Sunday, June 29, 2008

BUT GOD

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

SIMONE: I know you're right, Pee-wee, but...
PEE-WEE: But what? Everyone I know has a big but. C'mon, Simone, let's talk about your big but.

You gotta love Pee-Wee Herman. I had a "big but" while running the Kona Marathon, but God had a bigger one.

Before I went to sleep Saturday night and again before the race Sunday morning, I prayed that God would give me the strength, courage and health to finish the marathon. Of course God never answers prayer the way we think he will. I was expecting an easy race but God had other plans.

The first 10 miles were going well. I was running 10 minute miles (my race goal) and I was in zone 2 most of the way. My bad knee was giving me some problems but I was managing. Then came that incline. You know that one on Queen K. The one just past Hina-Lani that runs all the way up to the Natural Energy Lab road. You don't even notice it on the bike, but on the marathon, at least for me, it was a monster.

By mile 12, my right knee was popping out of joint (I have a torn ACL and a loose meniscus) my feet were exploding with pain with every step and my right hip felt dislocated — I wanted to quit.

I was hurting. I was frustrated and disappointed. I was getting mad at myself and God. I found myself arguing with God. Wondering why he hadn't answered my prayers. I wanted to give up. I was done.

At mile 13.5, just after the turn around I was nearly passing out. I tried walking, but that made it worse. I nearly threw up. I knew I was probably dehydrated. At the next aid station I drank several cups of sports drink and rinsed off under the showers.

I said a quick prayer, "God, I know you are trying to teach me something here. Is it humility? Do you want me to quit? Is that it? I can't go on, God," I said nearly crying.

And I felt God was telling me, "BUT aren't you moving forward even now?"

"But God, it hurts so much when I run."

"BUT you CAN run, can't you?" I heard that inner voice say.

By mile 18 I was really hurting. I stopped running and started walking. By then my quads were screaming, I had pulled a groan muscle and my stomach was growling.

"God, I have to quit now, I can barely walk. This is humiliating," I prayed.

"BUT at least you CAN walk," that inner voice whispered.

So for the next few miles I would walk, then try to run, then walk again. I just kept trying not to stop.

Then that quote from Karen's blog popped into my head. The one that said something like, "If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, crawl. Just keep moving forward."

So I prayed real quick, "God, have mercy and PLEASE don't make me crawl. I get what you are trying to teach me, to be content in the moment ... give thanks in all circumstances ... the joy of the Lord is my strength. Right?"

"No?" I heard that quiet voice say.

Then that verse from Hebrews popped into my head, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." And immediately I was humbled. Christ had endured so much more than what I was going through. The pain and embarrassment I was experiencing was nothing in the grand scheme of things.

By the time I was on Alii Drive, I was sure I was going to be crawling soon. I considered covering my race number so the tourists by the pier and the people in the restaurants wouldn't know I was in the race. But I decided against it. I concentrated on bible verses. And honestly, "But God" verses are my favorites. For every excuse we come up with God always seems to be there to say, "But."

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Ephesians 2:4-5

The last 4 miles dragged on and on. My feet hurt so bad it was pure torture. I thought about seeing Karen's smiling face at the finish line. I thought about Rebecca completing her first road race and hoped she had fun and was able to finish. With a quarter mile to go I could see Karen and Rebecca at the entrance to the hotel. I was hobbling more than running. But I WAS hobbling. I learned my lesson, no buts about it.

For the first time in a lot of miles I smiled. I waved to them. Some people on the side of the road were clapping and cheering. Karen was taking my picture and her and Rebecca were cheering. I turned into the resort. Ah, the finish chute. A woman was cheering me on in Japanese. I thought of Bree at Ironman Japan. "So that's what it was like there, huh?"

I tried to sprint down to the finish line but I had nothing left. I wanted to raise my hands in victory as I crossed the line, but I was too embarrassed and way too tired. I had just completed another one of those "must-do's." And, just to show that God has an odd sense of humor, I finished this marathon in the same time, to the minute, as it took me to do all of Honu. See the video on the previous post and look at the clock and compare it with the Honu finishing photo on the side rail. About 20 seconds differents, go figure!

Here are some of my favorite "But God" verses that I tried to recite during those last 5 miles when the pain and fatigue were so overwhelming and God wouldn't let me give up: (of course I couldn't remember them exactly like this, but I would try to get the general idea.)

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Psalm 49:15

But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Psalm 66:19

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Acts 2:24

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

This one is one of my favorite verses ever. It's not specifically a "But God" verse, it's a "But You" verse.

... nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:10-12

Now those are some big buts ...

