Posts Tagged ‘Humble’

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A TALE OF TWO TRI’S – Sept 1

September 1, 2014

“For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Psalms 149:4

The triathlon season has come to a close for me. I competed in only two events this summer, the Boise Ironman 70.3 and the Emmett Most Excellent Triathlon. I am confrontDSC_0085ed by very different emotions as I reminisce over the two events.

The Boise Ironman was an event that I trained specifically for. I blogged several times regarding my apprehensions associated with this new and longer distance. I had specific goals for each leg of the race.

I hoped to swim the 1.2 mile distance between 40 to 45 minutes.
I wanted to do the 56 mile bike in less than 3 hours.
All I wanted to do was survive the ½ marathon; my goal was a time of 2 hours 30 minutes.

swim-massThe swim was cold – frigid cold.  So cold, I wanted to quit when my head broke the surface for the first time. However, the race start filled me with enough adrenaline and coursing blood that cold water concerns quickly evaporated. I swam my typical serpentine route as I struggled to stay on course. Other than getting a little motion sickness from swimming through a couple wakes and drinking a couple waves, the swim went very well. I came out of the water right at 40 minutes. I was thrilled.

My official time corresponded well with my experience – 40:05, 2:04/100 average.

DSC_0108My plan on the bike was to ride within myself and stick to my nutrition and hydration schedule. I tried to maintain a speed of over 20 mph on the flat sections of the course, knowing that my average speed would suffer on the hills. Surprisingly, I was averaging just over 20 mph as I descended back into the City of Boise. However, my stomach threatened to revolt. I had been regularly drinking the Gatorade that I was packing and consuming a gel packet on the ½ hour. By mile 45, the thought of eating another gel pack made me want to vomit and I acquiesced to the will of my stomach when it sent up a warning “erp”. I slowly watched my average speed fall as I tried to manage the fatigue that was creeping into my legs. However, I still held onto my goal of finishing the ride in less than 3 hours. I chuckled when the timer beep signaled the end of my ride with only seconds to spare.

My official time corresponded well with my experience – 2:29:53, 18.68 mph average.

I transitioned to the run and into the unknown. I managed the first couple miles relatively respectfully. However, my heart rate began to rise and fatigue was setting in alarmingly fast. I changed to a run-walk strategy. I ran until my heart rate cliDSC_0110mbed to 160 bpm, when I would walk it back down to 140 bpm. I did this throughout the run and to my surprise it was a reasonably pleasant experience. I was going agonizingly slow as a constant stream of runners continued to pass me, but at this point I did not care.  I just wanted to finish. I shuffled over the finish line just over 2:30.

My official time corresponded well with my experience – 2:30:53, 11.31/mile average.

0727_010853Overall, I finished with a time of 6:17:27. I had hoped to finish at 6:15, but I was very satisfied with my performance. I was 68th out of the 105 athletes in my age group; my typical place in the meat of the bell curve. My experience corresponded well with the official results.

My second race of the season came after a week of business travel, followed by a week of County fair. I went to sleep after 11:30 PM following an evening at the 4-H and FFA livestock sell with the decision not to race the following morning. However, I awoke with plenty of time to make the race that I had pre-registered and paid for. I never have the opportunity for open water swims so I figured I would do the race for the swim and see what happened with everything else.

I had the best swim that I have ever had in a race. I swam a reasonably straight route and did not have any major corrections. For the first time, I did not even get caught up in the melee at the turning buoys. I focused on stretching long and felt like I was going fast; very few swimmers passed me. When I came out of the water, I discovered that I had missed the start button on my watch so I had no time. I came out just behind this young guy and felt very good about the fact that there were not very many athletes in the transition area.

My official time for the swim was 27:20, 1:40/100 average.

This time was only 20 seconds faster than my time last year. I felt so much faster than last year. Also, according to the official time, the guy coming out of the water ahead of me was 41 years old, not the twenty-nothing kid I had remembered. My experience did not correspond this official record.

I had a very good ride. I was feeling strong and did way more passing than being passed. I was averaging between 22-23 mph over most of the route. A young guy passed me on the most significant climb and we exchanged some words of condolence. He became my pace setter as we headed back to the City of Emmett. Some weird cross winds picked up over the last third course so I contented myself with riding between 20-21 mph. The last check of my average speed was 21.75 mph as I came into the City of Emmett.

My official time was 1:10:46, 21.07 mph average.

