Friday, April 22, 2016

Bogged Down

"Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you," were the words of Satchel Paige. Such is life. The photo on this page is of a portion of my dry pond bed in 2011. As long as one would step quickly and lightly, and kept moving, the bed could be traversed. However, if one stood still too long, the thin surface would give way. The feet and legs would sink into a couple feet of black mud. The going would get slow, very tough, and nasty. You can't go too far like that. You can't go far in life, bogged down.
After almost two weeks of limited training, I seem a little bogged down - like the mud is sucking at my ankles. More and more each day passing, I want to get on top again; to step lightly again, and cross this bad patch more quickly. I think God is shaping me still for something besides being stuck in the mud. I think that is always the case. And little by little, day by day, I feel the spirit building again for stepping quick and light again, moving on with the journey.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Inside Empty

Sometimes the journey seems to grind to a halt. After a week and a half of almost no training a lot of stuff on this ancient frame got healed, but left a sort of inside empty feeling. Is it a journey if all you are doing is wandering without focus, without a beginning, without a plan, without a destination. Is motion, effort, and travel, by itself, a journey or does it possess all the focus, purpose, and direction of a dog chasing its tail?

The word "journey," to me, conjures up much more. It is purposeful travel, often with hindrances and obstacles that have to be overcome along the way. "Journey" suggest a quest, a theme, a focus, a destination, a goal. It is to enliven and enrich life - like I like to say make you live with "your hair on fire." Thoreau wrote that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." My opinion: that might be because "the mass of men" are not focused, don't know where or why they are going. They are desperate for a true journey.

After this time of inactivity, I can feel this indescribable need. And I wonder do others feel that need to go on with their journey? Do others sometimes get that same empty inside feeling that I have with aimless living? Then again, maybe it is me. After thirty one plus years of endurance sports, have I seen too much to be satisfied with being a good husband, father, grandfather, citizen? These are all good things, and the world needs these roles to be filled, no doubt. But there is more, I have known it; seen it up close: it is out there. Yeah, that's it for me, life is not to be lived in mindless, desperate circles. Circles leave me inside empty.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Revelation of Reality and Acceptance

Another morning of tentatively getting out of bed and trying not to fall. My left leg; knee, hamstring, calf just want to buckle in pain with me. It takes some stretching to get moving to the bathroom. This has been going on for a while in silence. It was my plan not to give air to the pain, and perhaps it would eventually go away. A foolish notion, I know. But, the idea of an ironman is a foolish notion to begin with, and what is one more foolish notion? This was not meant for me and I can accept that. I think I have been preparing for that acceptance for several weeks now: with every painful planting of my foot.

Plus, the last minute bike course situation has only ushered that acceptance along; made it easier. Speaking only for myself, there is something lost, when this close to race day, there is only silence as to what the bike course will be or whether there will be an event at all. There has always been something special about ironman, an aura to it, a wrongly given status of semi-holy. For me, ironman came crashing to earth: feet of clay like everything else except God Himself. I put ironman in the clouds; on a pedestal. Now it is resting on the same turf we all walk upon; where I should have placed it all along.

But, even without that revelation, I cannot finish that ironman without seriously, perhaps permanently, injuring myself. That is a fact. So I have to face down both the revelation of ironman reality and the reality of my own physical limitations. This ironman is over for me, regardless, but I don't regret a thing. I poured the training on after medications I was taking almost got my ironman back around Christmas. There is a peace knowing I gave it my best and gave this one to God, but He starting closing doors. That's OK. "Nevertheless, not my will by Thine be done." Now to getting healed and enjoying the prospect of the next adventure with myself that God might put me into.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Incredible Power of Recovery

A half mile into the swim and I bonked: just had nothing to go on; felt anemic, weak, and terribly fatigued. Over the decades there have been many times on runs, and bikes, when I just didn't have it to go on. It is a scary shutdown making one realize how vulnerable we are, how human after all. Yes, I have spent some time, humbly sitting on the side of the road waiting, hoping, to get my stuff back. This is the first time I had sat in the pool and waiting and hoped - new experience, even at my advanced age. Twenty minutes or so passed with me enjoyed the quiet, soothing water surrounding my body - I was the only one in the pool. Little by little, I could feel I was coming to myself again. Why not try again? Why not keep moving? Why not complete the course?
It began and at the end of the all, I found that I had swam another mile.

Amazing how I can recover. Amazing how, when all looks like weakness and fatigue, given time and rest, I can find the strength to go on. And, in that process I grow stronger. As I grow stronger it gets easier to not believe the moment, and have faith in the incredible power of recovery, of renewal.

So too, I can be renewed no matter how many times I have failed, and failed myself, or failed God. "Failure isn't final with the Father" and no matter: there is forgiveness and restoration built in by God to fix my spiritual bonk at the foot of the Cross.