Several New York Minutes

My three kids all live out of state, and while it  is heart wrenching to spend every day without them, we find ways to stay connected.

Enter “game changer”, Charlie Belle. Nobody told me about the feeling of complete and total NEED to be physically WITH one’s grandchild. When you have a grand daughter that lives three thousand miles away, your heart aches for her every day. I wake up craving photos of her on Facebook, or maybe a video text of her doing something silly. I laugh. I cry. I buy plane tickets.

Recently, my daughter-THE MOTHER of this gift from Heaven itself, deviously ramped up the frequency of posts, texts, and Instagram pictures of #mygirlchuck. I had no choice but to  get my butt back to NY for some “Charlie-fix” Oh, yeah, and to see Dede and Evan too.

Since I am in training for another Ironman, I naturally  had to plan ahead for my workouts. No problem!  With a free pass the the YMCA, a sweet rental bike, and the Central Park Half Marathon, I was set.

I arrived on a Thursday evening and navigated the AirTran to the subway, and then walked the last several blocks to my daughter’s apartment. I have finally figured out the subway. Well, almost. I have the E and F trains nailed! I couldn’t wait to see the little monkey, so I practically ran to the apartment.

Charlie was awake and she was so gracious, she didn’t even object when I made her wear the Cabbage Patch hat I had bought for her.

Seriously, woman!

Chuck is a great sport, and for the next 3 days, she put up with all of my smooches, cuddles, and squeals of delight. The weather in New York was perfect for getting out and seeing the sights. After my swim at the YMCA on Friday, Dede and I took the princess for a long walk around Manhattan. We met up with Evan after work and cut through Central Park on our way home.

Da girls

What’s up, Chuck?

This is me taking artistic photos

Poor little Charlie was teething while granny was visiting, so she had a few rough nights. Two teeth in one week is a lot for a little girl!

Saturday morning was incredible. The sun came out and temps got up to almost sixty degrees.  I rented a great bike and went for a nice 32 mile bike ride along the Hudson River Greenway.

George Washington Bridge!

New York City!

Riding a bike in New York is a little insane to say the least. Dodging taxis is a skill I never knew I needed. I’m fairly certain it is not one I hope to use often.

After my ride, and a much needed shower, Dede, Charlie and I walked to a place called Sweetgreen. OH MY FREAKING WORD!!! I ordered something called Spicy Sabzi, a cavernous bowl of spinach, kale, broccoli, raw beets, carrots, sprouts, basil, roasted tofu, quinoa, and some spicy dressing. I think it weighed 7 pounds. I ate the entire bowl. Burp.

Doin’ lunch NY style

We walked around for another hour or so, and then I decided I should get back, put my feet up, and rest for my half marathon the next morning. The weather report called for a chilly morning, so just to be on the safe side, we ducked into a Goodwill store, to buy a “throw-away” jacket, to get me through the start of the race. I would ditch it sometime early in the race.

The balmy weather changed overnight. Just my luck. I awoke to sub freezing temperatures and up to twenty five mph winds. Hahhaa, really? I did my normal morning routine-breakfast of hot tea, a banana with peanut butter and shredded coconut. The wheelbarrow of kale and raw veggies I had for lunch the day before started to feel like a bad idea. Let’s just say, I waited until the last minute to call an Uber.

I got dropped off on the West side of Central Park at W 96th. SWEET JESUS it was freaking COLD! Frost bite cold, and windy as ever. There was nowhere to hide from the arctic blast. People were gathering and jumping up and down, trying to keep warm. Where were the bathrooms? How can you have a race without porta potties???? I was told to walk North and I’d find them. They were about a half a mile away. The lines were typical for a race, and I feared being late for the starting gun. No worries, I made it in plenty of time. Gathering in a crowd with a few thousand people was the best part of the morning so far. At least in the pack, it got warmer! Thank God for Goodwill and the extra layer of HUGE men’s fleece that I bought.

Frostbite and a grimace for you

9am and we were off. I felt great! I guess Ironman training IS working. The West side of the park is the hilliest and that’s also where the wind was the strongest. This race course went 2.5 times around the upper end of the park, so we ran up  Harlem Hill twice. It’s a killer. The first lap was great except that at around mile two, the kale memory started to get stronger. Um. I’m a coach. I know better than to eat ninety seven pounds of  roughage the day before a race. I thought about a port potty stop, but the lines were long and I was making good time.  Passed another bathroom a mile later, but thought I could hang on. The third bathroom that I saw, I actually pulled over and got in line. Twenty seconds later, I abandoned the line and started running again. “I can hold on for another eight miles!” HELL no I can’t. Unfortunately, there were no more bathrooms until mile 8 or 9, so by the time I had no choice to but to stop, I was doubled over. SIX minutes of wait time before I got to enter the potty. I think I was in there for another six. Mother of MERCY!

I exited victoriously and got back in the race. Now I was freezing again, after having such a long break. I still had that ugly black jacket on, and was grateful for it! The rest of the race was non eventful, but overall, I felt pretty good. I worked hard and finished strong. Dede and Charlie were there to cheer me on at the finish line.

I opened the coat so my bib number would show and they could call my name at the finish. Vanity, I know.

Dede had dry clothes for me and we started walking home, looking for a place for me to change. I started shivering like crazy and finally I went into a hospital to get into warm, dry clothes. We walked back to the apartment, which is another mile and a half. Long day!

My sister Terie arrived in the afternoon, and all of us went out to a gluten free Italian restaurant called Senza Gluten that was incredible beyond words. Charlie even sat in a high chair for the first time!

