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.