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I was talking this morning on the phone with an insurance lady that remarked how her grandmother told her that when she was older that the years would just fly by.  Now in her 30’s, the lady was realizing her grandmother was telling the truth.  This year, I turned 53 and time is moving quickly enough that I may soon have to have a conversation with Mr. Einstein about relativity.

Yes, we have come to another end of year.  However, please don’t look forward to my resolutions.  I resolve not to resolve.  After several mistakes as a younger person who said he would never do such and such, just to find out that later he very much was going to do such and such, I no longer try to test God‘s patience, nor my own.  I have a rough idea of the path I should be upon, only enough to see just a few steps in front of me, and there I will go.

No, instead, I am going to reflect a little on this past year and how it has and will shape my new year.  I am learning many new things and realizing that I am not that younger person any more (and my sweetie most likely says, “Thank the Lord!”).  I still haven’t become the person I wish to be, but as the apostle says, “I am daily straining forward to earn the prize”, or something very close to that any way.

This year marked seven years of cycling and five years of running.  Though I was only able to participate in one organized ride and my half marathon this month was cancelled due to the weather, I still ran and biked (and swam) for most of the year.  The discipline I have learned from both is invaluable.  No matter what may occur in daily life, I know I can get up most mornings and either run or ride off the dross (hope I used that word correctly).

In addition, the patience and sometimes just plain fearlessness learned from running helped me to do something I never thought I would be able to do.  I play in a band now.  OK, it’s a church band and I play bass, but it’s music and it’s worship, so there.  In response to a felt need, I started working at the first of the year to put my lackluster efforts at learning guitar into playing bass instead.

I worked with the band leader at our church, who was the bass player also.  I borrowed my daughter’s bass and started to relearn my scales and try to put those to good use in keeping rhythm.  I had the mistaken belief that this was simple since I had less strings and less complexity (4 instead of 6, and country bass).  I did not know what I was thinking. There is so much more to playing bass than just personal proficiency.  Yet, I did not quit.  Learned that one from running.

About May, the band leader said I needed to get ready because in the Fall he would be out some and I should prepare for an audition.  OK.  No problem.  I just needed to get serious.  In September, I started sitting with the band during their Wednesday practice to work on live playing (they played, I struggled to keep up).  I kept my bass unplugged and sat in a pew and followed along.  After a few weeks of this, it was time to put things to the test.

The band leader asked me to plug in and play with them.  It wasn’t the greatest of beginnings, but it began.  The band leader loaned me his bass since it had better tone.  I do think my daughter’s Dean Metalman V-shaped bass still had a little to do with that decision, but I’ll just say it was tone.  The next Sunday, I played for real, on the stage, plugged in, and everything. Very scary, but I survived the audition. My band leader said I could fill in the next Sunday when he was out.

While I survived the next Sunday with the band leader out, I brought back his bass to practice ready to be just the backup bass player.  Nope, not happening.  The band leader had his banjo out and ready to work.  I was in another week, and then another, and then another.  By now it was time to start working on Christmas music.  After a meeting and answering some serious questions, I was accepted.  I became the new bass player. Now, every Sunday it is my responsibility to keep the beat and help with the rhythm so that others can worship as well.

However, I was still playing on a borrowed bass.  Affording a new one was pretty much out of the question for some time.  I wasn’t sure just how to accomplish obtaining a bass that I could call my own.  But, following God and learning to be a runner and a cyclist taught me to rely on God, and determine what was really important.

I had two good six-string electric guitars.  One was a mid-1980’s Fender Stratocaster.  After a lot of thought and more than a little prayer, I sat down one Wednesday after Thanksgiving and put both of them on Craigslist in offer of a trade for a bass.  Within an hour or so, I had an offer of a trade on what looked like a great bass.  I called the guy up and we arranged to meet at my church before starting time.  He looked over both my guitars and even though the Fender had a little cosmetic damage, he was happy to trade.  The bass he traded hadn’t seen play in a year.  I now owned a bass.

Christmas concerts are over.  Candle light services are over.  But, every Sunday comes and I have to be ready to anchor my spot and know my music.  It takes work, like running.  It takes patience, like running.  It takes struggle and endurance, like running.  It takes making mistakes, like running. It takes learning new things and being fearless, like running (and learning to embrace the lycra in cycling).

