Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Beginning to End of the Miles of the Journey?

A new life and eventually a new lifestyle was launched on this Thanksgiving Day in 1982.

In the Beginning

Several times when I was young I came close to dying from asthma, pneumonia, or the medication itself. Many times I really wondered if I was going to be able to take that next breath. In those days treatment options were quite limited. Consequently, prolonged bouts with this stuff seemed to keep me in an emaciated physical state. At age fourteen I weighed just seventy-eight pounds and was four foot, eleven inches tall. There were many nights in my life spent sitting up in bed just trying to breathe. My back grew bowed and one side of my chest protruded out much farther than the other. I looked deformed and I guess I was. For me, playing sports was quite limited. I was always the last one chosen for a team.

After adulthood and years of treatment, my health improved somewhat. Eventually, I grew out of my deformed chest; but still, I was occasionally besieged by bouts of severe asthma attacks. It seemed that being an asthmatic was my lot in life, my own piece of hell, a curse from which I would not be set free.

Thanksgiving morning, 1982 found me once again suffering from an asthma attack. Having been up most of the night trying to breathe, I was a man much out of sorts. Somehow though, on this one day in time, a whole lifetime of frustration seemed to culminate right then and there on that Thanksgiving morning. I was just fed up. I was just angry—very angry. For some reason, I just wanted to run. Absurd as that reasoning might sound, I just wanted to make my lungs suffer, to strike back at something, at anything. “Enough is enough!!” I thought. If I were going to be gasping, struggling for breath, and wheezing, well by golly, I might as well have a good reason for it. I was going to run! What was I thinking? It was crazy, I know. Could be I was just a little bit over the edge at the time?

I had no shoes to run in so I laced up my hunting boots and started a slow jog down the dirt road in front of my house. I was going to run the quarter mile to the end of that road if it killed me. It very nearly did. In fact, after only a few moments, after less than a hundred yards, I was bent over with my hands on my knees, seriously struggling for air. Asthma had beaten me again, I thought, as I walked slowly and dejectedly back to the house. Surprisingly though, sometime later after I had fully recovered, it seemed that I could breathe a little better than before. And some of that anger—no, a lot of that anger—was still in there bubbling, simmering around inside. I would have another go at it the next morning. This wasn’t over.

The next morning I got a little farther down the road than the day before, but it was still a suffocating experience. Beaten again. But, I had gone a few feet farther. It wasn’t much farther but there was some small satisfaction in it. Afterwards, I again found I could breathe a little better than before my run. The next morning and the next and the next found me making similar attempts and being met with similar defeats. But, with each effort I was getting a little farther down the road. Anger had matured into firm resolution. My mind and spirit now had “missile locked” on someday getting all the way down that road, the whole quarter mile. Finally, one day I just hung on, suffocated more than I ever thought I could, and made the whole quarter of a mile. No, it wasn’t an Olympic finish. No bands were playing. No crowds were cheering. No one cared, but I knew. It was just my own ecstatic experience, a private victory on a little dirt road in the middle of nowhere.

No stopping me now; I had tasted it. My asthma was getting better almost daily. Finally, one morning I ran all the way back to the house—a half mile. I was elated! Then the day came when I ran a whole mile. Like a prisoner breaking out of his jail cell, breathing fresh air for the first time in a very long time, there was no containing me. I was out of control and still am, I hope. Thank God!! I traded my hunting boots for slip-on deck shoes and, when my long runs got to around three or four miles, I finally bought real running shoes.

The rest of the story is about longer runs: 5Ks, 10Ks, Half Marathons and, in 1987, my first marathon. Sometimes, even now, having completed over thirty marathons and many triathlons, it is still hard to fully comprehend. To think that I did all that, yet knowing all the time I am really nothing special, just a no talent, ordinary person who hung on. I am so grateful! I feel so blessed!! May I never lose that childlike wonderment at all this. May I never forget that first frustrating Thanksgiving morning in 1982. But even more importantly, may I never forget to give God the thanks, that I can run!! From the book, I HEAR FOOTSTEPS, by Marvin Dittfurth

I did run: 32 marathons and countless miles in training. In this year of 2015 I ran 890 miles, swam 75 miles, and biked over 7100 miles - slightly more than across the United States and back again. In adding it all up once I found I had ran aroung the world a couple times. I have had a good run of it in life.

That first run in 1982 was pure misery and I am glad I continued on trying to run. Today and yesterday, my short runs were just as miserable, if not more so than that first one in 1982. The pain was almost unbearable. So, is the the end, the last mile of this wonderful journey. It sure feels like the last miles I want to run. Is the journey over? Right now, it feels like that. God will sort this out over time. But, in the meantime, no running any more miles of the journey.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The New Challenge

"Inactivity is cowardice," someone wrote. Hoping, praying for healing, and trying to rest injured body parts has made me more inactive than I have been. Not being active is a new challenge for me. It feels unnatural. But, being inactive during Christmas season does give diversion to this new challenge. This is not something I can train through. It is bigger than that and will require the discipline of inactivity. But, it feels like cowardice.

And I don't want to become accustomed to this lifestyle. I have seen the physical demise of others who succumbed to the tempation of inactivity. As a prescription I would say inactivity is good in small doses and do not take any more regularly than you absolutely have to. The side effects can be quite debilitating.

So my new challenge is dealing with the small doses before it becomes cowardice.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Inspiration: Am I Really?

Over the years lots of people and triathlete participants have told me what an inspiration I am. Although, I am not sure of exactly why. Of course, the obvious: I am over 70 years old and still doing swim, bike, run. But, in my own eyes I see myself a little differently. I hurt at times. I am hurting now. I go from wondering if I can keep this up and injuries bring serious doubts. It seems my triatlon life now is a day to day waiting for the axe to fall ending all this. I am afraid to go to the doctor for a check up because at my age, he might find something.

It takes more to keep moving forward through all the pain, discomfort, and fears at this age. Although on a day to day basis I feel like a beat up old man at times, but from an overall perspective, maybe there is really a cause to say that I am an inspiration. After all, I fight these old age demons and am still standing at an age when many have relegated their passion to finding a bargain at Walmart. Inspiration? Perhaps to some, I am.

Friday, December 18, 2015

At "Nevertheless"

7000 miles on the bike was my goal for 2015. 900 miles running was the other goal for 2015. I am only 32 short on the bike and 12 short on the run and 2015 will be a success or so it would seem to be. But my New Years song might not be traditional but instead be my version of "Happy Trails to You," the old Roy Rogers song.

This back and hip pain has made me make the following resolution: complete this years goals and not do anything as far as training, until 2016. If my back and hip are still not good enough to support training, I will be moving on to something else. Still not sure what that might be but God will provide, challenge, and empower the next thing He would have me do. Of course, I would like to get well, to continue triathlon, but I am also ready to move on if that isn't in His plan for me.

My efforts lately have only been a semblance of training; half efforts which undermine my own self-respect and are a insult to the sport itself. Like that famous line from the movie SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION: "get busy living or get busy dying." The verb in both those options is "get busy." And so I will. Wish me well in however this comes out. The point has been reached where I can honestly, sincerely say to God, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." Perhaps that was what He was trying to bring me to in the first place and now that I am there, it is time to move one? Whatever - I am at "nevertheless." Merry Christmas - Happy New Year

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas First

Holiday season and the weather is great. The clear blue sky, the frost on the top of the grass, the chill in the air, the fire crackling inside, and, of course, the Christmas tree, mostly decorated by my grandchildren; all of this beckons me to sit back, take it all in and enjoy. This stuff doesn't last. These moments are passing by like yesterday's parade and I need to train. It is a conflicted state. If I don't train I will miss getting into the kind of shape I want to be in to take on the new year's rigourous training for the goals that are set. If I don't take in these holiday moments, I might miss precious moments that can never be duplicated. At the end of this season do I want to be found missing something?

The yearnings may be complicated but the answer is simple and obvious: Christmas first. I can recover from diminished training but I can never recover, never bring back the moments of Christmas. So, I resolve to protect the most precious, and in doing so, possibly protect the better part of myself; that part that God can use to push me into the harder training of the coming days.

Monday, December 14, 2015


This stuff will beat you down. So much stuff hurt that I was going to cut my planned 7 mile run to 4 miles. But, I have been at this so many years, have faced this down so many times, that at 4 miles I just kept going. The trails were muddy with no way to pick up speed even if I were physically able. Nothing got any better, not even my outlook. All this pain and discomfort bodes badly for my future. What does that hold? It was not one of those excited, giddy, and inspiring accomplishments but eventually, I made the entire 7 miles. This was not a good day.

How many more of these will I have? If this is an every day thing, do I want to go on doing this? Can I change and do something else. If this is all God's plan to teach me humility, I think I got it; made the honor roll, 4.0 grade point average in humility 101. Whatever, "nevertheless not my will but thine."

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Day 82: No More "Days"

Early Saturday morning before daylight. My back is no better, but no worse from yesterday's 10 mile run. Sometimes I think this is how it will be; that from now on the cost in pain for physical activity has gone up quite a bit like everything else. Not sure what the training plans are today, but I will try to loosen up the back as best I can and do something. I will pay the price today and probably tomorrow, and the day after and so on - it is worth it.

So to keep this blog from degrading into "how my back feels today" posts, I am ending the "Day" format of this blog. From now on it will consist of various subjects - unrelated to my back - within the context of the "Miles of the Journey." And, I see the first hints of daylight and the journey goes on. The journey is the same, but the vehicle traveling it is a little different.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Day 81: Obedient

The back was a little better but not much. Taking it relatively easy doesn't seem to working. Perhaps, it is down to two choices: back out and give up if and when my back gets better or -- drive on and just put up with the back hurting. Then I came back to myself, realizing again Who this is for. It is His show. Let's pray.

