Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 The Resolution to Be Oneself

This was my New Years Eve post last year. 

How did I do?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Years:  Getting Up One More Time

New Years Eve: I have failed at getting to the start of the ironman many times, yet as I listen to the fireworks out there in the night, I yet have hope, and I yet have the will to keep trying. God just won't let me quit, Somehow, I still find it inside to keep training: to keep hoping. I get older and older and fail and fail. Yet, in the end, I somehow still hope. That Hope is more than I could muster on my own. I like that quote: "The miracle is not that I finished but that I had the courage to begin." So this New Years Eve I am thankful and feel blessed that I have been given the courage to begin and begin again and begin again, and again. Tonight I am thankful that God pushed me to simply have the will, the hope, to get up one more time, to have the courage to hope. In the process, doubt and fear had to be dealt with and overcome and all the arguments for mindless moderation must be argued down. To me it sometimes seems that the world would level us off into clones of one another. And if we are not "acting our age," or following some less courageous predetermined pattern, it is as if a violation of the natural order has been committed.

So my resolution is to be myself. To hope where there doesn't seem to be a reason to; to keep getting up to reach for more. Who knows. I might just inspire someone else to step outside the preordained prescription for their lives. You never know who is watching or reading this post; someone waiting for inspiration; waiting to see if I will get up yet one more time than I get knocked down, and finish the "race set before
So went was my New Years post last year.  I ask myself;  how did I do?   I ask God: How did I do?   The training for Ironman Texas really beat me up.  However, I made it to the starting line for the first time in many, many tries.  I finished the swim and bike but couldn't go on. It was the hardest thing I have ever tried to do.  The support was amazing.  An experience of a lifetime.  Maybe I should quit here, I had thought.   I signed up again: in training now.   How did I do last year?  The answer is in the smile I have at writing this, in the feeling of the "peace with oneself" feeling in my hearth thinking upon last year.  So I didn't do too badly, I guess.  I am still standing, still trying, still dreaming and hoping, getting knocked down and getting back up.  Praise God.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3rd - Going On - Life in the Present Moment

It wasn't a big successful run yesterday like I planned.  But the week was a good one as far as ramping up my training.  I was tired.  It could be much worse.  We buried my dad on this day many years ago and so much of him remains in me.  In fact, much of the endurance mindset I have, I can tell it was his first. Thank you God for a great father and an example of manhood.  I wish I could tell him all this and I guess the take-away is:  don't wait to tell it.  All of life is in the present moment; seize it.

 And so it is with my ironman effort. Sure I have failed at this many, many times. Sure, I will be competing as a 75 year old; an age group where no one finished last year.  Sure, I have a gimp knee which could blow at any time.  Sure, sure, sure.  But, life in the present moment brings a gleam to my eyes, a hope to my step.  What have I got to lose that won't be lost.  How many much more disabled than I would love  the chance; just the chance, to be on this beautiful journey I am on.  To  live the life of the present moment with just a sliver of hope of achieving the seemingly impossible.  For this opportunity; for this journey; I am truly blessed.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December 1, 2017 - I Go On

Bearing down a bit on training.  It is time. Last weekend did a 3 and 1/2 hour run.  Yesterday did a 61 mile bike.  During all this I have had an upper respiratory congestion which means a lot coughing amid the workouts.  It is OK.  I feel blessed to even be in this league of participants. The congestion will go away and probably some new obstacle will appear in the path.  I am ready for that too. Mentally I seem to be closing ranks in preparation for the onslaught of massive training.  A lot of things get sifted into their rightful bin of true importance.  God remains. I go on.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Terminal Sanity

No, just old, not terminal.  Not yet. Hope still courses in my veins buoyed by the passion for the kind of experience not normally sought for one this old:  I want to do an ironman.  It's crazy.  Yes, of course.  And it's crazy too to think that God is behind it; wants me go for it; will bless me even in likely failure. 

Oh yes, times I really think this is crazy myself.  Times I really want to lay this journey aside.  The temptation to quit this altogether haunts me like a ghost, And maybe someday I will buckle and go under, but not today.  Tomorrow I will wake up and fights the demons again that say quit this silliness and become terminally sane. Do the sane thing here:  live, follow the beaten path, check all the proper boxes, and die quietly without too much noise or trouble. 

There is only quiet in the cemetery; dreams lay silent with us there.  What is to be lost in failing at something far over our heads?   What do we have to lose  that won't be lost ?  And  how much hope, passion, and life itself  might have been squandered if our end finds us  in a state of terminal sanity.

Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything----
Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you----
so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Close to the Ditch Yet Again

After six years this is still true: still going on. It seems that we repeat ourselves.  Or it could be too that things that matter repeat themselves in our lives giving us the opportunity to readdress, and reconstruct ourselves to our betterment. 