Can’t get enough of this kid

The trip was molto bene. I flew home Monday morning, without any problems, and made lots of memories to hold me over until the next trip. Kids are awesome. Grand kids are the bomb. Life is good.

What a Panic

Do you remember as a kid saying things like, “That was a panic!” Or, “What a panic!” when you and your friends had a crazy, fun, spaztastic time? I’m talking about those times when you laughed so hard, snot came out your nose, and maybe you accidentally peed your pants?  I’m not sure of the origin of this expression, and I don’t recall how old I was when I stopped using it. It came to mind recently, though, for reasons that weren’t too funny.

If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I started writing when I was rehabbing from a nasty foot injury, caused by (ignorantly) overtraining for my first marathon. (Read about that here.) You would have learned about my  injuries, diseases, allergies, asthma, and other obstacles that I regularly deal with in my life and in my athletic training.  I have dedicated countless hours to learning how to overcome these challenges, by  studying the science of exercise, nutrition, training, hypnosis, and meditation, all in an effort to not only help MYSELF, but to arm myself with the tools I needed to coach others in the running and triathlon community.

Very proud to have earned this certification

Very proud to have earned this certification

Lots of my friends and fans believe I have it all together. Flattering, but come on,  do you really believe that anybody  has it ALL together? No way; some of us simply master the skills of making it look that way.

Training for any athletic competition takes dedication, time, discipline, and perseverance. Throw obstacles in the way, and there are ALWAYS obstacles, and the athlete has to find a way to overcome them. For me, the three main obstacles I am faced  with  are: allergies, asthma, and blisters on my right foot. OK, no biggie- there are things I can use to treat these, right? Well, not so simple. Regular use of most allergy medicines has been linked to early onset Dementia and Alzheimers. Flonase is linked to Cataracts- and I have the start of one in my left eye from long term use! Blisters? Well, I continue to try just about everything out there….

During my Ironman training in 2015, I suffered from severe seasonal allergy symptoms, which put a serious strain on my running training. I found myself getting asthma attacks while training out doors all Spring and into mid Summer. I’m talking stop-in-my-tracks-bent-over-gasping-for-air-to-the-point-of-almost-passing-out attacks. Consequently, my long distance running abilities suffered. After long training bike rides, I would often end up with my eyes swollen , red, and itchy, and three times wound up with sinus infections.  (That’s another story that is unfolding as we speak)

Bound and determined NOT to suffer the same ill fated training season this year, I decided to get a complete physical, and bring my entire list of complaints to my doctor and see what she recommended.  While I do have allergies, and exercise induced asthma, it turns out that the biggest surprise diagnosis is PANIC ATTACKS. What? Yeah, those ATTACKS I kept having where I start wheezing, gasping for air,  getting hysterical, and nearly fainting? Panic attacks. They start out like asthma symptoms, but quickly morph into the most terrifying, heart palpitating, can’t breath, throat closed, “fear of imminent death” panic attacks. I can’t describe the absolute all encompassing primal terror that I experience during these attacks. They can last for minutes or hours, and the severity of them can bring me to my knees. Both my boyfriend and my coach have witnessed the episodes, while we ran together, and now we know what is actually happening.

I have had these attacks a few times in my past. I remember having one  on an airplane flying home from China. It was like the plane was closing in and suffocating me, and I was completely helpless to survive another minute. I hyperventilated, and death-gripped the  tray table in front of me, all the while struggling to suppress a guttural scream. Another time was in an elevator in Denver,  and a few times while driving in Portland. The driving one’s prompted me to seek medical attention immediately, fearing I was having a heart attack. BUT, these were all years ago and so much in my life has  changed since then. I am healthier, happier, and stronger. So what the heck???

This past weekend, it happened again, and it came out of nowhere, at a time that I never would have guessed. It started in the swim portion of the Pine Hollow Triathlon, after warming up for several minutes in the crystal clear, comfortable water, in the most peaceful, serene setting.

Pine Valley

I started swimming competitively in Kindergarten. In open water in the Long Island Sound. With jelly fish, and seaweed. I am not afraid of swimming in open water, like many people. So, after my first few strokes that morning, when I started hyperventilating, and wheezing, I was caught completely off guard. The intense panic set in suddenly, and in less than a minute after the start, I rolled over onto my back, and briefly thought about quitting. I was terrified, gasping for air, and confused-desperate, more like, and frantically tried to find relief. I did a few breast strokes to try and keep myself afloat, and summoned every ounce of my will to move forward and continue the swim. I know how to swim; I know how to make myself relax in the water. I know ALL the tricks. Nothing worked. I swam, trying to breath every stroke, all the while fearing that I couldn’t get enough air. I sighted the red buoy that marked the turn around point, and it never seemed to get any closer. I felt my wetsuit crushing my neck, my chest, and my shoulders. The breaths I took sounded like screams. I prayed that it would end. 850 yards. Just under 16 minutes. No relief. When I exited the water, I was dizzy from hyperventilating, and in an agitated state. I don’t remember much of the run-or walk, I should say, to my bike. I got out of the wetsuit, got my shoes, glasses and helmet on, and took off. The bike course was hilly and I never caught my breath. This  aepisode lasted until the 9th mile, when it fizzled. The rest of the race was more brutal because it was 91 degrees with no shade, and the 4 mile run, was on a technical trail with lots of gravel, steep hills, downed trees to climb over, and my body was spent. Here’s the funny part. In all my hysteria, I managed to be the 2nd overall female finisher, and 1st in my age group.

2nd place finisher

2nd place finisher

There you go. I couldn’t believe it.