In the early morning light, looking toward the dawn, I sought the answer: should I go or should I stay? In my humanity I had already thought I knew the answer to my prayer. Today, I wanted to quit, but God wouldn't let me. Something told me to just do the long run today, just run, just today. And I did: 10 miles very slowly and often massaging my back as I ran. It hurt some but it never got worse and I finished still able to function. I was obedient. This day I was obedient. Tomorrow I go for the long bike and for another chance to exercise not only my body but my faith as well.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day 80: Not Alone

Beautiful falll evening in the woods here and I haven't trained yet today. It's Ok. In the last couple of days I have endured more back pain than I can remembeer; took a fall over my trainer bike this morning, and had my shifter cable snap and chain come off while riding outside. But, the fall evening is just beautiful with the sun shining through the various colored trees. Though I am concerned about the long term prospects of my back, my world is at peace.

Call it overconfidence, but I know that what I need is there. I was shown that in the power and stamina I had for the bike ride yesterday; in the way I could work outside, shoveling, driving a tractor, today. God has given me the tools to continue on this journey, to remain at peace when the wheels of life come off.

Ahead there are many concerns and who knows what will have to be faced. Whatever, I will not face them alone. There is the support of my family and love and guidance of God and where and to what He leads, I will follow His miles of the journey.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Day 79: Changing Lives

Today, after a day off - more or less -, my back isn't any better. Yesterday, I put up a new, more comfortable trainer bike as if I can have hope of using it in the future. And, I guess I do have a hope. I have wondered: if this doesnt get better, will I be beaten by it. What if there are no more mountains to climb, rivers to forge, trails to travel? Could I be content with the growth that would surely occur in adopting a less vigorous lifestyle? That would take some getting used to. I am sure I would learn a lot from something like that, but can I accept a life reduced intensity challenges? After all, I am getting up there in age. Lots of stuff hurts. I have already done a whole lot. Why not give this other lifestyle a chance? Rest, remember, and take time to enjoy the many miles already traveled. Don't think that lifestyle hasn't been seriously entertained lately, especially so every time I get up from a chair and my back kills me.

But, God set me on this course: the miles of the journey wher I am is supposed to travel from "can" to "can't". My prayers tell me I haven't reach "can't" yet. My prayers ask me, "did you think this was going to be painless and easy?" When it is time to give up and change lives, I won't wonder about it. I will be told, and I will know as surely as I know now I am supposed to continue these miles of the journey.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Day 78: Where the Grip On Life Is

This back pain is getting serious. It comes and goes, but I wish it would just go. Can't find the cause, but today I split some wood, and the pain kept getting worse. Ah, that's it; the wood splitting. No more wood splitting for a while. That seemed to make sense when I went for my hour and fifteen minute run. My back hurt like crazy to begin with then the pain got less and less the more I ran. Ah, the wood splitting: got to be it all right. Then the 1200 yard swim; good stroke; feels OK; got to be the wood splitting. But after the ride home, I could barely get out of the car. The intensity of the pain almost made me sick at my stomach No, it is not just the wood splitting, is it?
So, here it is my birthday and I am wondering what is going on with my back. This is not the birthday present I had hoped for. What now?

Yes. If this training business doesn't work out, I will finish writing my book a little sooner. My back hurts. There is concern. Sure there is great disappointment. There is uncertainty in my ability to do a lot of things in the future but yet, there is peace about that too. I know that I may be "cast down but not destroyed." And it is comforting that my grip on life is not dependent on my training but only upon God. How long I will be able to experience this lifestyle: I don't know. But my hold and my Hope rests not with my circumstances but upon faith in the Giver of Hope and Life Himself. The grip on life is in His hands.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Day 77: A Forward Stepping Day

After a good day of training yesterday, things don't feel that great today. So far, I have only done a short run. Woke up this morning with pain on both sides of my lower back. The run seemed to have helped that after all the stretching stuff failed. Then there is the upset stomach with the acid reflux; not pretty. Got to start watching that intake better.

It seems that I have a great day - like yesterday - and then lose focus as if I have become invincible, untouchable against all the usual evils. I get overconfident very easily, I guess, and just don't keep the discipline momentum going.

I can see this happening in all areas of life, especially our faith life. Perhaps that is why as hard as I try, my growth is in fits and starts. Sometimes one step forward, two steps back but too, I have my good days when the forward steps vastly outnumber the backward ones. As I watch the beautiful sunset from this window, I am thankful for this learning experience. And I look forward to this same sun coming up on the other side of the house in the morning. Pray that I might keep my focus toward a forward stepping day.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Day 76: Flying Lessons

Did my best 7 mile I have done in a long, long while. Then got in a quick swim of 1000 yards; really swam well: a good day. I have found that oftentimes the problem with recovery is post exercise nutrition; just not the right stuff at the right time. There is so much to get right in this. It is like the body is a finely tuned piece of equipment and the input as far as training, rest, and nutrition have a dramatic impact on its performance.

The Bible says we are "beautifully and wonderfully made" and I believe that. We have no idea the possibilities God has placed within us until we sort of get out there on free fall sometimes. Like the saying goes, "God will either catch you when you fall or he will teach you how to fly." I have been caught by God many times. Perhaps, this is the time I will fly.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Day 75: I Can't Fail

63 miles on the indoor bike and I am toast. Giving this level of fatigue with no more training than that shows I will not make it. Of course, today's training was all pedaling for hours with no coasting and no intermission but it shouldn't have killed me like this.

OK, maybe I am getting over the hill - washed up, done for, kaput, no mas. Maybe I am overreaching here? In other words, maybe at my age, I have bitten off more than I can chew? Could be, but I am not going to make that decision; God will. He got me into this and He can get me out. I will have to be shown I am to give this up. I will have to be down to my last spark of energy unless He shows me differently. Ah, that is such a relief to talk myself through that - to come to reasoning that it is not my responsibility. There is a feeling of freedom there. No matter, I can fail.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Day 74: What Sustains and Endures

1.75 mile swim today. It wasn't too bad; didn't feel that tired. Got home, laid on the couch, and woke up an hour and forty minutes later feeling like I have been on a bad drunk. How in the world can I call myself an endurance athlete when I can't go on a swim without cratering?

I can't. This afternoon it reminds me yet again that I am in way over my head. Only an act of God will get me through this training. Only the power of God can get me through this journey. Such a life lesson here. I found out today about a friend and triathlete who is battling cancer; a fine Christian man, but only the power of God can sustain him in these trials. He has been through endurance sport training like I and has learned as I keep getting reminded that, in the final analysis, only the power of God will sustain us, supporting us to endure. And in the end of this life on earth, the answer will still be the same learned in training and in training our faith through life's struggles, that only the power of God endures, now, and, praise God, forevermore.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Day 73: Well Done

Today a 40 mile trainer bike ride followed by a 3 mile brick run. Tonight, here, sitting by the fire, I feel really good and I feel really good about my chances, my training. Mountaintop stuff; watch out! This is going too good. Nothing has ever come easy for me. Why is this working out so well especially after all the abysmal failures I have had? Something is out there. It always is. But, it would be a journey worth taking if there wasn't something out there to disrupt or destroy. My quest is one day then another. Tomorrow may not work out as well, but my quest will be the same: one more step. God willing, I can keep making those one more steps until I get to that finish line. Sure I would like to hear "Marvin Dittfurth, you are an ironman," but even more I want to feel in my soul the words, "well done, my good and faithful servant."

Monday, November 30, 2015

Daty 72: Surety

Today went awry as far as training is concerned. Went to the pool and it was closed for repairs. Visiting with my mother in the nursing home took the momentum out of my training incentive. So, the days ends with sitting by the toasty fire with it cold and wet outside. Yet, I am still at peace.

Sure things are going real well at the start of this training week but that's OK. Sure, I botched this training day, but it is not the end of the world or the end of my journey. There is a Surety down there at the bottom of all this. And, because of that Surety, I look forward to training tomorrow. Why not? I will be coming off a day of physical and mental rest. My spirit is in the right place that I may forge on through the miles of the journey. I am blessed

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Day 71: Keep Stepping

Seven mile run: damp, cold, some rain, a bit tired, but done. It wasn't pretty but it is done. Can't tell what is going to happen out there ahead in this journey but this was done; this one step was taken; the next is planned and hoped for. It might be a little presumptuous to say I am going to do this. As the Bible says, "tonight your soul shall be required of thee." But, I do know what road I am on. I intend to stay on it as long as long as my soul is not "required of me" beforehand. I do know Whose road I am on and I do know what is required of me: just keeping stepping and stepping on this path He has marked out for me. My own hope is for this theses step on this journey take me to what I am working for. If He has another destination, along this journey, then my hope will be centered on that. My job is simple: keep putting one workout, one day, one overcoming, after another. Staying true to that course I cannot fail to arrive where I should go; I cannot lose.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Nothing Black

Black Friday- but nothing seems too black right now. Oh, training could be better. Motivation could be higher. Stuff could hurt less. But overall there is nothing black about this Friday. In fact, there are some are some golden hues to this day.

For one, I am so glad that I am not bargain driven to the extent that I would join the maddening crowds in pursuit of "stuff". There is the vision I have of shaking a bucket full of range cubes and cows come running to greedily push and shove each other to get the feed. Perhaps, I would rather pay a little more and save this day; this day is a bargain already. This day, I have health to do almost anything I want to. This day, I have almost everything I truly need; not necessarily all I would want. And this day, I have enough hopes and dreams to keep me pointed forward with hope. But, most of all I have a peace with God that can't be found in stores on Black Friday.

