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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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Training - A Time to Soar...or...a Chore?

I usually really look forward to training, however, I'm a minimalist. Over 14 yrs. of competing in triathlons, I've usually tried to bike, run and swim two times each per week and take one day off. That's only 6 workouts, though I usually try to lift some weights and work on my core twice a week as well. Compared to the training plans of most triathletes, this isn't much. But, it keeps me fresh and looking forward to my next workout, and, it's all I have time for. through a Phoenix summer is...well...tough. It's so hot that the only time you can get most workouts in is very early in the morning. Everyone in my house is a night owl...except me. That alarm goes off pretty early some mornings. What gets me up when it feels like a chore? A goal. Much of the time I train just because I love training, but there are those times that the only thing that keep me putting in those miles is a goal. A date. Sept. 2. I'll be meeting up with my teammates on Team USA in Hamburg, putting on my USA uniform (which, is very cool looking by the way) and going head to head against the best old dude triathletes in the world in a 32 mile race. Canada, Hungry, Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, etc., will be putting their best on the line. I'll be there too.

So, training is a joy most of the time, but when it's a chore I am still motivated because I have a date...going to spend some time with some old dudes...50somethings...and I'm not planning on picking up the bill.

The spiritual race / journey we're in feels the same sometimes. A joy? Yes, most of the time. Fulfilling, meaningful, filled with purpose and destiny? Yes! Sometimes though, doing what is right in my spiritual training feels...well, like a chore. But, I've got a date. I don't know the day or month or year, but I've got a date - a day where I'll see the Lord and present to Him my life. I only have this life to develop that which I'll present to Him. The Apostle Paul, several times in his writings, challenges us to think and live like an athlete. So in your spiritual race, train hard whether it feels joyful or, at times, like a chore. You are molding and shaping your heart and life into something that will bring glory to God here on the earth and, something worth presenting to Him when you see Him face to face. We both have THAT date somewhere on our calendars.

Train hard,