Tag Archives: triathlon

This Tortise finally won one!

I did it! I’ve been competing (putting it charitably), in triathlons since 1985, and I finally medaled! I accomplished another goal in this particular race too. I drove all the way to Hammond, In. to do Leon’s Triathlon. I have now done races from Maine to Kansas and south to North Carolina. Leon’s Triathlon has also been the site of the U.S. Military triathlon championship and also as part of the race spotlighted the anniversary of the USO. Being retired military I did appreciate the emphasis on military in this race.

Now triathlons have different categories, not always the same, but age group categories always. Some races, like Leon’s, has a military and/or public safety category and many have a Clydesdale category, I finished second in the Clydesdale category. Hey it’s something and I finally hit it. Clydesdales are triathletes that are over 200 lbs and yea I more than qualify. Leons Tri 2nd place medal clydesdale divisionThe medal in the middle is the finishers medal, the medal off screen is the silver medal (I’ve been messing with it and I can’t line it up).

It was a lake swim and nice flat run and bike. Doing all my training in the hills all around me in south/central Pennsylvania, it is definitely pushing me. Leon’s was a really well run race. I’d like to do it again, but driving all the way to Indiana isn’t real practical and there are other states (West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina) that are closer that I haven’t done. Hey maybe I can follow up this medal win with a sponsor, a summer of triathlons starting in the south, through the midwest, ending in Bermuda, oh yeah!!

I would like to thank the folks at Leon’s for a really good race and a nice excuse for a short getaway with my wife. And very thankful for helping me finally get something for the mantle after 30 years of trying.

Leons ILeons II

 

Leons III(Please note the flags that were all around the course) I am not trying to say that I all of a sudden received a huge influx of energy or talent, but I just finished reading Meredith Atwood’s inspirational article in Triathlete Magazine (September 2016, p 23). “The Hare sometimes allows the ego and objective speed to get the best of him. the Tortoise can get discouraged for a million other reasons. The best bet is to have faith in yourself, [as a Christian I would also say God’s will for me too] and be proud of all of your efforts and races – but to always ask yourself if you are doing the best you can with what you have. I challenge my fellow Tortoises of the world to really push themselves in the next running race or workout. Ask yourself if you can channel your inner Hare, just for a little while, and see what you are made of. You might be surprised and learn to believe that ‘fast for you’ is sometimes exactly all the fast you need.”  Leons IV

I stuck with it and because of a few factors, yea I finally did it. I would hope that people would pick a passion and really stick with it. Even if “channeling” doesn’t get you a medal, I have really enjoyed triathlon and the other goals that I’ve set for it. I guess I could add to my trophy mantle of 1 (including a few finishers medals), a map of the U.S. showing the states that I have competed in. I’m going to keep doing it, maybe things will line up again, but just as important, I’m doing it.

Leons Tri VI

 

Fear and pain are what move you to grow, mature and serve others to your glory and Jesus’

One thing I find odd about people today is that too many of them genuinely think that things are supposed to happen nice and easy, that they’re never supposed to experience any kind of pain, that there shouldn’t be any risk to what they do. Basically we have become unrealistically averse to any kind of pain or risk. An article in “Triathlete Magazine” (October 2015 p 28) written by Jene Shaw discusses the fact that if you’re going to do anything to grow, there’s going to be pain.

It really is called maturing, too many really think that they can really sit back, contribute as little as possible or nothing and expect everyone else to scurry around them. Obviously as a person and in a society, that model is not going to last too long. Only so many people can take, because there are only so many  available to give. In order to grow and become stronger and be better positioned to support those in genuine need. When we all do what is necessary then it’s not just for someone else, be we do become much stronger and a lot better able to cope with life. As a part of that whole we become better.

Too many really believe that pain is bad and something is wrong when they have pain. As the picture posted by someone in the triathlon community puts so well, at the end , when the challenge is overcome, the pain is a sign that you have grown through it. Whether it’s triathlon, basketball, weights, abs, swimming, if I don’t feel some pain, muscular, a little bruising I really don’t feel I’ve gotten the whole experience. That pain in the muscles tells me, that my body will rebuild from that pain and make me stronger.