October 2011
It seems to be coming apart. Ever since signing up for Ironman Texas, it seems like I have incurred the wrath of God. The schedule this week is in disarray and I feel like I am coming down with something myself. What a rotten way to start!

Life is like that sometimes. The Bible says, "In the world you shall have tribulations----" It doesn't say you "might" or that it is a "possibility," it says "you shall." So, like in the last miles of the marathon, I just try to keep moving forward, knowing as long as I do that, I will not be yet defeated, and each step forward takes me closer to the finish.

"All of life runs unsettlingly close to the ditch."
Joseph M. Stowell
"The Upward, Inward Look," Decision Magazine 1/09

Friday, October 6, 2017

Called to Be

An outdoor ride was refreshing yesterday.  I did 30 miles without too much difficulty and on the trip did a hill several times to get the feel.  What feel?  The feel of the overpasses on the toll road which is the ironman bike course. And, I did it into the 5-10 mph wind; not like the more severe wind speed it will probably be, but it is race specific training, nonetheless.  This felt right; like a slipped into the groove and caught my pace. 

Is it unreasonable to think I have reconnected - in one sense - to myself, to  who I am and who I am called to be>

Sunday, September 10, 2017

How Do You Respond?

Went to a sprint triathlon today (Rose City Triathlon in Tyler, Texas)- my 51st triathlon - and it was quite revealing. Not revealing in the limitless possibilities out there, but in revealing a lot of truths about myself. Today was a sprint triathlon for enhanced self-awareness.

For one, in looking at race photos, I became aware that I don't look as good as I thought I did. In fact, I could be labeled fat without departing too far from the truth. In addition, I  am not as thorough and into preparedness as I had perceived myself to be. My bike computer didn't work - I should have know that. My front skewer was loose on my bike and the headset was loose - where have I been? My T-2 transition wasn't all that long but terribly sloppy and disorganized. And my run, in a word: stinks; absolutely the worst 5k I have ever ran in my life - and I thought I was holding it together pretty good; reality says "no way." I  thought all my run training was on target and doing some good: how wrong was that? There was an overweight guy, walking with a bad limp up ahead of me and I couldn't catch him.  There he  was up ahead,  walking, limping, overweight, and he was pulling away from me while I was  allegedly running. My heart sank.

Time for some reality therapy here. Oh sure, people are all amazed that I can do all this stuff at my age, but God isn't amazed. He gave me this window of opportunity and it seems I have not lived up to His or my own expectations. So, tomorrow, when I might be thinking more clearly, I will indulge in some serious reality therapy about my endurance sports life. Today has been most humbling and perhaps now I am ready for God to use me in whatever reality I am given.

So, I wrote down all the reasons I shouldn't even think about doing Ironman Texas on April 28, 2018.  Below are the reasons:  reality to either   accept and give this crazy stuff up, or accept, put my face into the wind, and "Face the Giants." 

1.     The “Bad Leg”
2.     My awful run speed
3.     Wife’s physical problems
4.     Financial expense
5.     Lack of motivation
6.     Lack of a consistent place to swim
7.     Asthma
8.     Present level of deep fatigue
9.     Present overweight problem
10.   Time away from family
11.   Time away from work to be done here on the place
12.   Time and mind to write
13.   Urinary tract problems.

Now put  all those good reasons up against the one overarching reason to keep trying;  in spite; to keep on trying though I might look like a fool yet again attempting this at this age (74).  How does all this  stack up?  I knew the answer before I asked. 
How do you respond when you sense the Lord is calling you to a task that seems beyond your abilities? Do you list all the reasons you can't possibly do it? God already knows everything about you and the situation. He's not asking your permission to proceed; rather, He is calling you to move forward with faith and obedience. He didn't make an error in choosing you for the task, but you will make a huge mistake if you refuse to do it.
God will equip you for whatever He calls you to do. Because the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer, we have all we need to fulfill the Lord's mission. Instead of letting inadequacy hinder you from obeying, let it drive you to your knees so you can arise with renewed insight and power.
Charles Stanley

God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try. -Mother Teresa

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Go On

There is just no end to the ups and downs in this training business. Keeping training on track and keeping life on track simultaneously can be a real tightrope walk. And, what of the times like today when the want to is hiding out in the woods here somewhere, and my body seems like it has been in an auto accident? Lots has been going on, not the least of which is three deaths of friends and loved ones and a hurricane here in the last few weeks. Disaster seems everywhere and my body feels like a disaster as well. And, my heart just cant' get into much but mourning.

