Road Map to a Triathlon?


Serious runners are notorious for doing stupid things. Why else would we revel in being part of groups named “Marathon Maniacs”, “Half Fanatics”, or “Idiot’s Running Club”? I guess you just have to BE one, to KNOW one, so to speak. I didn’t realize I was getting sucked into this culture of crazies until it was too late to care. And, for the record, no matter what anyone might tell you about me, it was just an inevitable matter of time. I have been faking “normalcy” for years.

A year ago this week, I had never run more than 10 miles at one time. (2 ½ years earlier, I decided to try jogging, after having had a medical procedure to remove/cauterize nerves in my spine that were responsible for 10+ years of excruciating lower back pain.) After training for my very first ever organized race to commemorate my monumental 50 years on this planet, I ran in the Portland, Oregon Shamrock Run 5k

Yep, that’s me in the middle. Don’t be jealous.


Fast forward to 2011; 2 years later. That year I completed 3 10k’s and a handful of 5k’s, then I happened to have the privilege of running a friend in for the last 5 miles of her first full marathon; the Portland Marathon. With tears in my eyes I watched her run full force toward the finish line. I felt pride beyond words at her accomplishment, yet I knew she was crazy for having committed all that time to the necessary training she endured. I contemplated this for all of about 5 minutes, when I decided that I needed to amp up my running resume.

Soon afterward, I decided that I needed to train for a half marathon. A FULL one was completely out of the question. (Another day I will blog about the journey to that milestone, and the not-so-smart-idea of doing my first and second marathons-within two weeks of each other. Hey,-to-qualify-for-Marathon-Maniacs, but today I will tell you about my accidental journey that lead me to sign up my very first triathlon at age 53.)

In the 12 months following my friend Suzanne’s marathon, I ran a 15K, 2 10K’s, 2 half marathons, a Ragnar 200 mile Relay, and 2 full marathons.



The 15K was in March, the first marathon in September. I pulled an Achilles tendon pretty badly in the Shamrock Run (March) and trained in various stages of injury for the 7+ months afterward. Every day I iced, heated, took anti inflammatory meds, or wrapped my foot and kept training.  Then In December, I had an MRI that stopped me dead in my tracks. Two torn tendons and a torn muscle in my left ankle.

I would need 8 + weeks of no running, physical therapy, and then be re evaluated. That was the bad news. The good news was that I could cycle and I could swim. WHAT??? It was December in Oregon. Cold. Wet. Windy. The voices in my head woke up and said, “Get your sorry ass out of there and MOVE!” You are 53 years old! If you don’t keep moving you will get OLD!

So, I found my dusty, flat tired bicycle in the garage and after 3 failed attempts, pumped up the tires and headed out for my first ride in God knows how many years. To say that I was reunited with an old friend is too cliche, but boy did it feel good. I even sung out loud on the bike path that day.

I had an equally positive experience when I donned my bikini and found a nice warm indoor pool. I remembered to breath and kick, and somehow managed not to drown myself while splashing across the lane. After not swimming laps for 24+ years, it felt so natural to be in the water. Granted, my technique left something to be desired, my breathing was messy, and I couldn’t force myself to do more than 8 laps, but I knew I would be back.

The way my mind works, it was natural for me to think there was a competitive opportunity here…, swim and bike…..running again soon. Tri anyone?  So I started looking online for triathlons in Oregon. One’s that had indoor pools. I am not ready to commit to an open water race in the Pacific Northwest, Call me a wimp, I don’t care. Perhaps another time I might consider that, but not yet. There is one in June that I think I am going to sign up for. WE shall see!

That old saying that when one door closes, another one opens is true. So what if I had to stop running for a while? There are other ways to keep fit, healthy, happy, and sane. If you find yourself facing disappointment, let yourself cry for as long as you need, put down the wine glass, and decide to do something. Positive. Healthy. Go outside for 30 minutes and breathe deeply. Fill your lungs, recognize that you are alive and worthy of happiness. Decide to move beyond the negative thoughts. It won’t be easy at first-after all you are a beast; an athlete. You train 5-6 days a week, and eat miles for breakfast. The world won’t end. It will wait for you. Try something new and see where it takes you. I did.

Let me know what you do or did to overcome an injury.


Running in Muck

Patience, you say?


Runners can be very impatient people. I wasn’t exactly born with the “Patience” gene. This is not a revelation to me, however, as I get older, it is increasingly more frustrating.

So here I am, 7 weeks into Physical Therapy, NOT RUNNING,after ripping a few tendons and a muscle because I didn’t want to be a good girl and listen to my body. All runners hurt, don’t they? “This must be normal.”, I thought. (Well, not really, but somewhere deep down, I kept thinking the pain was going to stop if I just kept icing, heating, elevating, etc. Dumb idea.)image

Oh yeah, this is what I did after long runs while I blow dried my hair. Before I went running, I’d soak my foot in this  pot full of hot water. Then I’d add ice when I got home. Don’t worry, I washed it out before I made my famous home made soup!