I have a great year coming in 2014.  I get to get up every morning I wish to and run.  When it warms up, I will get up on Sunday mornings and ride, ride, ride.  I will continue to learn, and practice, and train so that I will be able to “take hold of the prize” as the apostle says.  It’s all a work in progress.  Happy New Year, and Happy Running!

 

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Today is Thanksgiving and I am sitting on the couch at my wife’s parent’s house enjoying being around everyone.  Our kids and grandkids will be here later to enjoy food and family.  Yes, this is a cliché Thanksgiving post.

Not everyone is here though.  There has been loss and there is also separation. So, it is not always as easy as it seems, but then for many, holidays are never as Hallmark-y as they make it out to be.

In our bible class at church we are studying John’s gospel.  He’s that “other” guy in the group.  The one that didn’t write like all the rest.  One of John’s repeated motifs is the “I AM” statements from Jesus.  “I AM the Light that has come into the world,” Jesus says.  “I AM the Bread…”, “I AM the Good Shepherd“, and “I AM the Resurrection and the Life”, are also statements of Jesus.  I suppose these hearken back to when Moses was at the burning bush asking God what His name was so that the Hebrews would know whom it is that Moses is talking to them about.  God’s only answer was, “I AM THAT I AM“.  He needed nothing more.

I think that at this time of year, it is good that we see that same simple statement in ourselves and the kind of spiritual power those small words have.  I am…

I am…thankful.  That is the biggest thing for this year.  It has not been easy for me or my family.  Since losing my former job in 2012, I was finally hired after five months of searching by a nearby hospital.  I am thankful for being able to keep a roof over our heads and food upon the table.  My new situation doesn’t allow for much more than that, but we have still been blessed and cared for every day of this past year.  Regardless of how little we had in our pockets, God provided for us all year.  I am thankful for these blessings because I know that others have even less and are still thankful.

I am…a runner.  Didn’t think I would stick that in here, did you?  No matter what has happened this year in other ways, I am still a runner.  I still get up twice during the week to run before the sun is up, and every Saturday I still go out for my long run.  My only race of the year will be in a week at the Dallas Marathon, where I am running the half.  I was fortunate to register back in the Summer and I am looking forward to the race. Yes, I am still a runner.

I am…a cyclist.  Well, we have to keep it going don’t we?  Cycling  is an expensive sport.  However, it can also be simple.  I managed one organized ride in May, but I have still been riding.  I have friends that have gotten up early on Sundays to ride a few miles and when they aren’t available, I realized I could still get up early and ride for myself.  While I don’t ride as many miles as in past years, I still ride and have made a few good routes around town.

I am…a triathlete.  Well, this one is just on faith.  I stopped swimming about a month ago just because it got very boring.  I did manage to make my distance up to a mile a week for a while this year from mid-Summer until Fall.  However, 1800 yards in a 20 yard pool can get very old.  So, I will just sit out for a while until I just have to go back.

I am…still in ministry.  I thought that when we started over at a new church that I would just be “around”.  That isn’t the plan I see.  There have been opportunities all year for ways that I can serve and I have been glad of the opportunities.

Yep, it’s been quite a good year after all.  And, just think: Christmas is just around the corner and many new adventures await.  Happy running, and happy thanksgiving!

 

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Yep, I’m back.  No, I didn’t go anywhere.  I’ve just been busy.

Since the first of this year, my family’s budget has been much more strict.  That can be problematic when you’re a triathlete, clydesdale or otherwise.  It’s kind of normal that in the 21st century, everything is an industry these days.  So, yes, there is the running industry, the triathlon industry, and I even work in the healthcare industry.  Side note: In my own personal opinion and belief, healthcare of any kind should never be considered an “industry” in any sense.  It should always and only be considered ministry, regardless of your religion.  We should be working ourselves out of a job, not creating permanence and profit. That being said, industries have one primary goal in mind: setting their followers free from the green stuff in their pocketbooks and making them feel good about it.