So, before I go into the day's workouts, I think I will go outside with my cup of coffee, enjoy that masterful handiwork, and thank God again. So glad I didn't get over being thankful yesterday.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Miles of the Journey: Day 69: Giving Thanks

Miles of the Journey: Day 69: Giving Thanks: Another good training day yesterday. Did a hard training ride to a bike workout video, then got off the bike for a 2 mile tempo run. Both w...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Day 69: Giving Thanks

Another good training day yesterday. Did a hard training ride to a bike workout video, then got off the bike for a 2 mile tempo run. Both went great. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

There won't be turkey at my house, but it will be Thanksgiving. I have begun giving thanks today. I give thanks for the ability, the opportunity, the health to train. Even if I don't make my goals, I will have had these moments today. Thanks

I give thanks for this life I lead; this lifestyle that has developed over the years in endurance sports. Thanksgiving 33 years ago, I began this grand adventure by trying and failing to run a quarter of a mile. Twenty five years ago I couldn't swim a quarter mile. Today, I am going to the pool to swim a mile. I swam over 85 miles last year. Thanks

Over the years I have completed many 5ks, 10ks, 10 milers, 1/2 marathons, 32 marathons, and 48 triathlons. Thanks

But more importantly, over the years I have grown closer to God. And, my training and faith have merged until now it is all about God. And especially for that ....this Thanksgiving, I give thanks to God for setting the course before me.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Day 68: Training To Trust

Yesterday I was so energy-broke that I couldn't pay attention. Today, I felt fine. Did a great run on the trails and followed with a strong bike trainer session, and still felt good. No good explanation is available: it just is. The game is still on. The road gets much harder, longer, and tiring, but I think I am learning and training to trust as well as training my body to endure. When it gets tough and seems overwhelming, let it go. Give it to God. God got me into this; God keeps me in this; and God can take me through or crash me on the training or the course. It's up to Him; His call. And, when things get bleak again - and they will - I hope to have trained adequately to trust through those times.

And, for the moments of trials and tribulations, joy and exaltation, and anticipation, I praise God for the opportunity to fail, to succeed; for the experience of training to trust.

"When God pushes you to the edge, trust Him fully, because only two things can happen. Either He will catch you when you fall or teach you how to fly."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Day 67: Carry Me

Yesterday, I quit my 13 mile run at 7 miles. Today, it was hard to get a 2 hours plus bike ride in. This is hard to discern whether it is a mental let down or physical failure. In any case, the week was OK but I expected better. Neither my long run or my long bike got down. I am tired and tired is a good time not to make big decisions if I don't have to. Right now - if I followed impulse - I would chunk this whole thing and start shopping chocolates and nice recliners. I would let myself go and blame it on my genes: sedentary is hereditary. That should do the trick.

God is just going to have to carry me across this troubled water or I won't make it across. And in either case I will have placed faith and future in God's hands. That can't be wrong. Praise God.

Friday, November 20, 2015

What It Looks Like When You Stop

Another day mostly spent in a doctor's waiting room. It was beautiful outside. Hard to imagine training when in that environment. But in spite, my spirit was not diminished. In fact, seeing those sick and disabled people gave me even more motivation to keep doing what I am doing. What I saw today, I think, was what it looks like when you stop, either from an injury or disease, or one's own apathy. This day reminded me that stopping is not a good idea unless absolutely necessary.

When I got home, I went on a 6 mile run to salvage the remainder of the day. It felt so good to be out in the woods running free on a beautiful day. And I think it felt that much better because of my recently heightened awareness of what's out there if I stop for whatever reason. Sure, it's going to happen. I know it will catch up with ne one of these days, but I want to be found running when it does. And, I think God wants that from me too.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Day 65: Tomorrow Is Another Chance

Today the road was closed to my bike course due to high water and I tried to do my 60 mile bike ride indoors. It was the most beautiful day of the year and every time I looked outside I felt a little guilty for wasting such a beautiful day inside. And my performance was any better. My rear end hurt a lot. I could get comfortable on the bike. I could stay interested in the video I was trying to ride to. I kept getting off. Once, I even got off and took a short nap. Then the appetite joined in and I consumed large quantities of no-so-good-for-you food. My bike ride was left barely half done and I was left with a bloated belly. I have had better days.

There is enough guilt and shame in all that, to make me want to do better; to have greater self control. A fast of 24 hours is in order. There needs to be a victory over appetite if only to show that indeed appetites can be beaten and controlled. Tomorrow is another chance.

Sometimes I find I have fallen away in the living out of my faith. I can see that I let the world and fleshly appetites deter me from my appointed task. But, God takes me back. God picks me. God brushes me off, forgives, and sets me on the right track once more. Through God, tomorrow is another chance.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow."

Mary Anne Rodmacher

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Day 64: Game On !

Yesterday it began. I did a 7 mile tempo run, split firewood, did a strength workout, and biked 25 miles doing intervals. Today, I have a 40 mile bike ride followed by a 3 mile run. Tomorrow, a 1.75 mile swim and 2 tempo miles on the treadmill; somewhat of a lighter day. This is all said to say this: Game On! This has been my original plan since I had picked myself up from my most recent ironman failure in May. Seriously wanted to drop this whole Ironman thing; still cannot see the value in it, but obviously God does. And, I cannot rest from it. My plan was to take it somewhat easy the first two weeks in November and then go for it - IRONMAN TEXAS, MAY 14, 2016.

My knee is better but it still gives me trouble sometimes. Don't even stop to wonder if it will make it to game time: For now - Game on! Maybe I am too old to be taking this sort of thing on; don't stop to think about that: Train - Game on!
And, if I fail, or if I am injured, or something even more serious occurs, I will have failed on my feet, moving forward toward God. There is really nothing to lose that won't be lost eventually. This is life. Even those who try to play it safe and avoid things extreme still get sick, get injured, and die. I don't want it said of me that I "never sang the song God wrote for my voice." (Max Lucado) because I was trying to save myself. Jesus said, "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it and whosoever shall lose his life for My sake, shall find it."

So now, off to training; on the journey of losing and finding. My prayer is that I will finish the course, running the race set before me. Game on!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Day 63: So That I Might Be Blessed

Yesterday I got in a two and a half hour bike trainer ride. Felt strong and smooth throughout. Is my trainer set too loose or something? That should have been a little harder. Last week training was under fire from back problems, then neck and shoulder problems. But I trained through them and had a good week out of it. Now, a new week, and not much hurts any more. I feel good. I have no excuse to hide behind.

At the same time - and I don't think is coincidence - my closeness to God has increased. It seems the more I give up, the more I get back. "The longer I trust Him, the sweeter He grows," and the longer I trust Him the better I go. But, the key to all this is to hold on to it. Days like this when training is going well are the most hazardous to humility. Humility: the mother of all virtues, of which Benjamin Franklin said was his most difficult virtue. It was because, he said, that about the time he got a little humility, he got proud of it. And pride comes before a fall. So, if I don't want this great season fall apart, I must stay keenly aware of how I am able to do this to begin with; and remain humble so that I might be blessed.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Days 61& 62 - Free Indeed

Life happens on the way to the finish line. Day before yesterday I biked for an hour; sort of a rest day. Yesterday I ran a good 6 miles. It was a good pace with no more effort than a slower pace would have been a while back. Something is happening and I believe it good, but it is the resolve that seems most surprising.

Perhaps through all the trials and disappointments, I have gained a faith; a faith that accepts that I can't fly on my own wings. I must rely on His. In surrender to this Right Cause, I have gained a new freedom. The truth is that I am old, beat up, and not that good to begin with. The truth is that only God can take me to that starting line and if He chooses, to that finish line. "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Today, the truth has set me free and I am free indeed.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Day 60: Not Much

My back is still hurt from last week. My shoulder hurts from something I must have done yesterday; and my neck hurts along with it: nagging pain, and I had left for this bike ride not in the best frame of mind. My schedule said do 60 miles, but my motivation said if you can do 20 that might be enough. I couldn't find a good answer to the question: why do this?

The north wind was blowing, and that chill just added to the chill already in my soul for this ride; for the athletic experience. Painfully slow. Who cares. Am I really going to do this for several hours? No, surely not. Think of what I could be doing besides this: not much that means much; not much that can't wait until I get back. Goodness, but my back and neck don't seem to be hurting that much during the ride. Twenty miles into the ride and something seems different. Do I feel like quitting now. No, no much. I took the wind jacket off, ate something, got a big drink of water. What hurts now? Not much. My, but my pedaling seems so much smoother. There is still a lot of power in these old legs. Should I slow down and cool down the last few miles? Not much.

It is over; bowed over the handle bars in prayer. God has given me strength, perseverance, and courage today. What should I be afraid in my future? Not much.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Day 58: To Whom Much Is Given

Today I ran on the treadmill and swam a little over 3/4 miles: a good day. This week is starting out so much better than last week and I can only hope it ends so much better also. This can be such a roller coaster but so can life. From the peaks and the dark valleys of this track I can still see; God wants me in this. This may seem a lot strange but I can't help that. I would make it more believable if I could. But, it's the truth. Believed or not, it is still the truth. I am called out to this. My own will to go on left the building a long time ago. My own determination, my own goal seeking, my own effort gave out a couple of years ago. I am old, beat up, and covered up in cares, yet I am carried on for some reason, not of my own strength. Perhaps this time the ironman will be a go. Perhaps God has me right where He wants me. "To whom much is given, much is required."

God never said the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.
Max Lucado

Monday, November 9, 2015

Day 57: Nothing to Lose

Amazing how easily it is to get off and stay off track. There is a vortex of ease and apathy that seems to pull at one who does not keep moving - at least it is that way with me. After two days off from training, it was so easy to put off putting my spirit into training. There is a strong temptation for ease, sameness, appetite, and an almost magnetic pull into the rut going nowhere. It is so easy to be turned aside and yet requires so much effort to stay on track. One really has to watch their back. The devil is coming after you in one form or the other, and the goal is to steal the force and squash the worthwhile dreams that only can come through discipline and effort.

