Monday, April 26, 2010

TransIowa Follow Up

This has been quite the interesting 2+ weeks since I announced I was withdrawing from TransIowa V6.

I posted that on a Sunday and the Monday/Tuesday of that week we had some doctors come and look at my father because we were going to be leaving him home alone for 10+ days. Tuesday I spent in Kansas City for the day working and it was determined that he needed to be placed in a rehabilitation nursing home to work some issues out.

He had a huge bowel obstruction and was not able to have a normal bowel movement and was not taking his Parkinson medication and so he was locking up and was unable to live properly on his own.

Wednesday afternoon he was approved for immediate placement into Father Baker Manor but it was under the conditions that if he did not improve or improved drastically to the point of self-sufficiency he would be discharged with 24 hours of notice. We were scheduled to leave on Friday for Colorado so that trip got put off for now.

There was still a possibility of Iowa happening (if I had not withdrawn) and life went on as normal as could be. The following week the kids were on spring break so I took Tuesday off and we took a some friends to Erie, PA for Chick-Fil-A and a fun time in Presque Isle State Park. We checked on dad daily and my wife received a phone call Thursday that my father had progressed to self-sufficiency and was being discharged Friday after lunch.

For Iowa I would have had to be in Grinnell, IA by 6:00pm for the meet and greet and official race meeting.

We picked him up and got him settled back at home on Friday. Saturday was not a good day because I thought about where I would be in Iowa at certain times and I was just not in a good spot. I crashed early Saturday night and then I woke up around 10:30pm and went to hang out with my daughter and watched some of Lion King 2 for some reason - LOL.

Around 11:00pm I ask for her IPod touch and did some TransIowa research. I found out that the race was canceled 80 miles or so in because of weather and 6 people where in North English, IA at the finish line - A malt shop that the owner was so nice to keep open and feed the finishers!

What does all this mean - there were some questions about what type of God would not want me to participate in TransIowa. I don't believe God didn't want me to participate - I believe God knew what was coming down the line and the best thing for the RD and everyone else involved was for me to pull the plug so we could move on in another direction for this year.

It sucked - I will be the first to admit it. It really sucked. I am still very disappointed but I also appreciate how God opened the way for stress to be reduced so that the real stress of everything else hitting at once was manageable.

The God I serve is a loving God and one that wants us to enjoy life - He knew something that I had no idea was about to happen and he prepared me for it. For that I will be forever thankful!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

TransIowa V6 - The Withdrawal

Wow - I would have in a million years ever imagined me typing those words as a subject line. I found out about TransIowa 4 years ago and have been enamored with it ever since. I signed up for V4 only to back out due to a strong dream in which I specifically felt God telling me to scrap the plans. The race lasted 30 out of 320 miles due to rain/flooding.

I made it halfway last year in V5 and had that as inspiration/motivation/bulletin board information for the past 50 weeks. I used it every time I hurt on the bike, every time I questioned if I should be riding, every time I wanted to stay home during 10 degree weather instead of training outside. Maybe that is where the problem lies - I used it instead of asking God to show me if what I was pursuing was a worth enough cause and if it brought Him the Glory He deserves or if it was selfish and reckless ambition for my personal gain!

Last night as I prepared for Phase 2 of my final Saturday TransIowa ride our power goes off at 5:30pm. I was set to leave at 6:00pm. What is a man of faith supposed to do? Does he just leave his family at home without power for a ride or does he try and figure things out. We call the electric company and they say no later than 8:00pm. I ride down the road and see the crew working already and they say should be 7:30pm at the latest. I settle in for my ride at 6:30pm with dinner plans with the family at a local pizzeria as soon as my daughters friend shows up.

We have dinner, have a great time laughing and chatting, and we say our goodbyes. I look at my wife and tell her something doesn't feel right and I don't see this ride lasting all night long but I am going to take it as it comes and I set off. I get about 30-40 minutes away from the pizzeria and go for a drink of water and my bottle is not there. I left it in the restroom as I prepared to head out - one last bladder emptying. I call home and ask her to tell the pizzeria I will be back for it, turn around, and start heading back.

It is approximately 9:00pm and I am riding on Taylor Road in Hamburg, NY. I look up at the night sky for the first time since I headed out and see the stars and the night time glory and I feel this deep sense of satisfaction. It is going to be a great night for a ride!