MARATHON MAN

Through some laughter, lots of tears and incredible amounts of pain I finished my first marathon in more than 30 years. Every muscle from my waist down is screaming. And every muscle in my body is exhausted. I AM NEVER EVER RUNNING AGAIN, EVER!!!
video

Here's a video of me finishing. Exhaustion in its purest form. Did I mention that I never EVER want to run again? EVER!

Rebecca finished her 5k run with a huge smile. She even got a special award for being the only person in a wheelchair to compete. She'll be making a post later tonight.

Good job to Brooke, Rani, Penn and the other Kona peeps. Yay! LeAnn qualified in all her races.

I'm tooooo exhausted to write more now. I'll write more on my conversation with God and my big "but" during the marathon later.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

RAMBLING ON

I have had a bunch of random thoughts running through my head lately. So for this post I'm just rambling, although I probably ramble through most of my posts.

Ramble No. 1 and so on ...

I am missing Daniel very much and really wish we would get a letter from him to know he is OK. He isn't much of a writer so we don't really expect very many letters. I'm full of regret that I didn't do more with him before he left. It didn't hit me until a few days ago that Daniel has started his own life now, this won't be his living space anymore. He'll be posted around the world, here and there, for at least the next four years and for longer if he makes the Marines his career. I also have writers cramp from writing him a letter every day as well as a nice blister on my finger from the pen. The photo is of Daniel and Karen just before Daniel flew off to boot camp.

BEST FRIENDS
I'm sad for my sister who just lost her dog, Jake. Her "Lassie" dog as Rebecca calls him. You can read about Jake here.

GIVE ME A MONTH
I'm running a marathon in a few days that I am not ready for, but at the same time I'm excited about the challenge. I'm learning I never feel ready for whatever race is coming up. I always seem to be about a month behind in my training. For Lavaman I felt like I needed another month. Six weeks later just in time for Honu I felt ready for Lavaman. And at Honu I felt like I needed another month and I'd be ready. Well It's been a month and I think my time at Honu would drop a lot. Mostly because my running has improved so much over the past month. And now that it is marathon time. You guessed it, I don't feel ready, but give me a month. I think it is mostly that I learn what my weakness is during a race then work on it over the next few weeks.

STILL TRI-ING ...
I just heard that Bree Wee is doing Ironman Canada to qualify for Kona. Way to go Bree. You'll do awesome. Bree is a rising star on the pro triathlon circuit and is headed for greatness.

ROUGH WATER AHEAD
I also just found out yesterday that the Hapuna Roughwater swim is a week from Sunday. That's only one week after the Kona Marathon. And the King's Swim is the following Sunday. I was hoping to spend a little time focusing on swimming before those two events since I've been focusing on running for the past month. I have been spending a lot of time in the pool but more on form and flip turns (new video coming soon), but not on distance or speed. Oh well, it's my year of completion, not competition anyhow, right?

SHOES ...
I decided that my Zoots are too thin to wear for 26.2 miles so I think I'm running the mary in my New Balance. I've been having a lot of knee problems lately and these may be contributing to it, but I think I need the extra support that they offer.

REBECCA'S FIRST RACE
Rebecca has been training every day for her 5k run in her wheelchair. She is doing very well. Wish I could be there to watch her and to see her finish. She is pretty excited about her first race.

DAWN PATROL
Karen is up at the crack of dawn nearly everyday and goes out running. I wish I was that motivated. For some reason it seems like if you get up really early you are more motivated than if you sleep in but do the same distance just later in the morning. Why is that?

BLOGGERS
Isn't blogging great? I've met some wonderful people on line through blogs. It's also a great stress reliever and creative avenue. Plus it helps keep in touch with family and friends. Well, I've rambled on enough. We should all get together some day and have a picnic or something. Or have a Bloggers Triathlon. Take care and be safe.

Monday, June 23, 2008

GOALS AND MY YEAR OF COMPLETION

“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” — Pamela Vaull Star

Last June I got off the couch and started riding my bike again. It had been about 8 months since I had ridden. First, Karen had hurt her back at work so we stopped riding while she recovered. Then I had kidney trouble and had to fly to Honolulu for emergency surgery. That was a year ago in April.

By June 2007 I had gained a few pounds (OK, more than a few) and was ready to get back on the bike. At that time that was all I was interested in doing. I couldn’t swim and running was too hard. My first few rides were only a few miles and I was suffering at just doing that. I would ride from the Natural Energy Lab to the Cemetery and back. Only about 14 miles but it was a rough ride back then.

(The pre-
triathlon me is pictured here. About 30 pounds heavier than I am now.)


According to my training log I was pretty slow. Barely averaging 14 miles an hour. But by October I was riding 25 to 35 miles and my average was starting to climb. It was Ironman time. Not for me. It just meant that there were lots of other cyclist on the road. Back then my only release for competition was to find another cyclist and zoom past him or her and hope they were up for a little one-on-one. Ironman competitors always seem to be game.

