and minimizing my chances of quitting. I was trying to drive myself into a corner where the only choice left was to finish. And, I prayed for strength. There was always enough for one more lap. One more lap, one more lap and I became seriously vested in this. There reached a point at around a mile and half when I was for certain I was not going to quit. That sort of freed me to start enjoying this somewhat. My shoulder – the one I had rotator cuff surgery on – hurt some. I got cramps in my left foot. My neck muscles hurt some but , lap after lap brought me closer to the goal. Other swimmers came and went, others came, others went, I still plodded on, lap after lap. The last few laps were not as difficult as I would have imagined. I was not as spent as I would have imagined. And, I had swam farther than I ever imagined I ever could. Thanks God. And perhaps, the most important training I got today was not the fitness or endurance from the long swim, but personal training in finding a way even when things are not working so well, and I don’t really feel all that great.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Falling Down-Getting Up

That was close. As I have written before, I have standards of performance to be reached each month or else I cash it in on this Ironman thing. This takes much of the guess work out of should I go on or not; less stress. Most of the month I had been behind on these standards. Sunday started with me needing to complete a 50 mile bike ride and a 90 mile bike ride within a five day period. In addition, I needed to complete an Ironman distance swim. The weather didn’t cooperate: wind, cold and I did 50 miles on the trainer indoors Sunday. Tuesday I went for the 90 miler on the trainer: my longest bike ride ever. I was tired; very tired. Yeah, OK, I will get into it and it will be OK, I hope. Wrong. I was about to fall asleep on the bike and having trouble keeping up with Troy Jacobson in doing the 5 ½ hour Hard Core 100 Spinerval. After about an hour into it, I was done and I stopped the video. I just can’t do this. Enough ironman. I just wanted to lay down. Who cares? And, I got off the bike, took off the shoes, and fell into sleep on the bed. There was no coach to tell me I can do this, just get up and get moving. There were no shouting crowds cheering me on. There was only the hum of my fan lulling me into the quietness of defeat. About fifteen minutes later something stirred me. Something, Someone wouldn’t let me sleep; wouldn’t let me give up like I wanted to; no, not just yet. Possibilities began to be entertained that I might still do this. But, I really just wanted to doze off again and be left alone. But no, Something was keeping me from sleeping and would not give me peace until I tried once again. My mind was sort of in a stupor from the half-sleep. Sitting on the side of the bed I drank a whole bottle of sports drink, ate a Powerbar and starting looking for my bike shoes. Got on the bike, found my place on the video, and here we go. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to try this again. I must be crazy fatigue-stupid or something, I thought. However, 4 ½ hours later, I got off the bike: 90 miles done. My Ironman journey has been resurrected yet once again. The dream had stumbled, fell, but would not stay down. This whole ironman thing is quite amazing. Today I swam the ironman distance (2.4 miles) without any difficulty and, in fact, it was my fastest time yet on these longer distance swims. What is going on? I am. I am going on into March with my ironman journey. Now, there will be a new set of much tougher standards of performance to be accomplished before I allow myself to continue on into April. Will I make it? One of the many things I have learned on this journey is that there is just a whole bunch of this process I can’t control. I just have to do, to keep moving forward, to trust, and walk by faith. Whatever happens after that…well, it just happens. But win or lose, succeed or fail, by being obedient, I will be blessed. "Success is getting up one more time than you fall down."Author Unknown

Monday, February 25, 2013

Finding My Child

Don't think I have ever been so tired. Last night, I am not sure if I was awake when my head hit the pillow. Glad I had removed the toothbrush from my mouth before I cratered. But sleep was fitful, and all night I dreamed or thought or something, that I am quiting this Ironman thing: yeah, first thing in the morning. I have just had it. I am exhausted, it will be hot; very hot. My running is so far behind. My knee isn't any better. Why go on? Four o'clock in the morning I am awake, still ready to quit. Lying there I remembered a sermon I had heard by Charles Stanley in which he said when you first wake up, pray for wisdom for the day. No matter how laid out your plans are, you really never know how the day will turn out. I prayed. While having coffee, I looked outside to the moonlit pasture where my granddaughter had been running a couple days ago. She is only four but she was running all around, back and forth, back and forth for many minutes. So, I had asked her what she was doing. She told me she likes to run and likes to get exercise. She is going to run every day, she told me. Wonder where she picked all that up? This morning a storm was supposed to come in so I decided to run early. Just get in a couple of easy miles before the weather goes bad. Strange but running felt better than it had recently. The motion was smoother; the pain less. Breathing a little harder seemed like fun instead of work: surprisingly, I was into it. I found myself like my granddaughter; just running for the joy of it, to feel the movement. I had found my child, and the wisdom to carry the day.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Facing Down "Can't"