So - do I go on? Or, do I succumb to the usual, the tasty, the comfortable; the rut. Regardless, of what might happen on the way to prize, there is no other good choice but to keep on until I can't go any more. What have I got to lose? God said, "Fear not, neither be ye dismayed." And, I have a good reason not to fear; not to be dismayed on some of these treacherous miles of the journey: "because the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Day 56: Tomorrow

No training in two days. It seems like this latest problem with family medical has taken its motivational toll. Can I get started again? Do I really want to and possibly be derailed by something else? Tomorrow, I will try. Tomorrow, I will pray. Tomorrow I will obey. And if I obey to go on and cash in my chips, whatever God decides for me, I will learn to live with that. "I can do all things through Christ that strengthenth me." The good news is that it did give my back time to heal so no matter how this journey goes, "all things work together for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose."

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Day 55: Cloudy Days

Rough day yesterday. But I did get a short run in and felt good about how my back held up. However, life happens on the way to heaven. And the rest of the day and the night got away unscathed by any serious training. This morning, it is raining and I still have much concern to take care of today. But, there is a sun behind those clouds and there is Son behind mine. And there is a God who has me covered on these twists and turns of the miles of my journey.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Day 54: Summiting the Tribulations

The back pain is still with me but I am mobile. Yesterday, I did a 2 hour and 49 minute trainer ride: no problem except now my right quad hurts. It isn't as if I have not expected trouble. It was just going too good. There has to come some storm and rain. "In the world ye shall have tribulations." The word is "shall", not "might" but "shall" have troubles. If it were not for the tribulation; if every day was all sunshine and rainbows, how could we ever have joy, appreciation and how could we ever gain endurance and perseverance? How could we ever become stronger, mentally, personally, and spiritually, if there were not mountains in our lives to climb? Thank God that He has given me enough heights to climb in this life and that I might finally summit one day unto the person He would have me be.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Day 53: Choose to Trust

Life is like a river and often we don't know what is around the bend. After a great week last week, this week started out badly and got worse. Needed a day off and took one; a complete day off. Yesterday, I went for a swim; the first serious swim in three weeks. In the health club getting ready for the swim, I leaned over and something seized up in my back. Back trouble has never been an issue with me. But, it became hard to straighten up without a lot of pain.

Somehow, I got dressed and went on down to get in the pool. At the end of each lap I would double up on the wall and stretch out my back. It wasn't the most pleasant swim but I did get about 2 miles done. It is still with me and one can guess the wonder, the doubt, the fear. But, this is where faith is tested and trust experienced or it is not. I chose to trust. Whatever happens to me; whatever happens to my training; I chose to trust and be grateful to God for the wonderful experiences I have already had yet ready to accept His will for my life and my training.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Day 52: "To Whom Much is Given---"

Yesterday, I felt great despite having the largest week in training in 7 months. I had done over 200 miles on the bike and had a good week running. Life seemed on a roll that could not be stopped. So, I ran 6 miles and came right in and did 30 miles on my trainer bike. Should have thought it out better. Should have left time in recover from all the miles; all the hours training.

Woke up this morning, the day of my anniversary (43 years) and just felt one step off from death. The body, the mind, was on empty, leaving me feeling like all my blood had been drained out of me. Will I ever learn?

But, I felt a bit better later and it was my anniversary, so we went out to eat to celebrate. We don't go out to eat much at all. A lot of our food is home grown and most of the time home prepared. I guess we are used to that. The food was just awful! Even the water tasted like it came from an old rubber hose. On the way home, I thought how blessed I am not to have to eat out a lot. Blessed to live where I do and can raise a lot of my food. Blessed to have married someone who is the world's best cook. Blessed to have this opportunity. So, I need to stop making stupid, prideful decisions in my training. It is wasting the gift. Scripture says, "to whom much is given, much is required." No need wasting my "given" to feed my ego; next time, rest, recover, be thankful.

After all, this is all about God anyway, not about me. It is His call and my calling. Praise God.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Day 51: Winning the War: Today

My best week of training in over 6 months. A 44 mile bike ride today made it 204 miles on the bike this week. And, I don't feel trashed. Is this a dream? Still my knee hurts and won't support me when I first wake up in the morning but after loosening it up, there is little problem. Sometimes right in the middle of ride or run, there is severe pain which often stops me cold but I can get going again. The pain goes away. It is like a war going on with my old legs to keep them viable. Right now, it is a war I am winning.

The struggle to be all God wants me to be is the same kind of war. Yeah, times I do real well; going along fine. Then, I do something so counter to all I claim in my faith, and my behavior doesn't support my profession. But, I have Jesus to get me going again, and to keep going forward to be all He would have me be, in my faith life and in my training as well. Sometimes, it hard to tell them apart.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

DAY 50: Being Free With My Grateful

Amazing that it has been 50 days since I started blogging this adventure. Today, I got my 10 mile run in: the run I cut short yesterday because of the lightning. After spending the morning outside doing stuff with the grandchildren, afternoon found me on my trails trying to get that long run in. I wish I could write something significant and insightful but things are going so well: good days have left me little to write about, it seems.

Now is the time I must be the most careful. It can be so easy to be lulled to sleep by success and vigilance lost in the process. There is a quote that: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." I want to be free: free from injury, free from illness of myself and my loved ones; free with my grateful. Perhaps that is the key to remaining vigilant during good times; to remain vividly grateful for the blessings God has bestowed on me right now. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And one of those "all things" is gratefulness for the blessing that was today.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 49: Unchanged and Unchanging.

So overcast it seems almost dark: raining; now and then the sound of thunder. I had my long run planned but had to cut short at 3 miles as the lightning got too frequent for me to feel safe in the woods running. The same woods that yesterday were beautiful in the fall coolness, the leaves of the trees turning; the leaf strewn path; today, is somewhat dark, dripping, and foreboding: same woods, different weather. The beauty is still there but it is more difficult to see through the dark and rain.

Sometimes when it seems dark and rainy in my life, it gets difficult to see God in it all. Life can get soggy underfoot and the traction God gave in perfect weather seems to have been taken away. But, this is where faith is built: on the dark, soggy footing days, when all you can see is a dim remembrance of the blessings of God in better weather. This is where feel good faith is moved from emotion and theology to confront reality. Yes, God is real; just as real today when my vision of Him might be limited as when it was yesterday when His world was full of hope and color. I know in this training the dim light times will come. There is still Hope. There is still God, unlike the weather: unchanged and unchanging.

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.” ― Rabindranath Tagore

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 48: Finishing Well

Yesterday I did a 30 mile trainer bike and a 2 mile run. Today, I did a 50 mile outdoor bike. Started off sort of puny but got stronger the more miles I had in my legs. This is great stuff: feeling strong on the hills on a longer ride outdoors; a better finish than beginning. What beautiful weather. At this stage of life, these days are especially delicious.

I remember a couple years ago passing on this same course in the car on the way to the emergency room; thinking I just might die. I can remember looking at my course and thinking of all the good rides and how great it would be just to have one more great ride there. God has granted my wish many times over now. And I praise Him that I am still finishing well, in His care.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day 47: Peaceful Mode

Yesterday I did a 40 mile trainer ride and followed with a 2 mile brick run. I don't feel beat down by a couple days of good training in a row at all. The sun is shining. The cloudless sky is beautifully blue. The leaves are sifting down to earth. My world is in peaceful mode. No matter what happens to the rest of the training, I have this day, this moment, to be truly alive in. "Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today." Thank God for that. I feel rich though I am pretty much poor, materially. Yeah, stuff will come up. I know that. There will times of intense fatigue, shattering disappointment, nagging pain, and severe frustration. And, in those moments, it will be hard to recall this peace I feel watching the falling leaves of today.

Recall is one of the reasons I do this blog to begin with: so that when my world seems to start to fall apart, I can go back to this and more vividly recall all God has given me and know that frustration, disappointment, and pain, are temporary; but hope, His Hope springs eternal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 46: Doing Better Before It Gets Too Dark

Yesterday, I did a 30 mile indoor bike ride and followed it with a 4 mile run. It was supposed to be a 6 mile run but it got dark on me before I could finish. Can't help it getting dark, right? With the snakes still out, it would be wise not to run in the woods in the dark, right? So, it isn't my fault I didn't complete the entire workout, right? Wrong!

Should have started sooner on the workout. The problem wasn't the dark, but not making my training important enough to start early enough to finish it. Too many good things kept me from doing the best thing: the thing I said I would; the thing I had scheduled to do for that day. I was turned aside by lesser things from starting early enough on the greater thing.

I found myself doing that in my faith life too. Waking up in the morning I sometimes go right into thinking about the plans for the day without regards to praying to One who has gifted me the day to begin with. Too often I focus on lesser things rather than my greater God. OK. Today is yet another opportunity to get this training right and to give God the place in my life He surely should have. Need to do better at this before it gets too dark.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 45: Putting Foundations Under Dreams

It is still dark outside. Today, I sort of ramp up on the training. At least, I plan to. Plans are fun to make. And, unless the electricity is out of something, there is little effort or sweat involved. People make plans all the time for great and wonderful things to do but great and wonderful don't seem to come along quite as often as planned for. There is a quote that goes something like, "plans are but dreams until their effects be tried." And sure, we should dream big dreams, but dreaming is well traveled ground because it is the easy part. Thoreau wrote, "If you have put built your castles in the air, that is where they should be. Now, put the foundation under them."

