Monday, September 17, 2007


2007 USA Age Group Triathlon Team

The "lake" (overgrown coffee pot) we swam in

Pre-Race Prayer Service Attendees

50-54 Age Group just before the swim

The bike leg - on the Valdora rocket!

The Finish Line
Hurt'in for Certain!

Thank you Lord!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Reflection and Evaluation - 2 Weeks Later...

Over jet lag. Back in the saddle. Caught up. Bike put back together and bike box returned. Time to reflect a bit... Someone once said, "The unexamined life is a life not worth living." Reflection, evaluation and examination are all good things, though all too often our frantic pace of life never leaves time for this. Or, we're so tired that when we do have time, we just kick back, too wasted to think, and we watch some rerun of a movie on TV like Groundhog Day that we've already seen 13 times. (Guilty)

Actually, that sounds pretty good and actually might not be a bad thing to do when really needed. But, there needs to be times of reflection and evaluation if we are to grow and mature. I've tried to apply this to my race in Germany. I've looked at the results closely from Worlds. I've learned a few things through this evaluation.

At Worlds, in my age group, (excluding the first two guys), finishers #3 - #20 came in every 19.2 seconds. So, every second counts - EVERY second! Take one minute off my time and I'm 17th. Take two minutes off and I finish 15th out of 99. No more rookie mistakes!

Of the 19 who beat me to the finish line...
Encouraging - I beat 15 out of the 19 on the bike
Discouraging - I beat only 2 of the 19 on the run
Discouraging - I beat only 2 of the 19 in T-1 (the transition from swim to bike)
Encouraging - I was only 46 seconds off the #1 fastest bike split at Worlds in my group
Discouraging - I beat none / zero / nada in T-2 (transition from bike to run) - all 19 were faster than me
Encouraging - I beat 4 on the swim, but another 6 were less than a minute ahead of me
Encouraging - I probably had a personal best swim, did have a personal best bike and the fastest run in years
Discouraging - 2 Rookie mistakes costing anywhere from 1-2 minutes and 3-5 places
Encouraging - Out-sprinting the Brit to the finish line, and...
Encouraging - Reaching my goal of Top 20....just.

Seem like overkill? I actually enjoy this kind of thing. How will I improve without this kind of careful scrutiny? But, what about the rest of my life? What about yours? Would careful evaluation be a good thing in relation to...say...our marriages? Our parenting? Our spiritual life? Our performance at work? Other important areas of life? I think so.

Take some time. Evaluate. Reflect. Examine. Be that life (the examined life) that IS worth living.
Lamentations 3:40, "Let us examine our ways and test them..."
I Corinthians 11:28, "A man ought to examine himself..."
2 Corinthians 13:5, "Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith..."


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Age Group World Championship Report....