Of course, they all could ride circles around me, but I just wanted to race and here on the Big Island we don’t have bicycle races, only triathlons or biathlons (swimming and running). Even as late as Ironman last October I never considered doing a triathlon because I could not swim.

Ironman had inspired me to compete, but I wanted to compete on the bike, not swim and run, too. But in order to compete I knew I had to learn to swim and start doing triathlons.

So shortly after Ironman, out of the blue I proclaimed to Karen that I wanted to compete at Lavaman in 6 months. I wasn’t sure if I really would compete, but it felt good to have a goal and a sense of purpose. I made sure I told everyone I knew that I was going to compete in Lavaman just so I wouldn’t chicken out. I knew if I didn’t tell people, I wouldn’t go through with it.

The biggest hurdle I faced was learning to swim. I could snorkel and I could freestyle for as far as I could hold my breath, but I couldn’t breathe and swim at the same time. So my first goal was to learn to swim. Every day I would go down to the pier with my snorkel and mask and swim to the sixth buoy and back. It was hard. I was so out of shape. I would also practice swimming freestyle and breathing. At first I couldn’t even make it to the first buoy. Then I discovered the pool and started swimming twice a day. I solicited tips from life guards and anyone else I could find who was willing to give advice.

(The 1st, 2nd and 3rd buoys at the pier. The 1st buoy is just out of the photo on the left)

The day I finally made it to the 3rd buoy without stopping was a great day. So I set another goal, I remember telling Karen if I could swim to the 6th buoy freestyle with no snorkel and without stopping by the end of November there would be no stopping me. I could do anything. At the time that swim seemed impossible for me.

With a lot more swimming, gulping lots of water and lots of frustrations, on Nov. 30 I went for a swim at the pier and I made it to the 6th buoy without stopping. It took a long time and lots of determination to not stop along the way. My arms burned, my lungs burned and I nearly got sea sick. The sandy bottom between the 4th and 6th buoys would freak me out every time and would for months. But I made it. Goal No. 1 was attained. By New Year’s Eve I was swimming out to the half-mile buoy and by early January I had made it to the King’s Buoy (1.2 miles round trip). I was a swimmer. My times were terrible, but I didn’t care. I learned how to swim and I liked it. I'd worry about speeding up next year.

I went on to compete in Lavaman and then the Half Ironman. Along the way I also swam in a 1 mile race and a bunch of local swims and smaller tris. I still swim nearly every day and twice a day two times a week. Next month I'm swimming in the King's Swim, a 1.2 mile race and then the Hapuna Roughwater swim. Why? Because I'm a swimmer LOL ... (well, so what if my flip turns crack people up. Did Tarzan do flip turns?)

Goals. They keep us moving forward when we may feel like giving up. Now that my "tri season" is over, I'm finding it difficult to set goals that will keep me moving forward. That's one reason why I decided to do the Kona Marathon this next Sunday. Maybe this time I set too high of a goal. I'll have to wait and see. 26.2 miles is a long way. With all my leg problems — torn ACL, torn meniscus cartilage, strained muscles, etc. — I'm not sure I can do this. But it motivated me to put in more miles running last week than any other week prior to Lavaman or the half Ironman.

So my next goal is to finish a marathon. It would be nice to be able to compete, but I'll save that for next year. This year's goal is to just complete it. That's been my underlying goal all year, to complete whatever events I signed up for. Next year will be my year of competition.

I just realized something as I write this. My priorities have changed since I started triathlon. At first all I was interested in was the competition, But with the challenge of triathlon, just to complete the event is a competition all its own. But watch out next year. I'll be the baby in my age group ...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

GO BREE!


We are praying for you Bree! Great video and pix on Ironman Live. Keep it up Bree!

"The lead women are putting on a show
We have a great race developing in the women's field, with nothing separating Naomi Imaizumi and Bree Wee at 120km. The two have been inseparable for the last 50km, with neither looking like letting the other get any sort of advantage out front.

Sarah Pollett remains in third place eight minutes behind the lead two, with Saki Kubota in fourth and age grouper Elizabeth Gordon in fifth." — Ironman Live commentary

GO BREE!!!! YAY!

I have to go run now. Patrick is giving a play by play on his blog at LOST Island Boy

Bree finished 2nd with a new PR. Way to go Bree!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

THE LETTER

"I may look harmless, but I raised a U.S. Marine!" — from "A Parents Guide To Surviving Marine Corps Boot Camp"

We got our letter yesterday. The one we were waiting on ever since Daniel left for boot camp. It was only a form letter. The only hand written parts were "Mom & Dad" and then Daniel's signature. The letter basically stated that he had arrived at MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) San Diego and that he was in good health and not to send him anything.