Could barely walk when I got out of bed

What was I thinking in scheduling a 15 mile run today?
Why even try?
That knee hurts every step.
Why bother today?
You'll only make it worse and possibly ruin your knee

But I said I would try.
I said I would keep trying until I looked "can't" in the face.
<i>This IS "can't" bro.
Are you rum-dum or something?
You are hobbling badly here.

Take note.
Tell "can't" to meet me on the road. We'll talk there.

I got my hydration and nutrition together just as if I were going to make it, and drove out to the run course. Afraid of the worst, putting it off until the last minute, I stretched and stretched and stretched. Then it was time for the showdown; time to face down can't. The day was one pouring myself out unto empty, pleading with God not to let this day break me. It wasn't pretty, but as I slogged out the miles with only minor pain there came an underlying sense of joy, and thankfulness. It wasn't fast but a purposeful steady, three hour plod. Finishing, I raised my hands in gratitude for the blessing I had received: Fifteen miles done! "Can't" never showed up on the road for arbitration or conflict. Hope was present and accounted for. Praise God!

Friday, February 15, 2013

"Commit, Train, And Pray"

I wish I had a dime for every time I thought of quitting this ironman thing. This must be part of the process. To quiet those negative voices, a set of minimum standards for each month was determined. If I did not meet those minimums, I write in and try to get what I can of a refund; simple, direct, and it takes the decision out of my subjective hands, and puts the question into an objective format. Either I make it, or I don't; like making the cut-offs for the swim, bike and run of the ironman. So, as I my running is taking a serious hit from a very sore knee, I don't have to fret about whether it will take me out of the picture. The question is: with the bad knee, can I still make the cut-offs? A 15 mile run before the end of February is one of those cut offs. Tomorrow, I try it. There may have to be some walk and run with this, but that's OK. I will make it or I won't. Mainly, I am doing what was suggested in my ironman Bible, Going Long. It says, "commit, train, and pray." Sounds like a plan. May I continue to step our in faith, remain committed and train as hard as I can until I start Ironman Texas or it is certain I am defeated. And I will pray. Oh yes. Certainly I will pray, most of all.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blessed to Dream Big Dreams

Wake at dawn and smell the great coffee. Stretch a little on the way to the kitchen to get those hamstrings loose a bit and then that first rich cup of special coffee. Sometimes there are deer outside to watch as they watch us. Besides all the training for an ironman, there is so much to do living in the country. It is different set of obstacles from most ironman competitors, I would imagine. But, something tells me that everyone who lines up for an ironman event has dealt with their own special circumstances to get there. Glad I have the garden tilled.
Now I replant the spinach and plant the kale. We plant potatoes on Valentine's day, so we need to get the seed potatoes cut. Hauled up some more cross ties to make that raised bed for things like lettuce and bell peppers. Then it will be a wheelbarrow and shovel gathering of cow manure for the bed. There is a porch rail for which I need to concrete a post in. The concrete is just laying there on the porch as if to say, "do me next, do me next." There are falling limbs strewn all over the yard from all the dead trees. I need to pick them up - mowing coming soon - but I really need to finish cutting up those other dead trees I felled.
There will be wood to be split, and an hour of that might be called a stength workout. There is something about the crack of an axe, placed well, sounding that true center was struck exposing new wood exposed sort of like placing your heart and energy in the right place to find a new and fresher self. There is something about the clean smell of evening here, the silence of the misty morning sunrises, the hard labor which must be done here to maintain the elements of this lifestyle here in the country. It is many miles to a gym or pool. I make the trip and swim long once a week until the waters in my pond warm enough to swim in.
I have been blessed; blessed by having enough problems, opportunities, burdens, and responsibilies. But most of all I think I am blessed in knowing, and realizing that indeed, I am blessed. And feeling so honored and so blessed, I can have the courage to live large and dream big dreams: dreams like completing an ironman.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Getting Lucky

