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."