Coasting across the finish line

My personal record for biking 12 miles!
My personal record for biking 12 miles!

The last part of the track is uphill.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the greater flexibility of summer schedules and bicycling the 12 mile trail past Lake Wichita.  The direction I choose means that I finish with an uphill stretch.  Oh, it’s not horribly steep or anything (this is North Texas after all, and not known for steep hills), but at the end of 12 miles it’s just enough to intimidate the last dregs of my energy.  Usually as I approach the final curve, I slow down and creep across to the parking lot, peel myself off the sweaty seat, and limp to my car, nursing that inner satisfaction of having completed 12 miles. 

Today as I watched the mile markers and compared them to my stopwatch, I realized that I was positioned to beat my personal record.  I pushed it.  I ignored my complaining thighs and muscled along each slight incline.  Instead of slowing down on the last stretch, I actually sped up and rolled right up to my truck exhilerated and smiling broadly.  I bounced off the biked with surprisingly less soreness.  Endorphins are my new best friend. 🙂

I’m not usually much of a sports person, but I thought this morning about the end game in different sports.  In basketball or football, you can get a big lead and then coast across the finish line.  Just hold onto the ball and let the clock run out.  In tennis, though, you never get to coast.  To win, you have to win the last point of the game, the last game of the set, the last set of the match.  No slacking off or letting the time run out.  I don’t bike competitively, so I can choose to coast or to push across the finish line.  Pushing feels better.

I think life is like that.  You can choose to coast and limp or to push harder and finish strong.  God has given us direction for this choice.

Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenword in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 13-14

2 Peter chapter one talks about adding to your faith virtue, and adding to your virtue knowledge, and so on.  Always adding.  Always getting stronger.  Never coasting, never slacking, never letting the clock run out.  Paul says press on to the goal.  I think runners call that strategy uneven splits.  You start out slow, build momentum, and press on faster at the end finishing victorious (or at least strong and fast). 

Coasting is easy.  I need to watch out for that.

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Biking the lake…take 2

Cooler than normal temperatures tempted me again. Since my dh replaced the flat on my bike, I thought…yeah….I’m gonna go back to the lake and enjoy the bike ride I missed last week. I parked at one end of the trail took off with the greatest confidence, anticipating a long, energizing trek. I was admiring the water and the sunflowers and counting all the little jackrabbits zipping about in the morning breeze. I should’ve known that bike had other plans.When I got to the end point of the trail, I u-turned, checked my watch, and considered all the variables. I figured I was set to finish the 12 miles in right at an hour. Excellent! Deep breaths, set for the return trip…and then a funny flapping sound from behind and the bike went wobbly. Another flat!!!!It was the tire we’d just replaced! And I was 6 miles from my truck and the air pump.

My first impulse was to kick the bike and insult its intelligence. But you’d’ve been proud. I reminded myself that trials produce patience, and as trials go, this one was minor.

After all, the sun was still shining, the scenery was still peaceful, and walking is exercise, too. I just hadn’t planned to walk 6 miles pushing a wonky bike. Sigh.

I was trying to think of scripture to meditate on to keep my mood peaceful. A friend told me he likes to meditate on theIsaiah passage about soaring on wings like eagles and not getting tired, but I didn’t think I was really soaring. I finally settled on the 23rd Psalm, since I was uniquely positioned by green meadows and still waters at the time.  🙂  While I was looking around at the birds and trying to recite the psalm, I walked too close to the bike dug my calf into the teeth on the foot pedal. Ouch!! Now I had blood dripping down my leg and still 5 miles to walk. I tried singing, “Count Your Blessings” and “Sing and Be Happy.”  That worked for awhile.

But gals, those landmarks that had zipped by in one direction sure crawled tortorously slow coming home. And the cool morning wore off into sweat city. I finally managed to position the bike so I could jog at times. Was I ever happy to see my truck at the end of the road.