A doe whitetail deer just walked out of the woods and a bouncy fawn followed her. Squirrels are chasing each other in these trees. It is the first cool front. Animals are feeling it. The world is still alive. All those I've lost would tell me to go on, be like the bouncy fawn and the chasing squirrels, go on while the first air of fall is in the air; go on while the spirit to bounce and chase is within you; go on and embrace the life God gave. Go on: for them, who have suffered; for them who have lost; go on, not in mourning but in celebration and thankfulness. God is still good. Go on!

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Again into the fray. Again the huge time, energy, and resource commitment; again, I have begun training for Ironman Texas.

It has been over three months since I participated in this event(I finished the swim and bike). But strangely, I don't have that "unfinished business" vendetta thing. It is more like a "peaceful, easy feeling" when I consider my last ironman attempt. I I am good with it so why go at it again, then. As strange as it might seem, I am at peace about this so it is tempting to stop right here and be content to savor that wonderful experience.

However, something different happened at that ironman effort a little over three months ago. I guess I didn't realize the amount of ego I had involved until I lost a healthy portion of it. This ironman thing has taken me down and has taken me up to a whole new platform and perspective that I can't really put into words.

Perhaps it was somewhere out there on that windy bike course of Ironman Texas, when I was stopped, exhausted, in pain, leaning over my handlebars in prayer. Perhaps it was the pervasive love and support I received from friends and family. Perhaps it was the intimate feeling of God being with me? Perhaps I lost something I did not need and received something I don't want to live without? Perhaps there is more? So, bring on the quest - Again.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Somebody Is Watching

The doldrums: "a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression." I was there. Nobody knew. I went three days without any training for the first time in several years. I prayed. The doldrums continued. I became more concerned about my motivation to endure than my physical ability to do so. Oh sure, it is hot, humid, and lots going on with regular life. There was lots to take my focus away but I have faced those demons before and gotten back up and gone on. This time was really tough. I didn't share this with anyone except God. Who else could help?

Then one day without provocation, an old friend sent me a message of hope and inspiration; a reminder that God is in this and God is with me. I am not really sure what or how he might have known about my ironman training, but it was obvious from the message that he had been watching me and my journey, perhaps for hope and inspiration of his own.

A day or so later my daughter wrote that she had been running and had gotten up to four miles. Shortly thereafter, my son asked me when ironman training would officially begin. A relative who had just got through open heart surgery wanted to know all about my training and racing plans. He seemed inspired by it all. Then he remarked about some detail from a story from a book I have written. I was surprised that someone had read my little book and more surprised that someone could remember something from it. Somebody has been watching me. I guess I had thought I had been doing all this in a dark closet. I had been watched all along. I was convicted and a little bit ashamed.

God has granted me health and vitality beyond normal years. May I use those gifts to provide hope and inspiration, to show God in human effort and commitment. God has sent others to lift me up out of my doldrums. So, I sense He sends me to "run the race that is set before me." Yes, Somebody is watching. It is God.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Right Kind of Crazy Stuff

There is a peace this morning. The answer came; the decision made then acted upon: I AM IN !

The event is ten months away and it is presumptuous to think at this age I will live that long, much less be able to do an ironman event. Of course it's insane but I have my excuses all laid out along with my "things to do" lists and training plan. And they are: I am old, senile, overcome with dementia, and deluded due to lack of oxygen to the brain. It's not my fault I do crazy stuff, you see.

And I have this crazy notion that God is in this with me; approves and smiles at upon it. Yeah, crazy stuff going on, this believing. Why would I think God has anything to do with this just because I have prayed fervently several times a day about it: just because I fasted and prayed about all this. This may no prove anything except the obvious(as previously) stated: senile, dementia, delusion.

However, this morning I am at peace about this decision and I am peace with God. Perhaps the right kind of crazy stuff really isn't all that bad.

Friday, June 23, 2017

I Am Afraid

Decision time comes in about three days. I am afraid. Yes, I am afraid; afraid of the level of commitment required; the amount of fatigue to endure; the pain, the discomfort. I am afraid. I am afraid that I can't sustain the season and consequently, will have to admit that I am getting too old. I am afraid of what I would have to put my loved ones through yet again. And, I am afraid that if I do make it to the starting line that my performance may even be worse than the year before. Here again, I would have to admit I need to find more sedentary pursuits and start checking out the price of rocking chairs.

But, I am more afraid of giving up before I am finished and what it would do to me. I am afraid that I won't cope well with lesser challenges and a more mediocre lifestyle. I have been to the mountain, and it might be hard now to live in the valleys.

So, amidst hopes and fears I count the costs like the disciples of Jesus did before assuming a life of sacrifice.

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first , and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Luke 14:28

So, I have counted the cost and prayed enough to know God is with me: now, then, and forevermore, and I am not afraid.