So, today I am going into the foundation business but not without that firm foundation and that is my dependence on God. I plan to be the worker, but He is the project supervisor; putting foundations under dreams.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day 44: Suffering, Enduring, and Overcoming

Yesterday I ran a couple miles and did a workout video session on the trainer. I have done this trainer video session before and remember it as more difficult. Does this mean something? Am I get older AND better? In everything but running, I think that is true. Writing out my schedule I think about 60-100 mile bike rides, 2-3 miles swims without reservation. There is a surety there that has grown with what I have suffered, endured, overcome. I think God for that.

And my surety, my faith has grown as well in the process of suffering, enduring, and overcoming. The more I live by faith, the more faith lives in me; the more I realize that indeed, "I am His child and I am not afraid."

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Day 43: "Be Strong and of Good Courage"

Yesterday as a pretty good training day. 3.5 mile run, a 2 hour trainer ride. It is still dark and I am wanting to get out there and run before the rains come. At my age, life's roadblocks could pop up at any moment. Time is of the essence. The awareness of the brevity of my life now and the diminishing opportunities, adds a certain intensity to life which isn't all bad. In fact, I wish I had had this time/opportunity awareness when I was younger. Now, I don't have time to be less than courageous.

And what does courageous mean? I think it means saying no to time squandering. The money is running low. Spend it wisely on things that truly matter. I think it also means saying yes to worthwhile matters with uncertain outcomes; like possibly the ironman or publishing my book.

Training and competition is so aligned with our faith walk that it is hard to separate the two sometimes. The Bible says, "Be strong and of good courage---." I read that as strong in body, mind, heart, purpose, and dedication to the Lord. But strength without action is an idle tale. We are to have a goodly amount of courage to use the gifts God has placed before us and within us, no matter the amount of time we think we have left in this world. Let God keep my time and times as I train for the "race set before me."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day 42: It Is Well With My Soul

No training so far today except about an hour splitting firewood. I am ready for winter and I got in a sort of strength workout at the same time. If I were to do an ironman that is what I would like to feel like: the wood is all split and I am ready for the event. There is sort of a sense of well-being in facing the winter with a huge stack of wood right out there. I would want that sense of well-being at the beginning of an ironman I might get to attempt.

At the same time, when that winter day comes that I might leave this earth entirely, I can look at a life well lived and thank God, praise Jesus that "it is well with my soul."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 41: Sliding Into Normalhood.

Yesterday was a bust as far as training is concerned. The outside pool was unheated and the waters chilled me to the bone after only a quarter mile. I got out. Sort of lost focus after that swim but did get a lot of other things done. But, training this week hasn't happened yet. I can feel myself sliding into normalhood. Plant my feet, stop the mental slide. Get to moving up the hill again instead of sliding down it.

My faith has done that at times. A missed moment or opportunity here and there and over time I have slid some distance from a real and abiding faith. Most of all I have to guard myself against that because - I believe - as long as I nourish the real and abiding faith first, the physical world training will follow sooner or later. Ok. Now is sooner. Time to go for a 6 mile run...Thanks God.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 40: A Small Step Forward

Time passes fast like this: counting out the experiences on a daily basis. Yesterday I took a day off; a complete day off. Today, I begin again, the incremental progress toward being the athlete I want to be. I am not like superman and can go into a phone booth and bust out all buff and ready to take on the bad guys. No, I am just ordinary folk trying to do something extraordinary, and there are no phone booths in my life. With God, I have to incrementally build to the person I want to be. It is that way with being degraded too. We don't lose fitness overnight but little by little, day by day we lose until we find ourselves flabby and out of shape. How we got here? It was erosion; erosion of plan, of purpose, day by day until finally find we have sufficiently mislead ourselves into a hole that will be difficult to climb out.

The same with our faith. We drift away from God one day, one missed opportunity at a time. One missed day of prayer, one missed day of reading and studying His Word, one missed moment to comfort someone by showing them the Love of God through you. Before we know it, we can look just like the rest of the world, and our lives, our witness, have a severely diminished impact. We become invisible Christians. Our light goes out; and it didn't happen overnight.

"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven."
The keep the light shining it is a daily walk to charge those batteries or fill the lamps with oil or whatever keeps the light of God shining within you. Today, though the sun is shining long rays through the trees and my body and spirit are charged, filled, being built up rather than eroded away. Today, I can take a small step forward to who I can be.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Day 39: Aging Down

It's different today. What, I am not sure. Could it be a slight nutrition change? Could it be the great cooler weather? Could it be successful weeks of training or my bum knee holding up for now? Whatever, there is a clarity not previously possessed. Something has changed. It is like making the turn-around in a race and getting the wind at your back. Brutal times are surely ahead, but there is resolute acceptance in place. I am ready for this adventure again; like I have dropped down 20 years in age. I feel so blessed, I feel like I am aging down. If this keeps up I will be too young to vote in the presidential election next year. These mountain top days will be brought down to spending some serious down time in the valley. But, as surely as God is with me on these mountaintops, He will be with me in those valleys. I am His child and I am not afraid.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Little Scheme of Things

Yesterday I did a 4 mile run with some pick-ups thrown in. Last night I did a 20 mile trainer ride with some pick-ups. This morning the weather was really nice and I did another 4 miles on trails. So what does all this mean in the big scheme of things: not much. But, I will settle for being in the little scheme of things. Life is really enjoyable. I feel fit, strong, and capable. All I have to do to appreciate the little scheme of things is to visit the nursing home where my Mother resides. There are so many of those little things the residents can't do for themselves any more. Some don't even know of themselves completely or their limitations. And, in my little world, my little scheme of things, I still run, enjoy fall mornings, split firewood, ride bikes, and, at least think, that I still have my mind. The older I get the more I realize that perhaps there are no little things.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Day 37: Finding Packet Pick-Up

Yesterday I did a trail run of over an hour and a half...lots of deep sand: slow going but deep breathing. It was good. Saw three deer, two in full racks; beautiful animals. It all seemed at peace, all together, whole. However, last night it seemed I dreamed the entire time about getting to a race. There was a large building where the packet pick-up was and I couldn't find the packet pick up. The people in the building were going about their daily functions as if there were no race going on. Several times I asked for directions, and no one knew about the event or where packet pick up was. Race time eventually found me in an elevator full of people in business suits.

What a contrast; the peaceful morning run to the frantic dream of finding the race. Life is like that. There is peace in the moment and the next is a mess. We have to be ready for that and have enough peaceful experiences to sustain us when we are frantically looking for those packet pick ups in our lives and no one knows what we are talking about. And, we need to accept that other people do not necessarily live in our world any more than we live in theirs. My problem, my error, in the dream was that I had not planned with purpose how I was going to manage the race. I had lost focus, turned aside, and let myself get lost in a building full of people of different persuasion.

I have found that in my faith. When I take my eye off the prize; when I don't stay in the Word; when I don't pray regularly; when I don't stay on the course God has set for me, I can easily get lost; get stuck in a world full of business as usual, looking for the packet pick-up. Oh, there it is; the packet pick up: that Bible sitting just to my left here. There is my packet with instructions on how "to run the race that is set before me---."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Day 36: Deflated

My long bike ride didn't start real well: my back wheel was flat. Not sure it was really a flat or a victim of grand children like to hear the his of air escaping from the valve. But, no matter, the tire was flat. Believing it not a road hazard flat, I filled the tire with air and off I went.

My spirit, my energy was as deflated at that back tire I had pumped up. But, there was no pumping me up today and I just went through the motions of trying to salvage a decent ride out of it. The miles passed slowly, partly because they were done slowly, but mostly because my head and heart had lost positive contact with my legs.

So, it is sometimes with our faith. We just seem out of touch with ourselves and God. We go through the motions but our faith is not benefiting from it. Time to rest and center myself in my training, as I have to do sometimes in my faith. Rest, food, prayer and peace: then tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, my spirit and energy toward the day will be one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 35: Making It Better

Did a 41 mile trainer ride yesterday. The knee was hurting some and I put the ride off as long as I could I guess. The knee did fine on the ride. You see, it hurts when I lay in bed, it hurts when I walk, or sit very long. So, do I go belly up because of this or not? It hurts some at first when I run or ride but after a while it feels OK. So---it looks like I need to stop doing those things that aggravate my knee: like laying in bed or sitting. And perhaps I should give up walking and run more? Yeah, it is just a matter of giving up those bad habits and emphasizing the good ones like running and biking.

Not a bad venture in our faith life as well. Minimize the things that slow our progress in our faith and emphasize those things that bring us closer to being the person God would have us to be. Need to get out of this chair right now and go run so my knee will feel better.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Day 34: I Wish It Were Different But It Isn't

A 2 hours plus run today; not fast, just steady. Tonight, I can barely get up from the couch. The incessant bad knee haunts me like a ghost. I wish different but it isn't. All the miles I have ran on that leg seem to be adding up and closing me down. Many times at night that knee wakes me up with its pain as if a reminder that I can't just will forward through this. I have had my days, my thousands and thousands of miles. Any more will be paid for in the currency of pain. I wish it were different but it isn't.

In a way it is like the scriptures says, "cast down but not destroyed." In some respect I might be cast down physically, but not mentally, personally, and least of all, spiritually. In another sense my bad knee serves as a reminder of the blessing of thirty plus years of challenge, hope, enthusiasm, these legs have given me. And now, the pain beckons me to step out in faith, believing God, even though that stepping out is painful at times.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Day 33: Grateful Peace

Yesterdays 25 mile bike was a lesson in going when you don't have go in you. Amazing the difference between yesterday and a good motivated ride. This is the same me riding. I didn't age up that much since my last good ride. So what is it?
Time to rest is what it is. Time to see different things that the pavement on the road or the reading on the bike computer. It has been pleasant spending time with friends, family, and having "adventures" with my grandchildren, all things that would not have happened if I had not been pushed to weak and tired.