This time was actually 19 seconds slower than my time last year. That did not make any sense. I know I rode that course faster than last year. According to the official time, the young guy that paced me on the bike was actually the same 41 year old guy who came out of the water 2 seconds ahead of me. My wife videoed me coming into the bike-run transition area and also caught a glimpse of the rider just ahead of me. I found a picture of the athlete who should have been ahead of me according to the official records on Linkedin and checked it against the video. They don’t look like the same guy.

DSC_0309I began my run with the usual trepidation. The day was relatively cool and I was feeling good. The normal flow of runners passing me did not seem as ferocious as usual. I was hoping to run the 10K under 1 hour and after a first lap of just over 28 minutes, I was right on pace. I checked my watch regularly with about two miles to go. It was going to be close. I lengthened my stride and really started to dig deep over that last ½ mile and I was encouraged as I gobbled up several athletes who had passed me earlier. The last check of my watch as I headed down the final stretch put me under 59 minutes, I was going to make it. I crossed the finish line and as they were cutting my timing chip off of my ankle, I stopped my watch – 59:something. I had done it and came in under 1 hour.

My official time was 1:00:08, 9:41/mile average.

That was a 10 second per mile average improvement over last year but it did not correspond at all to my own time. By my reckoning, I should have been about a minute faster.

Overall, I finished with a time of 2:41:10. I was 6th out of the 13 athletes in my age group and exactly 1 minute faster than last year. However, my experience of the race tells me that I should have been knocking on the door of the podium.

I can easily accept the official results of the Boise Ironman because they are confirmed by my experience. I probably will never fully accept the official results of the Emmett Most Excellent Triathlon because they are so counter to what I experienced. However, the official results of both races stand, whether I accept them or not.

In many ways, the tale of these two triathlons illustrates one of the most significant stumbling blocks to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel tells us that every person is a sinner in need of a Savior. It tells us that we are not good. It tells us that we have rebelled against God and have earned the punishment of hell.

The Gospel is good news to those whose experience corresponds to the official record of the Bible. For these, Jesus Christ saves them from what they know they deserve and gives them what they could never earn.

The Gospel is a stumbling block to those whose experience tells them that they are good enough. Their experience has them comparing themselves to other people and concluding that they do not deserve condemnation. Their pride leads them to follow their own understanding and reject the official record of pending judgment.

Just as it is pride that elevates my race experience to equality with an official timekeeper, it is pride that keeps a person from acknowledging his place before God and keeps God from exalting him. It is pride that makes people believe that they deserve the podium.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:10)

At the end of the age, it is only the official record that will stand. It will not matter whether we agree with it or not. All will be humbled before the splendor of His majesty. All pride will crumble and utterly pass away before the Lord.

And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled,
And the lofty pride of men shall be brought low,
and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.(Isaiah 2:17)

Don’t wait until that day to let go of your pride for then it will be too late. Today is the day to accept the official record of the Lord God and to receive the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for breaking my pride and enabling me to see past my experience and to the truth of your Word.   Forgive me for reverting back to that old pride and not living daily in the good news of the Gospel.  Lord, enable me to not think of myself.  Help to keep my eyes firmly fixed upon you. Father, break down the stumbling block of pride that is keeping the lost focused upon their personal experience.  Call them to yourself and salvation.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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“CAN STAND IDIOTS” – Dec 26

December 26, 2013

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:46

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I saw this message emblazoned across a young man’s shirt.  The t-shirt should be a statement of personal self-loathing but I know it to actually be a statement of arrogance.  Unfortunately, there are many who live by this personal mantra – “the world is full of idiots”.

However, they will never include themselves in that category.  When they are an expert in some area, they are quick to judge the  actions of people who do something foolish in that area of expertise and thereby demonstrate that idiots abound.  “Did you see that idiot trying to ______________.”

The reality is that they are more correct than they realize.  The world is full of idiots.  Actually, everyone is an idiot in more categories than they are not.

Can you explain the purpose of the camshaft in an internal combustion engine?
– No? You’re an idiot in mechanics.

Can you list the three components of a framed wall?
– No? You’re an idiot in construction.

Can you define a measure in music?
– No? You’re an idiot in music.

Can you calculate the future worth of an annuity?
– No? You’re an idiot in finance.

Can you list the primary colors?
– No? You’re an idiot in art.

Can you explain the difference between the cerebrum and  the cerebellum?
– No? You’re an idiot in medicine.

Can you solve this calculus equation?
49578938844528115f954f534f71a19f

– No? You’re an idiot in mathematics.

It takes very little introspection to realize that there are more things that I know less about than those that I know more of.  It takes even less introspection to acknowledge that there are many people who know more about every subject that I have the most knowledge of.