Monday, June 12, 2017


Two weeks until registration opens for Ironman Texas 2108. Do I really want to go to that level of effort and commitment again? Is the going up really worth the coming down this time? Did I do enough last time to scratch that itch? Do I feel God wants me to do more on the ironman playing field or on another?

The training and the motivation doesn't seem to be there: perpetually fatigued, slow to get to workouts, a sort of athletic apathy. Sure there are moments that light me up when I hear about ironman, but they are not sustained moments and ironman training is about sustaining.

And, I wonder if the beauty of that wonderful experience at Ironman Texas this year has set the standard so high that I would be sure to be disappointed by a renewed effort? Would the beauty of that experience be tarnished by reaching for more and messing up the image and feeling I have about 2017? Now it seems I have so many questions about something I thought I was sure about. Am I done here? Is it time to just do small events, or get involved in some areas of service that I have not explored?

The brain seems perpetually clouded with fatigue, so much so that I don't trust any decision right now. So, once again, there is nothing to do but pray; leave it God to decide and trust the results to Him. Perhaps that is where He has been pushing me to all along? Is that so bad?

PS: Starting tomorrow morning I am doing 24 hours of fasting and prayer.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Uncover and Discover

Over three weeks since my ironman effort and my knee is finally healed. I would like to think it healed to stronger than it was before. I would like to think that I have recovered to more than I was before. I think its true.

A line from a song says, "And something's lost and something's gained in living every day." The ironman experience was "living' in high definition. And, something is changed: me. Another saying goes that a rubber band stretched to its limit never goes back to its original shape. I have been tried; I have been stretched. I can't go back. I have tasted the calling; reveled in the gift, seen places inside; rooms laid dusty and vacant until now.

I have always been intrigued by the thought that the possibility to have cell phones has always been with us, even back when Indians were sending up smoke signals, or even as far back as when cave men were writing on cave walls. The potential for cell phones has always been with us. We just had to uncover and discover it.

On a personal level who knows what potential lies within us? Who knows what we are capable of if can summon the strength and courage to uncover and discover. I ask God, "Should I do another ironman?" From my reading of His word and my own relationship with Him, I sense His answer: "Why not? I have placed the potential within you. Have the strength and courage to step out in faith and uncover and discover yet again."

Monday, May 1, 2017

A DAY UNLIKE ANY OTHER DAY - The Rest of the Story

My bum left knee and other personal issues have stopped me several times from getting to the Ironman Texas starting line several times. This time, this year, things seemed to be different. My hopeful spirit was enriched by all the interest and support shown by my family and friends. I was humbled almost to tears by the outpouring of all their love and concern.

The night before the event was awful. Did I sleep at all? Not sure. However, the prospect of the biggest athletic event of my 73 year old life lay before me, and morning found me purposeful, intent, mentally alert; ready for one of the greatest experiences of my life. It would be all of that and more.

Can you believe that my nephew and niece would fly down for Spokane, Washington to be there for this event? My goodness! And my wife can’t be thanked enough for the way she always made a way for me through this journey of many years. So many times she has been my go-to girl; the selfless, “wind beneath my wings.” If I needed a reason to do this it would be to reward her for all the love and support she has shown me through it all. However, she has back and hip problems and can’t walk very far without undue pain. She would have wanted so much to be at the start but it wasn’t to be. However, my sister volunteered to be my ironsherpa for race day. God bless her, she had already traveled over two hundred miles to get to the event,and then got up at 3:00 AM to meet me to help with race morning.

We walked to transition and I left her to go inside to put nutrition on my bike and inflate my tires. The front of the entrance to the transition area was very crowded. Trying to work my way through the crowd, I could not see my feet. One foot caught an unseen curb and in a moment, I was landing hard on my bad knee on the pavement. Bike bottles scattered all around, but nice folks helped me up and gather my bottles. Was I hurt? Not sure. Yeah, it seemed to have made the knee hurt somewhat when I planted it. What was that sticky stuff I was smearing on my bike pump? Was that blood? Were my hands bleeding?

Quickly into transition, I took care of business, went out, found my sister, and we briskly walked to the swim start – about a mile. There we dropped off the special needs bags and I got bodymarked, then stood in a long line for a potty stop. Swim start was crowded, noisy, and, for me, it was hard to tell what the announcer was saying. It was all going by so fast. On the way to line up, we stopped and talked to a long time volunteer and thanked her. Then, I came upon one of my Facebook friends I had wanted to meet – a very nice gentleman facing his own ironman challenge that day. We talked to him a bit.