SO! I am learning to identify the warning signs. I have started to take proactive actions when my body starts spiraling. I now have medication for the times when it comes on suddenly, and I need the help. Thankfully, I do NOT need daily medication, as many people with anxiety disorders require. (Been there, done that, thank you very much) I also have a new app on my phone called Calm that reminds me every day when to meditate, and guides me through a 5-10 minute relaxing meditation.

Strangely enough, I am more excited about this diagnosis, that you would think. Up until now, I thought that I was powerless to the negative effects my seasonal allergies had on me, and doubted the benefit of my Albuterol Inhaler. I felt doomed to suffer and fight through every Spring and Summer. Now, however, I know there is something I can do to fight this thing and hopefully become equipped to defeat it! I am not powerless to this challenge anymore! This past weekend gave me the chance to test it, and once again, I was able to power through.

IF you suffer from anxiety disorders, please get help. Talk to your doctor. Meditate. Do yoga. Equip yourself with tools to get you through it.  I have a lot to learn, and hope to beat this.

finished

 

 

Less Than One Week Until Ironman

The past 9 months have come and gone. The work has been done. I am ready. That’s what my coach tells me. If you know me well, you won’t be surprised that I have moments where I doubt everything that I have done thus far to prepare for my first Ironman Triathlon. Every missed workout. (There haven’t been many) Every time I didn’t complete the entire planned workout as scheduled. (There HAVE been several) Every glass of wine, margarita, candy bar, bowl of ice cream, extra pat of butter…..I obsess just a bit over details. Me thinks I “overthink”.

What I AM celebrating, however, are the countless hours that I DID do the workouts. Since early this year, I have completed up to 12 workouts per week, sometimes exceeding 16 hours total. I’ve managed to  do this while still maintaining my business, my health, and my sanity, although those close to me might disagree on the sanity part. I can recall many a time where, when working, I fell asleep at my desk, and nodded off during continuing education classes.I barely make it to 8PM every night without sneaking off to bed.

I am sure some of my real estate clients wondered why I sported dark circles under my eyes( from my goggles), and reak of chlorine. None of them ever asked me why I often didn’t accompany them up or down stairs in the homes I showed them, or why I would loudly groan if I dropped keys on the ground-(after a particularly long training ride or run.) I hope they understood.

I have never eaten the mounds of food that I am currently eating.You could  not possibly fathom how much and how often I shovel food.   I am terrified that these habits will continue and I will blow up like a tick once this race is over. (There I go overthinking again.) I joke that I eat like a high school football player. The thing is, I have a son that was a high school football player, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the human vacuum cleaner that his mother has become. Oink Oink.

Case in point-today's lunch

Case in point-today’s lunch

My plan was to come to Montauk, NY for 2 weeks prior to Chattanooga, train there on the hills and in the Long Island Sound, relax on vacation, and arrive in Tennessee free of stress, and feeling well rested.

Reality went something like this: We boxed up our bikes and Fed Exed them to Montauk. They arrived on time and 2 days afterwards, we set out for a 70 mile bike ride. Jeff’s bike  had a broken shifter, so he couldn’t change into the small ring. My bike made a funny noise, and 3 miles after we started, I felt a big CLUNK, and my whole bike seized. I was just starting up a hill, and luckily I was able to unclip my feet before tipping over. Turns out, my bike frame broke, my derailleur snapped, and the bike was totaled. No long ride for us.

This frame is toast

This frame is toast

So there I was, 16 days from Ironman, and I was without a bike. Since the carbon frame in all one piece, there was no way to fix this problem. We immediately took to social media and looked for a solution. To my amazement, team mates and friends from all over the country and in Canada offered to ship me their bikes! I was astounded! I had offers from people I had never even met. The triathlon community blew me away. We started communicated with the bike manufacturer too, to see about a warranty. Over the course of the next week, we exhausted every option, weighing the pro’s and con’s until we decided to buy a new Cervelo P2 at Sunrise Tri Shop, in West Babylon.

Getting a custom fit

Getting a custom fit

I can’t say enough about the service Frank gave me at the tri shop. No wonder people fly from all over the world to buy and get fit on specialty bikes from him.

The running in Montauk is scenic and offers a mix of rolling hill roads and an abundance of trails, through woodsy forests and along ocean view cliffs. There are miles and miles of them! In all the years I’ve been coming to town, I had never explored the trails, and now I can’t wait to come back to them.IMG_4471

 

Got a little lost on this trail. Found the mosquitoes though.

Got a little lost on this trail. Found the mosquitoes though.

My last long run of my training was a 3:15 on a Sunday morning. It was HOT and 82% humidity. I managed to get 17.29 miles in, and let me tell you, the last 4 miles were CRANKY! Run, shuffle, walk, curse, limp, whine about my blisters, my knees, and my sunburn, bla, bla, bla….typical long run for me. I imagine Chattanooga will have some moments like this, so in the end, who cares? I’ll get it done.

When I went to pick up my new bike, we decided to stay in Centerport at my friend Kathy’s house because it was much closer to the bike shop. The other bonus was that the Cow Harbor 10K Race was taking place. This nationally ranked race is in my home town of Northport and I have run it the past 2 years. Jeff and I signed up and ran the race, in CRAZY hot and humid temperatures, and had a blast. I ended up not only with a personal best but a course PR of over 10 minutes. I couldn’t have done it without his help pacing me along the difficult course.

 

Official time 52:24

Official time 52:24

We had many visitors during the trip, too. My parents, daughter Dede and her husband Evan, cousin Jill, sister Terie, nephew Richie, and his dad Rich, plus we spent time with a local Montauk friend, Kathy. What a whirlwind.