Lessons learned? 1.  Park in the middle of the trail instead of the end so you don’t have to walk as far. 2.  Get an air pump that attaches to the bike because it’s useless otherwise. 3.  Or maybe I should give dh back his bike and trade it for crochet hooks.

Tell me again why I love that lake?

Inner Peace through Exercise…or not

Lake Wichita is my favorite place in the world to exercise.  Since my friends introduced me to the 2.8 miles jogging loop there, the place calls to me whenever I have the opportunity to sneak out on my own for 30 lovely minutes of sweat-induced tranquility.  I wrote this a few weeks ago after one of my many misadventures in fitness.

My kids have all left for summer camp, so I awoke this morning to an empty house and endless possibilities. I dropped dh at work at 7 a.m. and thought this would be a fabulous day to take a long bike ride around the lake. I haven’t been out there since the floods a few weeks ago. After wrestling the back seats out of the suv and wrangling the bike in (definitely the hardest part of the workout!), I drove to the starting point and was greeted by perfect sunshine with the waves lapping high on the shore, almost to the trail. I wrestled the bike out of the truck, tried to air up a flat, and ended up destroying the inner tube. Aack! Back into the truck with the stupid useless equipment.

But the lake beckoned. So I ran. I took off at a slow trot so I could inspect the trail for damage. Sure enough, the flood tore up several spots pretty badly, but nothing I couldn’t get around.

The first section of the running trail parallels the road, with flat land on one side and neighborhoods on the other. Then you follow the curve into wilderness, totally cut off from view of any civilization. That curve sends a little thrill up my spine. It’s been so long since I ran there, I’d almost forgotten how bright the sun, how refreshing the shade of occasional trees, how unexpected the cool breeze, how intrigueing that next curve of trail into the unknown.I also realized that standing water crowded both sides of the trail where normally dry land stretches. 2 weeks ago I could’ve invited my virtual exercise buddy RJ to kayak that trail with me. 🙂 Nature loves the soaking, though. Everything green was growing abundantly; the sound of crickets was twice as loud as usual, and hordes of dragonflies darted in and out of the tall grasses around the swampy areas. Thinking about the enormous amount of water that had fallen, and being overshadowed as I was by rows of 8 foot tall sunflowers, I felt very small. I like small. Small is peaceful. Being tiny and insignificant makes the weight of responsibility off my shoulders. The hassles of life seem less urgent. I know I’m in the hands of One with infinitely more power and wisdom than myself, so minor annoyances like flat tires just aren’t that big of a deal.When I finished my 3 miles jog/walk, I stepped right to the edge of the lake to stretch. Closing my eyes and feeling the wet breeze and hearing the waves, I felt like I could’ve been on any beach in the world. I had a sudden urge to do yoga…you know how yoga videos always show the person isolated in the desert or on a beach striking graceful poses under a sunny sky? So I did.LOL Don’t know what the other bikers or walkers thought of me passing on the trail. But I did the few yoga poses that I know and don’t fall down attempting. 🙂

So I drive home sweaty and hot, but filled with inner peace and energy. While I put my bike in the garage, I thought, I’ll just be efficient and get out the lawn mower to cut the grass in the back yard. Duh! Not thinking! I opened the gate and all 3 dogs ran out in separate directions. Inner peace gone in the rush of paws. I grabbed the slow dog and pitched her back in, slammed the gate, and took off running after the girl puppy. The old dog followed along like he was escorting us. Finally caught her, carried her back, but lost the third dog. No worries, he’s been escaping for 10 years and always comes back.

Now I’m covered in sweat AND dog hair. Might as well mow. 30 minutes later, I was covered in sweat, dog hair, and cut grass.

I thought, the yard still looks bad because there’s a gallimaufrey of saplings sprouting all around the fence line.

I’m already filthy. Why not? Found the trimmers. Conquered that in 30 minutes.

I officially have no more energy. I’m used up. That’s all the physical activity I need for the day!! I think I’ll curl up with the remote control and watch cheesy sci-fi.

Have a blessed day. Go move and get sweaty!