Also enclosed in the envelope was a form letter from his Senior Drill Instructor promising to take good care of our son and that he'll make sure our son will put forth his MAXIMUM effort. Hmmm. I wonder what that means. He sure sounds nice, doesn't he? lol.

He also suggested that we write lots of positive and encouraging letters as recruits face many obstacles and may experience periods of frustration. I guess those photos say it all.

The funny thing is the most important part of the letter was the envelop, lol. It had the address of where to send the letters.

So the letter-writing campaign has begun. I wrote my first hand-written letter in years last night. I filled the letter with every bit of news I could think of that was going on in the family. Every other sentence I was telling him how proud I am of him.

If you read this blog and you would like to write Daniel, even if you don't know him personally, I will email you his address. (We aren't supposed to post it publicly.) Or you can post a reply anytime and I'll print it out and mail it to Daniel.

Also included in the letter was a website for parents of recruits. It has a forum and chat rooms, along with tons of information, advice and support. It looks very well organized, right down to graduation day and platoons so you can get to know the parents of the recruits in the same platoon as your son or daughter. There's also a training matrix on the website that shows what the recruits are doing each day.

I'd like to ask anyone who reads this to pray for Daniel and the rest of the recruits (and I guess all the military for that matter) But specifically that the recruits can adjust to military life, accomplish their tasks and stay safe.

IT WAS BOUND TO HAPPEN!

Karen and I have split up! No, not our marriage, just our blogging. She finally took my advice and started her own blog. You can find her here.

She's a great writer and her blog is already filled with some great photos, so she'll have some interesting things posted. She writes from an age grouper, mom of five, full-time worker trying to get in shape and become a triathlete point of view. The joys, frustrations, and challenges of trying to train, work and enjoy family that most of us face.

Karen has been a writing Christian children's stories for years and even has her own series (not published yet — but only because she won't send them out) So maybe she'll write a few stories and post them, too. Or maybe even post some of her already written stories.

Welcome to the world of blogging Karen.

Monday, June 16, 2008

SPEED RACER REBECCA

“If God sends us on strong paths, we are provided strong shoes.” — Corrie TenBoom

Our daughter, Rebecca, is going racing. She is going to participate in the Kona Marathon 5k wheelchair fun run June 29. This will be her first "race" since she was in school and competing in Special Olympics.

Since Rebecca decided to do the race, we have been going to the walking/jogging track at Old A nearly every day so she can get in some "road time." She has also started lifting weights. Although she only has less than two weeks to get ready, I think she'll be ready. 3.1 miles may not sound far for most people, but in a wheelchair and with someone of her small stature, it's practically a marathon.


I've e-mailed the Kona Marathon folks to see if Rebecca can have some assistance along the course, but haven't heard from them yet.

My guess is she probably can't, but then again, this is only a "fun run" so maybe they will let her have some help now and then. But she is training like she will be doing the whole thing on her own. I just hope there are not any hills on her course.

If you see Rebecca out training or during the race, raise your hands up and shake them vigorously. That's how deaf people applaud and cheer others on. Yes, Rebecca is deaf. She can read your lips, see your smiles and she can see you clap your hands, but cannot hear the applause. She'll appreciate the gesture.

She's already talking about getting a hand-pedaled bicycle so she can do triathlons ... she must take after her parents.

Top photo: Rebecca takes a break during her lap at Old A's jogging path.

Bottom photo: Rebecca cranks it along the path narrowly missing her old man.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

OUR FAMILY, OUR LIFE — IT'S FATHER'S DAY

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:18

video

ENJOY THE VIDEO. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

Friday, June 13, 2008

EARNING MY PAIN ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY

"Who gave you the black eye, mister?"
"Nobody gave it to me, son. I fought for it."
— Louis L'Amour's "Conagher"

On the schedule Friday was a two hour run. Distance didn't matter, just going for time on my feet. My only goal was to make the second hour faster pace than the first. I decided to run Queen K to the Energy Lab (the turn around for the Kona Marathon.) I've never run along Queen K, at least out in that area, so I thought it would be a good experience for my upcoming marathon.

When I run I'm like a mobile aid station. So for this run I had three water bottles, two bananas, two gels, some enduralite capsules and a very full bladder. Hey, like you've never forgot to go before you ran??? (I discovered it's hard to stay hydrated with a full bladder).

When I started running, my legs hurt so bad that I could barely muster up anything beyond a walk. After a quarter mile I nearly decided to stop and walk back to my moped and go home. But then I realized that the pain I was feeling was a "good pain." It wasn't from injured muscles or joints, it was from sore muscles. From running hard two days before and from lifting weights.