As Jene suggests in the article, you need to accept the pain, if you fight it or fear it you can’t grow into it. Believe me there have been plenty of times when I’ve stood at the start of a swim at 7am wondering what I’m doing up at this time, knowing that hitting that water is going to be a, yea, painful experience. Knowing that I’m probably going to be kicked and elbowed by other swimmers, knowing that I have to get out to bike and run, yea there is anxiety. But knowing the feeling of accomplishment, success in finishing and knowing what it will do for my physical, mental and yes spiritual growth that will follow (some call it “bragging rights”), helps me to stand up to the challenge. So realize what you love about it, what it will move you to and the heck with the pain. I’ve done 54 triathlons and dozens of other races, so yea, I think I know what I’m talking about.

Jene suggests setting some goals. How can I do the swim, bike, run faster. Isn’t that finishers medal going to look good with my other medals, how great it will be to share with the other finishers, with my family, friends,  others at church? Think about the things you need to do during the race in order to finish as strong as possible.

She suggests relaxing, find some positive way; deep breaths, stretching and shaking, encouraging mental images, encouraging the other triathletes. It will work out and it will be rewarding, even if it’s only for your personal satisfaction.

Yes there is pain that is a warning sign. When you get to the point where you have overcome a lot of fear, anxiety you might think you should push through that pain. You do have to learn the difference, when you need to push through and accomplish, or when you do need to stop in order to prevent further damage. So there is pain that we need to overcome on our own in order to grow stronger, but pain when we do need someone else’s help. Can you say “medical tent, take me to the hospital”?

But in a Christian context it is the same. As disciples we need to grow and strengthen. When we do, those around us can take courage in us, we become stronger to help those who are genuinely in need, we become givers and leaders, not just takers. Yes there is a time in the Christian walk when we do need to take. Jesus has provided those times to be baptized, to be strengthened in His Body and Blood in our body and spirit, to be built up and strengthened in His preached word and in Scripture. To be a part of Christian fellowship that builds up yourself and those around you. There are times when you will feel you can’t go on. Truth is that being a Christian marks you out for attacks by the devil. The upside is that it also marks us out to be protected by the Holy Spirit, and to be strengthened and gifted to be better able to provide for yourself and for others. Certainly Jesus’ disciples started out as kind of weak and petty. Within a few short years they grew to be tigers of the Christian faith who served many others and also stood up to the fear and challenges of being disciples up to and including dying for Christ.

Too many people today make up their minds that they can’t, when it’s really they won’t. They think that they’re too weak, when they’ve never even tried to see how strong they could be. I’ve experienced this a lot: “well you are bigger and stronger, mentally and physically, you’re special so you can”. I assure you the only way I became that way is by pushing myself. There are plenty of times when I could have just rolled over and let it defeat me. There are too many people who’ve already decided they can’t do anything for themselves and let it defeat them. Ironically those will be the someones who decide that you shouldn’t be doing those things for yourself either. You have to continue to strive. Yea, don’t get me started on those people who stand there, find some way to pooh-pooh what you’re doing and give you this “hey! You think you’re better than me?” Me? I really don’t care, but apparently you seem to know deep down.

Ministry has been a very real lesson in knowing who I can rely on and who I just need to keep at arms length. Sure I serve anyone as much as I can. But, especially in an inner-city church, there are a lot out there who simply don’t want to step up and in fact want to take all that you will give them, if not more. They really see others as simply a source to provide for themselves. Again, yes, do what you can and don’t try to make excuses to avoid situations. However, know your limits and what pain is a warning sign. Do you want to beat yourself on some of those people who are hard as rocks? There are a lot of Christian brothers and sisters who do understand their own growth and growth together with others. Those are the ones that you need to pull together with.

Yes, there is pain, that’s a good thing and the sooner you accept that it will build and strengthen, the better for you and those around you. Sometimes you do need to be at that starting line wondering; “what the heck am I doing here”. But you seem to get to the finish and realize how great that was. There is team too. It is exhilarating to win a basketball game as a team, even though you’ve gotten bruised and banged and it’s kind of hard to really stand. Those painful muscles in the morning are a wonderful memory of the things you did to be stronger from the previous day. Find those who encourage and build you up and let them do the same for you. Quit sitting behind that computer looking for that kind of fellowship. It’s sad on your part and it’s just not going to happen.