Hey Everyone - Thanks for your patience...I tried to send a report from Germany after the race and for some reason it didn't go though. So, here's the scoop...bottom line first, then the story....
Out of 14 guys on Team USA in my age group (almost dead, gray haired, lots of wrinkles, AARP sponsored old timers - 50-54) I finished 4th.
Out of 99 from around the world in my age group, I finished 20th. Thank you Lord! Here's the story....
The first three days after arriving, it rained and was cold and windy. Temps probably in the 50s but the wind and rain made it feel much colder. Now, coming from Phx., this was quite a shock, and, being old as I am, I dislike the cold very much. I started to get kind of depressed, especially when we were down at the race site and I looked at the coffee-like, very cold water we were going to swim in. I even thought at times that I didn't want to be there. Just wanted to go home and forget this whole thing with the pressure of the race, cold, etc. We just hung out in our hotel room a lot. The hotel was just under 2 miles from the race site and we caught public buses back and forth.
On Friday afternoon, we walked through the rain to a very old Lutheran Church for the prayer service. The church was about 3 blocks from the race site, which, was in the center of Hamburg. There were about 15 athletes and family members who attended. After the service, we were able to meet a few of them and I gave out our triathlon version Step Up To Life cards to all of them and talked to them about the ICTN Tri Camp this coming January. Singing a few hymns with the massive pipe organ playing was pretty cool in that huge sanctuary and I felt my spirits lift a bit. We had a Team USA meeting later that afternoon and got meet a few others on the team which was fun. They briefed us on how things would work on race day and really encouraged us with the privilege of being on the team, representing our great nation.
There were teams competing from 50 nations, totally almost 2,500 athletes and we had 40 states represented on our team of 240 athletes. Also, on race day they estimated between 250,000 and 350,00 watching the races. That is not a misprint. Europeans LOVE this stuff for sure and Hamburg is the # 1 sports city in Germany.
On Friday, after not doing any training for about 48 hours, I rode my bike about 40 minutes and ran for about 15 min. I was mainly trying to get my body clock turned around, which, in 3 days before the race, was impossible considering we were 9 hours ahead of Phx. time.
The night before the race, I woke up at 2am, tossed and turned til 3am, when Jen woke up too. We decided to watch a movie on TV to pass the next two hours as quickly as possible. The alarm was set for 5am.
By 5:45am we were standing in the dark in the line outside of the transition area where I'd checked in my bike the night before. We chatted with an amazing lady standing next to us - she was 80 years old and racing! What an inspiration! She and her husband were so witty and funny. All of the physically challenged athletes were there too as they checked in first. Athletes with one arm, one leg, NO LEGS, etc. were there ready to race! Amazing.
The transition area held almost 3,000 bikes and was 3 city blocks long. It was about 800 yds. from where we exited the water to the bike exit was at the end of the transition area. I got everything set up perfectly...I thought...and we then went to relax and wait out the 3 1/2 hours til my age group got in the water.
There was a Starbucks right by the race site so we went in and joined about two dozen other athletes/family members inside who were also waiting. The skies were clear at first, praise God, but then some clouds rolled in. The temps were pretty good and it didn't rain all day. Amazing! I jogged around some to warm up about 45 min. before our start, stretched, and listened to my favorite upbeat praise and worship music on my IPod. I was soooo thrilled just to be there. I gave God thanks for allowing me this great, unexpected gift. I felt really good. Light, strong, focused... At 9:30 we walked over the swim start and I got on my wetsuit and went into the holding area.
Looking around at some of the best in the world in my age group could have been scary, but instead, I found myself saying, "OK. You guys are some of the very best in the world. Let's see what you've got. I'm ready to bring my best. Let's throw this down and see how it all comes out." I was surprised to hear what I was thinking, but, it wasn't really cockiness, just readiness I think. I'd invested 7 months of training to get ready for Nationals and two more months of training to then get ready for Worlds, so I was excited to see how I'd stack up. I was also VERY aware of my total dependence on the Lord for strength, health, etc.
We jumped into the (MAN was it cold!) and I swam out and back once about 100 yds. for my warm up and then lined up on the wall ready to go. I decided to go out hard the first 100-200 and then settle in to a pace I thought I could hold for the .9 mile / 1,500m swim. I only got bumped once or twice, found some open water and swam right along the buoys, taking the shortest route possible out into the lake. We had to swim under two bridges to the turn around buoys, then back under them, back across the lake, past the swim start point to our right, under another bridge and into a canal where the exit was.