That’s not cynical, people, it’s just true.  Industries are in it for making money.  They exist because they have constituencies; followers.  Runners need shoes, shorts, shirts, gels, sleeves, compression gear…and the list goes on and on.  Get it–runners NEED this stuff (feel free to substitute cyclist, triathlete, etc.).  And, it’s true that there are times when we do need the stuff, or it may help us in one way or another.  However, many times, we just want it.  Of course, for many triathletes, what we  most want is the next race, or ride, or whatever event there is down the pike.

Previously, during most of the year, I was budgeted to one event per month (except for special instances). One race or one ride.  Now, even those will be hard to come by, so I am doing with less of them.  I attended one ride this Spring, primarily because it was inexpensive and we didn’t have to travel far (and there was something for sweetie to do while I rode).  I was able recently to sign up for the Dallas Half Marathon in December because of a birthday gift.  No, I am not complaining, but I am learning a lot more about what it means to be a runner or a cyclist this way.

I’ve learned I can do without Clif bars.  I’ve learned I can do with just Gatorade.  I already reported that while funds were available, I pre-bought two pair of running shoes so they would last.  I’m keeping my 400 mile pair in service for short runs to make them last even longer.  I’ve also learned to get more out of my workouts than just a notch up for the next race or event.

Usually, by now, I am into full swing cycle mode for the Summer.  That hasn’t happened this year.  I have switched to doing long runs on Saturdays instead of going out and riding.  Mainly because I can’t get any medium length ones during the weekdays.  I was finding that if I got up at 4AM and did 6 to 8 miles, I was wasted for working that day.  Also, by waiting until Saturday, I can run longer and get into better condition, all while seeing the sun come up.  Much better, I think.

But, I’ve gotten some riding time in as well.  I’ve just had to be creative.  I’ve loaded up the bike on the car and driven out to a large trail where I can ride safely on Sunday afternoons sometimes.  Yes, that may be anathema to some, but it is better than nothing.  A friend recently started up his Sunday morning group ride around town.  Since I don’t have to be at church at 7AM any more, I can now ride.  Also, much better.

I’ve been working on a better running workout that is doing me some good right now.  My weekday runs are limited to about 3 and no more than 5K at a time.  Then on Saturdays, I’ve been working from 8 to 14 miles.  I just finished the first cycle a couple of weeks ago and now I’m going from 9 to 14, then 10 to 14, then 12 to 14.  After I finish that cycle, I’ll go back to 8 and start over again.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far it has felt very good to get out and do the longer runs like I was doing for the marathon.

I’m trying to hold 1,000 yds. in swimming, but I waffle some.  I’m down to just one day as Mondays are seniors only at my pool.  It’s a lot less busy that way and I can swim better.  An Ironman friend of mine had been doing a workout where he ran to the pool, did his swim, then ran home.  I’ve started doing that some.  It’s a killer workout, to borrow a cliche, but well worth the effort.

I hadn’t really been a running clothes horse.  My only few important things I’ve had for a while; a couple pairs of compression shorts, and some really good socks, plus a pair of winter woolies and running pants for Winter.  Almost all of my shirts are race shirts or were bought at Wal Mart or Target.  You can get decent stuff there.  I haven’t need any clothes this  year, but if I did, I know where to look.

It’s been different not racing or going to rides as much.  I’ve been blessed with more great runs this way than usual.  I am still getting to do new things.  I’ve noticed I am running much faster than I used to run.  It’s decently exciting to finish a long run on Saturday and discover you didn’t take as long as you thought.  It’s also good to be able to run by the grocery store on your run and see folks you know.

Running and working out is about a lot more than just the events.  You really don’t have to have a lot of money to do it.  You do need to have really good shoes though.  There you cannot scrimp.  That just requires planning and budgeting to make it work.  I’ve been reminded a lot more lately of just what it means to be an athlete (or “late onset athleticism as John Bingham calls it).  At my new job, I have been able to put into practice all those things I believe in about being a craftsman such as doing a good job just because it’s the way you do a job.  Now, I’ve been able to apply those lessons to running, biking, and swimming.  Doing them well just because you should and because  you can.  Triathlon training on a budget does work.  Happy running, ya’ll!