Celebrate the success you’ve achieved, share it with those who know what it means to be fearful and have pain, it’s a great way to grow in brothers and sisters. Realize that even when there is suffering for Jesus, He knows what’s going on, who is and isn’t His. I’m glad I’m His, I’m glad He’s given me the challenges He has and that He’s been the one to move me through the fear, pain, anxiety and given me the thrill of victory, no matter how small the world sees that victory. Let Jesus move you to where you need to be regardless of the things you have to overcome. When I’ve reached the end of those challenges, I’ve realized that Jesus has done the things necessary in order to get me there. So feel some real pain and fear, join those who know the joy and accomplishment that makes you feel. You will be a far better person and so much of your fear and stress will disappear. Find me at the starting line of the next race, it would be great to obsess and encourage with you. !

Fear is so crippling, so limiting, such a waste to live.

FEAR!!! Fear of failure, of the future, of change, of growing older and either being injured, sick or disabled, or losing physical ability. Fear drives our desperate attempts to keep what we have and never trying to move and grow. If we attempt to move and grow we might risk what we have. Fear of trying church, of taking a chance to follow Jesus, not committing but at least trying, trusting a friend, family or pastor and just giving worship a chance.

Jesse Thomas in “Triathlete Magazine” (May 2014 pp 40-42) talks about the fear, as a professional triathlete of that day when he (or his wife Lauren, also a professional triathlete) will suffer a career ending injury or just realize that his abilities are not sufficient to remain an elite athlete. I participate (I hesitate to say compete, because while I wish I did, wouldn’t really be accurate) in triathlons. I certainly don’t make my living doing triathlons because I’d starve on a street corner. I’ve had all kinds of goofy “owwees”, left heel, plantar, both knees, serious cramps, right now sciatica, all eminently treatable, but when they happen the thought races through your brain, “oh no, this is it, I’ll never be able to …” Last season playing basketball in a church league, my left calf violently seized up. It was so severe that I was sure that I ruptured the achilles tendon, literally had to crawl off the basketball floor. Turned out to be a bad cramp, found a way to contend with cramps, haven’t had another and it’s going on a year now. But I remember thinking as I crawled off that floor, “this is it”, the fear was very compelling.

Thomas points out “”Ninety-five percent of the time our ailments and injuries evaporate within in a week.” And that’s been my experience, but approaching the big “60”, my physical abilities continue to decrease and the better chance that something will happen that will keep me from a high level of participation. Certainly with a professional like Jesse Thomas the fear has to be more profound. l’m a pastor my most visible function is to preach, if I somehow couldn’t speak properly anymore that would certainly put my future as a pastor in jeopardy. “…I’d be SUPER BUMMED”, writes Thomas, “in all caps for emphasis. And even though the risk is remote, I think the weight of that possibility is why my brain instantly goes to the darkest place in moments of doubt. It’s like trying to speed by a black hole without getting sucked in. According to Stephen Hawking, that’s impossible, no matter what your bike split is.”

We are all there, we all have that fear, it certainly does happen but it is rare. The possibility of such an occurrence is something that is supposed to be provided for by society, it’s certainly being abused in this day and age, but for those people with character, integrity, trust in God, and looking to live life they do not want to be “disabled”, they will fight tooth and nail against it.

There is an issue, those of us of want to keep going, are giving in to a different type of sin(s); fear, failure, relying on ourselves/idolatry, lack of faith. It also keeps us from living at the level we should be living: “So this ritualistic thinking about an athletic ending is just a way to acknowledge that fear, no matter how remote the chance that it actually materializes and to acknowledge that stupid trick that the mind can play on us. [I would interject, it’s more about our pride, more than us being victimized by our mind – Jim] And by acknowledging it [I’d say pride] we can stop our minds from dragging us into a fear cycle, make the conscious choice to disregard it and proceed in pursuit of the goal despite the possibility of failure. In that way, we CAN speed by the black hole. Where you at now, Stephen Hawking?” I would attribute Thomas’ claim not to my determination, but to the faith that God gives me to trust in Him and follow where He leads even when it might seem hopeless. He overcomes my fear, gives me the faith I need and then pushes me back to confront the world, but He is always with me.