I felt like I was swimming strong and fast. Best swim of my life I thought. That last bridge was very low and was about 50 yds. long. It was very dark in it and with the cold, black water and black wall that I looked at every time I breathed, I started to think I might have a bit of an anxiety attack or something. It was really creepy in that long dark tube. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me" came to my mind. I laughed to myself and thought this might be pretty close to the valley of the shadow of death as that's how it felt to me.
As I swam to the exit, I thought I might have taken about 23 minutes which would have been my fastest ever for that distance. "OK," I thought. "If it's 24 don't be disappointed and if it's 25 don't get down on yourself - there's plenty of racing left." I came out and looked at my watch and saw, 26 something. Rats! I thought I'd had a great swim and my watch told me otherwise. However, in talking to many athletes after the race, I discovered that, to a person, they were all 2 1/2 to 4 min. slower than normal. Even the best swimmers in my age group were 2 1/2 minutes slower than at Nationals. So, we guessed that swimming to the canal to find an exit point, they added about 200 yds. to the swim. Taking off the 3 min. would have made my time my best ever.
I didn't know that then and my "slow" swim time motivated me to go fast on the bike. I ran the 600 yds. to my bike, going as fast as I could without pulling a calf muscle or something as my legs / feet were really cold from the swim. My normal first transition times are about 1:15 - 2 min. depending on the layout. This T-1 time was 4:30 since it was so far to my bike, but everyone had to do the same thing. (So, now, I've got an extra 3 min. from the swim and an extra 3 min. due to the long run from the swim exit). I usually pull on my socks before the run starts but since it had been cold in Hamburg, I pulled them on in T-1. As I ran the last 200 yds to the exit, they got soaking wet. I jumped on my sweet Valdora bike and my watch said 30 something. Now it was time to rock and roll.
I come from a run background but my bike is my strongest event. I love to ride and ride as fast as I can. This was supposed to be a flat course but there were several long, slow grades to go up which knocked my speed down some. I was a double out and back. 10K out, 10K back, then do it again. On both "outs" we went into a stiff headwind almost the whole time. I found myself playing leapfrog with two guys from Germany and one Brit who were all in my age group.
We stayed together almost the whole bike leg. Drafting was illegal and I really tried to ride my own race, unlike ONE of the other three (country to remain nameless) who drafted continually off of the rest of us. After the race I heard from many that drafting was taking place all over the place. There were very few race marshals and they were only yelling to get back and weren't really enforcing the rule.
Well, we were flying! Having not seen the course due to not having a car there leading up to the race, the first out and back was exploratory. I rode hard, not knowing what was around the next corner. There course took us out of town some to the west along the river and into some residential areas. I felt great! Doing some self-monitoring, I realized my heart rate wasn't that high though I was going between 20-30 mph depending on the grade of the road. On the second out and back I tried to pick it up even more as I was still feeling so strong. It was fun to go by others on Team USA and yell encouragement to them and have them yell back.
We dropped one of the Germans on the second out and back and so the Brit, other German and myself came flying into T-2 bunched together. They beat me over the timing mats by a second or two and I later discovered that out of 99 guys in our age group, we had the 4th, 5th and 6th fastest bike splits of the day. My time was 1 hour, 2 min. and something. I wanted to hit one hour, but the wind and grades had not allowed that to happen.
I was aware that my socks were really wet as I ran through T-2 looking for my spot to rack my bike. I momentarily got disoriented and thought I'd passed my spot. So I turned back and started to run the opposite direction, searching frantically. This was a rookie mistake. I had taken note of some landmarks to remind me of where my spot was, but wasn't thinking of that as I should have been when I ran into the transition. Then, I heard a voice yelling, "Linc, down here, come this way." It was Jen, outside the bike area, standing as close as she could get to my spot. I turned back around, running her direction and finally found my spot. (Add probably 20 seconds to my time).
I knew I didn't want to run in wet socks as I'd get a blister for sure, so I thought I'd just pull on some dry socks that I had left in my transition area...only to discover...I had NOT put them there. So, it was no socks or wet socks. Neither was a good choice as I have "baby butt" soft feet that blister very easily. I had to get moving so I just pulled on my shoes and took off. In hindsight, I should have grabbed my wet socks and carried them with me just in case the no sock idea wasn't working. At least it would have been something that might have helped if a hot spot started to form, but who knows...