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I hadn’t done any serious cycling since last Summer.  Though I had gotten out on the bike a few times this Spring, it’s been difficult trying to find time and place to do everything.  I was concerned whether or not I was ready to ride 60 miles at the Head for the Hills rally this past weekend. But, I was anxious to get out on a really long ride.

This ride is in Cedar Hill, TX; very near where I live.  I think this was my fifth year to ride it, but I’m not sure. It has always been a fun ride that is not too challenging.  I even got lost year before last and ended up in Mansfield, TX and had to make my way down a major highway just to get back to Midlothian.

I checked the weather the night before because wind can be a major factor on this ride.  My Weather Channel app said that the wind would be out of the north-northeast at 10 to 15 mph.  That didn’t sound bad.  However, the weather man ( or my weather app) lied about the wind speed.

I actually ran into a couple of folks I knew and lined up with them for the start.  They were talking about riding together, but when the start happened, there was too much waiting, so I took off.  Times a wastin’, ya’ll.

The whole first 35 miles or so was not only good, it was scary great.  We were moving fast.  I knew we had the wind at our backs, but it was only 10-15 mph, right?  We must just be moving well.  NOT.  The wind was at least 20 mph, and probably gusting higher. On some descents, it made it white-nuckle scary.

The back roads around Cedar Hill and northern Ellis County can get pretty narrow.  Many of these are chosen for the Head for the Hills ride and they are chosen well.  The twists and turns make the ride fun.  However, when you are dropping into a tight downhill turn on what is really only a one lane road at about 24 mph, the fun dies back somewhat.  I was fortunate in that I was in a large group of riders and could depend on them hollering back if any cars were coming.

I ran across one lady rider that was down just after a curve.  She had a lot of help around her, but I still thought it appropriate to ask if she was alright as she was being helped to the side. “Nope, not really.  Everything’s not quite alright,” was her answer as I peddled away.  I saw another guy go down in front of me.  I still don’t know what happened to him.  He was about 100 yards in front of me with his partner when he just flipped out and went down; on a straight road.  He was OK too, so I rode on.

When we made the turn back to the north, all the fun stopped.  Facing a 20 mph wind on a bike is a chore.  But, I’ve done it before and the ride still had to be finished, so I dropped the gears and the speed and just kept it up.  We made it up to the 40 mile rest stop fairly soon after the turn.  I decided it was time for a good rest before tackling the wind and the hills back to Cedar Hill.  This is a good rest stop because it is at a glider airport.  This time I got to see a glider get pulled up into the air.  It was a good day for gliding.  Lots of wind.

The last 20 miles or so were uneventful.  Just slow gutting it out against the wind.  Did I mention it’s all uphill back to Cedar Hill?  But, near the finish of the ride, things picked up. One guy near the finish that said he was going to draft off of me for a while.  I thought that was funny.  I’m not usually fast enough to draft from.  I also got a crack out of the two ladies that had just decided to stop at the Dairy Queen at the highway and have some ice cream before finishing.  Then there was the group of guys that turned back into the ride about a quarter mile from the race.  They had stopped to have lunch at Babe’s Fried Chicken before they finished.

I finished up in 5 hours even.  Certainly decent and typical for me at 60 miles.  However, we took off at 8AM and I was at 20 miles at 9:12 and 40 miles at 10:40, so you can get an idea of how much the wind slowed me down.  Five hours put me back in exactly at 1 PM.  You can see that it took from 10:40 to 1 PM just to get the last 25 or so miles done. Whew!

Cedar Hill is always a good ride.  I’ve hardly ever had any rain beyond just a few sprinkles.  It is often windy in one way or another.  A north wind in May is unusual and its a little better on this ride to have a south wind.  In addition, this ride helps a lot of folks in their area with the proceeds.  I’d recommend this one to anyone in the DFW area, especially because it’s close to us.  Most rides are much further out.

I’m probably going to be writing less for a while.  I’ve got several things I would like to work on besides just this blog.  I’d like to get a tech blog going and see how that works.  I’ve lost some of the motivation I used to have for writing, but thankfully, people keep actually reading what I write.  That always helps me remember that there is a good reason for what I’m doing.