 

Best parents in the world

Best parents in the world

There's ALWAYS time for Dom Perignon

There’s ALWAYS time for Dom Perignon

I got to ride my new bike for a few hours and it felt better than any other bike I’ve ridden. We got a good swim in at the YMCA of Easthampton, and today we are getting pampered with massage at Gurney’s Inn.

The “hay is in the barn”, so to speak. The pit in my stomach isn’t as big as it was several months ago, but make no mistake; it’s still there. I suppose that’s a good thing. I’m a few days away from completing the most difficult physical race/challenge of my life. Send me some good vibes, will you?

One last thing. I’m doing Ironman Chattanooga for a charity, to raise money and awareness for Prostate Cancer. Would you consider making a donation? The men in your life will appreciate it.

Donate here

See you on the other side of Chat!

First 70.3 at 56

On August 9, 2015, I turned 56. One week later, I competed in my first Ironman 70.3 race. In case you had any doubts, let me tell you. EVERYTHING is possible.

I was excited and nervous  for my Ironman Lake Steven’s 70.3 race. My training, with all it’s high’s and low’s got me here, and there was nothing left to do but get it done. Jeff bought me a Cervelo P2 bike two weeks before the race, but I didn’t have time to get a professional bike fit. I rode it for several days and I started feeling comfortable using the aero bars, and felt completely confident.

I call her Sylvie

I call her Sylvie

We stayed in Mukelteo, Washington, about thirty minutes from Lake Stevens. The alarm went off at 4:30 am and we planned on leaving my hotel at 5.  I had already checked my bike in the day before, so I just had my transition bag full of crap to carry. Jeff was an absolute doll. He did everything for me! (I’m still getting used to being with a man that insists on carrying my bags for me.) I tried not to go over my list for the millionth time, but I couldn’t help myself. All my liquid nutrition was mixed the night before, and set in the cooler.

It was a chilly morning, with a lazy mist on the lake.

lake

The air temperature was in the 50’s but the water was 69 degrees, and I couldn’t wait to get in so I’d stop shivering. My wave-the old gals, was the last to enter the water. In the final moments before all my races, I  shut out the surrounding noise, go deep inside my head, and meditate quietly on what is about to happen. In those moments, just before the swim, I undoubtedly ponder the same thing EVERY time: “Oh God, now that water is full of pee.”

I jumped in and waited for the gun to blow. As soon as it did, the churning began. It was quite civil, however, and only lasted a few minutes. I immediately saw the buoy line, and rejoiced. I’d never done an Ironman event before and had only heard about this line. WOW, did it make a difference. Especially on a morning like this, with the line of bouys being hidden in the fog, it was amazing to just keep my head down and follow the underwater line.  I had to maneuver around a few other people several times but never lost sight of the line. When I exited the water, I felt GREAT, like I could have swam forever! 1.2 miles done.

those are "goggle eyes", not bags!

those are “goggle eyes”, not bags!

My transition to the bike was quick and uneventful. I remembered to down a bottle of GenUcan, ran to the exit, and mounted my bike. Off I went, feeling like a rock star. It was only minutes into the ride that I realized  I was cold. No big deal, I’ll warm up shortly. The weather report called the upper 70’s, so I was not at all concerned. What I hadn’t thought of was the fact that it was only now 8:00 am, and the first 48+ miles of this bike ride was on winding mountain roads, in the forest, so there were little to no sun breaks. Within the first half hour, I was so cold that my feet started to cramp. Then the shaking started. “How is this even possible?” I asked myself. I’ve done this for (only) three years and am NEVER cold on the bike! Try as I may, I could not stop  shivering, and a few times shook so badly, I nearly tipped the bike over. The second thing that happened was  stomach cramps. I was dutifully drinking my GenUcan, but nothing was able to leave my stomach, because my body was tensed up, fighting to get warm. All my muscles clenched tightly the entire ride. I tried sitting up and changing body position, but nothing helped.

I always smile for the cameras

I always smile for the cameras

Beside the cold, I experienced pain in my knees and IT Band at mile 15. This was completely unexpected, but I now know that it was due to the fact that I hadn’t had a custom bike fit. The ride became horrendously painful and nothing would stop it. The hills only made it worse. I can handle a lot of pain, but this just about dropped me. My ONLY thought on that ride was “GET THIS OVER WITH!” Not a very pleasurable way to spend 56 miles.

The elevation was a bit of a challenge to me. I’ve trained on hills in Portland, but nothing like the one’s around Lake Stevens. I saw people walking bikes up hills, stopped, hunched over  heaving, and one or two just standing on the side of the road with the saddest looks on their faces, defeated by the climbs. I was NOT going to be one of those people.

If you’ve read my blogs, you know that I get  emotional during races. I cry. I cry when I struggle badly, (especially when I get an asthma attack) and I cry at finish lines. It’s what I do, and I’m ok with it. It’s not a weakness; it’s just how my body reacts to the pressure and the relief. I live a stressful life and have a high pressure job. I balance several “balls in the air”, and maintain an even keel MOST of the time. When I race, I let it all out. This day was no exception. There is one hill at mile 38 that is legendary. First you make a ninety degree turn and then you go straight UP. (For miles and miles…no just kidding- it just seems like it) I knew it was coming and I was ready for it. I got into the small chain before the turn and tried my best not to look too far ahead, so I wouldn’t get freaked out by the length or grade of the hill. Not even half way up, I saw people dropping out. I kept going. I stood up and powered as hard as I could, but began seriously struggling with getting my feet to turn the pedals. In a sudden burst of Niagara Falls, the tears came. Loud, wailing tears. Angry tears. Fierce, from the gut, tears. I didn’t care who heard me because those tears gave me the power for another crank of the pedals. They ripped out of me and pushed my body up that God forsaken hill and along with the ever-encouraging roadside volunteers’ words of support, I mounted that hill and knew I was NOT going to fail today.