I felt good as I started into the run. It was really windy and my hat almost blew off my head so I turned it around and wore it backwards. By the half mile point I knew that not having dry socks on was going to be a big problem. A blister was starting to form on the ball of my left foot. I exhorted myself to not worry about it and just run as hard as I could, but it got into my head a little and by mile 2.5 it was a full-blown blood blister. I tried curling my toes up under my foot to take the pressure off - not good for smooth running form. I kept thinking about how I'd be able run faster if I hadn't made my second rookie mistake. Early in the run, two guys in my age group from other countries passed me like I was standing still. In all, five guys passed me in the run, and I passed two. I had come off the bike in 17th place..
The last 3 miles of the run, I felt so very tired and my foot was killing me. I think my weariness had to do with that fact it was now around 3am on my body clock. Duh! The run was out and back and as we started to get back into town, the course was lined with thousands of spectators who were screaming and twirling these European noise maker devices that made a constant clicking sound. Every now and then people from the USA would see my USA uniform and yell encouragement at me. How totally cool it was to have them yell, "GO USA!!!, and think..."They are cheering for ME!" Wow. I ran the last mile as hard as I could, really hurting. In my two previous races, I had run hard, feeling so strong and good and so it was hard to feel so bad in this race. I had used my Hammer Nutrition as in the past and their products work great, but the swim, bike, blister and time zones were taking their toll.
With 1/2 mile to go, I ran by the Team USA Director who yelled my name and told me get going - to pick off a couple more guys... Though hurting, I tried to do just that. Feeding off the energy that huge crowds give, I picked it up one more gear. As we hit the blue carpet that started the entrance to the finish area, I heard footsteps coming and a Brit started to pass me. They had written our ages on our right calves and I looked down and saw he was in my age group. "No Way," I thought and he and sprinted towards the finish about 50 yds. away. There were literally thousands of screaming people now lining the course and in the grandstands that had been brought in for the race.
About 8 months ago, I had written on the little whiteboard on our refrigerator, "Top 16 at Nationals - Make Team USA," and, "Top 20 at Worlds." As I sprinted in, I didn't know that we were in 20th and 21st place. I gave it my all, feeling my hamstring start to seize up about 10 yds. from the line, but it held together and I beat him by 1 second...for 20th place. Time - 2:18something. God is so good and kind!
I was hurting badly and was so overcome with the whole experience that I started to lose it emotionally. Then I saw Jen and I did lose it a bit. She is such a great "Tri-Mate." She'd hung out with me for 4 days, doing little of anything, particularly the things she would have like to do, not complaining but supporting me totally. She had prayed for me before we left the hotel room and all through the morning. I'm so blessed to have her for my wife. When I saw her everything just kind of "let go" emotionally so to speak.
I walked to the end of the finish exit area and took a look at my foot. Ouch! Oh well, this would have lots of time to heal up. I drank my Hammer Recoverite post-race drink and some water, putting on some dry clothes. We finally saw that some preliminarily results had been posted and that the goal I'd written down 8 months before had been reached. I also saw that all the swim times were slow and both the transition times were, of course, extra slow. My run was probably more than a minute slow due to my sock mistake. All considered, it was probably a 2:10 - 2:11 effort on a more "normal" course - which would have been by far my best Olympic triathlon by about 4 minutes.
Team USA had pulled in 38 medals - 17 Golds, 10 Silvers and 11 Bronze, exceeding last year's total of 31 medals.
We went back to our room to rest and watch the Elite race which was televised and all the Olympic hopefuls chase their dreams. Then, there was the Team USA Victory party at the hotel where all the top finishers were recognized. All of us were give a few mementos to take home.
We got in last night and as we pulled around the corner to our house, there, in our driveway, were about 20 friends from our church, cheering and yelling, "USA, USA, USA." I truly feel I am the most blessed man on the planet. Balloons and signs greeted us as we got fell out of the car. We'd been up over 24 hours but this welcome pumped us back up!
I'll probably have another post or two on this blog regarding our experience but right now I have to unpack. We got a good night sleep last night and now need to play catch-up. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers that supported us in this experience. I'll study the results and see where I can improve. I'm going to lay low for a couple of months and not race. Then, in Nov./Dec. I'll start to think about next June and Vancouver - Age Group World Championships 2008 which is the second weekend of June.
How's your race going? The race of life I mean. Know where you are on the course? To learn more, go to and find out what step you're on. That race is really the only one that matters anyway.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Day 2 Update...

