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.