By the time I got to T2, I was pretty sure my legs were permanently damaged. (Drama queen, remember?) I dismounted and they immediately collapsed under me and I had to use the bike to hold me up.

56 miles done.

The pain didn’t go away, and this worried me, so naturally, the tears returned. My stomach still cramped severely and the pain in my knees and IT Band was acute and relentless. I managed to get my bike back to the rack and then I fell apart. A volunteer came over and tried to be helpful, and Jeff was just outside the barrier asking me what was wrong, but I didn’t have a clue what to do. “Can I walk? Can I freaking STAND? Holy Crap, can I RUN 13.1 miles? (Insert more wailing)

I finally got my shit together and decided I had to try. I have never been a quitter, and today was not going to change that. Jeff asked me if I wanted him to pull me from the race…..he asked if I was going to be able to go on…..I remember saying “I’ll try.”

So off I stumbled, shuffled, limped, what ever you’d call it, and started the double loop course. The first few minutes hurt badly, but once my legs stretched out, it wasn’t so bad. My gut still killed me but I decided to take it slow and try and relax everything. Funny how things changed. The run was mostly exposed and the sun beat down, keeping it considerably hot. I hated the first loop of this run. I was miserable, felt defeated, and mentally, there was not much to brag about. I walked A LOT. When I reached the halfway point, however, something happened. I DECIDED I was going to have a good finish, and do it with pride because, damned it, I am a BAD ASS 56 YEAR OLD! I picked up the pace a little, walked when the  nagging side stitch was too  painful, and kept going. I drank one more GenUcan at mile 5, but after that, couldn’t take anything but sips of water. The run course has a few hills, but nothing outrageous. I enjoyed the second loop despite myself and was at that point on a fierce mission!

run

Somewhere in the last mile or so, I started to smile. I was going to finish a 70.3 mile race. On my own power. Wow. Me! The girl who started running at age 50. A Half Ironman! REALLY? Oh. My. God. My smile returned for the first time in what seemed like hours.

WOOHOO, almost done!

WOOHOO, almost done!

I ran most of that last mile and took a short walk break so that I would be able to run through the finish chute. (which, by the way, seemed like a mile long) I started to run through the chute, when all of a sudden my side felt like my appendix was bursting. Seriously-the worst stitch I’ve ever had. BUT, with all the people screaming, the cameras flashing, and the finish line approaching, there was NOTHING that was going to stop me from crossing that line with a smile on my face.

1125_022169

70.3 done.

My official time was 6:41:10. I did it. I will never forget it. As soon as this photo was taken, I immediately collapsed into the fetal position, laughing, groaning with pain, and shaking with excitement. It took a volunteer about 5 full minutes (at least it seemed that long) to get me upright. She thought I needed medical attention, but I kept telling her, NO, it’s just a stitch. LOL, worst one I’ve ever had, but who cares????

Jeff greeted me with the biggest smile, hug, and “I’m so proud of you” and we laughed, and I reveled in my accomplishment. I did it. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it. I gotta tell you, having the support of my coach, SheriAnne Nelson of PrsFit, and of Jeff Kline, I believe I can do ANYTHING.finish love

Life is good with this kind of love. Rock on, people. Go after your goals. It’s never too late. Thinking of starting on your own fitness path? Would you like to do a race someday? Ask me anything you want. I’d love to help and support YOU.

 

A Day in a Ditch

The alarm was set for 4am, but after spending hours NOT sleeping, I got out of bed at 3:45. Struggling to shake off the drowsiness, I prepared my tea and small breakfast in silence. It was 19 degrees out, but it would warm up to 80 by the afternoon. I quickly dressed in layers, and Jeff and I headed down to the hotel lobby, to meet the rest of the runners. We nervously joked about the temperatures and the physical challenge we were about to undertake.

group shot

We set out to run the Grand Canyon.

Arriving at the Bright Angel trailhead, the 9 of us turned on our headlamps, donned our gloves, took a few pictures, chatted nervously in the dark, muttered something like “Holy FUCK, It’s COLD”, and off we ran- beginning our descent into the biggest hole in the USA.

head lamp

Six of the nine quickly disappeared into the abyss, as they were the elite athletes, embarking on a 50 mile “Rim to rim to rim” run. Jeff, Shane, and I had our sights on 20-23 miles. As any of my running buddies will tell you, I am a bit of a whiner on the trails. Before attempting this crazy ass adventure, I hadn’t  convinced myself that I even REMOTELY liked trail running. So, what the heck was I doing? Too late to turn back! I pushed the button on my headlamp, and started down the trail. Visibility was limited to the beam from of our  lamps  and  obstructed by the eerie swirling of the trail dust. I had no idea what lay beyond the small circle of light as we silently barreled down those first miles of switchbacks. Of course, I would find out later that most of the trails had shear cliffs and deep drop offs just outside of our sight.

The first signs of light began to glow within an hour of our start, and as morning broke, the views opened before us. The reveal of the Canyon’s layers, as the sun rose  provided a dazzling show of rainbow colors against the massive walls surrounding us. We  stopped to photograph the moment.

Sunrise in the canyon Sunrise

At the 4.5 mile mark, we came upon Indian Gardens campground, nestled in a valley, with colorful trees and a stream. It was only when we approached this area that we saw the first signs of other people. We mistakenly took a wrong turn, which turned out to be a 3 mile detour and ran the  Tonto West Trail. This lead us to a gorgeous rock platform overlooking the Colorado River. Gorgeous, but in the wrong direction.

