Posts Tagged ‘Friction’



June 30, 2013

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right had of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

BonkI have my first triathlon of the year in two weeks.  My greatest fear in these events is bonking.  I always have the apprehension of making the mistakes of not pacing myself well, not fueling properly during the race, or not drinking enough, that results in being ground to a virtual stop.  My training has been going very well and I am feeling much stronger than I did at this same time, last year.  However, I have been training each discipline independently.  Therefore, I did my first brick run this weekend, to alleviate my concern of bonking.

I should have been doing more of these but there has not been the time.  Brick runs take a lot of time because you are combining a full ride with a full run.  That is about a two hour commitment for me when training for the Olympic distance; 40 km (25 mile) ride, 10 km (6.2 mile) run.

My Saturday plan was to cycle for about 1-1/2 hours (since my bike computer is broken) and then run a 10K.  I wanted to go early in the morning to avoid the heat.  However, I awoke to a howling wind that made me second guess my plans.  I hate riding in the wind.  I know that it is a good workout but whatever fun-factor that might have been in my plans would definitely have been annihilated by having to ride in the wind.

So, I vacillated most of the morning.  I worked on a “what I liked” post while keeping a gauge on the bend of the trees out the window.  There seemed to be a slight abetting of the wind’s bite that convinced me to make a go of it.  After all, this was my last weekend to get a good workout in before I start tapering things off before the race.  I suited up in all my spandex glory and made my way to the starting line.

The route for my cycling leg was a new one that proved to be more challenging than I had thought, particularly since the wind decided to play an encore.  I missed the turn-off for my loop and had to grind through a series of rolling hills.  Another miscalculation placed me on a highway that I had been trying to avoid.  Since I don’t like to ride on busy roads, the best way to get off of this one was to just gut it out and go faster.  I dropped a gear, picked up my cadence, leaned into my aero-bars and felt the sensation of speed, as a metronome of sweat droplets dripped from my nose and chin, keeping a rhythm with my burning thighs.

That proved to be a good push and I got off of that highway quicker than I had thought.  I was about three miles from my transition point.  I was tired when I drank the last of my water, which was now warm.  I realized why my water was so warm when I dismounted the bike at the end of my driveway.  The temperature had risen significantly since I had left.  I could really feel the oppression of heat now that I no longer had the cooling wind of motion.

However, I did not think too much about the heat as I traded my cycling shoes for running ones and my helmet for a hat.  I stepped back onto the asphalt, after guzzling a bottle of solar heated water, and prepared for the coming protest of my muscles.  The bike – run transition is most uncomfortable because you are trying to convince muscles, familiar with the limited range of the cycling motion, to stretch into the longer striding motion of running.  This unpleasant process usually takes about a quarter mile before  legs begin to understand that they are no longer cycling.  That is a quarter mile of fun.

81191-2478-030fHowever, the lethargy of the transition lasted longer than normal on this day.  I grew a little concerned when at a half mile my legs still felt dead.  I breathed deep and focused on my form but there just did not seem to be much strength in my legs to draw from.  I shuffled along under the open sky with the sun beating down.  It seemed to be getting hotter.

At 1-1/2 miles, I knew that I was in trouble.  I was not recovering even though I was merely jogging at this point.  I was only a quarter of the way into the run and I was gassing out.  I decided it was better to fight another day and turned for home, making my 10K run into a 5K.

Unlike a horse that picks up speed when heading for the barn, my condition did not improve.  Every stride became more difficult until I was forced to walk.  I was walking.  I have not had to walk in over a year when I had tried a practice tri…and started out late… and the heat got me.

What a fool I am.  I had done the exact same thing; again.  I had been confident in my fitness.  I figured I could push it on the bike and then just muscle through on the run.  That strategy had obviously not worked since I was now walking along a road that I had not planned to be on.

I made it home through a series of jog-walk intervals and the rest of the day was spent in the air-conditioning with Gatorade and water.  What had been intended to build up my confidence has had the opposite effect.  I am faced with an impending race with a combination of distances that I have not done before and I am a little freaked-out.

My race will start at 8:45 AM, which will have me finishing up just before noon if all goes well.  I should be transitioning to the run between 10:15 and 10:30 AM.  It can already be pretty hot by 10:30 AM.  I could easily bonk once again.  I am going to need a new strategy.

There is an inclination when things go badly to pull-out.  While I was in the middle of bonking, I had no answer to what I was doing.  If I had not already paid for my upcoming race, I might be tempted to bail out.  However, a lack of fitness did not result in my bonking.  I had a bad day.  My bad day was due to a seriously poor strategy and some poor decisions.  Pulling out of my upcoming race will simply be an over-reaction to a bad day.  I just need to change my strategy.

Most of us have a tendency to throw in the towel when all that is needed is a change in strategy.  A ministry opportunity can turn into a disaster.  An attempt to hold a friend accountable might blow up in our face.  We might stumble over the same temptation.  The passion may seem gone and lethargy might have replaced strength.

We have never been guaranteed a smooth road.  There will be times when it just goes bad and we spiritually bonk.  We feel like we have no strength to continue.  The joy of our ministry is sapped into intervals of just grinding it out.

Those times can destroy our confidence.  We can get a little freaked-out about taking the next step in our faith.  We must be careful not to over-react to a bad day (or series of days).