When I look around it seemed there were only people in wetsuits waiting to swim. I did hear the announcer say something about nonwetsuit swimmers better get in the water. Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I made my way through the large wetsuit crowd. Finally at the front, I found that I was one of only two nonwetsuit people left to go. Quickly, in the water, adjust the goggles, and I am swimming.

The whole morning had been sort of a blur with no time to think through the situation or even to be nervous. Now, about 500 yards into the swim, it came to me: I am in an ironman swim. My dream: I had imagined this many times over the last years. And for years and months, day after day, I had done the training, the race preparation, and this time, yes, this time, Praise God, I had made the start. I was really doing an ironman swim. I got all warm and fuzzy about that. Although, at the time, I was getting pummeled by the wetsuits swimmers who had caught me, and crowded me in. It was Ok. It seemed where I was and what I was doing trumped almost everything else.
On the swim, I got a good line - I thought – and got into a good rhythm - I thought. There were no serious incidents, and like I had heard, the ironman swim is probably the best part of the day. The swim course was monitored by kayaks better than any open water swim I had ever been in. Way to go, guys.

The swim seemed to take longer than I thought it should – not sure why. I had heard that the canal portion was choppy and crowded and nasty and all that. I found none of that. With the spectators on the bank and knowing I was almost done, the canal was the best section of the swim for me. When I got on the steps to get out of the water, a volunteer grabbed both arms and pulled. I can’t say enough good about the competence, energy, and willingness to help of all the volunteers I experienced at this event.

For some reason, I was sort of dizzy, and had to be careful making my way to the transition tent. Volunteers were great there too, as I turned on my Beacon tracker, put Vaseline on my feet, got ready and left the tent where I was covered up with volunteers putting sunscreen on me. How great. I got to my bike and there to the side of the transition was my family. I didn’t recognize them in the distance without my glasses, but I could hear them calling my name. That was some kind of great. Then as I lead my bike out of the transition area, I was cheered on by the volunteer after volunteer Thanks all of you. What a great day. I wasn’t dizzy anymore.

My bike moved nicely on the smooth roads. I am accustomed to fresh chipseal, so this road surface was a real treat. I felt strong and had to hold myself back. Then it came to me again: I am on an ironman bike ride; can you believe this? Another dream. Blessing upon blessing. The wind wasn't bad, but it was in my face going out on the two loop bike course. And the day was made more special when the bike course went through my old neighborhood where I was raised. It passed right by the high school I graduated from many, many, many years ago. Arriving again at the beginning, and it was good.

Somewhere near the turnaround, a cool front came in; the wind switched directions and I found myself still pedaling into a head wind. The wind seemed to get stronger by the moment. I switched to the small front chain ring on my bike - easier to pedal but much higher cadence. Shortly after that both legs cramped: hamstrings and quads. As best I could, I tried to shake the legs out one at a time. It helped a little. I guess my legs were just not accustomed to a high spin. At the next aid station I got off the bike to settle my legs down and use the porta-potty. Not good; it was quite painful to urinate. I had had this problem in training for a while and had switched to a special saddle. Today the special saddle wasn’t so special. The worst part was that the painful urination experience had made my entire bottom quite tender. Sitting on my saddle was painful now. I stood up and pedaled as much as I could. But, I knew I was using up a lots of energy doing that, especially into that strong headwind.

I took a couple of Advils for that pain, and after a while I could sit for longer periods, but I was not sure if that dehydrated me more or not. Although I knew I was making some progress into that awful wind, the overpasses never seemed to stop coming. To make it worse, the rubber on the sole of my right shoe was starting to come loose. I ride in flat pedals for several reasons - mainly because my lower right leg is crooked. My right foot always points to the right. The shoe bottom was flapping around making it hard to keep my right foot from slipping off the pedal. How am I going to run in these shoes: barefoot maybe? Overpass after overpass, and my legs began to quiver at times like they were jello. I had to stop at the next aid station. Thank God, the volunteer held my bike as I had a hard time getting off of it without falling down. But, worse news was yet to come: I couldn’t urinate.

Back on the bike, into the wind, thinking maybe I should call this off at the turnaround. Could this be something really serious? Then after some determined pedaling, I saw the last overpass and the turnaround ahead. Decision time: Do I call it in from here? No, the wind will be at my back now. And the strong headwind coming back? I didn’t want to think about that. This was an ironman after all, wasn’t it?