Now the reality is that at some point I’m going to just be too old or disabled to toe up on a beach somewhere and jump in the water with a bunch of other people. (You have no idea how difficult that was to write), so then what? Could stay home, sit and bemoan my fate and just give up. I like Thomas’ perspective: “Acknowledging that worst-case-scenario, fear, also helps both Lauren and I realize that even if the ‘worst’ happened (our careers ended) in the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal… Lauren and I would have to find other professions, we’d be forced to not exercise all day, every day and not go to bed at 8 pm on Saturday night because we have a big session Sunday morning. As terrible as that sounds, nobody dies, we won’t starve… We will go on as a family and probably thoroughly enjoy the next phase of our lives. And after the sting of the disappointment wears off, we’d realize that the journey was all worth it anyway,” Absolutely, we’ve lived the life, we’ve gotten all we’re likely to get out of it, God has taught us what He wants us to learn from it and now it’s time to move on. For sure I won’t like it, yea my ego and dignity will take a hit. But then He moves me on. Thomas doesn’t address the ultimate time when it will really be over, our culture today is pretty sure that death happens to everyone else, not to us. For Christians death will mean the resurrection, put in our perfected bodies, that will never be sick, will never break down, will be perfect for ever. It won’t be over, it will just be starting. I have no doubt that I will actually be able to complete an Ironman Triathlon in the resurrection. Even in eternity I will never be able to do all that the new, very physical world offers, but I will never have that fear, even if I fail, I will have infinite opportunities to grow, develop and go back and start again.

But the thing I will never understand is this fear of ever even trying because you might fail. Bad news, you will!!! Deal with it, get over it and yourself, decide what you’re going to do about it and move on. Fear of trying, like ya worship, making excuses, keeping the mediocre and even destructive and passing on what truly gives life, what truly moves us in life, what is truly life and life more abundant, I just don’t understand. This world is not the answer, it’s only a stage, it will end, do you want it to end with you whining in fear and failure, hidden away some where, to ultimate destruction? Or do you want to live the life God has given us, to live to His glory and then move on to a life that, ya there will still be failure, but it’s OK, it’s perfect life and life with abundant opportunities to succeed and move on in life? Ya, seems rather obvious doesn’t it? So why are you still sitting there obsessing?

How Running [swimming, basketball, cycling, racquetball, resistance exercises, martial arts] Makes You High

I’m going to wax a little philosophical for just a quick comment. I guess I read a lot and I guess that my reading/interests are pretty varied. Because of that, I see a lot of stuff that I really want to share. I’m not trying to rip anyone off, I’m trying to share some chunks of wisdom that others might miss and give them a good reason to try something that will benefit them.

I read “Men’s Health Magazine” and for the most part it has good content. Can’t say I recommend all of it, but I really do like the following. I am ripping it off in toto, there I said it and I’m glad I said it. Do have to make the following disclaimer, before you start any exercise program make sure you get cleared by a physician, now read:

[K. Aleisha Fetters Men’s Health Magazine Jul/August 2014 p 22]

“1. When you run past your comfort level (i.e. after 30 minutes or so at about 80 percent max heart rate), specialized cells secrete two mood modifiers: endorphins – which are opioids – and anandamide, which is similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

2. Your blood carries the two chemicals to your blood-brain barriers, the gatekeeper to your brain cells. Anandamide crosses easily. But endorphins are large, and few make it in. No problem, though: Your brain also produces endorphins. Both chemicals boost your mood – and perhaps your mileage.

3. The two mood boosters are now tapped into your central nervous system, where they limit the signaling power of pain sensors called nociceptors that spread out from your spinal cord: Result: You don’t realize how much your legs are burning.