This was a good hurt I decided. I like that kind of pain. It's something I earned from hard work. Not the kind of pain I usually feel from a torn or strained calf muscle. So I just kept hobbling along and waited for my muscles to warm up and stretch out. After five minutes or so, I was feeling pretty good.

(PHOTO: The beach at the Natural Energy Lab)

I figured the turn around point at the Energy Lab was about 4 miles away according to the Marathon website map. But when I got to the Energy Lab road it didn't seem that far so I ran on up to the airport before turning around and running down the Energy Lab road.

Queen K is a lot different when you run it than when you bike it. It's hotter and longer.

After a quick rest room stop at the park, I jumped onto the trail that runs along the beach and ran along it for a while. It brought back memories of Lavaman. I made another quick stop at one of the tidal pools to cool off, take some photos and eat a banana. A perfect day. The waves were really crashing against the lava rocks. My phone's camera is a little slow so I wasn't able to capture the drama of the waves crashing, but they were wintertime big.

(PHOTO: Part of the trail at the beach)

My run back was hot but at a faster pace than my first hour. I finished off my run by running up Hina-Lani to the Cycle Station, stopping there to say hi to Oliver, grab something to drink then head down hill to my moped. My legs felt great, it was a beautiful sunny day, and once I got warmed up my run was virtually pain-free. And that's a rare day indeed.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

TESTING MY LIMITS

“They will suffer, cry and feel pain in 31 flavors. They will also laugh, forge friendships and find a deeper understanding of themselves and their limits.” — Benjamin Romano

That quote is from a Seattle Times story on the Cascade Crest 100. A trail ultrarun of 100 miles through the Cascade Mountain range. You can read the complete article, which follows one of the runners throughout the race, here: Seattle Times Story you’ll feel like you have experienced the race yourself after you read the article.

In just over two weeks I’ll be testing my limits by running my first marathon since high school. Back in the day, I was a runner. In my small town, my friends and I ran everywhere. We would hike up the side of a heavily forested mountain just to see who was the fastest to run, slide, and/or fall down it. That’s how we spent our Saturday mornings. On Sundays we would go for long, fast-paced runs in the country. Sometimes taking shortcuts through muddy fields just to get some off-road time and occasionally leaving a shoe or two behind in the muck. The rest of the week was practice as usual. But we loved every minute of it.

That is ancient history, though. Today, three decades later, I can hardly classify what I do as running. More like hobbling along. Maybe a jog. So why am I thinking about doing a marathon? Before Honu I was worried that 13.1 miles was way too far for me, and it was only half a marathon. But I did it.

I just looked on the Kona Marathon Web site. I haven’t signed up yet so I was seeing how much it costs, the deadlines, etc. Then I started having second thoughts. Maybe it is too far for me. I’m not ready for this yet. My leg won’t hold out. All the same thoughts I had before Lavaman and before Honu.

I started thinking up excuses why I shouldn’t run it. My leg is still hurting with every step I run. Expensive! yay. I can just tell everyone I couldn’t afford it. That way I can back out gracefully. But that was exactly why I did tell everyone I was running it, so I couldn’t back out. So once I couldn’t come up with an excuse not to run it I made a list of why I should or shouldn’t do the race:

I shouldn’t do it because
1) it’s a long way
2) I’m going to be slow
3) it’s a really, really long way
4) my calf muscle is still hurting
5) I’ll be testing my limits: what if I don’t like what I discover?


I should do the race because
1) I am healthy and able, and as the Bible says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
2) it’ll test my limits and I’ll like what I discover
3) I love a challenge
4) I can wear my new racing shoes
5) My high school running hero (Frank Shorter) ran in the half marathon last year. Maybe he’ll do it again this year and I’ll get to see him in person. Maybe even say “Hey, Frank! Howzit?”

26.2 miles is a long way. It’s 46,112 yards. That’s roughly the same number of running strides it’ll take to run the race. That’s a lot of strides. But you know what? Every step gets you closer to the finish line. As Bruce told me before Honu: “Just keep moving forward.” One of these days running is bound to get easier, right? Either my legs will simply fall off or they’ll loosen up and take off. Just push through the pain for now and see what happens.

“The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” it says in Ecclesiastes. Time and chance happens to them all. Hmm. Maybe I can win this thing ...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT ...

As the author of the book in which one of my fave movies is based on, "Get Shorty," says about writing, "I try to leave out the parts that people skip." — Elmore Leonard

Yesterday's blog was sooo long that for this one I'm leaving out the parts that people skip ...