As I begin another hard week, I stand thankful to God; for good times and down times and I am a certain peace I have in my soul.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Day 32: Child of Hope

What a difference~ One day I am beat up, torn down, and don't want to get up from the couch to walk across the room. The next morning I run for almost three and one half hours with no ill effects. Seems like you just can't believe how you might feel for that moment. And too, what is my normal and what is my deviation from normal? Am I naturally and normally feeling good and hopeful or is my normal that of feeling down? I can only determine the answer by how much time I spend in each zone. And the winner is: I am generally a hopeful, optimistic person, full of hope. And why shouldn't I be? It would be a travesty not to upbeat for me.

I am writing a book on my experiences and as I look back, I become aware that I have had a wonderful life. There have been great experiences, and adventures, incredible victories over myself, and demoralizing losses that kept me as humble as possible. Why shouldn't I be upbeat?

But, the biggest reason for hope is my faith. I know my Redeemer and I know my Redeemer lives, and I am His child; a child of Hope.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Day 31: The Real Work

Nothing like good sleep to change the nature of ones perspective. Events, feelings, and the behavior of other people can sometimes be evaluated in the dim light of oppressive fatigue. And, that world is no more permanent than the giddy mountain top moments we are sometimes blessed with. Today, I go on; somewhere between fatigue and mountaintop. And perhaps this is the place in our lives where the real work is done.

Yesterday, I was spent and could only muster a 30 mile trainer ride to call my workout. Today, I am prayed up and ask God to bless as I go on into the day to do "real work."

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 30: Thanks for the Mountains; Thanks for the Valleys

An hour and 40 minute run was all I did today. Tomorrow I have my long bike ride for the week. It will be warmer than I would have liked, but it is what I have. It is sort of like that old bad leg; it is bad, but is what I have to work with. Perhaps I have a few surplus years on me, but it is the age I have; the one I have to go with. And chances are I wont make it through all this training but it is the course I have; the one I must continue on. And, the journey has become part of my identity. Even after it is over, I will have had all the journeys that have taken me through life, to successes and failures, to falling down and getting up again, to closeness with God. His hand has always been offered to pick me up off the pavement, and his hand held mine when failure seemed so heavy to bear. "I thank God for the mountains. I thank God for the valleys. I thank God for all the trails He's brought me through" along the miles of my journey.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 29 - The Better Plan

Swam 3200 yards today - a little over a mile and three quarters. Just keep putting one arm up over the other; end of pool, turn around to the other end of the pool and so on. "Just keeping" is the clue. Don't be turned aside. My neck hurt some; maybe I should quit. My foot went to sleep again: maybe I should quit. My should muscles act like they want to cramp: maybe I should quit. I am getting tired and my form stinks: maybe I should quit. A friend got in the next lane and wants to talk: maybe I should quit and be friendly.

Scripture says, "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us." Put aside the distractions and just keep on. It is no easy. The natural man in me screams out for indulgence, comfort, and the effortless life. In the dressing room I saw some of those whose bodies plainly show that for years they have yielded those bodies up as an offering to the gods of ease and indulgence but now trying their best to change that. The true God had better plans for them. But, those plans most often call for self denial. And, I too need to keep trying to do better, deny more, resist more, keep on more to follow that better plan He has for me.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 28 : Not Dismayed

Beautiful Sunday afternoon yielded a great 31 mile bike ride outdoors. Felt good; felt strong, even on the hills. But, yesterday was supposed to be a day off, and today's schedule called for a 50 mile bike ride followed by a 4 mile brick run. Beautiful weather again and I had a great ride of it; minimum traffic; taking the hills well - 50 miles; not a problem, but oh, I dreaded the run. Maybe the injured leg will hurt? Maybe I don't have the wind I think I should have? Maybe my legs will be dead from the bike ride? Fear had moved in on my house of hope.

My fears convinced me that I wasn't running that great. My spirits sagged. And fear felt good about that. Then I remembered. I am doing all of this training for God anyway. Why not just give the workout my best; Give Him my best and leave the rest to God. It made sense. It made a difference. My first time check revealed - contrary to my fears - I was having a good run. The remainder of the run went like that; ending with a smile. "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed."

Tonight I am tired but for now I am not afraid or dismayed about tomorrow.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 26 - Getting Through the Narrow Gate

A day off, imagine that. Had a good week 40 mile bike, 60 mile bike, mile and a quarter swim, a run of over 3 hours. So, I had a day off coming. Of course, my nutrition slipped and I don't feel as guilty about my day off as I do my lack of nutritional discipline or to use my time a little more wisely.

All that shows me how easily it is to give oneself up to appetites and passions that do not grow us by deteriorate us. Just one day off and look and the small erosion already. And, if that is true for the physical and nutritional, so it is true with the spiritual. It is easy to go the easy way. "Life is always the conflict between the right way and the easy way." The Bible says that wide is the path that leads to destruction. But, narrow is the gate that leads to the eternal. So, I am eager to get back on the right track the one with the narrow gate.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 25 - Mustering Courage

Yesterday I did my outdoor 60 mile bike; the first one in months. It wasn't that bad. Oh, there was the usual self, the ingrained habits and personal weaknesses that I have allowed to creep in and dampen my spirit. But the great part of this ride was that I did not quit with some lame excuse at mile 30 or so: which is my most frequent distance. No, I just kept moving. I haven't quit, cut the ride short, or failed until I get off the bike.

So many times I have failed in living out my Christian witness: so many times I have not answered my calling, and most of those failure are because I just got off that bike too soon: I did not stay the course but broke off conflict when it got a little hard.

Today I have a 12 mile run to do. Following a 60 mile bike day; today I don't have the fervent "want-to" that I would like to. But I know if I just can muster the courage to go on and get out there, God will supply.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Day 24 - The Day That Succeeded

On my way to my 60 mile ride on the chip seal course I somehow settled into thankful thought. My bike route is a 16 mile drive but I thought how many others drive that far in traffic to ride in traffic. On my way I saw two young buck deer, hawks, fishing cranes, woods and streams. I thought of the nice people who let me park behind their closed gate where my truck and gear are secured. I thought of the pleasant company these fine people are, and I thought that the few vehicles I will see on the road today will have seen me here many times. There will be friendly waves and smiles back and forth and considerate sharing of the road.

To sum all this up: I just felt blessed. I clutched the wooden cross hanging from my rearview mirror and thanked God for the day; the place, the times, the people. And when I realized I had left my bike computer at home and wouldn't know how fast I was going, I just smiled. The day had succeeded and I was at peace.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day 23 - Proving It True

Went to the health club today for a swim. This summer my swimming has been at a minimum and just in the last few weeks have I been swimming regularly. In fact, one reason I haven't been to the health club a lot is because I didn't want to answer a lot of questions about my ironman disaster in May. Sure enough, a supporter I have seen in almost five months came up to me and asked about my ironman. I had hoped he would have forgotten I had mentioned it. Almost uncontrollably, I could feel my spirits sag, my shoulders droop, and my voice begin to crack a little as I fumbled around for the right words to say. Another supporter listened in to my stumbling speech as I recalled one of the worst days of my life, one of most brutal disappointments. Finally, I just quit trying to tell the story and thanked my listeners for caring and walked off.

I was close to tears. After all this time, just a recall can bring me down to tears. This has happened so often. I have been broken so often. I have been cast down time and again in my effort to fulfill a promise to God and to myself and all those who support me. As the more practical me took over, I wondered why I am not bitter toward God. If I wanted to I could make a case that He is keeping me down, working me to death in this training and then yanking the rug out from under me. I could have blamed God. But, the thought had never occurred which tells me that I am a little farther down the road to spiritual maturity. I am a little deeper into real faith. "The miles of my journey have proved my Lord true --- " And tomorrow, the journey continues.

Day 22 : Doing Great Things

Yesterday the 40 mile bike went well. Sure there was the chip seal roads that rattle parts on my bike and make my hands hurt. But, the rattle and the little discomfort were quite manageable. In the afternoon a 4 mile run in the woods here was also quite enjoyable. Over 30 + years of endurance sports have yielded me these great days now and then; often enough that I hope for such an experience each day. Oh yes, there are days when I just got a bad case of "don't want to." There are days I just don't feel good, can't breathe right, and so on. But, I have learned through all this to not believe the way I feel is the way it will be - eventually. There has been countless times that God has turned a bad unmotivated beginning into a great workout; a great experience.

So I try to put that principle to life. Don't believe the way I feel starting out. Give God an opportunity to work in my life. Push past the chip seal of the roads in life. Push through the discomfort and wait and expect that God can do great things with even me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Day 21 - Still Training - Feeding My Faith

Yesterday my run cut short due to lightning. But, that's OK. I will take rain at any price. The knee is painful at times and that crack in my armor gives me doubting room. I like the saying, though: "Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death." So, to get past I have to go about setting up conditions to starve the doubts. They can be starved but they can also be choked. Don't give air to doubt. Don't let it breathe. Don't let the doubtful thought in. Don't give it air. Give air to the times God has brought me through. The time He saved me out when I barely escaped from a burning vehicle. He saved me out when I had some sort of allergic reaction and couldn't breathe. He brought me through numerous endurance experiences, training sessions, when I could not see my way through.

So, if you see some doubts weak and emaciated staggering around choking to death, know that I am out there, still training feeding my faith well.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 20 - Facing the Wind and Pushing Against It.

A good 24 mile outdoor ride yesterday...some wood cutting and then some resting with my feet up. The next three weeks are crunch time in my training: I think I am ready. My usual morning asthma congestion dispelled by a couple whiffs from my inhaler, ready to blow the lungs out a little on the road.

Yeah, I wish I were younger. I wish my knees were still fresh. I wish I didn't have to deal with having asthma. But that is just the hand I am dealt and I will play the cards I get. There is no other good choice. It is like when Jesus asked Peter would he also go away. Peter replied something to the effect of; Lord, where else would I go? You have the words of eternal life.