Patty at overlook

 

We turned around and found our way back to the correct trail. What’s a few extra miles, anyway? The terrain was mostly flat for these few miles, so we ran comfortably and took in the sights. It’s indescribable.

Before long, we found ourselves navigating  steep and technical trails, with extreme switchbacks, so we slowed our pace considerably. The trails were now crowded with people hiking in both directions, but as far as I could tell, we were the only one’s actually running. I got some wonderful comments from people of all ages, showing encouragement and awe at what we were doing.

Jeff on trailPatty on trail

Shane on trailAs we rounded a corner and saw the Colorado River, I was blown away by it’s power and history. The sound was mesmerizing. We stopped  for a while, just to experience it and stare. Here was the 17 million year old river, with the power to cut a 277 mile, 6000+ feet deep canyon. The mighty Colorado River.

Colorado River

At this point, Jeff’s calf was giving him trouble, so he decided to start the trek back up the canyon, and Shane and I continued on to find Phantom Ranch. As it turns out, it was only a few more miles and one metal, grated bridge crossing. SCAREY!

bridge

By this time, we were 4 hours into our run and I felt incredible. I had energy to spare and wanted to keep running forever. Shane and I found Phantom Ranch and took a break to snack and refill our water bottles. There is a US Post Office at the ranch, and the mail is brought out on mule train, so Shane sent some post cards to his family. Post office

I was THRILLED to find that the small cafe served Tazo English Breakfast Tea-my favorite!!! I sat down outside and thoroughly enjoyed a cup with my snack of peanutbutter energy bars. At that moment, all was right in my world.Resting at Phantom Ranch

A short time later, I took this

The first 6 miles of the ascent felt great. I had energy to spare and I powered up the hills, sweating, but thoroughly enjoying the challenge. I met people from around the globe, and shared encouragement with them all. It got quite hot though, so I started dunking my head in every stream crossing, to cool off.I kept looking up at the cliffs and started feeling a bit overwhelmed with the long, steep climb still ahead.

Once back at Indian Ranch, I thought about the 4.5 mile 4600 foot climb and realized that I had to do it without stopping or I would get miserably discouraged. It was approximately 8 hours since we started, and I knew I didn’t have several more in me. I told Shane that I would meet him at the top and headed off. This excruciating climb took me 1:21. This was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I have ever done. I can’t even convey the degree of difficulty, putting one foot in front of the other, all the while looking up at the grueling switchbacks and knowing I still had miles to go. I sweat like a pig and stunk worse than one when I reached the top. I could barely walk.

Jeff met me at the car and we went back to the hotel to shower and submerse ourselves in the glorious hotel hot tub. The pain was incredible, but nothing like what we would experience in the next few days. We drove back and met Shane and the rest of the group and then gathered to have dinner and celebratory drinks. I ate almost an entire gluten free pizza by myself.

The next morning, we all stumbled down to breakfast and shared our stories. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and sharing this epic experience with them. Late that day, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Phoenix for our last night. Getting out of the car was hilarious. Our legs didn’t work. Checking into the hotel, I was informed that the room I reserved wasn’t available, so they upgraded us to a Jacuzzi suite! YES!!! I think we stayed in that tub for an hour.

hot tub upgradeThe next day at the airport, I couldn’t resist…my poor body.

Airport massageOver the years, I’ve traveled the globe, and seen some amazing things.  There’s a reason why the Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Go see it. If you are crazy like me, go run it. You will love it. Every beautiful, sweaty, stinky, sucky part of it.

As always, thanks for reading my blog. Subscribe so you can follow along. Share it, if you’d like. Until next time….

 

 

 

A Winter Diversion

I decided to get away from the office for a week, and take a trip to Florida to visit  my parents. My folks “Winter” in the South, like all good retired New Englanders. I call it “Heaven’s waiting room”.

I’m cursed with the lack of ability to relax, so I scoured the internet to see if there were any races near my parent’s place. Luckily for me, the 25/75 Championship Triathlon was scheduled nearby, so I registered for the Sprint distance. (750 meter swim, 12.4 mile bike, 3.1 mile run) The Port St Lucie Club Med hosted the event. I found a local triathlon shop nearby and  rented a nice bike.

Florida weather is unpredictable. It was cloudy and windy most of the week, with temperatures in the 70’s and low 80’s. The humidity  kicked my butt  as I continued my daily training. I found an outdoor pool to swim laps and rode a crappy recumbent bike  while watching “The Price is Right”  with  retirees who  exercised on 30 year old equipment.

Back to the weather. All week, thunderstorms threatened the area and the weekend report was bleak.  I half expected the event to be canceled. The day before the race brought a  storm of Biblical proportions. Six to Seven inches of rain before 1 pm, and strong winds. I took this video from parents’ dining room window.

That’s not a sidewalk that you see-it’s a flood.The video doesn’t portray the intensity of the storm, but you get the idea. Flooding was widespread, roads were closed, and many neighborhoods  around Stuart and Port St Lucie were underwater. I didn’t have a great feeling about racing in these conditions.

Sunday morning, I woke at 4:30 am. It was still pouring. Yippee. I stood in the kitchen, making my tea, eggs, banana, and peanutbutter breakfast, and questioned my sanity. “No turning back now.” I thought. When I left the house at 5:45, it was still raining. I had my rental bike, pump, wet suit, goggles, cap, towel, running shoes, bike shoes,…..and a million other necessities that a triathlete needs for a race. With a pit in my stomach, I rolled along the highway, imagining the miserable day I was about to experience.