To me, luck is the juncture of preparation and opportunity. Like someone wrote, "the harder I work, the better luck I seem to have." So I come to WEEK 13 of my Ironman training program. I am almost surprised I made it this far. Even after all this work though, sometimes I wonder if I am getting any better at this. Am I just wasting my time? My bike route is a 10 mile out and back on a hilly course. Superbowl Sunday afternoon, when I came to the turnaround at 10 miles, I saw another rider getting his bike ready to ride. He would be coming up behind me; can't let him catch me. Took a big drink of sports drink and hammer down. I was surprised. I was really rolling. Can I hold on? Looking down on my Garmin, I thought there was no way a rider was likely to catch me. On I rolled, faster still, almost with abandon, realizing that this was one of those special times when I am in the zone; moments I am into. Yes! On a straight stretch of road I looked back and the rider was nowhere in sight. Ten miles later I turned around and went back again. After going about 2 miles, I saw the rider turning around at the base of a hill he didn't want to climb. The rider looked like a friend of mine that sometimes rides out here, so down the hill I soar, an animal by now, gaining, gaining on my quarry. It wasn't my friend. Before I closed completely I broke off and went back the other direction. Sanity had returned, and my thought was that I didn't want to blow this guy out of the water. He had given me what I needed: a chance to test myself. Thank God for that rider. What I realized was that my training had put a lot more in the tank than I had thought. I have worked hard for it; I fought for it. I am getting there. Lucky me? NO! God had blesed my efforts, my faith, my obedience. Luck had nothing to do with it.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Believe I Can

Never known been to be conservative, the first thing my son signed up for was an olympic distance triathlon. He could barely make headway in the water. I was no swimmer at all and even I was a better swimmer than he was. Now, he planned on swimming 1500 yards? No ! What was he thinking? He explained that all he had to do was swim a 100 meters, hang on the buoy until rested, and then move on to the next buoy. All he had to do was swim a 100 meters 15 times. I didn't like the plan at all. I prayed hard, really hard. His wave went off and and I watched him make the first buoy. Thank God. His wave left him and the next wave readied to start the swim. He didn't move. I could see his yellow swim cap still near that first buoy. The next wave went off and swimmers came to the first buoy and went on to the second, and my son still seemed to be hanging on that first buoy. What is wrong? I started pacing about the shoreline feeling like I am about to come apart. Long moments passed and I still could see, what looked like his yellow swim cap near that first buoy. My wife told me to calm down. But, it is my son out there. I want to go out to that first buoy myself but I'm wasn't that good of a swimmer either. A race official told me he didn't think anyone was on that buoy, but I had not seen my boy leave it. From the crowd of spectators on the shoreline a man stepped forward to talk to me. I told him my story abd he said, "let's pray." We joined hands and he prayed a simple, yet eloquent prayer for my son and my sanity. I gained a measure of calm and peace, I had not had before. Most of the swimmers were in except for three or four scattered about the swim course, plodding along. One of them came in, and it was the wife of the nice man I prayed with. It was easy to cheer her in. Then I thanked and shook my friend's hand before he followed his wife up to the transition area. I turned back to the lake and see a tired swimmer muddling along to the shoreline. Could this be my son. I think it is. I hollered out and he lifted his head from the water. He had a huge smile all over his face; so glad to be getting out of that water. I was so impressed, so proud of him, Wow! That spirit of adventure and challenge that my son exhibited was motivating, inspiring, and contagious. I can do that. I bet I can. Sure, I'm no swimmer---yet. I am no cyclist--yet. But, I believe I can. Four months later, on my son's birthday, I did my first triathlon. And we did it together. Forty triathlons later I am training for and awaiting my first ironman attempt. I'm not that good of a swimmer, not that good of a biker or runner, but I believe I can. Somehow, praise God, I can.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Price of Admission