I was anxious to stay on my 5 day per week running routine, but you’d think the fact that I was limping constantly, wincing while training, and eating Ibuprofen like breath mints, I would suspect something was not right.


My Physical Therapist told me that I needed to find something to “feed the beast” while not running. Haha, I love how he “got” me right off the bat. He said I could swim, bike, and walk. It was December in Oregon. Running in the cold, wind, and rain I can do. But, bike? Swim? Seriously? Sigh. OK, well I’ll give it a try.


My first bike ride started out as a disaster. The tires on my much neglected bike were flat, it was covered in cob webs, and I couldn’t figure out how to use the bike pump. After 3 attempts, I finally got the tires somewhat full of air, and hopped on, hoping to feel the thrill of the wind in my helmeted hair. I started pedaling, and WHAP, the chain fell off, my foot spun around, and I fell flat on my driveway.Thankfully, I was clothed in so many layers, that I came away physically unscathed.  A few curses later, I fixed the chain and off I went. It was 40 degrees out and I was already sweating from the effort and frustration of simply getting out of my driveway.
I ended up having so much fun on the 9 mile ride and even thought, “wow ,I  AM in great shape; I barely felt that!”  I sang along with my ipod, with wild abandon. “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”, Oh Yeah, baby, watch out for me. Woohooo.I’m a CYCLIST!

Fast forward to the next day, and I could barely lower myself to a chair or toilet without grunting in pain. OK, well pain is good. LOL, I seem to love it. If you’re going to exercise outdoors in the Great Northwest, you have to be prepared for all types of weather. I have great all weather running gear, but CYCLING GEAR?

bike image

Yep, that’s me on New Year’s Day, wearing ski bib overalls, snow boots, countless layers of dry fit, fleece, and a water proof jacket, plus numerous neck and head coverings. I needed the basket to carry all the discarded clothing, as I warmed up along my ride. Hey, after all the money I have spent on running gear, I wasn’t about to jump down the money pit and do it in the bike shop….yet.

So, back to the patience thing. My second bike ride that week was when I decided to ride to my PT appointment. I mapped it and saw that it was approximately 9 miles from home. Not having stellar math skills, I thought, “Oh, I can probably do that in about 30 minutes. Don’t even TRY to figure why I thought that. I tried to leave a little early just in case, and after donning lots of layers and even packing a change of socks, shoes, and gloves in a plastic bag, I headed out. It was a cold 39 degrees, and by the time I got to the end of my block, it had started to rain. Hmmm, for about a nano-second, I thought about turning around and getting my car, but then I was worried it would take too much time and the clock was ticking! 10 minutes into the ride, it was now pouring, I was freezing, and I knew I was going to be seriously late. When I finally made it to the Springwater Corridor-the bike path that follows the Willamette River, I was pushing those pedals as fast as I could, but the frigid rain and wind was a killer. I could see downtown Portland, and knew I was close, so I gave it everything I had, all the while screaming at myself for being such an idiot.( There were a lot of bad words in my “self talk” on that ride.)

I finally arrived with rain pouring off of my and walked my bike into the facility. They had a bike rack inside, and the nice receptionist helped me stand my bike in it, and then I proceeded to try and peel my gloves, helmet, and extra clothes off. The only problem was that my feet were numb, my frozen snot was leaking, and my hands were too cold to unsnap my helmet. What a sight. I managed to survive, thawed out, and begged God for mercy for the ride home. Luckily, I had brought the extra dry clothes and shoes, and when I left, the rain had stopped, it was a tad bit warmer, and the ride home was a blast.

I learned a tough lesson that day. Think before you act. I know, that sounds really elementary, but when you roll like I do, you pretty much DO, and then think. I laughed about this experience once I knew that I would live through it. That’s the trick to this whole thing. With new experiences, you are going to make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up about what you did wrong, or not perfectly right. For me, I look back and say, “Wow, I rode my bike 18 miles in the dead of winter, in Portland, Oregon, in the rain, in 39 degree temperature, with a bad ankle, at 53 years old, after not having ridden a bike for several years. THAT, I could celebrate.


Welcome to Running in Muck!

Welcome to my new website and blog for Running in Muck!

My bucket list is huge, and one of my goals is to have a blog where I can share ideas, stories, advice, humor, and insight about  tackling the challenges of being an empty nester, while maintaining your sanity, fitness, and (rapidly disappearing) youth. I’m meeting those challenges head on,  though I do think that sanity is over rated. In fact, I rather think that keeping myself on the edge of “all out crazy” is the best place for me.

I’ll be talking about finding new hobbies, taking risks, falling down, crawling back up, and learning that some days it’s ok to cry over spilled milk…(spilled wine deserves an all out tantrum) I love to laugh, sing, dance in the rain, and behave badly- so as to embarrass my kids, but I keep it all in good fun. I hope you will join me on my journey, and find that you are not alone in yours.

Stay tuned!