With the wind at my back, I began to soar. What a great feeling! Moving so fast and enjoying it so much, I probably didn’t drink or eat enough. Almost in a moment it seemed I had made the turnaround. And coming back? Whoa, the wind was much stronger than before. The cramping in my legs returned with a vengeance. Not too many miles past the turnaround, I had to stop and massage my quivering legs. Is this quivering related to my urinary problems? All kinds of thoughts like that ran through my head. I was sort of afraid to get off my bike so I just stood over it when I stopped, rubbing my legs, then bending over the handlebars and prayed. That was ritual coming back into that fierce wind. Each time I stopped it got harder to get going again. Should I quit? No. You need to make the bike leg of this. Just make the bike.
The cramping and quivering legs continued. Finally, I came to the end of that section and the course went into a residential section: about 12 miles to go. By then I was pedaling more with my left leg – my bad knee – because of the right shoe coming apart. It was getting almost impossible to keep my foot on the pedal. The rest of course seemed a long and endless maze of pain and discomfort. I stopped a couple more times and just mostly prayed to get through the bike course. The legs felt so weak and they continued to quiver and cramp. The course seemed to go on and on. Was I ever going to make this?

Finally, I turned a corner and there it was: the bike course finish. People were on the sides of the street cheering. I was getting close and probably too anxious. Then from my left I heard, “Pop-Pop!” It was my two grandchildren, smiling and waving at their grandpa. I was over the top with emotion. Then I had to stop to dismount.

In the excitement of it all, I guess I lost my focus. Instead of waiting for someone to hold my bike while I got off, instead of planting that bad leg firmly before putting my weight on it, I tried it on my own. Mistake. The left leg and knee wouldn’t hold the weight. My knee buckled backwards then buckled beneath. I went down hard on my bad knee. I couldn’t get up on my own. Two wonderful volunteers pulled me up; another took my bike. My knee was bloody looking and it really hurt. Walking was labored and painful. I could feel the flopping sole of my shoe. My whole body felt shaky, and I wondered if my legs were going to buckle under me again. I had not been able to urinate in quite some time – that alone scared me enough. I knew, I was done.

My team was there with all the love, respect, and support, and enthusiasm one could possibly hope for. I am so truly blessed. They got me back to the hotel and had nothing but praise and admiration for me even though I had not done the run. I have done 50 triathlons and 32 marathons, but never have I had to dig so deep as I did this day to complete this bike course. Even though I didn’t get it finished, I feel at peace about this day – no regrets. I had done my best. The whole experience was humbling yet inspiring and much more than I thought it would be in so many ways. And I found that I was more than I thought I was. Deep inside I knew I would never be quite the same. And the love and support of my family was much more than I would have ever imagined it could be. This was a day of exceeded limits for good. Let me say this again: I am truly, truly blessed; blessed by the experience of living out a dream, blessed by the strength gained from an arduous experience, and blessed the love that was shown me. But more importantly: to be so richly blessed by God.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ironman Texas 2017 - Getting to Nevertheless

In the beginning God; and, on the first day, God created a dream. And the dream sifted and settled inside the mind, wedged its way down deep within my heart, was nurtured and grew there. The dream budded and bloomed into words: "Do An Ironman," loudly ringing in resonance to my spirit, committing my body and mind. Now years and many heartaches, setbacks, and failures later - my Miles of the Journey - the calling is satisfied.
And God smiled and said, it was good.

On the windy bike course,I was poured out like water.
I can't go on.
God is there any other way?
Can I just quit?
Can you get me out of this?
Then the thought of Jesus, the night he was betrayed, "Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done." Yes Lord. Nevertheless.
Nevertheless became my mantra.
Both legs were cramping, shaking like Jello, and the wind was howling in my face for me to stop: nevertheless. Over eighty done and over thirty miles go. I am running on fumes: nevertheless.
This is for you God. Twelve miles to go, I stop many times, lean over my handlebars and pray. Give me strength to finish this bike course, Lord. It was harder to get going each time that I stopped, but nevertheless.

Finally, the end of the bike course, and I got to stop. But my legs wouldn't hold me up to get off the bike, and I fell hard onto the pavement. I was bleeding from my bad knee. I was limping badly. My legs hurt terribly. It was difficult to walk. Nevertheless I had done it: finished the brutal bike course with my strength already gone. It would have been great to do the run and have finished, but nevertheless, it was enough for God. Like Jesus, I could say, "It is finished." I had obeyed: I had my well-done from God.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Close to the End of the Journey

This will be the last post before Ironman Texas 2017. Tomorrow we leave for the venue. What a journey this has been. There have been so many hurdles and setbacks, I won't bother to go into all that. But, it has been one hill after another for almost 5 years now, just trying to get to the starting line of Ironman Texas. Unless something else comes out of the woodwork and goes terribly wrong, I may just line up for the swim in a little over 40 hours. It is close.