I biked, I swam. Good wind on the bike. Passed people. Swimming was wet. Flip turns still sucko. Karen tried 'em for first time. She is great at it. Mine are even more sucko after seeing hers ... I dropped 1 second off my hundred time. New PR even without flip turns. Who needs flip turns. You can't flip turn in the ocean during a race anyhow. Not without making the guy behind you angry at least. May work on flip turns again tomorrow.

Monday, June 9, 2008

BLOGGING TO SELF-DISCOVERY

"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." — Joan Didion

I'm a virtual writer. I've been a virtual writer for years. It started when I started cycling. I'd get bored on long rides, even with all the beautiful scenery, and I'd write stories in my head while I was pedaling along. Some of my stories were sure-fire best-sellers. Others were nonsense. Some were hilarious and some were real heartbreakers. But none ever made it to paper (or computer). They are forever wandering in my mind. Occasionally, they resurface while I'm biking or running and we have a rewrite session.

I've tried once or twice to pen my virtual stories, but they live deep in my mind and only surface when my heart rate is in zone 3 and my lungs are in that deep rhythmic breathing state, and the wind is rushing past my ears and all I hear is white noise. As someone once said, "If I'm trying to sleep, the ideas won't stop. If I'm trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness." For me, the stories come only when my heart is pumping at over 160 and my legs are going 90-plus rpm. Not when I sit down in front of my computer.

Since I started blogging, that's how it is as well. Every day I train, whether I'm swimming, riding or running, I'm constantly composing what I'm going to write in my blog that night. Some days it's a play-by-play of my ride, race or run. Other days it may be something I've learned while training. Oh how the sentences sing, and the adjectives flow. The insight is deep and sometimes very poignant and I can't wait to get to my computer.

Some days I'll spend the entire training session on a single subject. Virtual writing and rewriting my blog until it is perfect. Then, once I turn on my computer ... blankness! A barren nothingness. Sure, a few times I've managed to scrape up something from my training sessions, but it never comes close to my virtual prose.

But maybe it doesn't have to. Maybe that's the point. The fact that we take the time to write on our blogs, to attempt to put down what we are feeling, thinking or doing. Our fears, hopes and challenges. That's what is important. Maybe it's our therapy, our stress relief. My virtual blogging serves as a distraction from pain when I run, from boredom and discomfort on the bike and some days it keeps me from giving up. It gives me a reason to go that extra mile per hour or run that extra mile, just so I can write about it.

Even while participating at Honu I was composing my blog. During the swim I was mentally writing about how the morning sun glinted off the water, "like moonlight off broken glass." How I was blindly following the feet in front of me, hoping they were leading me in the shortest route to the swim finish. How elbows and feet were flying everywhere. Water churning. The pushing, shoving, jostling for position that was laughable and at the same time frightening. A full-contact sport. But none of that made it to my blog. Out of frustration in failing to "recompose" my virtual story, I decided to just forgo much description.

Triathlon is leading me on a road to self-discovery. It is teaching me what I can handle physically and mentally. What I can expect at my age, what I can exceed in spite of my age. Blogging provides an outlet for me to explain to myself and to those who read it what I'm going through. What I dream of and what I succeed and even fail at. It's a place to vent frustration. Even to brag occasionally.

Most of my entries are public. A few I write only for me. Sometimes I'll publish something very personal. Sometimes I water it down just enough. But most of the personal ones I just delete when I'm finished writing them. I write thousands of words almost daily about what I am going through. What I am feeling while I'm training. But most of the time it gets deleted either because I can't compose it like I did while I was running or biking. Or because it is too personal. Like the post I wrote on why I listen to sad, heartbreaking music when I run, but fast upbeat music when I bike. It was a very long post, but I deleted it as soon as I was finished with it. That was a day of discovery for me. What was left over from that post was the one titled "The Wall." One of my favorite days of training and one of my favorite posts.

So, when you are reading someone's blog, I encourage you to take the time to leave a comment. Some of the writers pour their hearts and souls into the brief words on your computer screen and it's nice to know what others think, or at least that it is read. I also encourage you to start a blog if you haven't yet. It's a great way to express what you are going through. I've never kept a diary, but I imagine keeping a diary and keeping a blog are pretty similar. Blogs are a bit more public so you may want to keep the personal stuff in your diary. Blogging also is a great way to keep track of your training. It's also not a bad way to fuel your imagination.

So if you want to hear stories about treachery, or facing monsters, or love gone wrong, catch me when I'm in zone 3 on my bike along Queen K or running up Hualalai sometime. If I'm not composing my next blog I'll tell you a virtual tale.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE GRADUATE



Well done. Our youngest son, Daniel, graduated tonight (Saturday). Finally, he is done with school. Now comes the hard part. Tomorrow (Sunday) at 2:30 p.m. our baby boy flies off to San Diego and heads to Camp Pendleton to become a United States Marine.