I don't intend on going away from Jesus ether. I don't plan on going away from this lifestyle either. Where else could I go? Could I go get a better recliner and begin to fast forward disability and death? I don't think so. When I do die I want to be facing the wind and pushing against it. Thank God for another day; another opportunity.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 19 : Looking Forward to the Challenge

Yesterday was an easy day. A 21 mile bike ride outside. Oh, the mornings are getting a little cooler like the season change is upon us. This was an easier week and next three weeks I ramp up the training. Am I ready. Have I prepared, not for the event but for the harder training? I believe I have and I look forward to the challenge to come over the next few weeks.

I feel so blessed to be able to embark on this part of the journey. Many times I have observed men my age - and even younger -in various stages of rapid physical decline: men who would not even think about getting aboard a bike; men who need assistance just getting in and out of the pool; men who have to have a walker just to walk, who have long given up on ever running again. But, praise God, I am still there, still standing, still biking, swimming, running, still in love with my sport and my life both temporal and eternal. Not to waste the morning in front of the computer while the flame of life and capability burns within me...I must go and do my bike ride, Praise God!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Day 18 - Made Perfect in Weakness

Forty mile bike ride went great yesterday; felt strong throughout in spite of the hills and the chip seal pavement. My bike sounds like a tin bucket full of loose nuts and bolts; it is fresh chip seal; very rough. One thing I keep thinking is that I don't want to fall on this road. There would be some serious bleeding. It wouldn't be road rash but more like road gash.

At night I get woke up several times by my bad leg. My knee hurts and I have to change positions or do some flexibility exercises in the middle of the night to get some relief and to get back to sleep. I sure wonder how in the world I am going to do this event. But there is no good alternative. I have so much invested now that coming off my plan would leave as many scars as falling off my bike on the fresh chip seal road. Besides: God's got this. All I have to do is that one more step; that next day of training, and leave the results to God; win, lose, fall or fail.

Sometimes I think that this is the way it has to be. If I had an easy time of it, I would probably take credit for it myself; just naturally a tough guy, right? He knows my arrogance and I think He is protecting me from it by giving me doubtful knees, minimal personal support, putting me a position that if I do this, there would be no other explanation than it was a gift from God, and that His "strength is made perfect in weakness."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Day 17 - A Day Off

A complete day off...yes, I took one; first in 4 months. Can't say I enjoyed it but I doubt I would have enjoyed yesterday under any circumstances. Fatigue and personal disappointments had me pretty much on the canvas. So, this morning I arise a little groggy but still able to stand but more importantly, still able and willing to hope. "Cast down but not destroyed," it says in the Bible. "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 15-16 - Trusting In the Dark

Slowing down makes things hurt. The knees are creaky and sore. The quads and calves are tired and achy feeling. Today, feel very old. Yesterday I biked early on the trainer and later swam a mile and a quarter. I didn't feel this blah yesterday but I was moving then. There has been no real training yet today. If I were to believe this day, I wouldn't attempt much of anything but I know.

I know that God has placed within me the power to heal; to recover. And, my experience with God over the years has taught me not to believe in these moments of weakness but believe in Him and His strength and all that He has placed within me. Such is life: when beaten and weary to the bone; when purpose and motivation seem lost in a haze; when disappointment almost drive you to despair; what remains in spite of what we see, will be hope and faith in the dark. And that is enough. God was there the last time life crashed and burned, and the time before that and the time before that and so on. Days like this in our training schedule; in our lives teach us to trust in the dark; trust the Light of the world.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Day 13-14: Truly Fit

A fair training week behind me. And consecutive higher volume weeks have been accomplished. But, somehow I don't feel I am getting ready or tuning in to the purpose. Something is missing yet, I know there is a certain workout - possibly one I fear I can't complete - that will put me over the top on my training. Oh, how I would like to get to that state of mind where I truly felt fit, ready, completely competent to have a great day at the event.

Yet, I know that it is in the striving, not just the accomplishing, that we have our greatest gains. The many times we get up, tired and worn, and continue on build us to more than we were. We are never defeated if we can just keeping getting up and getting out there. And most the time when I do get on out there, after a while, I can get into it and am very glad I got up one more time. It doesn't happen right away, but it does happen when we have faith that the present condition is not final: failure isn't final.

I found that with prayer as sometimes it seems my prayers echoes empty into the heavens. However, the fact that I prayed has changed me, if only ever so slightly. Prayer can be a righting of oneself, a re-centering on what is truly important, that is our relationship with God. And, I have found that when I pray and get that relationship right, it is easier to get out there; easier to go on with the workout called my day, my life and getting closer for my faith to become truly fit.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Day 12 - Time to Rise and Shine

Have had some solid training but can't seem to get the long workouts in. I did 43 or so miles on the bike, but when my bike computer quit, I quit as well. Yesterday, I was to do a 12 mile run but cut it off at 7 as it was so hot and I was running out of hydration. I can't seem to push through and do. Of course these times spawn doubt as to the need for it all. However, I have been at this long enough to know: this too shall pass and the real me will want to rise and shine out on another day, another workout.

My faith gets like that sometimes. Things don't quite come together, fatigue, disappointment come in like a bank of clouds, and I wonder why bother. Doubt, fear, and frustration can make cowards out of Christians sometimes. But, when I push aside my own personal complaints and weaknesses, I can know, that God and I have been at this a long time. He has always come through. Dark hours are those where I have not let His light shine into my heart and instead have focused on my own problems with a darkened heart.

Time to rise and let it shine, for the Glory of God.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Day 11 - Finish Line Thoughts

Fatigue: it has to be wrestled with. Yesterday I tried to do a long bike ride: chip seal, a flat, bike computer malfunction and I think I did about three hours out there. Today, I feel whipped. However, sometimes I think that this training is not just to build fitness, but to teach ourselves how to handle intense fatigue and keep moving forward. The mental games one must play; the self-abuse it that must be endured all teach toward test day: the event. The raised hands at the finish line signify that I stayed the course, took all the pain and fatigue and finished.

I guess when I became a Christian, I started training of a different sort. Sometimes this isn't easy and sometimes it gets more than a little discouraging, but when I wake up in the morning, I know I should train: train my body, and train my faith toward that goal, that finish line: "Well done my good and faithful servant. You are my ironman."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Day 10 - Embracing the Wonder

Yesterday was a five mile adventure run through my neighbors property. It was good. It was different. But I remember this tract of land being much bigger before the fence lines were cleared. What I used to think was a long walk was only a twenty five minute run. So I ran it three times. That just defies all expectations.

Perhaps, a lot of things seem more distant and dense than they really are, after we have cleared those boundaries and have seen the properties of the situation for their true self. Perhaps, our obstacles are not as high as we can step, but we just have to take that first higher step. Perhaps, that is how it is with ironman: just begin, carve the day up in small chunks, and take one chunk at a time; go on down the fence line to the corner and run that fence line. Go on down that fence line and run that. Personally, I think God is just waiting for us to shake off our "it's too big for me" perception and exercise faith and courage to see and fully embrace the wonder of what He might have in store.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day 9 - Staying Out of the Mud

Slow start this morning: A lull in motivation and commitment. Sometimes it is as the poet wrote, "The world is too much with us near and soon, ----" So if that be true, this training life is sort of other worldly, isn't it? Maybe. Maybe the sustained effort not to buckle under to the lesser self is equivalent to a daily pulling our feet out of the mud which could mire us and hold us down? The day is getting late and hot, but I know if I want to be the self God hopes me to be, designed me to be, I must get out there. It is only a small step; only today, but slowing down is how I can get stuck in the mud. God doesn't want me there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Day 8 - Climbing the Mountain

Yesterday was a good day. No days off yet. Did 6 miles running, then later, did 20 on the indoor bike. Still I wonder if it will ever be enough. Enough doubt creeps in to keep me a little fearful and a little humble. Amazing how one can feel amazing and that there is nothing one can't do and then a short time later wonder, doubt, fear.

My way of overcoming the wonder, the doubt and fear is through prayer. When I give it all to God, whatever, nevertheless, leaving the outcome to God, then, I can get by that rough patch. The mountain seems pretty tall and steep today and getting up it a little day by day is going to take a lot prayer. Maybe I should start now.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Day 8 - Finish the Ride

Today-- again riding on the chip seal bike course. Today, I rode alone. In all of the fifty miles done, I saw no other riders and only eight vehicles on my road. Such a difference from yesterday with road filled with riders. But the solitary ride had its benefits and its lessons to teach: I know I can ride a long time without getting off the bike. I know I can stand my own company, my own thoughts for a long period of time. I know that there will be times of tiredness and willingness to cut short and quit. I know that given time and a little nourishment, my energy and my resolve can return.

Much like our faith life. Sometime we get so beat up by the world and just want to hide out from it. Or worse, we want to just buckle under and go with the current instead of against it. But, given time spent in the Bible, in His word, hearing His word, praying when we don't even feel like it, then, our closeness to God, our passion for our faith, our trust in Him and His will and His word, can come back into our hearts. Then we can finish the ride He has set us apart to do.

Day 7 - It's Simple

Yesterday did my first road ride in a couple of months. My bike route has had a new surface put on: chip seal, rough, grainy chip seal. When I first took off, I thought I had a flat. However, there were some thirty or so other riders on the road with me and riding with them, talking with them, getting in their pace line, it was a great time. The weather was great and it was a great day. With all the camaraderie I paid little attention to my rattling bike on the chip seal.