Hey Everyone - Day 2 completed. More cold, wind and rain. The Under 23 yr olds raced today and they almost froze to death. Jet lag slowly improving. Pre- race prayer service today 15 athletes and family members attended. Held in a huge very old church. Tomorrow a slow day with only bike check in in the evening and Team USA dinner before that. Will lay low and rest. Not feeling so great about this race - probably just the weather and lake which looks like sewage...well...maybe not that bad, but one guy threw up last night after a swim workout in it yesterday. I'm not getting in it til I have to.

That's it for now. Must hit the sack...and the Ambien.


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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Arrived safe and sound

Hey Everyone - Arrived safe with bike and suitcases. Rain, wind and cold!!! Going to be very cold on race day morning. Water 64 and temps first thing around 48. If its raining it could be the worst conditions ever. Have been up 24 hours now so much hit the sack. People here from 50 nations and 40 states. Just wanted to say thanks for your thoughts and prayers. More to come....

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Final Post From This Side of the Big Pond....

Next post will be from Germany Lord willing. Most hotels have business centers where you can email so that's my plan. Here are just a few details:
We leave Wed. morning early and fly 5 hours to Newark, have a 3 hour layover and then an 8 hour flight to Hamburg. We arrive Wed. night at 10:30pm our time, 7:30am on Thurs. morning, Hamburg time. It'll probably be 9 or 10am by the time we get to the hotel and I sure hope we can get into our room before the normal check in time as it'll be the middle of the night on our body clocks.
We'll take a nap that German afternoon but make ourselves get up for the evening. The parade of the nations takes place that evening so it'll be fun to march along with all my teammates on Team USA. Some may be sleepwalking. Then off to bed...hopefully to sleep!
Team meeting at 11:00am on Friday and then check in for the race at registration and look around a bit. We have a prayer service for anyone on the team who wants to come that evening. Saturday, we get our bikes over to the transition area and then hang out, trying to rest without falling asleep. How do you do that???
My heat of about one hundred 50-54 yr. olds takes off Sunday at 10am Hamburg time, 1am Phoenix time. Results will be posted at and should be up when you wake up over here.
Prayer requests...for a quick body clock turn-around from the 9 hour time difference. Bike and gear arriving safely and with us. Good connections with others on Team USA and opportunities to encourage them and build a few good, new relationships. The prayer service on Friday evening (Fri. morning - USA time), and...a clean race - no flats, mechanical problems or muscles that tighten up during the race.
There is a chance of rain all week there and the high on race day is supposed to be only in the 50s. Quite a difference from...110 on Wed. here.
More to come from the land of wienerschnitzels.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Results...How Important Are They?

I never made a varsity team of any type in high school. Since I went to a very small college, I was able to go out for track as a Senior, having never run before, and make the team. That's how bad off the team was. I also high jumped one meet and threw the javelin one meet - now you really know how weak a team we had. So, one afternoon our coach loads us up in the van we drive to Eastern Kentucky University, a NCAA Division II university.
What in the world was little NAIA, Asbury College doing competing at the EKU Track and Field Invitational? An "invitational" is where a number of schools all show up to compete. We were by far the smallest and weakest team, from the smallest school and I had been a competitive runner for about...let's see...3 weeks.
I wasn't a sprinter, so that season I would run the longest race at every meet which was usually the 5,000m (about 3 miles.) At the EKU Invitational the longest race they had was 2 miles. That's only 8 times around the track. I walked up to the starting line in the fake running shoes I had purchased at Sears. (I didn't know that much about running at that time and finances were the biggest consideration). They were blue and had white stripes on the side, so they kind of looked like track shoes - no cleats though. Sears - too bad this wasn't a competition dealing with refrigerators, washing machines or dryers - I'd have been ready for that!
It was a night meet and kind of chilly. We were running under the lights. The runners around me looked very fast and serious. That's because they were. There was some big-time intimidation going on and it worked. I was scared to death. The gun goes off and immediately I'm towards the back of the pack. Long story short...I'm on my 6th lap, noticing that the leaders are way, way ahead of me. In fact, they were so far ahead that I had to turn around and look back to see them. This only meant one thing. The realization hit me like a brick. I could get LAPPED in this race. A race of only 8 times around. So, I dug down deep into my soul, looked down at my Sears fake running shoes (no inspiration there) and tried to pick it up.
But, fate would have it's way and while I was on my seventh lap, the big boys came flying by me on their 8th and final lap. Embarrassing? Humiliating? Devastating? Yep. Sheepishly, I finished my 7th lap and started into my last while the winners were probably already showered, changed and in their cars heading for home. Results? Second to last. Guess things could have been worse.
Results. Most competitions are about, results. We rightly honor and recognize the winner and perhaps second and third place. There are gold, silver and bronze medals. As I think about Worlds...and results...I get a bit scared to be honest. What if I have a really bad race? What if, out of the almost 100 from around the world who are in my age group, 30 of them beat me? Or, 50? Or, 80? What does that say about me?
Yes, most races are about results, but not all. Sure I hope I do well. I've got goals I want to hit. But, so many things can go wrong during a triathlon. What if I get a flat tire? What if I pull a muscle and have to walk? What if I crash and can't finish?
How will I measure results? 1) Did I do my best and give it my all? 2) Was I a good sport, representing the Lord and the USA in an honorable way? 3) Did I encourage other athletes around me? 4) Did I thank the volunteers out on the course when I went past them?
If I can answer yes to these questions I'll consider that "success." I do hope to place well and will race harder than I ever have and push the boundaries of pain past anything I've experienced. Ultimately, it's in the Lord's hands. Proverbs 21:31 says, "The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord." Our part...God's part. I've done my part with training and preparation and now, it's in God's hands. My utmost desire is to bring Him glory in all I do. This horse is ready and will run hard, hopefully not looking back over my shoulder seeing the leaders coming up behind me! The bike course IS multiple loops. Naaaa...once was enough for that!
Measure your results wisely,

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

World Championships And Getting To Heaven - What Can We Learn?