Therefore, I am a genius to a few and an idiot to a lot.

Any brilliance that I may have is dwarfed by the extent of my foolishness.  If I can’t stand idiots, then I can’t stand the majority of who I am.  So, why are we impatient with those who know less about the subjects in which we are most confident?

PRIDE

Those who are quick to point out the foolishness of other people usually do in order to make much of themselves.  They excel at degrading other people’s inadequacies because it makes them feel superior.  A humble view of the world as a whole should interpret “the world is full of idiots” as a statement of unity.  The world is full of idiots and I am chief of the idiots in many areas.

This arrogance of overconfidence has a way of infiltrating our spiritual lives.  We can arrogantly give simple solutions to complex problems that will be as helpful as pointing out how foolish someone may be.  It may make us feel better about ourselves but does nothing to help the other person.

We can judge a struggling brother or sister for their spiritual failures.

If they only read their Bible as much as I do, then they would mature more in their faith.
If they would only step out in faith like I have, then God would bless them.
If they would only trust God like I do, then they could resist temptations.

We should have compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  They may be making very foolish decisions – we need to pray for them, encourage, and support them to make better decisions.  We should not arrogantly point out how idiotic they are.  I may not be struggling in the same area as they do but the reality is that I am struggling in other areas that might not be as visible.

Every follower of Christ is maturing in their faith.  Since our spiritual maturity is a work of the Spirit from the beginning to the end, there is no place in the body of Christ for spiritual arrogance.  The church is full of idiotic people.  That is a statement of unity.  I am chief in many areas among a foolish and imperfect people.

We foolishly fall short of the perfection that we are called to every single day.  Jesus told us that our righteousness has to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees or we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:20)

Do you retaliate when someone does something mean to you?
Do you love and pray for those who are causing you harm?
Do you go above and beyond your obligations?
Do you get angry and irritated?
Do your eyes linger lustfully?
Do you relish your wealth?
Do you want to be seen and made much of?

You are a moral idiot.
I am a moral idiot.

I am incapable of being perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect.  I have made so many bad decisions.  I continue to make idiotic choices.

That is why I am so thankful that God is patient with idiots like me.  I am so thankful that He has provided a perfection that I could not achieve on my own.  I am grateful for Christ giving me His righteousness to cover all of my foolishness.

If God is so patient with an idiot like me, should I not be just as patient and gracious with His other children.  We need to humble ourselves and patiently endure the foolish, in ourselves and other people, because God can stand idiots – He is doing it right now.

Therefore, let us declare as God does,

CSI:
Can Stand Idiots

PRAYER: O Lord, forgive me for being impatient with those whom you are sanctifying.  Forgive me for being critical of those who struggle in areas where you have made me strong.  Father, thank you for being patient with me and all of the foolishness that I continue to return to.  Lord, continue your work in me.  Continue your work in the Church.  May we glorify You as we are transformed from our idiotic ways.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“GET LOW” – Dec 19

December 19, 2013

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:6

Winter cycling has no allure for me.  I don’t get that anxious feeling of excitement when the allotted training time begins to approach.  It is easy to find an excuse not to do what feels like an obligation.

My excuses come easily because I am cycling on a trainer in my basement.  Spinning on a trainer is cycling at its worst.  I start in my basement and stop in my basement with only the sensation of the increasing burning fatigue in legs that are pedaling to nowhere.

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I cycle in my basement for the sole purpose of preventing the loss of last season’s gains.  I want to emerge from my basement in the spring at the same level of fitness that I entered it in the fall.  The only way I know how to do that is to keep pedaling to nowhere.

I have added another goal to my winter cycling to try to increase my motivation.  I am working on my aero-position.  My hope is to build the endurance and flexibility to stay as low as possible on my aero-bars for an entire 24 mile ride.  However, this goal has made an already unpleasant training time even more unpleasant.  My tired legs now have company in their protestations.  The combination of legs and shoulders questioning what I am doing has caused serious motivation problems.

I was beginning to question the value of my goal when I am down on my miserable aero-bars with the only wind coming from a fan.

I was reminded of the importance of my goal when I listened to a fascinating podcast  the other day.  It was an interview by Richard Diaz at Diaz Human Performance and John Cobb.  John Cobb is renowned for his expertise in fitting cyclists, particularly triathletes and time-trialers, into the most optimum aerodynamic position on the bike.  I have posted links to several of his fitting videos at the end of this post.  I was reminded in this podcast that you don’t ride on aero-bars for a leisurely cycling experience.

You ride in an aero-position to go fast. 