There is something reassuring about sharing a like passion with others. Yesterday, the subjective benefits of being connected made themselves known. I always pray on my bike right before I start a ride and the first wave of these riders came through about that time. As I finished my prayer and looked up, a rider was coming over to see if I was all right. I told her I was praying and being connected to God first, made it a slam dunk to be connected to the riders on the rode. Our faith: loving God and loving each other. It's simple: as simple as riding a bike.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day 6 - My Moments Are Now

Late start, but I can tell it is the right thing to do. It is like getting closer to the edge of a cliff. Sometimes, I just need to take it slow; think about things, sip my coffee and prepare myself physically, personally, and spiritually for the day. Times like this I can sense life; the moments are vivid, cherished. It is similar to the other end of the spectrum when under extreme exertion another level of experience and appreciation are reached.

Yesterday I swam a mile and a quarter and ran 4 miles; not a huge day, as training days go, but a good day. Good enough that in recalling yesterday, I get the sense of being blessed, that at an age when many men are dead or disabled, I can still revel in the experience. I don't have to live in the past because still, praise God, today, I can experience and appreciate; today, my moments are now.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Day 5 - Piercing the Fog

The fog is creeping in across the woods obscuring a lot of the details of the scene. The fog is sort of like fatigue in training. It creeps in upon us and that can be all we can see and know for that moment. But, coming out of that fog can be as simple as being still and resting in the hope of recovery. I came out. The fog lifted. Yesterday, I ran for almost 3 hours and later that day did a 20 mile bike ride. Today, I feel pretty good after a good night of sleep.

Looking out window I see that just then a ray of sun pierced the fog and the beautiful details of that spot are vividly revealed. So, our lives, where the Son pierces the fog of our misconceptions and diminished hopes, the Son illuminates the truth and beauty in Him. Then, the wonderful prospects of this life and the one hereafter are beautifully and vividly revealed. We can smile, be thankful, and go forward.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Day Four - Another Step Forward

Still no full day off taken, but the workout load was lessened. It seems to be working. The fatigue seems to be backing off some. Yesterday, I only swam but it was for over an hour. Family responsibilities beckon today and I am not sure how this will all work out but I do know this: I will do all I can to take another step forward. And, in all the training I have done in thirty plus years, that one thing has been taught and learned. Take another step forward.

Endurance sports so mirrors life. I can remember reading the New Testament like that: reading a chapter a day; another step forward. The personal and mental practice has imparted a greater understanding of God and myself. And to think that I might have ever considered those small steps forward insignificant. How foolish we can sometimes be. Time to go get in the early training: time to take another small step forward.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Day 3 - Getting Up - Running the Race

Yesterdays was a quasi-day off. I did a light trainer ride when I felt myself beginning to come back to myself. It is like in a race: I don't minding walking but I hate to stop completely. And, at my age, the joints and connective tissue are just waiting for the opportunity to get stiff, sore, and slow me down. I like the quote:
"Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you."

No doubt something is gaining on me like age, lack of viability, and consequent lack of opportunity. So, there is no time to dwaddle and dwell long at the aid stations in this race of life. I believe God has given me this time, this life to revel in. Opportunity and viability are blessings for this time. "Fear not, neither be dismayed" God says. Because - when this race is over there will be an even greater event I will attend and Jesus has already sent in my entry for it. So on I go in my training; "running the race that is set before me, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Day Off

The legs feel like jello. There is a tiredness deep that tells me, perhaps, I need a day off. My schedule calls for a 40 mile bike and a following 5 mile run. The workout seems so far, so long to me right now. There has been no day off in over 3 months. Maybe I have pushed this as far as I need to. Maybe, I need to rest. No, not going out and cutting down that tree that needs cutting. No, not tilling the garden; building the fence, but resting, staying cool, waiting for the want-to and the energy to return to my body, like I wait for seeds planted to sprout, grow, and eventually bear fruit. Even Jesus rested; rested so completely that he could sleep in the boat in the midst of a storm. And Jesus was not fearful that if He slept that the boat would sink. Faith that God would see His journey through gave Him the peace to sleep amidst the waves. So today I will pray for peace and rest and take a day off.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day

Good week of training. Actually got to swim three times. Did over 150 miles on the bike and 25 miles of running and I don't feel injured or beat up; just a little tired. Well, that 6 mile run in the heat today might have something to do with that. Have a 25 mile bike with intervals this afternoon on the trainer and trying to ready mentally and physically for that. Scripture says "trust and obey" and here it is. If I crash and burn; I crash and burn.
"I know how to abound and I know how to suffer need."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

From the Ashes

Next week I begin regular training for a half ironman distance event.....

Somewhat subdued in this one. Failure does that, I suppose. However, I am no less determined. Perhaps, I don't want to over-promise and under-deliver on these long distance endurance events as I have done in the past? Self indulgent rah-rah is not going to help. I just need to purposefully do the training and the event.

However, there is one aspect of this that I do not want to be subdued about: the wisdom and guidance of God in all this. Failure has made me aware and a different type of different than that if I had succeeded. Failure has brought me a deeper understanding of humility, forgiveness, and perseverance. I have learned wholly how to fail and get up again. I have learned how to ask God to pull me from the ashes and I have witnessed His power and love in doing that for me. I have experienced a degree of thankfulness to God I could have never attained if I had not failed so many times.

"All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose" Romans 8:28

Thank God, praise God for He has called me from the ashes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Child In His Eyes

The eyes of the eighty-one year old man glittered alive when he began to tell how he once did triathlons. Years have passed and the world has changed, but his core hasn’t. Now he was training for the senior Olympics. In the corners of his mouth was a sort of peace-with-oneself grin. He had been touched where the spark still remained. Ever so slightly you could see him straighten as his grin grew to a large smile, and like a child, he excitedly told me more. You could tell he felt at once alive and, for that moment, resurrected from obligatory life, and transported to the child he had always been. It was easy to see the child in his eyes.

And there is Jason, less than half that age: father, husband, hockey player, ultra-distance runner, and now an Ironman. He tempers his many obligations with a childlike enthusiasm for life and big bites of it. I can remember at a family gathering once, when I sat down beside him asked him something about his endurance training and exploits. The lights came on. He had that same look of that 81 year old man telling me about his triathlon past and training for senior Olympics. Like my 81 year old friend, Jason spoke with confidence, hope, and enthusiasm for what he had done and what he was training for: Ironman Lake Placid. He had an injury he was trying to work through; time constraints to be overcome, but you could tell he had the “bit between the teeth” and would not be easily turned aside. Jason had that child in his eyes. He made the hard training. He took on Ironman Lake Placid when conditions were not the best. One step and then another, no matter the conditions: He wanted to be an ironman. It was his dream. And , down the finishers chute, here comes Jason, overwhelmed with childlike exuberance in a culmination of all the hard training the early hours, the long hours; all worth it; celebrating the gift of life by living his dream.

And God bless those unafraid to dream big dreams, to put it all on the line in pursuit of that dream, unafraid: unafraid of failure, unafraid of pain, unafraid of expressing the joy of life, unafraid of letting themselves go; unafraid, ready, and prepared, reaching up to put the child in their eyes again and again.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Outrunning Normal

Take the Hill !! Feel the pain, consume the fatigue, smile into it. It’s life. Bathe the spirit in it, it’s life. You are part.

Sure I can feel improvement, health, vitality from this. But mostly, I just feel renewed; thankful to God that I can do this. No excuses; I have stepped out over the edge; gone too far to go back, to ever be "normal" again. And, I am incurable, but not hopeless. Hope drove me past "normal." Hope made me reach, stretch, get beat up, and torn down. Hope raised me up to try again, and again, and again. I can look back and see that the life of comfort, ease and normal is chasing after me. It screams that this is all for my benefit if I would just slow down and act my age. But I know of the withered others - many dead now - who have believed this business about the alleged benefit of acting their appropriated age. And yes, it would be so easy to slow down and act the age that I am told I am, or --- I can act the age I feel. The age I really am.

Breathe hard, deeper: take the hill, feel the pain, keep up the pace. I can't slow down for this is a race I must daily win or be lost in a hapless, hopeless life of "normal things." I don’t want to ever go back; don't want to be "normal." This life just makes sense. Bathe the spirit in it. It's life ----Thank you God.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Life Is Now

What better reason do I need to keep trying until...?? What do I have to lose that won't be lost anyway? The brevity of health at this age is an open window that can close at any moment. Should not the fine breeze be let in to flow freely through this house until that window is shut and not before? Shouldn't life be lived out and lost on the course rather than eroding away while warming the bleachers? Am I strong enough? Am I committed enough? Is this the right time? The answers are meaningless. This is the life and time and health are NOW: no guarantees, no certain tomorrows, no health warranties. Life is NOW. God is in the present tense.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ending With a Whimper: Beginning With Prayer

It wasn't what I worked for but it was what I got. Ironman week was a stress fest on several levels and got worse when I jerked my bad leg avoiding traffic, twisted on my bad knee, and pulled that leg from hip through hamstring to heel. My chances for finishing got even slimmer.

A walk to the finish line area the night before was the clincher. I would never see it. I knew it. There was a tightness in my chest. My breathing was restricted. My chest felt like it was full of fizz or something. I felt out of control. Back at the room, it became even worse: belching constantly; Excedrin did no good at all for the throbbing headache and I could not sit still. I was a mess.

All night long I wrestled with the shortness of breath, the tightness in my chest, and a few times I broke out into a heavy sweat. My wife cooled me down with wet towels and I tried to sleep. What is wrong with me? Finally, the wake up call, but I did not get up. I was sick, tired, and scared. I did not start.

After all I have been brought through, this is how it ended: sort of with a whimper. My heart and head down, I went to get my bike and gear bags. Coming back a nice lady saw me going the wrong way to participate and she asked what was wrong. Sick, I told her. She asked was I going to be OK and I told her I hope so.

"What is your name? I will pray for you." In the midst of my worst day, God is still in my life; God is still God. God still cares. I had met His messenger and she had prayed for me: I could feel the prayers. It will be OK.