But God is close to. In fact, I think He is closer now than He has ever been. He didn't move. I made room in my own heart and mind to scoot on over closer to Him. It has made all the difference this time. And sure, I have some tenseness. Sure, I realize my knee still isn't that good, and odds are I won't make it all the way to the finish line in time. But, I am going to line up to try, and that is one huge blessing and worthwhile destination of these miles of the journey

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Looking for a Well Done From God

Ironman Texas 2017 - my best chance. After years of trying and failing to get to the starting line of Ironman Texas, I find myself a week away from going to pick up my packet for the event. And,it is less than ten days from getting in the water; beginning the event for the first time. Nothing hurts right now. No one is sick right now. I am getting rested little by little. My run of an hour and twenty minutes today was easy and painless. Am I being blessed? Even though I am several years older than when I first ventured into this failure fraught journey, I believe this year is my best chance.

Worry and fear have matured into a dulled concern. Down there somewhere I must be very scared but I don't feel it. Am I being blessed? And, although I really don't think I have a good chance of finishing within the cut-off times, at least I have some chance: a chance to venture out there; to do my best for those who stood by me through all this, and for myself. But most of all I want to do my best for God. He has been there steadying my boat through this; gave me courage and hope to get up from the canvas each time I was knocked down. Whether this ends with me broken down on the course or crossing the finish line, my dream is a "well done" from God. And if so, I will have been blessed.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

And My Flag Is Still There

"The rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag is still there." That is how Francis Scott Key could see and know that the American flag was still flying from the fort in the midst of the bombardment: by the light of rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air. He could see the country's true colors by the light of the very things sent to destroy.

Which brings me to this ironman thing. There is a bad knee that won't ever be well - sounds like popcorn popping when I run. There is an ongoing urinary problem aggravated by sitting on a bike; my bike and run times in training are pathetic: and besides all this, I am just too old for an all day and half the night event. I am outmatched, under-gunned, and very low on ammunition. A surrender flag seems appropriate.

But the fort still seems to be holding despite all odds. It's crazy, but looking through all my setbacks - though I have been bombed by ironman for years now - through it all I see by the rocket's red glare of troubles, that my flag, my hope, my dream, is still there. Put away that surrender flag; there is fight in me yet, and I still want to do battle for the Glory of God. In answer to His calling, I still want to be an ironman and my flag is still there.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Second Chance for Life

Last night I had a dream that I had been given the death penalty. It was so real. In the dream I remember that I thought, "Yeah, this is only a dream and I will wake up from this." Then another thought followed, "No, this isn't a dream. It's real. You have been given the death penalty." Like most dreams, it didn't make sense that I was convicted and sentenced for some error I had made on my taxes or something. And, I was walking around a mall waiting for the suits to get the paper organized to go on and execute me. I thought that I won't be able to run anymore; better do it now. And, I started running in the mall among the people. That felt so good so right; so sad it was the last time. And I had wished I had settled things more from a material standpoint for my wife. I wished I had said good-bye longer and better. And, there seemed to be a hypersensitivity to life. Even small things had richness and meaning. And I wished I had more days to live it out better. Then I woke up.

It is almost like a second chance; with a revised perspective, and here I am in the teeth of training for Ironman Texas. Is this something I would do if I knew I was going to get the death penalty? Absolutely. To live out a passion, purpose, plan and dream, shouldn't be taken lightly. If it beats me up, or I don't live through it, at least a big part of my life won't be left undone. The dream made me fully realize that this is life. You can't save it. You can only use it, or lose it trying to hoard it. Scripture says, "Whosoever saves his life shall lose it and whosoever loses his life for My sake, shall find it."

I have prayed and prayed about this; told God that I am scared to death; told Him about all my ailments, disabilities and injuries, and even reminded Him about my advanced age. He seemed to answer, "So, you think I don't know that: do what you are called to."

As far as the event itself, it doesn't look good, but I know I must, at least try; to line up and get in the water anyway; risk the temptation to play it safe. If I fail, I fail at a worthwhile pursuit, doing my best.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ironman - I Don't Understand

The next three weeks will decide. The really brutal high-volume part of my training is over the next twenty two days. If I can survive intact for just twenty two days, I feel I will have my best chance to attempt Ironman Texas, April 22nd.

I can't believe I am doing this; so tired already. But, in the morning I will probably be on my game, to come crashing back down to earth tomorrow night; day one done, twenty one more to go. And, this is where and what God led me to and for the life of me I can't make sense out of this. What and how can He possibly use something like this ironman sufferfest? Can't I just teach Sunday School or do mission work or something? Sure would be easier that to face this beast head on.