OK, so on September 2, I'll actually compete in my second World Championship (WC) triathlon. My first was in 1998 when I raced in the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship triathlon. I was comparing and contrasting that WC with the one I'll be in in a few days and I thought about heaven with respect to Christianity, and specifically I thought of the ways in which people believe they will get there. These two WCs model two very different mind sets. What do I mean? I'm glad you asked!

Well, let's look at the Olympic distance WC triathlon I'll be in soon. It's only 32 miles. It's also a team effort (Team USA) and not an individual effort like Hawaii was. I HAD to qualify and got in because of my performance. I earned it. I was good enough to make it. I'm "in" this race due to no one else but me and my effort.

What about the Hawaiian Ironman? Well, let me tell you, there was no way I could have qualified for that race. I would have had to be in the top few finishers in my age group in another Ironman race to maybe get a slot...and I wasn't good enough. No way. I didn't qualify. I couldn't have earned it. I didn't have the speed or talent. Nothing in me measured up to that standard. I could not muster up a performance that would be worthy of getting into that race.

But wait...didn't I say I DID do that race??? What's up with that? Well, I got in due to the act of someone else - two people actually. I got in due to the kindness and sacrifice of others. Someone high up in the Ironman organization had several slots for the race that he could give out as he saw fit. Through a "God-connection" we met, discovered common friends and backgrounds, hit it off relationally, and at the end of a great dinner one evening, he offered me a slot in the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship. I almost fell out of my chair. I was in and I had done nothing to earn it. On top of that grandmother offered to pay my entry fee. So, all was taken care of...and I had nothing to do with it.

These two WCs represent the two mind sets I was referring to earlier. Some think that if they are just good enough...if they just do enough good things...if the good outweighs the bad...if they perform in a way that impresses God enough...earning their way in, then, they can qualify for heaven. But what do the 10 commandments show us? THAT is the qualifying test. Have you kept the 10 commandments in thought, word and deed perfectly your whole life? Ever lied - even once? Ever been jealous? Ever used God's name in vain? Ever lusted? Ever disobeyed your parents?

James 2:10 says that if we've broken one commandment even one time, we've failed this "Goodness Test."

Heaven is impossible to earn. No human performance is good enough. No one can qualify. It's only through the kindness and sacrifice of another - the Lord's brutal suffering and death on the cross - that makes it possible for us to get in. His blood covers our sins. His sacrifice pays the entry fee.

Now, once the Ironman Exec. gave me the slot and my grandmother paid the entry fee, I had to register and sign the waiver. If I wasn't willing to meet that demand placed on me, I couldn't get in. One line in it talked about the possibility of dying in the event! Wow. So, though Christ paid for us to get in, we must count the cost before we sign on the line. Are we willing to submit to Him and His Lordship? Are we willing to repent because Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Luke 13:3, 5. Repentance is getting off the throne of your life for good so that Christ can take his rightful place there. It's making a spiritual U-turn (YOU-Turn) from self-government to submitting to the rule of Christ in your life. He comes in and takes over completely...and you're glad about it.

If I told Iroman, that I was not filling out the form and not signing the waiver, they would not have let me in the race even though the price had been paid. Christ blood has been freely shed for all of us, but only those willing to meet His just and right demand to abandon our thrones will see heaven.
So, think about these two WCs. Which one models how you are pursuing a slot in heaven? To learn more about this, go to to see what step you are on in your spiritual journey.
Age Group World Championship, 2007 - I earned it.
Hawaiian Ironman World Championship, 1998 - I never could have earned it.
Heaven - through my own efforts at being good and qualifying? No way - impossible.
Heaven - through receiving the sacrifice of another, Christ's shed blood, and meeting his just demand that I repent and submit to his Lordship? Absolutely!!!
Give it some thought.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Road to Hamburg Went Through Portland - Nationals Race Report...

The Road to Hamburg Went Through Portland - Nationals Race Report...

Six weeks ago, on a Saturday morning the alarm went off at 4:00am waking us up abruptly. Jen and I were in Portland for the USA National Championship Triathlon. I ate some breakfast, about 300 calories; we got dressed and loaded into our car. My Mom and Dad had come up from Omaha to watch the race, so the four of us headed towards Lake Hagg. It was 44 degrees outside and upon arriving at the lake; there was a blanket of fog/steam rising up from the water. As the sun came up on the opposite side of the lake and shined through the fog, it made a beautiful picture as the sun's rays penetrated the rising steam. "Thank you Lord for letting me be here today. What a great job you did creating this beautiful location."

