Monday, April 29, 2013

The Past and the Future

" ... and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us ..." -- Hebrews 12:1 ESV

I had a chance to take a drive a few days ago to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.  It seems like many years ago, forever ago, that I went to school there to get my BS in Zoology.  Pulling into town on a gorgeous Friday afternoon brought up many feelings for me.  I am not the type of person that hangs onto the past and engages in lots of reminiscing but this rare day was different, and was haunting.  My mind is wired in such a way as to remember lots of color and detail, sometimes to the point where I can literally lose myself and am mentally taxed.

The sun was out, redbud and dogwood were in full-bloom, as I strolled across the college green, with brick pathways weaving their way through the tall sycamores.  It was chilly, but pleasant outside, and students were playing hacky sack, or reading and chatting stretched out on the grass.


After dinner uptown, I walked by the entrance to the college green where I remember getting dropped off as an 18-year-old kid, along the roadside, by my parents, scared to absolute death about what the future held in store for me.  Everything was as it was before, a snapshot frozen in time.


One of my favorite places of solitude when I went to Ohio University was on the side of Memorial Auditorium.  There were bronze plaques all along the wall of a portico corresponding to visits from famous people of the times.  My favorite was a quote from Carl Sandburg that rings true to my heart to this very day.  It was true then, and it is true now.  Somewhere in a box in my storage unit is a picture of me alongside the plaque from long ago, with my spiked hair, thick glasses, with a grin of innocence.    


In the evening, I walked by the dorm I lived in and stood outside looking up at the window of my former room.  Several students from the dorm walked up to me, asked me if I was lost, and after I responded "no", we had a fantastic conversation.  Listening, I embraced their hopes, their dreams, their energy, unjaded and undeterred by the hard knocks of life.  Looking up at the window, they asked what I was thinking.  I responded, "There is where I studied and toiled over textbooks, spent time with my girlfriend, learned to play guitar, drank too much on occasion, and quite simply ... grew up."    


The real object of the trip was not the past, but a reforging, a look ahead to the future and new adventures.  I had come to do a sprint triathlon after a chance meeting with a young lady in a restaurant alerted me to the event.  What a homecoming for me!  And I do best when I have goals in my life, and am training for "something", either goals or just life in general.  My friend Sarah, seasoned triathlete, skillfully dialed me up a short training plan in the space of two months, reflecting the fact that my hip simply can't stand the rigors of lots of running.  I bought a new, spiffy road bike.  I enrolled in USA Triathlon in order to sign up for the race.  I learned about "brick" workouts, triathlon shorts and shirts, and did mock transition drills on Sarah's back porch.  Quietly, I followed the plan and felt like I was in fairly decent shape to be able to finish my first triathlon.

The swim was in the Ohio University Aquatic Center and was a serpentine 500 meter course.  At the end of each 50 meter length, one had to tuck under the lane line in order to get into the other lane to swim the other way.  It wasn't long into the swim at all before things became quite congested.  I never lost my cool with all the elbows and kicks I received but just kept slowly plowing forward.  There was a couple hundred yards of running to get into the transition area.  I felt for my first time, I did a decent job getting out of there and mounting my bike.

Once on the bike, there was a hilly 25 kilometer out-and-back course awaiting me.  Fortunately, my training had incorporated lots of cycling on those sweet West Virginia hills so I was more than ready!  While for others, my speed would have hardly raised an eyebrow, and I still am learning how to "climb" hills, I pedaled as hard and as fast, sometimes dangerously fast, as I could down the long descents, passing many people in the process.  Here, I felt I made up lots of time.

Next, my legs were wobbly as I dismounted the bike and prepared for the 5 kilometer run through the dorms and along the Hocking River.  The first mile was rough but I soon hit a nice pace and settled in.  The sun was shining and the temperature had noticeably increased after a chilly morning.  Life was good and I felt good :-)  The last mile I was able to pick it up and again passed many people as I hit the tape with a 2nd place age-group finish.  This was a lot of fun for me and I have no intention of getting all serious into the sport of triathlon; that is, I intend to keep it fun.  Hence, I have no plan for the immediate future other than to kick back, relax, and enjoy the moment ...  


          

  

16 comments:

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    1. Thanks, Gancho. And congratulations again on a beautiful marathon you ran the other day.

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  2. Well executed race, Phil. Not bad for a guy who couldn't swim a length a few short years ago.

    p.s. back porch transition area practices are my specialty!

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    1. Thanks a ton, Sarah. Put this one on my bar tab with all the other favors you've done for me :)

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  3. This is wonderful, Phil. I'm impressed by your sheer will and dedication. Anything is possible. Anything.

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    1. Coming from you, Susan, this is a true compliment.

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  4. What a great job Phil,continue to have fun.

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    1. Hey Maurice! I will and I see from Facebook that you are having lots of fun, too.

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  5. Phil, that sounds like an awesome time. At some point I really want to learn how to swim so I can participate in short triathlon events as well.

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    1. You should, John. If I can do it, then you certainly can!

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  6. Awesome, Phil. My first tri was at my alma mater too; I didn't take home any hardware though. Nice work!

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    1. Thank you, Michael. I hope all is well for you out in Davis ...

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  7. Phil. I loved reading about your thoughts as you looked up at that dorm window. So many memories, and how lucky for those students that you were there to share them with! And then your race report... What a neat surprise! I had no idea. How wonderful that you have been able to get those endorphins flowing, and have some new goals to reach. Triathlon was my "first" endurance adventure before ultras, and it holds a special place in my heart. Here's to you coming over the mountains for a Cville Sprint this summer?!

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    1. Sophie, yes, you told me once when you and I were running that you had done triathlon back in the day. I will have to check out what is going on over in Cville. I actually met a woman over there a few months back (Kate Lucas) who runs some tri's over in your fair town.

      Thank you for your comment here, and your continued friendship. I'll look forward to seeing you down the trail someday soon :-)

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  8. Very cool Phil. I'm glad you were able to enjoy the event -- and do very well! Great job!

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    1. Thank you, Adam. I appreciate your kind words. I hope all is well for you and your family!

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