Halfway to the race location, the rain stopped. It wasn’t quite sunrise yet, but I could see some breaks in the clouds and was hopeful for  improvement. My mood lifted, I tuned the radio to a local Rock station, cranked up the volume , and started singing at the top of my lungs. Just like that,  I WAS READY! WOOHOO!

I set up my bike in the transition area, chatted with other athletes, visited the bathrooms a half a dozen times, and drank my pre race GenUcan. Time to kick ass.

 

Getting ready to race

Getting ready to race

Twenty minutes before the  swim start, I wiggled into my wet suit and made my way to the river. I was repulsed by the color. Black. Dirty black water. Gross. The starting gun went off, and into the churning mess I went. It was a rectangle course, and it took almost half of the distance before I got away from swimmers kicking me, hitting me in the face,swimming over me, across me, and under me. The wind  picked up, and the swells were so high, it was difficult to sight the buoys. I like to swim a tight course, but had a hard time navigating. Finally, I rounded the first buoy and the course opened up a bit. At the second turn, the current  tried to push us off course. One guy in front of me was “tacking” wildly, making it difficult to pass him. Every time I tried to go around him, he moved right in front of me. Desperate to do something to get out from behind him, and between his legs, I made a fist and socked him in the…ahem….sensitive area. This got his attention and he moved over. (Am I bad?) I exited the swim and started peeling off my wet suit as I ran to transition.  I heard people calling my name! It was  my sister, her family, and my parents jumping up and down, cheering for me.

I never look behind me when I race, and this day was no exception. Arriving in transition I had a momentary “unusual” experience. I stopped and looked around me. Most of the bikes were still racked. How can this be? I was in the second to last wave? Had I passed people? WAKE UP, Patty, and get going! I managed a quick transition and was off running with my bike to the exit.

The bike course was flat and technical. The storm  left behind puddles and debris on the roads. This poorly designed course had multiple traffic circles, several complete 360 degree TIGHT turns at round-abouts, at least four 90 degree turns, and a few bumpy brick stretches. Strong winds on the open course added to the difficulty.  There were plenty of course volunteers, and I thanked every one of them as I sped by. I averaged 18 mph, which was disappointing to me, but  only a handful of people passed me. Heading into transition, one of the volunteers said, “Great job-you’re in a good position. Keep going.”

I couldn’t find my asthma inhaler, and I usually need it for the run. Exiting the main area, I watched a few runners dodging puddles, but being an Oregonian, I blasted past them, running right through the water. (Those that know me at home, know that I hate having wet feet, or getting my shoes dirty. HAHA)  I ran my heart out. While I struggled with my “mental” race, I was determined not to let anyone pass me. Can I keep this pace? Can I make it? Will I stop and walk a bit? WHERE’S THE FREAKING MILE MARKERS? When I felt myself slipping,  I actually started praying. Yep. Good old Irish Catholic girl. I meditated as I ran, calming my breath and shutting out the negative thoughts. Rounding the final turn before the home stretch, I once again saw my family cheering. There was a 180 degree turn twenty or so yards before the finish line, (REALLY???) and finally, I was done! I got hugs from my family and I felt great.

finishedMom and dad

We hung around for a while and then walked to the pool for the reward ceremony. I had no idea what my results were. A long while later, I found out that I had won my age group! YES! I was ecstatic. Turns out I was 9th overall female finisher and 54th overall. I missed my  Sprint Pr by 45 seconds, BUT I PR’d the 5k run by over a minute. 1:25:40 was my official time for the Sprint. 23:54 for the run.(7:41 per mile) Not bad for a 55 year old gal.

race photo

I’m glad I had this opportunity to race in Florida and even happier I got to spend time with my sister, her family, and my parents. That made the trip special!

Thanks for reading my blog. I encourage you to get moving. Make healthy choices. Enjoy your journey. Share your story with me!

Semper Fi

On October 26, 2014, I, along with approximately thirty thousand other people participated in the 39th annual Marine Corps Marathon. To say that this event was an “experience” wouldn’t be enough. Words escape me, but since this is a WRITTEN blog, I’ll give it a try.

I entered this race in a charity slot with the  Zero The End of Prostate Cancer organization. My dear friend and former coach was diagnosed with Advanced Stage IV Prostate Cancer last Winter, and I wanted to do something to help in the research and awareness effort with Zero . In all, there were around twenty seven  athletes on our team from all over the US that  raised money and secured an entry into the race.

After a hectic day of travel on planes, trains, and automobiles, (in that order, I might add) a large group met up for lunch and the ultimate pre-race feast at an Italian restaurant. Holy Moly, the FOOD!!! The chef was kind enough to cater to my gluten free needs, and made me a whole plate of special pasta!

Patty's pastaAnother round of trains and automobiles, and another group of us met up for a pre race dinner. EAT ALL THE FOOD!!!!

Team dinner Oh, and yes, beer and wine are part of our training.

The morning of the run came very early. I awoke at 4am so I could have my traditional breakfast of eggs, banana, peanut butter, and tea. We  took the car to the train, to the Pentagon, and then had a brisk two mile walk to the starting line. Yes, we walked two miles BEFORE running 26.2 miles! Naturally, I visited every porta potty along the way, and several times before the race actually started. Oh, my nerves!

pre race

Pre race goof balls

It was chilly while we waited for two hours at the start, so we huddled together and gave each other encouragement. (And mostly harassed each other with dumb running jokes)

A few minutes before the start at 7:55am, we made our way to the starting line. I could see dozens of men lined up “watering” the trees and bushes one last time before the big trek. I was supremely jealous of them at that moment. The crowd was buzzing with energy.

Some of the 30,000

Some of the 30,000

Coach Jeff-the reason we now know all about Prostate Cancer.