I got everything set up in the transition area where everyone has a slot to rack their bike and set up their racing gear. I felt incredibly honored and blessed to be there because only the top ranked triathletes in the nation qualified in each age group. I'd be going up against the best 50-54 yr. old triathletes in the nation. My Ipod Shuffle filled my head with upbeat praise / worship songs putting my heart and mind in the right place as I set up and then warmed up.

It's one thing to race locally in the Phoenix area or in the state, but moving up to compete nationally was, well, a bit intimidating. My goal was top 16 in my age group as that would qualify me to be on Team USA and compete for our country at the age group World Championships in Germany two months later. Top 8 qualified for Team USA and Worlds this year AND next year, 2008.

At 7:15am the first group of triathletes went into the water, waiting for the starting gun and then took off. Then every three minutes, another age group would start. My group was the 4th wave to go. We swam straight into the sun and so it was almost impossible to see where I was going. The big bouys that marked the course seemed invisible as all I could see what splashing water and the blinding sun. So, I just tried to follow the guy ahead of me or beside me. My goal for the 1,500 meter (9/10ths mile) was 23 minutes and change. I realize now, that I must have gone slower than my goal on the way out. Once I made the turn and headed back towards the beach, I felt very fast and strong.

However, there were already about 20 guys ahead of me in my age group. Coming back it was easy to see the bouys and even the crowd waiting on the shore. I exited the water in 20th place, hearing Jen yell my position. 24:40 - disappointing to me. I was over a minute slower than what I had hoped for. I ran hard to my bike, stripping off my wetsuit as far as I could while I ran. My transition time was 1:50 which, compared to the rest, wasn't great but wasn't too bad either.

The 24.8 mile bike course, which was also the run course, had huge hills. Massive ups and downs that never ended it seemed. I had trained hard every week on a very hilly course out at Lake Pleasant just NW of our home, doing time trials at the same distance as the race. So, I felt prepared. The course was beautiful with trees everywhere and the road twisting and turning around the lake. There were times it felt like it was a tunnel we were shooting through. I rode hard and passed many who had started in swim waves in front of me. It was a two loop course and after seeing it the day before the race, thought it might take me about an hour and fifteen minutes. I came through the first loop in 32 minutes. Wow. I felt great about that and it encouraged me to press on hard. I tried to spin up the steep hills and really crank on the downhills. I'm pretty fearless (hopefully not careless) on the downhills. I figure it's free speed so just go for it!

It's funny how much "self-talk" you engage in in a race like this. "Come on Linc, you're doing great," I told myself. "How do you feel? I feel good! Legs feel strong. Relax the upper body. Concentrate on a full, 360 degree pedal stroke. You're doing great. Go get that guy ahead of you! Reel him in! Come on! This is Nationals!!!" Reminds me of King David in the Old Testament, when he "encouraged himself in the Lord." Gratitude flowed from my heart to the Lord as I raced along, so thankful to be healthy and strong and racing!

I tried to push the second loop of the bike harder but came in one minute slower than the first loop - 33 minutes and change, so my bike split was 1:06:04 which, on that course, I was thrilled with. It was the 9th fastest bike split in my group and I was only 90 seconds off the fastest split. I saw Jen and my folks who were standing on the road as I came by. How awesome to see them and hear them yelling for me. I felt great dismounting my bike, racking it, changing into my running shoes and taking off. As I ran out of the transition area, I heard the public announcer recognize one the better 50-54 triathletes in the nation, just coming in on his bike. I WAS AHEAD OF HIM. Wow. That pumped me up! However I knew he was a great runner....

The 6.2 mile run course was on the same road as the bike so...that meant hills. Lots of them. Steep hills. Very little of my run training had been on hills. I actually had a calf injury one month before this race, so my entire run training for the 4 weeks before this race had been jogging one hour, twice a week. Not really what I had planned for but thankful that at least the calf seemed to be healed. I know many folks had been praying for that.

I ran up from the transition area to the road that went around the lake and right past Jen and my folks. I heard Jen yell that one of my rivals / friends from Phoenix was, "just a little ahead of you." We went down a steep hill for about 400 yds., then up the other side...down another steep hill, then up the other side. This continued for 3.1 miles to the turn around. I kept telling myself to relax on the downhills and just let gravity pull me along. "Lean forward, bend over some, run hard, let the downhill help you here...this is free speed," I told myself.