4. The endorphins downshift your brain’s prefrontal and limbic regions, which regulate your emotion and motivation. You begin to feel calm and comfortable. Then, as more endorphins reach these ares, you may even start feeling euphoric.

5. Anandamide triggers a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that contributes to lust, pleasure, and addiction. It also binds to cannabinoid receptors in your brain’s pleasure circuit, where it sends bliss vibes throughout your brain for minutes or even hours.”

Your body is designed by God to give you pleasing, comforting feelings. We too often just go ahead and take the easy way and take drugs, which will hurt us, eat too much, not get any exercise and wonder why we come down with various diseases and disorders. As I said make sure you get checked out, then get rid of the stupid stuff, get out and push yourself and then you realize how good you’re going to feel, the way God intended for you and not you presuming to know better.

Why I keep trying to participate in triathlons.

Someone recently asked in a blog and at least a couple of people asked during the race a couple of days ago “why do we keep on doing this?”

I’ve been trying to do two triathlons a year since 1985. Can’t say I’ve succeeded, but I’ve come close.  A recent goal has developed in trying to do a race in every state. So far I’ve gone from Maine to Virginia going south and to Kansas in the west with the exception of Indiana. Haven’t figured out that one yet, but God seems to provide. I certainly try to keep in shape by challenging myself by doing two a year. But to stop would be conceding that I’m getting too old. It’s too easy to slip into some comfortable, yet tedious routine.  Who gets up at 4am to be on time at a race? It doesn’t hurt me and if anything puts me in the company of those who do want to strive to push themselves.  I’m trying to put this in terms of honoring God of doing it for His glory, all I can really come up with is that, like everything He gives me all I have and I dishonor Him by not using what He gives me to the best of my ability and to His glory. Maybe He has only given me mediocre talents to push me beyond them. (Not so sure I’m doing that, but give me credit for determination)

I’m still capable, I still have other goals. I’d love to do “Escape to Bermuda” and a race in Puerto Rico, maybe Cancun, Israel,  Belize. As long as I can, I should keep doing it, if God has given me the strength, stamina, perseverance, I’d also like to think I’m honoring and doing this to His glory. But yea there’s an element of ego. I was not the oldest person on the course by any means, so it can be done further in age then I am now, so why stop? Why give up on something that keeps me some what fit, keeps me in company with people who challenge me and lift me up and in which I still have other goals? So I guess the real question is why stop?

Lost in the fog or the Greensboro NC triathlon

Note the fog bank in front of the swim start

Note the fog bank in front of the swim start

One of the new developments in triathlons is digital photography allows pretty much every race to take pictures of everyone in action and provide the pictures for free. Which is nice but seeing mine reminds me I’m getting older and am one ugly human being.

This was an interesting race, but rather tiny. I think they said the number of competitors was around 190. I’ve been in races of over 1100. The air temp was around 41 and the water temp around 71. Well the effect of that is usually condensation in the form of fog. And so it was here. Had to keep trying to find the six foot high course markers. The swim is hard enough and you have to keep stopping or breast stroking in order to make sure you’re still in the course. When you can’t even see the course well… You had to go back through a rather narrow opening in a stone wall in order to get into the area where the boat ramp is. Well that entire area was backdropped by the sun. Ever try to see through fog when the sun is shining through it? Well I have. I was kind of floundering through the swim.

Had a decent ride, going at a 4:05 pace which is for me, respectable and a decent run. I added North Carolina to the states that I’ve done races is. It now goes from Maine to North Carolina and then west to Kansas with the exception of Indiana.

Thanks for the interest, support the forum to share, it will now be a long dreary winter until my next race.

Night before in North Carolina

Night before my first race in North Carolina. Little more relaxed than usual. Just got my number have been over to the start/transition area and doesn’t start until 8 am, usually it’s around 7 am. It’s going to be 42 degrees at the start definitely a little crisp but the water temp is around 71 degrees. Definitely going to be a little contrast. As ready as I can be have a wake up call scheduled, radio alarm is set and phone is set. Won’t be sleeping much tonight but we aren’t doing anything special tomorrow so maybe we just kick back and get some sleep.
You could say a”breath prayer” for me and I will let you know how it went.