Saturday, January 30, 2016

Back to New Normal

Was this feeling great spurt over with? For the first time in two weeks I felt serious fatigue in my legs. My want-to was taking a hit. Back to normal?

But, when I lay down I could not sleep. After Ten to fifteen minutes of feeling the legs absorb the rest, I got up. Soon I found myself behaving more like the old self. Push, pull, lift, chop - I could feel I was back; not back to the easily fatigued self, but to a refurbished version of myself without medication.

Life quality is such a fragile affair and I think we don't protect enough. Sometimes I find I have treated my body, mind, and life, much worse than I would my vehicle or a pet. We just have to be aware of what we put into our minds and bodies, and what we have invested ourselves in. Personally, I think I owe it to God to take care of this marvelous equipment and awesome capabilities with which He has blessed us all.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

That Was Hard

That was hard. My eight mile run was not that much fun. Some pains came back. It was hard to hold on when confronted with the demons of "don't hurt yourself," or "you can try this again next week. "Keep going." Sure, I knew this was going to be rough: the longest run in six weeks; only one run this far in three months. There was no gradual ascent; no time for that considering the time already lost. This run reminded me of someone riding a bull and trying to stay on for eight seconds. I was trying to hang on for eight miles. I survived, but that's about all. Almost everything I have is sore. Yeah, I will go on for now, but this first challenge doesn't look too promising. Lots of doubts were raised about f\ enduring the much tougher training yet to come.

Unscathed though, is my peace with it all. However it turns out, God's got it, and I will be okay. Yeah the peace within hasn't changed, because it was given by a changeless God.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Just Before the Music Stopped

"It's not over until it's over" is the old saying. The last post on this blog spoke of pulling the plug on this ironman effort. The pain and the amount of disability were just too much for any serious triathlon training. After years of injuries and failed ironman attempts, I had finally made peace with it all. God had stilled my heart.

Then there was a doctor visit for a check up to get my cholesterol prescription renewed - yes, I had high cholesterol in spite of eating good, and exercising like fury - high cholesterol runs in my family. And too, I wanted the doctor to check out my hip and back. Perhaps he could x-ray the hip and back to see how bad it was and what my prognosis would be. But too, there was the remote chance that the cholesterol medication I was on could be causing the back and hip pain. I didn't think that was the case, but, no harm checking it out.

So there I was getting my X-ray results and wondering how much of myself I would have left for the rest of my life. I do a lot of physical stuff. Lots would have to change if I didn't have a good back anymore. Other people might have to do simple things for me like changing the water bottle in the water cooler or carrying in an arm full of firewood. Things didn't look that good but I was ready for it. Sometimes I would see photos of people running or biking and think that they don't know or fully appreciate how blessed they are. Of course, until this, I appreciated the ability, but I had had no idea how precious that ability was. I thanked God for all those great swim; those great rides, the runs, the events. Praise God, I had been so richly blessed. Now, I was ready for the other-life.

But just before the day faded and the music stopped, Light came into my room. The doctor told me that my back and hip were fine. There was no skeletal damage. That made me feel a lot better. The disability and discomfort might now be managed and relieved eventually. Good news.

A few days later my blood test came back showing that it could be the side effects of my cholesterol medication that were causing the pains I had had for almost two months. Immediately I got off the medication and went totally whole food, plant based on my diet. I had been mostly plant based, but now I took the "mostly" out of the equation. And, I took simple sugar off the table as well. My training had been so light and sporadic for past weeks that I felt pretty sure that it was too late to catch up on my ironman schedule . Besides, for a few days, I was still hurting.

But, day by day the pain began to abate. I could sleep all night again. I could walk without a certain amount of pain again. I could do certain exercises again, I could change my water bottle again, bring in firewood again and The lights got brighter and brighter and starting to wonder and even hope again. After a week and a half, I noticed I had more clarity in my thinking, shorter recovery time between workout, less overall fatigue, and an unexplainable baseline joy. I was beginning to feel very good.

Now, two and a half weeks without cholesterol medication and I feel great! I guess I had accepted the way I felt for years as good and forgotten how feeling really good can be. I feel better than I have in ten years or more. Funny, ten years is about how long I have been taking cholesterol medication. But, I can't be sure about any of this. I just know, praise God, nothing hurts and I feel good and capable. I have trained for the last eight days and I don't feel unduly fatigued. Now I can swim, bike, and run again. Again, I am one of those people that I envied a few weeks ago. Oh sure, this could all be is just one great big head game, a placebo of sorts. But I don't think so. I have done head games before and this feels like the real thing. And besides, who cares? It's working. I am living "the life I have imagined" and praising God for it.

