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A golf view in a football town...

A golf course view of a football town…..

Faith. Is it the final frontier? Exploring it shows what it can do. Faith in God. Faith in human goodness. Faith in cooperation. Faith in oneself, built from faith in a God who creates masterpieces. Like my golf swing! Sometimes. When? When I let it! When I don’t feel the need to do too much. It’s like coach Mike Leach preaches in football: just do your job. You don’t need to score 14 points on any one play. Just do your job. I don’t need 300 yard drives, especially ones that end in deep grass, behind trees, on top of houses, in lakes, etc. I don’t need to do grand things at work. Just my job: cooperate, innovate, encourage and persevere. Little things, over and over again. Willingness and faith. A controlled swing. In the fairway. On the green. Near the hole. Easy tap-in. It seems like it could be easy.

Some shots go bad. Some holes even go bad, often from multiple bad shots. Lost focus? Is this lost faith? Leach also says that adversity will come. He is right. It’s not avoidance of adversity that defines us. It’s our performance in the midst of it. Like cheering on a team in the throes of difficulty. Giving our best to each shot in a wave of triple-bogeys. Birdies are out there, along with touchdowns and tackles. Winning can be born in defeat.

I saw that cold weather was expected soon. It was perhaps my last chance of the year to play what I considered to be a good round of golf.

Veteran’s Memorial Golf Course is one of my homes. The first hole is short and I started with an easy par. Nice. One down. The second hole is also short. A hooked drive under a tree, a topped punch, two fat wedges, a mediocre chip and two putts.  Easy triple bogey. And the sun shone on! No trees fell and the birds continued to chirp. Try, try again. Another short par four, with a severely left-sloped fairway. Bad time for another hook. So it happened. Self-fulfilling fear? Punch near the green, chip and two putts for bogey. Then what I told myself was a really sick hole: huge trees lining the right side of the fairway, stealing the line for a power hook. Hardpan on the left leading to a wheat field, seemingly magnetized for my balls. So I drove out-of-bounds and triple-bogeyed, moving quickly to seven over par. What if I had embraced the opportunity presented by the tee shot? We’ll never know for sure. Spilt milk. I know I can play good golf. I mostly hadn’t so far that day, but I KNEW I could.

Next was a long par four, dog-legging to the right. Right-handed hookers like me prefer left-turning doglegs. But that’s the beauty of opportunity. It is where, when and how it is. On the tee I centered myself, re-gaining faith in my ability to execute a wide variety of good shots. I’ve hit them before. Calm, controlled and relaxed swings are a path to success. Hit the best shot possible. Regardless of the outcome of that shot, do your confident best on the next. And the next. And the next. This is the story of football and golf and all of life. Just hit it sweet!

So the same guy who was seven over par after four holes was still seven over after nine, after a nice two-putt birdie on number nine, set up by a conscious effort to swing easy and free on the tee. Not “hard” to hit it long; rather, easier to hit it better. So I hit it sweet and straight and onto the green. It was a good lesson for me. I need a lot of re-education.

The back nine went much like the front nine: two triple-bogeys in the first three holes, sandwiching a bogey. Seven strokes lost to par in three holes. Then another turnaround: three pars, two bogeys and another birdie, completing the back nine in eight over par.

It was a tale of extremes. Not an awesome score, but some excellent shot-making mixed into character building lessons. I’m awaiting better scores. I believe they’re coming. I will persist in doing my part to make it so. Even more importantly, I will enjoy the journey. What fun!

 

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My race uniform and some of my rewards (the best rewards were breakfast with Mark and Linda and as noted below!).

My race uniform and some of my rewards (the best rewards were breakfast with Mark and Linda and as noted below!).

Golfing is not the best training for running. It may, in fact, be a version of insanity. But it lured me in. So I ran less and played more this year. Maybe I needed a break after last year’s collection of long-ass runs. Long-ass runs are character builders. They can turn nice people into cussers. They can also boost our confidence. They are hard tests.