But I doubt I am the first believer to not understand. "My ways are past fining out." I can surely believe that. Maybe I am like Jonah, spending my three weeks in the belly of a whale - the belly of ironman beast - so to speak. Maybe good things for God will be thrown up and thrown out on land when this belly of the beast time is over with. Yeah, I'm in, but I don't understand, and I may never know why.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Somebody's Hero

When she was about six years old my granddaughter told me: "Pop-Pop, you are very, very brave, and you are very, very, strong, and you are never afraid." Now she is eight years old and I think she still thinks I am some kind of hero. I wish I were totally the person she thought me to be.

I am in the belly of beast in my training for Ironman Texas April 22, 2017 right now, and really don't feel all that heroic.
Mainly, I just feel tired, sore in spots, and thinking with half my wits it seems. Last weekend I couldn't complete my long run. Today, I find a piece of my tooth fell out. There is construction on the road to go ride my bike. Now it makes my trip over 30 minutes each way. Not another trainer ride. The fatigue and the tedium are oppressive. It is a fight to remain civil to loved ones sometimes, and I don't like that. They are my support and don't deserve any of that. I am vulnerable at this time to any reason to pull out of this whole business and ease up on myself.

However, the other day, I showed my granddaughter my Ironman Texas notebook - where I keep my lists, my training plans, race reports, instructional, and inspirational material - and she asked for a piece of paper to draw on. She drew the illustration below for my notebook.

This picture is worth a thousand words. It tells that no matter how old I am (73) or beat up and beat down I get, I am still somebody's hero. That's nice at this age when accolades are few and far between; when winning one can be defined as getting from the bed to bathroom without falling down, or not being last in a race. That is not how she sees me. I think she sees me as strong, capable, brave, and enduring with an unshakable faith in God. She knows I am old: God knows I'm old, and neither care.

So my quest is not just to complete the training or the event within the time limit, but that I remain steadfast to be that person God has defined me to be; like my granddaughter sees me to be. May I keep refreshing my perspective by looking on this drawing many times over these last few weeks, and never forget that somebody is watching my witness. May I never forget that I am still somebody's hero. Praise God .

Friday, January 27, 2017

If Only for the Moments

Moments: would I do it all over again? The long rides, sometimes very hot, humid. Try to dry off, get the bike loaded, and get in the truck: air conditioning. Ah, thank you for auto air conditioning. It is hard to stop sweating; drink, drink. How nice. My wife has a small towel on top of some ice in a small cooler. Does that feel good on the back of the neck, or what. And the cold recovery drink in there is sooo good. Call home. A shower feels like heaven. She has a meal for me - good but can't eat it all. So tired, go to the bedroom all made dark and cool beforehand, lay between fresh cool sheets and sleep like death.

Such a blessing to have that kind of love and many days, so many times she has been there, propping me up when I was coming down. What does she get out of all this for herself? Not much. I so wish to be able finish this training, completed this ironman, for God but for her as well. And who knows but she is God's agent here to be the "wind beneath my wings." Long ago during the training for one of my many failed event, she made a visor to place on my office wall. It reads on the bill; "Marvin MY Ironman." I so wish I can have made it true. But, even if I don't succeed yet again, we have our journey to reflect upon as I am doing now. All the moments over all the years bring a slight smile and a warm feeling. Of course, I would do it all over again, if only for the moments.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"Fear Strikes Out"

Fear Strikes Out is a book by Jimmy Piersall, a baseball player plagued by his own set of challenges. But, I like the title as it exemplifies my own battle with ironman. Confession time: I am relatively healthy, everything seems to be working out and the event is getting closer: I am scared to death. There it is; I am scared. It's out. Now to deal with it. Quiet moments I have to deal with all the negatives: number one is that I am too old for this. Number two is I have a gimp left knee that could go bad. Number three is that I can't be sure I can keep going for seventeen hours. Yes, it's scary and I am too old to have to face this crisis down, right? For goodness sake here, next year - if I live that long - I will be racing in yet another age group: as a 75 year old. Isn't 32 marathons and 50 triathlons enough? Where is that rocking chair anyway?

Now that women and wild parties are out, and I can't afford to be a heavy drinker on a fixed income, letting go of my grip and getting old are my greatest temptations. I want to at times. I really do. But, when I visualize that life without fear and challenge, I find myself shaking my head side to side as if my heart has already said "no!" Fear strikes out remember? The other life seems a sort of death, like walking back to the dugout after watching three strikes without swinging, and the umpire has called me "out." "Face your fears and live your dreams," are the words of Jon Blais. So, I must continue to resist the temptation to cave to my fears and have my life die before my body does. I must resist the temptation to die before my time. If I let myself believe all this old age stuff, it will come true. My theory is to make advanced age prove itself: don't give up anything; make it come and take it. I won't be caught with the bat on my shoulder with a good pitch crossing the plate. If I strike out it will not be because of fear, but because I swung and missed.