Yep, the day following his high school graduation, Big D is off to boot camp. He'll be there for three months, then gets only 10 days off before he heads back for a month or so for SOI (School of Infantry) training.



It's our hope and prayer that we will be out of this conflict in the Middle East before he will be combat ready. So if you vote, please vote for whomever you think will get us out of there the fastest.

Anyhow, It was a grand night at Kealakehe High School. It started raining just before the commencement, but stopped right on time. Lots of long speeches as usual. Lots of inside jokes that only the students and faculty were privy to and lots of pomp and circumstance, just as graduation should be.

So congratulations to Daniel. And to Ariel Henbest, Daniel's friend and our fellow triathlete, and congratulations to the rest of the class of 2008 at Kealakehe High School. Your future is bright and full of hope. Live long, love hard and laugh often ...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

FLIPPED OUT ... OR OVER ... OR SOMETHING

If I don't embarrass myself at least once a day, it's not a normal day for me. Here's my embarrassing moment for Thursday.

I was at the pool today, working on flip turns after being prodded by Bree Wee yesterday to learn to do the graceful, and more importantly, speedy maneuvers. So, after making sure no one was around, I would swim a hundred yards and do "a turn" — they were definately not a "flip" and definately not graceful or speedy — after each 25 yards (the length of the pool).

So after a few hundred yards of this, who do I see walking over but Bree and Giovani. We are all in Masters 101 together. Just so Bree doesn't think I'm a slacker, I tell her and Giovanni that I'm working on my flip turns. I regretted it right when I said it, cause I knew what was coming next. Bree insisted on seeing my progress, and not only that, she was going to video tape me as well. GREAT! Now I'm going to have an audience and evidence on how bad my turns are.

Anyhow, here's the result. Complete with commentary and analysis.
video

You may as well share my embarrassing moment for Thursday. But don't worry, if you missed this one, I'll have another one on Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday, and ...

I'll also post my progress — if any — in the future. Thanks Bree for all the encouragement, advice and the video. I'm sure if I can ever stop laughing long enough to study it I'll learn from it. Now, about my swim stroke. What's up wit dat, brah?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

THE SUN HAS SET ...

I kinda got tired of looking at my sunset photo and since I changed this blog to more of a triathlon blog once I got started in triathlon, from just a general rambling blog, I thought it was time for a name and image change. I also like the quote by Dinesen, which seems to be quite true. By the way, Isak Dinesen is actually a woman whose real name was Karen Blixen born in 1885. She was an author. You probably know at least one of her works and not even know it was hers. She died in 1962 from malnutrition. Uh, if anyone is interested.

Oh, I also had my best run, timewise, today. It was also my hardest workout yet. Not fast by most people's standards, but I'm getting there. It was mostly an up hill run, which is always fun. It basically was a figure 8 that involved parts of Hualalai, Kuakini, Henry Street and Queen K. My HR ranged from high 140s to a max of 171. On the steeper hills I kept it in the low to mid 160s, which is close to my bonk rate. But I was able to keep it up most of the way and still feel good at the end. If you can feel good climbing Hualalai at the end of a run ...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

OF HORSES, NEW SHOES AND ONE CRAZY ANDY BALDWIN GROUPIE — ALL IN A DAY'S RUN

Today was my first day of refocus. I began training specifically for the Kona Marathon. So with my legs still sore from the half Ironman, I went out for a short run starting at the pool and running along Alii Drive and back. Although my legs were sore, they felt strong and pain-free and I realized that I had gained something from Honu that I hadn't expected — confidence! I had gained a little speed, a little strength and a lot of confidence.


Back in my cowboy days we used to teach horses to "free up their legs." We would say a horse's legs "were bound up" if they weren't taught correctly. If you taught a horse to free up his legs, he'd be faster, more relaxed and more obedient. (In this photo that's me on our Tennessee Walking Horse, Jasper. One of his first rides.)
To do this you would teach a horse to disengage his hind quarters or cross one leg over the other as you asked him to move in a tight circle. Once a horse learns this, you can see a difference in his handling, his performance and his attitude. He learns to trust himself, to have a little more confidence in his abilities.

A few months ago, I was telling Karen that I wish my legs would free up the way I used to teach horses to do. I just couldn't get any speed out of them. They were constantly tight and sluggish. On occasion when I would do fartleks they would, for a moment, free up and I could feel the speed in them.

Well, today, although I'm sore, my legs felt as if they were finally freed up. They were relaxed, and I felt faster. Maybe Honu helped me turn a corner on my running. Maybe it gave me the needed confidence to achieve my next goal, the Kona Marathon.