I think I’ve finally gotten together a workout plan that works for my new schedule.  I run on Monday and Thursday mornings before work.  I spin on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to take off a little of the pressure from running.  I am doing my long runs on Saturday mornings (unless I have a ride).  That has helped in getting the longer miles in without getting up at 4 AM.  Now, I ride on Sunday afternoons when I can by taking the bike to Campion Trail.  I’d rather ride out myself, but the traffic just doesn’t work well.  I round this off with one or two evening swims, if I can.  That schedule should keep me fit and ready for whatever I want to do.

That should be enough for now.  My next ride is the Tour de Pepper in Dublin, TX in early June.  I’ll probably write again after that ride.  Happy running and cycling!

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2012 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon Finisher's medal

2012 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon Finisher’s medal

Yep, here it is folks.  Another runner that I follow on Twitter posted this pic of the finisher’s medal for this year’s MetroPCS Dallas Marathon.  I finished my last long run yesterday for my training plan and only have a few short easy runs and some rest days before race day on December 9th.

In addition to getting ready for this race and thinking back over all the training I’ve done, I thought some this week about my cross-training.  After having several injuries mostly relating to over-used or inflamed muscles and tendons, I learned about cross-training.  Of course, as a cyclist, I was cross-training already, but since then, I’ve added in swimming as well.

My cross-training with running really helps with my muscles.  I can always tell after riding, spinning, or swimming how much looser my muscles feel.  This has to be good for my running and I think it has helped.  Along with remembering to stretch after long or hard runs, I haven’t (knock on wood) had any issues this year after my swimming injury healed.

I’m getting just a little bit excited to run come Sunday.  Now the really obsessive part of racing takes hold.  Checking on the weather every five minutes.  Pouring over the race map to visualize the race neighborhoods and where I’ll be at about what time.  Figuring out six days in advance what I’ll wear and need, then changing it several times. Fretting over meals and calorie counts.  If I forget anything to be obsessive about, please send me a comment and remind me.  I don’t want to miss even the smallest obsessive detail you know.

I pulled the marathon card on my algebra teacher this week.  I signed up to take college algebra this semester as I need more discipline hours in order to be able to teach on the college level someday.  Wouldn’t you know I’d pick math, right.  I have this saying, “Dave always has to do it the hard way.”  And, I’ve proven it with math.  I’ve really struggled this semester with this course, which shouldn’t be all that hard.  I took algebra in high school, right; thirty something years ago.  Mostly, I seem to have some kind of numerical dyslexia.  My difficulties are often in getting all the numbers written down without transposing something.  In any case, I spent all day yesterday doing two tests, and I do mean all day.  I’ve been close to giving up and withdrawing.  Instead, I sent my teacher an e-mail and told her I was a marathoner.  We don’t give up.  And, I wont’.  Might go down in flames, but I wont’ give up.

If you already have a follow for me on Twitter, I’ve set up tweets while I’m running next Sunday.  If you haven’t and if you’re really that bored for tweets on Sunday, I’m @abigmanrunning over there.  Strangely enough I do have followers on Twitter as well as here on WordPress.  I thank you for that.  I started writing this for practice, but I realize it’s writing and we do like for folks to actually read what we’ve written.  I found out how important that was this week when I helped out another writer.

Discovered a new app to use this week.  Another friend messaged me about using Strava for cycling and running.  My garmin has been broken for all of this Fall.  I just haven’t wanted to spend the money on a new one nor mess with it while training.  Mostly, I just need an easy way to record my miles, times, and paces.  I’ve been using another app on my android phone, but it’s really a power hog.  Strava so far doesn’t seem to be.  I’ve only gotten to use it once, but it’s really simple.  It works while my phone is in airport mode.  The GPS signal still receives during that mode, but it really lowers power usage.  I’ll keep everyone posted on it.

Well, I told you it was going to be a bit random.  It happens every now and then.  I just heard today there are chances of rain showers for next Sunday.  I don’t need to hear that after last year’s race.  I sure hope that goes away.  I’ll be updating on the post race recap next week, after I rest up a bit.  Remember, the first 20 miles is a training run.  The last 6.2 miles is the race.  I think I said that somewhere before.  Merry Christmas, and Happy Running!

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