Pesto is one of my favorite fuels. I love the taste and I can burn the calories during a long-ass run.  Double win! Basil grows in my yard, so pesto it was! It tasted so good! Would it help me run fast?

Hell yes! Well, it’s relative, of course. Fast to me is defined differently than it once was. But it is still fun!

Races are filled with deja vu. For me, mind games are inevitable. So we just have to win them. Against ourselves! Let the optimist win!

I surprised myself today, because I was willing to believe. Go for it and see what happens. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Can you live with that? I could crash and burn and have to walk to the finish. I could live with that. But what if I could keep the pace? Then I get to ride a high!

The young speedsters went out fast. So did some of us plodders. My first two miles averaged about a minute and a half faster than my recent training runs. So I started to dream about success. Hey! I should go for it!

I found my groove and kept a steady pace. It felt like a miniature version of a marathon. Focus on form, keep it steady, remember to fuel and hydrate and prepare for the mind games.

They always come for me. Thoughts of failure. Signals from tiring muscles. Memories of past disappointments. Fear of falling short. Freakin’ fears! Buzz off you damn fears! I CAN do this.

Each passing competitor spurred me on in the later miles. A new rabbit! Chase that rabbit! Mile eleven was my slowest of the day, approximating my training run average. My legs felt so heavy! My left foot was blistering. It would be so easy to walk. It would feel so much better. Or not, at least in the long run. Push! Go! Dig deep! When your body is failing, run with your fiery spirit! It’s only two more miles! How hard is that?

Mile twelve felt very hard, but it turned out to be one of my fastest of the day.  I didn’t know that until my post-race review, because it felt a little like hell. I kept fighting during mile thirteen, when a lovely woman passed me. The best rabbit yet! She pulled me to an even faster thirteenth mile. As I turned into Pioneer Park for the finish, Charles Stanger urged me on. He had blessed us all day with his musical bike parade. I owed him something! So I dug down deep. I had a little left. I sprinted to the finish. It felt fast. I’m not sure how it looked. I nearly caught my favorite rabbit! It was a win for me, because I beat my fears, and I ran my fastest time in years. What more is possible?

It felt too hard! Man, what a recurring theme! It’s a timeless feeling of deja vu; I’ve been here before, many times, over many years. There are easier, softer options: slow down a little, slow down a lot, walk, quit, devise excuses…

Excuses can arise from an early morning bed: a rainy day? Perhaps I’m meant to rest this morning? Or is that fear rearing its ugly head?

Today I hit an excuse jackpot. My right calf cramped less than two miles into the race. Good or bad? Just breathe in and out, sending relaxing thoughts to my muscles. Hmmm… was this a chance to run from the run? It’s not always easy living in my mind. So stay out of it if you can!

Using a watch to forecast results is easy for me. It can also be quite limiting. My GPS watch does much of what I used to do, creating opportunity for other thoughts. These can be devilish or inspirational.

Mile one passed in 7:30. Judgement commenced. Too fast! I did it again! I will only slow down from here! So mile two took 8:08. See how much I slowed down! Feel how winded I am! It’s all downhill from here!

A self-fulfilling prophecy? Mile three elapsed in 8:26. I’ll be crawling by the end! I’m out of shape from not running all week! I’ve gotten lazy. Shit!

Whoa! Finally, my free-wild-optimist fought back. I’m nearly half done and averaging 8:01 per mile. Not bad for my condition! I should do my best and see what happens.

Part of the beauty and challenge of the Balloonsday 10 kilometer course is the loneliness, especially coming on the heels of a mega-crowd road race like Bloomsday. Most Balloonsday participants choose five kilometers. The scarcity of ten kilometer racers leads to some big gaps. Mine was a lonely path today, creating a wonderful opportunity to choose between easy lagging and difficult pushing. Who am I to be today?

Lonely mile four took 8:15. Was I choosing to be all that I could be? Perhaps my fifty minute goal is too tough today. I should have trained harder! Why do I think I can push on race day without more fast-paced training? Still, I must push and do what I can!