I wrote my friend that I had swam the ironman distance of 2.4 miles. Did I think I could do a 112 bike and a marathon run after that swim? Probably not, I wrote back. But, it is my prayer and my purpose to make myself ready to do those distances by the time the event is here. Can I do that? I honestly don't know for sure. What I do know is that I will keep moving forward, training every day. Pushing myself, denying myself, recreating myself into the person I want to be through experiencing the miles of the journey. The journey thus far has been most self-illuminating. Sometimes I don't like what I find protected back in the musty corners of my lifestyle. And, sometimes the revelations show me that I have much to be thankful for; much to feel blessed about. Sometimes I find that I am bigger than I thought I was, and can do more than I thought I could. What a great adventure it is just to embark and continue the miles of this journey for as long as it lasts. If it ends tomorrow, I will still feel blessed by this experience Doing the miles has been more than worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King "had a dream." So do I. But, I have always been a dreamer. Most of my dreams went up in smoke,but some survived to fruition. But for better or worse, I lived with the hope, joy, and expectation that all these dreams engendered. I have been blessed to be a dreamer. I have been blessed because I have a dream. My dream in an earlier part of my life was to get a college degree. After twelve years of various jobs, schedules, and struggles, I live my dream. My dream for the last 10 years has been to finish an ironman. Sometimes I wish I could put it down and move on a less risky, mundane way of thinking and lifestyle, but something keeps me restless for dreams. Perhaps,like Thoreau wrote, I want "to live with the license of a higher order of being." Perhaps that is some of what Martin Luther King wanted too; that we all might live as larger people unafraid to dream big, to plan big for achievement and betterment for ourselves and all our brothers and sisters. My dream has staggered and fallen many times in the last 10 years, and in one of my fallen despondent moments, my sister wisely told me, "Marv, you are so blessed to have a dream even if you fail. Most people don't have one and you do." So in the falling and rising and the stumbling and succeeding; in my worst and best moments of this pursuit: I am still highly blessed. Praise God! I have a dream.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Feeling Understood

"Ironman training is like being a hurdler?" "How is that," I asked my wife. "Well, there is so much stuff, people, and situations you have to respond to, that I see you as a hurdler. You swim, swim, swim and, then back to the world and start jumping one hurdle after another. You go bike, bike, bike and off the bike, again, there are the hurdles to jump. Sometimes, you get tired, sometimes slip, sometime you fall trying to clear all the hurdles. Your Ironman training has been about getting back up after a fall and continue with the hurdles." I feel understood. Being understood makes it easier to swim, bike, run and, oh yes, clear the hurdles.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Just Begin - Again

Me and my training are crawling out of the "holiday hole." The weather is cold, wet under foot, rainy, and uninspiring. And I remember a former post written about overcoming the heat to train It was entitled, "Just Begin", and what is true of training in the heat is true of training in the cold and wet: just begin. And now, after the holiday setbacks, the lack of motivation, the call goes out from my spirit: just begin - again. And begin again and again and again; whatever it takes. I believe that the key to consistency and success in anything "is not in never falling but rising each time I fall." Begin, just begin. Just begin -- again.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Facing the Future - Even if You Fail

Is the beginning of this year how the rest of it will go? I hope not. So many issues to be assimulated and dealt with in last few days of the holiday seas. Ironman training, has been downgraded to whatever I can get in between episodes of other life. Each day I seem to lose more ground in my training. It reminds me of losing at tug-a-war. Little by little, the superior will and strength of the other side, drag us across the line to losing. But, the Miles of the Journey were worth it. There is a song about pursuing a dream that that goes: "you can face the future even if you fail." And I can. I had my best year ever bike riding last year; my best year swimming. Along the way were some marvelous experiences. So, as another song goes, "I thank God for the mountains and I thank God for the valleys. I thank God for all the trials He's brought me through." This coming year the sun will eventually shine. My life will eventually be mostly mine again. In the meantime, I will train as hard as can when I can, dream as big as I can, knowing that through God, I can face the future, even if I fail.