It takes 746 Watts to produce one horsepower (Hp).  A puny car can produce 100 Hp or 74,600 Watts.  According to John Cobb, “a good performing human for an Ironman distance can average only about 200 Watts”.  I know that I am not what he would consider a good performing human so I am sure that my average watt production over a 100-mile course will be probably be in the 150-160 Watt range.

So, we don’t have very good motors.  If that is the case, you have a limited motor, limited horsepower, but if you are trying to go “X” distance, pretty fast, then the only thing you can do is get through the air easier…The power to get through the air doubles the faster you go so it is incredibly important to pay attention to all kinds of little things to reduce the drag…your basic position is a huge thing.
~ John Cobb (not a direct quote)

Anyone who has spent time cycling knows this to be true.  We don’t have very powerful motors.  The best of cyclists are humbled by a head wind.  Steep climbs cripple our speed.  Our fastest times come on the downhills only with the aid of gravity.  We don’t have good motors so we must be as efficient as possible with converting that power into forward motion.  The most efficient position is staying low on the aero-bars.

You have a choice, you can suck it up and stay low, it is five more minutes, or you can take a turn and go to the donut shop and relax.  You can go either way.  ~ John Cobb

Richard Diaz asked a question that crystallized why my winter goal is worth it.

Richard Diaz:  When dealing with a really big wind, I get out of the saddle and try to muscle my way through it, in interval fashion.  Do you gain a mechanical advantage by doing intervals through a big wind?

John Cobb:  You cannot build enough power to offset the aerodynamic gain by being lower… if you are willing to suck it up into a head wind position, you need to choke up on your aero-bars so you can build more leverage, get into a harder gear…and concentrate on your on your pedal stroke, pull on your bars hard, stay in your aero position concentrate on really pushing down on those pedals hard and the lower cadence will help you with that…and you can concentrate harder on your technique and then you will get through that wind pretty fast.

This coming spring, I want to go fast.  I don’t have a good motor, even at my fittest, but I can get lower.  I can work on my endurance at staying low.  My limited power will be most efficiently converted into forward motion this coming spring because of what I am doing this winter.

When I got done listening to this podcast, I went to my basement and lowered the handlebars on my tri-bike as far down as they would go, mounted up and spun to spring speed.

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As I spun away in my prayer like aero-position, I could not help but think about prayer.  Humans are spiritually powerless.  Yet, I don’t see very many people living in a way that demonstrates that they have pitiful spiritual motors.  The cyclist who rides upright with his jacket open usually does not understand how much his position is holding him back.  In a similar matter, many Christian fail to appreciate how their spiritual position is holding them back.

All of a Christian’s spiritual power comes from the Spirit of God.
We are powerless in ourselves.
All of our spiritual power is a gift from God.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  Acts 1:8

We receive power through the Holy Spirit to follow Christ, to bear His fruit, to do His will and to persevere through this life.  We might try to muscle our way through difficult times but we will never be able to build true enduring power.  We might try to muscle obedience but we will never be able to build enough power from within ourselves to overcome our sinful flesh.

We have to be willing to suck it up and stay spiritually low.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise.  Psalm 51:17

I know of no better example of staying spiritually low than prayer.  Why don’t we pray?  Is it because we think we have the power to accomplish what is necessary?  Is it because we think that we are powerless against fate?  Is it because it is uncomfortable?  Is it because it is boring or feels like a waste of time?

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8

Lel4nd / Foter.com / CC BY

I don’t drop to my knees for a good time.  I don’t come before my God with a broken and contrite heart for a leisurely experience.  I come to my Father because I have a pitiful spiritual motor.  I come to my Lord because I need His strength.  I want all that holds me back from this world to flow across me as smoothly as possible.  Therefore, I need to get low.

I need to get low and I need to stay low.  I want to go fast spiritually.  I do not have the spiritual motor to be the person I want to be.  I am powerless to give God the glory He deserves.

I need to get lower and stay down there because that is where my power comes – God has promised to give the power that I need, when I need it.

“If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith.” ~ Martin Luther

PRAYER: O Lord, I need you.  I am powerless without.  I can do all things through You but I can do nothing without You.  Father, fill me with your Spirit.  Help me to get low.  Help me to come to You with a broken and contrite heart.  Father, I know that I let too much of this world hold me back.  Create in me a position that will speed me towards the person I desire to be – glorifying you in all that I am.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Resources:
Aero positioning for road bikes
Differences between a road bike and triathlon bike  
Setting your seat height – Sam Warriner and John Cobb
“SLIPPING THE RESTRAINS OF BURDENS” – Sept. 16

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