NEW SHOES
“I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes.” — OPRAH WINFREY

I finally got to try out my Zoots today. My employer bought them for me to race in at Honu, but since I was fighting an injury I didn't have time to break them in. They are great. I'm nearly a forefoot runner in them. I've never paid that much for shoes before in my life ... wait a minute, I didn't pay for them — sweet!

THE BACHELOR, THE GROUPIE AND THE RUNNER
While I was running today past the King Kam, this woman comes running up beside me. She asks me if I have ever done the Ironman. I tell her no, but I did just do the Half Ironman.

She then asks me if I know who Andy Baldwin is. I say yes. She asks, "would you take a picture of me? It's for Andy." She shoves a camera into my hand. I stop running. She jumps in front of the King Kam sign and strikes a pose. I click off a shot. She changes poses. I click off another shot, all the while I'm thinking, "this is really killing my average per mile time."

A guy walks by. He asks if we want him to take a picture of the two of us. I say that we are not together, but thanks.

She spots the hat I'm wearing. "OMG, your hat says Ironman on it!" She grabs my hat and runs to the King Kam sign again. "Take my picture again, make sure you can read the Ironman hat."

She asks me, "So this says Kona, right?" pointing to the King Kam. Stupid me, I say, "Well actually, no. Most people recognize the sea wall and the church steeple as Kona."

"Well, let's go for a run then," she says, and off she goes toward the sea wall with my hat, which is actually a Honu Half Ironman hat. The one I got for finishing the Honu Saturday, so it means a lot to me.

We get to the sea wall with her blabbering the whole way about how she knows Andy. I click off another photo or two with her standing there in my hat with the sea wall and church steeple in the background. Nice composition. Years of being a professional photog is paying off. I'm tempted to ask her for a copy, but then think better of it. I'd rather have one of Karen, anyhow.

She hands me my hat, I hand her the camera and I take off running. Smiling, I think "T.I.K. This Is Kona!"

Sunday, June 1, 2008

HALF AN IRONMAN


Well, I did it. I finished Honu, the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. It was a fun, scary, exciting, painful, exhausting, energizing, wonderful adventure. On one hand I'm glad it's over, but on the other, I'm sad my big race of the year has come and gone. Here are a few photos that Karen took from yesterday's event. They haven't posted the official race photos yet.

The first photo is as I cross the finish line. 70.3 miles in 6 hours, 29 minutes and 36 seconds. Not fast by any means, but this was all abut finishing. I had no idea what I was doing as far as pacing. If I would have enough left to finish or what.

The next photo is me sitting down and relaxing after six and a half hours on the road.

Karen was a volunteer this year. She was a penalty tent referee. Anyone caught drafting or breaking the rules on the bike would have to report to here to serve their time penalty. One cyclist told me that he just looked at her wrong and she made him stand with his nose in the corner during his time out ... She's one tough ref. I guess all those years as a daycare provider kicked in ...

That's me way in the back with my bike. I couldn't believe how windy it was on race day. I've never seen it that windy so early. It was a great experience though. I almost wrecked three times on my bike because of the wind. It's the closest I've come to coming off the bike and it happened three times. Scary!

The last photo is taken just before the swim. I was hiding how nervous I was. On the verge of throwing up, I walked out into the water, nearly puking. Sorry to be so graphic.

I was surprised when I finished Honu that I didn't feel more of a sense of accomplishment. It was over, I was tired. The end. But after thinking about it over night and most of today. The sense of accomplishment comes not from finishing Honu, but for me it comes from starting the event. Having the nerve to get into the water with 1,200 other insane individuals. I was so close to calling it quits before the canon went off. Even asking Karen to take me home. Fortunately, she thought I was just kidding. I wasn't, but I'm more proud of the fact that I had the courage to start the race than I am of the strength I had to finish it.

Thanks to everyone who sent me good thoughts yesterday and to everyone who was there to cheer me on. Thanks Karen for telling me "Randy Wrighthouse, you are half an Ironman!" when I crossed the finish line. Thanks Bree for the on-course encouragement and cheer. Thanks to all the other Big Island athletes. We all kept encouraging each other as we passed each other along the way. Thanks Bruce for your advice and encouragement. Thanks Debbie and Marilyn for your encouragement as well.

Way to go Ariel for getting your Ironman slot.

WHAT'S NEXT?
The Kona Marathon is June 29. That's my next race, other than the local Peaman and Team Mango events. In July is the King's swim (a 1.2 mile ocean swim) and I think the Hapuna Rough Water Swim is in July as well. In the long run, no pun intended, the Honolulu Marathon is Dec. 14.

SCRIBBLING AND DOODLING

A little scribbling while watching TV. I guess it's good practice to help loosen up my sketching. And, as you know, I can use all ...