Now what? I prayed. He has taken me to this place. Where do I go from here? What do I do? Do I take the different cholesterol medication the doctor is prescribing, or do I hold on to this wonderful place I am at and take my chances on having a stroke or heart attack? Research I found suggested that intense exercise may just exacerbate statin side effects. If that were the case, taking stains and training intensely might not be a good idea.

I prayed. He answered. For the next four weeks I am fast forwarding my training. I know it is not good training theory but so what? What do I have to loose? Two and a half weeks ago, I was injured and disabled and ready to quit. And, to take on this challenge to catch up on my ironman training would be quite the challenge and adventure both of which lights my fire. The goal will be to get back to the original schedule by the 5th week. So far my endurance and fitness has been fine, but I don't know how it will be in the longer sessions to come. I will stay off the cholesterol medication until then. If I can't get the fitness back to the level the schedule requires by four weeks, I will give up on this ironman. If I can reach the level to do the ironman training on that 5th week then I will continue on into ironman training. I will stay off the cholesterol medication until after the event. Then, I will get my bloodwork done again and make a prayerful decision then on the medication.

For these moments, these days of hope in my heart and for the health and vitality in my body, I thank God. And when these days are finally over, I will praise Him for all the close moments like I am having right now.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pulling the Plug

Today I have about decided to pull the plug on ironman this May. In fact, I will probably pull the plug on triathlon for the next six months at least. A fire is built in the fireplace. It burns hot and bright, crackling with noise. Over time the fire burns down and the ashes become only faintly warm. My triathlon spirit is only faintly warm right now. I want to get well.

Yesterday, my back strain came back with a vengeance. As I write this I am squirming in my chair under a certain amount of pain. Is it time to pull the plug? Is this God's plan for me, after all? There is not much that could have been done to get me off this journey except to break my back. Maybe that is it.

There is so much else to be done that I don't think I will mourn too much the loss of this quest. I have been on this quest for years, and let so many things go. I have a book or two to put together and finish. Serious training often leaves me tired, about half brain-dead, and not very creative.

Yes, here it is, embracing another failure at ironman, but this time it doesn't hurt as bad and I think the peace with God and His will for this time in my life, has made failure a success.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

To Fan A Flameless Faith

Pain and a pending doctor appointment the next day had me in funk. Finally, after over 28,000 miles running in this lifetime, I come to the place where I can't run anymore. Oh, I can, but the pain is bad enough that I don't want to. Times like this all I know is take it to God. So I went off in the woods, built a fire, sat by it and prayed and prayed.

My prayers seemed to echoe empty back to me. I sensed no answer, no understanding, no resolution. I could not seem to reach God. Walking out of the woods to home I noticed I didn't have my glasses on. Perhaps I took them off when I took my cap off to pray? No, I didn't remember taking my cap off. Maybe I should have.

I searched the woods, the roads, my house, and everywhere I could think of where I might have taken off my glasses. Nothing. My wife joined in the search, as did my two granddaughters. Nothing. I had bought these glasses only a couple weeks ago. Now several hundred dollars has been lost; about the amount of what it would have cost me to do my ironman. My inability to run anymore along with lossing my glasses settled it for me and ironman. This ironman stuff is done, I thought. I prayed this time: "Lord, please help me find my glasses." I looked some more for the glasses. Nothing. I gave up. However, in giving up and giving in, there was an element of peace that came. So I went back to the woods to stoke the fire, sit by it, and pray. This time I will take my cap off. More than ever, I needed to hear from God again.

After putting some wood on the embers, I sat down beside the smoking pile of wood waiting for it to ignite. There was so much smoke; so little fire. I took my baseball cap off to fan the embers. Praise God, and with the first wave of the cap to fan the embers to flame, the missing glasses came flying off my cap and fell among the leaves. They had been on my cap the whole time I had been looking for them. My wife and grandchildren had not seen them on my cap though they had been right in front of me many times. And how could I have thought God wasn't near. God had been there all the time. It makes me think that these times God seems so distant, perhaps He is closer than we can ever imagine if we but "be still, humble ourselves, "take off our cap, and fan our smoldering faith to flame.