Then it happens, all of a sudden I have this inner voice calling out to me as clear as the night sky was - Bill don't do TransIowa - it will be fine!

I slow down to a coast basically and say I want to! No reply. I want to! No reply. I have been riding for 50+ (and many more) weeks training for this and I want to! I know I can do it this year! Please Lord let me have the chance! Nothing. Me and the night!

I become totally at peace and say the following to the nighttime audience - God I am good with not doing TransIowa if it be Your will. My life is yours and I submit to you. I am not going to ask you show me again not to do it. All I ask is that if I should do it that you show me as clear as you showed this by Monday morning when I get into work to send the RD my withdrawal e-mail.

I get my water bottle, head up the hill to my house, call it a night, and tell my kids what is happening. They ask why? The greatest response possible comes to mind - Because I listen to God!

For those that have offered encouragement and peace to me since last year - I am so thankful. I have such a great peace right now that it is hard to explain. I am good. Will TransIowa happen again in the future? Only the RD and God know for sure! I am good with that.

I refuse to go through life searching for fullness or peace in a race. And that is what I was after! That is why it is not meant to be! Where does this take me? I have no idea - but I know this I am going to go ride my bike because I love to ride my bike - not because I have to train for TransIowa!!!

I have 2 choices - to listen and obey or to ignore. Your Will be done, not mine Lord.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wish My Mind Was As Quiet As My Blog!

Well I have been riding for TransIowa and my blog has been quiet but believe me my mind has not been. Here is a recent thread post that I put on beginner triathlete and shows a small glimpse of where my brain was last week :)

Well in 3 weeks plus less than 18 hours I will be at a predetermined, yet unknown, starting line in Grinnell, Iowa ready to ride 320 miles in 32 hours or less. I will have directions to the first checkpoint, nervous flutters in my stomach, a mind racing like mad, and the knowledge that I have ridden as many possible days since last years DNF and with as much intensity as I had each day. Nothing else Wink

Checkpoint #1 will be somewhere in the 40-60 mile range most likely, based on previous years editions. It will be a fun start with a rollout of about 1-2 miles depending on how it is set up and there is rumor it is going to be police escorted! I will hit checkpoint #1 well within time, get my directions, to checkpoint #2, refill some water and get some fuel in me, and head out.

Checkpoint #2 - Last year it was 110 miles away. We had until 7:00pm to make it. Those 110 miles were on some of the most desolate and hilly roads that I have ever seen. 90% of it was gravel. 10% was either asphalt or "b" class roads that forced you to walk you bike! I had never experienced a hurt tank like I did last year and fortunately I had someone along side me to get my mind back into it and to Eric I will be grateful forever!!! Somewhere after the truck stop refueling and equipment shuffling and checkpoint #2 I lost Eric. I turned around and he was gone. We spoke afterwards and he just said he dropped off the back like we each had been doing over the course of 70-80 miles, made a wrong turn, and we were separated. I made it to checkpoint #2 in time but, as some on here that know me, I declined the offer to take a new set of directions, bailed on the race, called the sag wagon in, and went back to the hotel!

This week I have been focusing on Checkpoint #2, my mindset, and my physical state as well. I could have continued - my legs were still strong but my mind was shot! Every spin of my crank since last May has been for 1 goal and 1 goal only - not to just stand at the starting line with some of the strongest (physically and mentally) bike riders in the midwest and other parts of the US, but to have my rear tire roll into an unknown barn location in Grinnell, Iowa some 26+ hours later as a finisher of TransIowa V6.

I do not seek victory - I seek understanding.
I do not want accolades - I want peace.
I do not seek something that is unattainable - I seek the feeling of seeing friends and family that have persevered through my training over the last 3+ years as I have sought first physical strength, and then mental fortitude to complete this journey.

I want to thank those that have shared words with me about my attempt from before last year, to the heartfelt anguish words of failing, and back again to the start line this year.

This will not be Bill Graves crossing the finish line - it will be wgraves7582 of crossing the finish line.

There will be other journeys in the future. This I know. But as the saying goes I have this fish to fry first. After that watch out because you are going to be reading about some sick events that I am training for!

BT Rocks!!!! (A little picture from the middle of Iowa for those that think it is flat!)