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.