Just before the turn around I saw the rival / friend that Jen had mentioned. He was still a good ways ahead of me as he turned and ran past me. I pressed as hard as I could to the turn and reminded myself I only had 3.1 miles to go. I was running about 6:55 miles, which, I guess on that course I had to be thankful for. I heard steps coming up behind me. It was Doug Hill, in my age group, and really moving. When he went past me I tucked in behind him and told myself, "Do not let him get away!" I was able to hang with him for a while but he was running about 25 seconds/mile faster than I had been, so after a little while he started to pull away. (He ended up beating me by 14 seconds for the whole race.)

I finally passed the aid station at the 5 mile mark. 1.2 miles to go - a big uphill, then a downhill, then the final uphill to the turn into the park and the finish line. I saw my rival/friend up the road and tried to use him as a target to reel in. I finally caught him with only about 500 yds. to go. Knowing that my folks and Jen were at the finish line, well, made me run that last 500 like that's all there had been to the race. They were like a magnet, pulling me in.

I had no idea where I stood in my age group, but I ran as hard as I could to the big finishing banner and crossed the line in 2:16:22. I had run a 42:41 on one of the hardest 10K courses I'd ever been on, with only a few one hour jogs the whole month leading up to the race. 7th fastest run. God is so good! I felt as if I had been carried by Him. The two finishers right behind me were in my age group and I only beat them by 9 and 10 seconds. A special thanks to my sponsors, Valdora Cycles and Hammer Nutrition for putting me on an amazingly fast bike and for a golden nutritional plan for the race. Both had worked perfectly.

After some hugs and "congrats" from Jen and my folks, we went over to the free massage tent area. I knew my legs would be incredibly sore the next day, but a massage would help that a lot. Then, it was hang out and wait for my friends Randy and Mike to come in, and then, load up and head back to the hotel. I was so happy as we left. I had given it my all and we'd have to wait til later that afternoon for the results to be announced and awards given out.

Just a bit before 5pm in a pretty outdoor park, the awards were given out. Since it was the National Championships, awards were given to the top 10 in each age group. I bowed my head and prayed, "Lord, if I make the top 16, I will be so would be incredibly cool to be in the top 10. I'll accept whatever the outcome is. Thanks for just letting me have a clean race."

When they announced my friend/rival's name in 10th place, I knew I had done really well. I was announced as 8th. I was overjoyed. I hopped up and gladly joined the others in the top 10 on the stage and received my award. In reality, they had missed one guy in my age group somehow and he was not in the preliminary results. A few days later he was added, and so I actually finished 9th. Top 10 at Nationals was so far beyond anything I could have hoped or dreamed, but I know that God has purposes in everything He does. He must want me on Team USA and so I welcome any opportunity to encourage my teammates and share God's love in any way possible.

Just last week I found out in an email to me that a few guys who finished ahead of me had turned down their slots for Team USA and World for next year, and so, I got a "roll down" slot which I accepted. So at Nationals, by God's grace and through His strength, I was able to qualify for Team USA this year and next year. Lord willing, I'll be racing again for Team USA in Vancouver, BC, the second weekend of June, 2008.

Though Nationals was amazingly positive, I've lived long enough to know that life can be incredibly tough at times. How is it for you right now? Life throws us painful curve balls that we never see coming. Disappointments, hurts, rejection, etc. can be part of life and we never could have guessed that we'd experience them til they smack us in the face. But then, God is faithful and is there to either deliver us out of the experience or take us through it. God also has a way of balancing life out. My Dad say, "God never mixes our cup one ounce too sweet or one ounce too bitter." God is perfect. This race, and getting to go to Worlds, is so...sweet, and I'm so thankful to Him for His kindness to me in all this. I feel no sense of pride or egotism over all this racing stuff. I KNOW it's simply God's kindness to me. I'm blown away by it and humbled to think I get to represent Him and our great country in Germany this year and in Canada next year.

We all have a choice. We can look at the hard aspects of life, the disappointments, and complain and get depressed. Or, we can see that God mixes in sweet things in our lives to encourage us and "mix our cups" so they are just right. His primary goal for us is holiness, but He is so good to bring happiness along at just the right times.

"Thank you Lord so very much. Encourage anyone out there who is going through a really hard time right now. Help them to find the sweetness in life that is ultimately You, and the good things that flow from Your hand." Amen


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