God is still on His throne – there is no need to pull out of the race.  All you might need is just a new strategy for that next step of faith.  There are times when we need to change our strategy of how we are practically laying aside the weights and sins that are clinging to us.  We need to look to Jesus and acknowledge the poor decisions we have made and the lifestyles that we may have drifted into that holding us back.  We don’t need to give up.  We just need a new strategy.

Therefore, stay in the race.  Set your eyes upon Jesus and keep running with endurance that race that is set before you.

PRAYER: Lord, help me not to give up.  Father, guide me to know what I need to change in my life to be more consistent in my faith.  Lord, I want to endure in the race that you have set before me.  Thank you for leading me in all things; help me to follow your example.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



June 28, 2013

“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.  Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.”  Ecclesiastes 9:18-10:1

English: Jogging at Cranny Good for your healt...
English: Jogging at Cranny Good for your health, but sore on the joints. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am engaged in a personal battle with friction.

Friction becomes a problem through its application over the accumulation of time.  My skin can tolerate the friction that wears upon it for a 5K run.  There are no particularly unpleasant effects even for runs of the duration to cover 10K.  My issues arise at distances beyond 10K.

Beyond 10K, the swish-swish of my legs begins to have a noticeable effect.  Every slight swish from the passage of thigh against thigh belies the accumulative effect of rubbing and the resulting friction.  This accumulating effect results in a rash, chaffing and sores.  None of these results are pleasant.  They are particularly unpleasant when one considers that the location of this swishing is originating from where were my legs join the rest of me.

I considered various alternatives to “girding my loins”  but most had other drawbacks.  Therefore, I settled on lubrication.  I determined that the best way to defeat friction was to reduce the resistance associated with the swishing.  My plan was to apply some lotion to my nether-regions prior to my next long run and thereby defeat my nemesis of friction.

Last week, I prepared for my little experiment as the rest of the household slept.  I was fully clothed in my running gear and went into our bathroom for the lotion treatment.  Unfortunately, there was no lotion on the countertop.  I fumbled through my wife’s cabinet in search of my secret weapon.  There was no lotion to be found.  Undeterred, I commenced my search again only this time seeking any sort of lubricating agent.  This search was quickly rewarded with a white bottle whose orange label read, “Absorbine, Veterinary Liniment Gel”.

“Gel”, that will be lubricating, I reasoned.  The label explained that this gel contains botanical extracts and is pleasant to use.  Great!  My search had put me behind schedule.  I needed to get on the run or I would be late for work.  I hurriedly squirted a generous amount of the gel on my hand and slathered it all over the region of concern.

I immediately felt a stinging sensation.  Initially, I thought it was just from the rash of my last run.  Curiosity transformed to concern as the stinging took on a very distinct awareness of rising heat.  My head snapped up to stare at the image in the mirror, who incredulously asked, “what have you done, you fool!”

The growing discomfort and spearmint scent jogged my memory of this gel.  We had purchased this gel more than a year ago when my wife was having back problems.  It was recommended to us as a treatment to help loosen up knotted back muscles.  It was horse-strength analgesic.  This gel relaxes tense muscle through the stimulant of … heat;  heat that I had now slathered generously ALL OVER a very sensitive region.  My only response to the gathering storm in my loins was “aaarghhh!”  I immediately grabbed a wash-towel, wetting it in the sink as beads of sweat began to form on my brow.  All I could think was “I don’t want to die this way.”  I scrubbed and scrubbed; wetted the towel and scrubbed some more.  As I scrubbed, I cursed the irony that I had applied this gel to avoid friction and now here I was directly applying more friction than running had ever caused.  I was just about to jump into the shower when the heat reached its zenith and began its descent.  I was relieved that I would not have to give any of the explanations that I had been rehearsing for a 911 operator as to the nature of my emergency.

This little incident reminded me of many solutions that we often resort to in an attempt to solve friction in our lives.  There have been many relationships that have been made much worse by the application of the wrong ointment; the ointment of sin.  That ointment can burn away years of good feelings in an instant.  An inappropriate response can often become more of a problem than the original source of friction.  That momentary decision to follow folly has been the source of much discomfort and the ill-will in relationships.

The natural response of our flesh is never an ointment that leads to anything other than folly.

The treatment that will always have the intended results is the Spirit.  Generous applications of the Spirit will inevitably soothe the most painful of friction induced afflictions.  The response of the one who is walking in the Spirit provides a wisdom that can restore the fragrance to that which has taken on the stench of decay.

Therefore, walking in the Spirit is not something that we can practice in an irregular manner.  We constantly need the wisdom of the Spirit.  We never know when folly will present itself to us.  We never know when we will be confronted by circumstances that demand a response.  We do know that a fleshly response can make a situation so much worse.

Therefore, we need to be diligent in the setting of our minds.  We need to be intentional in walking in the Spirit so that when we are confronted by the potential of folly we will naturally apply the ointment of the Spirit.

The wisdom that comes from abiding in the Spirit will soothe beyond anything from our own wisdom.  Therefore, let us not wander from Him who will make our paths straight.

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I have applied way too much of myself in past conflicts.  Father, help me to abide in You.  I want my natural response to be the soothing wisdom of your Spirit.  I want my response to make things better and not worse.  I want you to be glorified in the most frictional of situations.  Lord, I want to be a peacemaker.  Help me to walk in your Spirit at all times.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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