The volunteers were so encouraging! The course was extremely well-marked. This is my favorite race of the year! But mile five took 8:16. I think I’m slowing down too much. I’ll miss my goal. I’m doomed! More waiting? Will I just keep on saying “wait ’til next year”? Wait a minute! It’s the negative thoughts that are holding me back! I can almost always push at least a bit harder. Do it now! Run free and wild! Be the spirited stallion! Go for it!

Hey, it’s true! I do have a little more to give. When I do so, I gain capacity to give a little more next time. My life gets better when my heart, mind and soul embrace faith and venture forth, fully alive!

Mile six took 7:48. I picked up the pace! Bring it home! I strode strongly to the finish, clocking 49:29. It was my best time in years and another step towards better health. Physically, mentally and spiritually, I must face the demons I meet with faith, perseverance and lots of smiles. It fills my journey with pleasure, which sometimes masquerades as pain. Namaste!

DCIM100GOPRO

Undeniably, much of life is far beyond our control. Yet it seems prudent to consciously develop who we are, instead of living reactively. Maybe we should work backwards? What would be cool on a headstone?

Adventurous, Believing, Calm, Daring, Enthusiastic, Funny, Game, Honorable, Innovative, Jovial, Kind, Loving, Motivating, Natural, Optimistic, Parental, Quenchable, Ready, Studious, Trustworthy, Uniting, Valiant, Wild, Xyzlacatotic, Youthful and Zesty!

Loving It Fully Everyday!

What a day! Yesterday was a really big day for me. I’m not sure what was most important, but growth happened.

We anticipated our twenty-mile run, the pinnacle of our training for next month’s Coeur d’Alene marathon. To fuel up, Annie made green smoothies (Kale for breakfast; move over Popeye!), followed by coffee smoothies (over the top AMAZING!!!) and peanut butter and jelly toast. These accompanied hours of more research and then final selections of toys for our next big thing: standup paddle boarding. I ordered boards, paddles, racks, leashes and personal flotation devices. I’m so excited!

Throughout the day, I learned and re-learned about myself, noting impatience, apprehension, frustration, determination, perseverance and jubilation. When I recognize my motives, they can teach me valuable lessons. It’s even possible to grow from them!  Who knew? Serve, rest, recover, fuel, release, praise, accept, observe, enjoy, admire, bask, encourage and belly up! Food never tastes better than after a long-ass run. I don’t know it there are tougher “walls” yet to come, but we tackled some tough ones yesterday!

Perhaps we needed this mental challenge to round out our preparation. The eighteen-miler seemed almost easy to me; if it wasn’t, my mind has beautifully blocked out the tough parts. The half marathon up and down Badger mountain boosted our confidence further. Yesterday boosted it again, in a new way. We started with little spunk, and our bodies became tired, sore and weakened rather early in the run. Maybe that’s “the wall”? Did something inspire us to add those big hills early on, to help our growth? As we faced trepidation, around halfway done, a cool inspiration re-surfaced: “when your legs get tired, run with your heart.”  Yes! Now we know that even when we start partially tired and weakened by our training, we can still push through a long run.  Strong or weak, high or low, we can get it done!

You never know what you’ll feel like on race day. You never know about any day! But bringing our best, enjoying the process, loving the now, seeing the beauty, slowly blossoming and keeping the faith are paths to growth, joy and peace.  Sometimes they even end with curry! Yay!

John Denver’s “Colorado Rocky Mountain High”:

But the Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye
Rocky mountain high
(Colorado)

A delirium recollection from yesterday:

On that Bennington twenty-mile high…I’ve seen a lot of country passing by…The rush of adrenaline is sweeter than chocolate pie….Bennington High…Walla Walla…

Twenty miles give a LOT of time to talk, think and trip out!  🙂

frankoshanko

I love health, humor, adventure, exercise, romance and competition. Well, I just love life! ( :

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