Coach Jeff-the reason we now know all about Prostate Cancer.

The energy at the start of this race was beyond electric. The Marines put on a show with fly by’s, hovering aircraft, and parachutes. This was my favorite:

One of many paratroopers displaying the flag

One of many paratroopers displaying the flag

Right on time,  the race began, and we were off. My goal was to hang with coach Jeff and plan on a four hour and thirty minute finish. With almost thirty thousand people running shoulder to shoulder, there was a lot of bobbing and weaving, just to keep up a steady pace. (When it was all said and done, my Garmin showed 26.8 miles. That’s a lot of extra steps!) We managed to keep our group together for three miles, when I had to stop and use a rest room. FRUSTRATING!!! So I dropped off and got in a line. I tried to catch up afterwards, but never saw my team again.

Running this course was incredible. I looked at the sights, smiled at people, and generally absorbed the experience. The weather was perfect, and the crowds were abundant, loud, and very supportive. After running “alone” for two hours, things started going wrong. At one moment, I was flying along, barely feeling my feet hit the ground, and in the next, my left Achilles, calf, and both knees began to hurt. I mean HURT. like, “Uh oh, what’s going on, and am I going to be able to finish this race?” kind of hurt. I ran my first two marathons with two torn tendons and a torn muscle in my left foot and that didn’t hurt as badly as THIS! I started to crumble. Just about this time, my emotions surfaced, and the realization that I was  possibly injured and not able to complete this run became a possibility. Then everything around me became a trigger. There were  Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine soldiers everywhere. American flags float in the breeze. People proudly ran with flags.

There were several groups like this that ran the whole course carrying flags

There were several groups like this that ran the whole course carrying flags

I began to tear up at the sight of this. I watched the monuments go by, and saw the soldiers-mere babies, in uniform, and cried some more. I thought of the reason I was here. Not just to run another marathon, but to support a cause that has become near and dear to me. I’ve never run for a cause. I was now a part of a purpose. It was right about this time that I came across the Blue Mile. This is a mile long stretch of the course where people hold flags and the street is lined with photos of fallen soldiers. blue mileI had heard about this, but nothing could prepare me for it. The photo  posters are on stands, evenly spaced, and they are hauntingly beautiful. I found myself slowing down so that I could touch the top of each one, and whisper “Thank you” to each one. I sobbed for these people. I cried for their families. I didn’t care who saw me. I was not alone in my public grief at this spot of the journey.

I still had miles to go. Suck it up buttercup.

The second half of the marathon was an exercise in grit, determination, extreme cursing, and involved a lot of self talk. I  hated most of it, cursed my lack of training, my lack of mental toughness, and tried to keep it together and power through. I had a bad attitude, and horrendous pain in my legs. I put my head down and stopped looking at the other runners, and ignored the crowds of well wishers. It was the darkest race I’ve ever run. When I saw the finish line, and the row of soldiers, lined up giving “high fives”, I couldn’t even muster the strength to participate. I crossed the finish line in a daze. When I finally looked up to see the young, smiling Marine that congratulated me on my finish, and put my metal around my neck, my fog lifted. I gave him a huge teary eyed smile, thanked him for his service, and thanked God for letting me be a part of this experience. OO-RAH!

There was a lot of limping for several hours after the finish. It was my slowest marathon to date. It was the biggest, most profound one as well. I met people I had only known online, deepened friendships with them, got to see our incredible nation’s capital, and raised money for Prostate Cancer research.

I will be blogging about Prostate Cancer in the future. I am excited to share that I have partnered up with Zero  again and will be participating in  Ironman Chattanooga next September. If you would like to make a donation of any amount, please do so here: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/chattanooga.aspx#axzz3HeVD6LdT.

Thanks for reading my blog.

 

Heart of Rock and Roll

Attitude is everything. Don’t I know it? I had a BAD one going into the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. This was to be my third half marathon in five weeks and I was TIRED! Two weeks prior to this event was the Tacoma City Marathon. I ran that one with my daughter Dede, and had a lot of trouble on the hills. I pushed too hard early on and paid for it later in the race.

We had a tough race but finished happily, together

We had a tough race but finished happily, together

My body had some “bitch slapping” to do as payback no doubt, and I ended up getting very sick for the next two weeks. Full blown, in bed, sinus infection, aches, and exhaustion; you know the drill-pure YUK.

During this time I tried to fit in some recovery workouts. Yoga, stretching, easy spins on the bike, and a few shake out runs. Despite WANTING to feel like I was getting stronger, it was pure torture to even run 4 miles. I pretty much had a two week rest period. So, when it came time to ramp up to run another 13.1 mile race with 10,000+ other people, I was less than enthusiastic.

I was honored to have been asked to run for team Salvation Army, who sponsored my race entry. I was thrilled to be running for them, but I still was not feeling up to the task.

Salvation ArmyLat year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Portland had left a sour taste in my mouth. I paid way too much money, felt like a prisoner at the Expo, the live music along the race route was horrible, I ran injured, and had a slow, painful run. Perhaps I still harbored some resentment toward the whole RnR concept and this contributed to my bad attitude.

Going to the race Expo this year, I kept an open mind. Let me say this: it is easier to go through Customs in a foreign country than it is to get through the packet pick up at this event. Show ID. (translation: no group packet pick ups-EVERYONE has to show up in person to get their packet. AND, they don’t let you leave by the same way you enter, so you HAVE to go through the Expo to get out) I had to fill out a form telling them where I lived, how was I going to get to the race, did I own a car, how long I was staying in Portland, bla bla bla.I’m surprised they didn’t take blood samples.

The gear bag was this quazai-paper-kinda-like-a-reusable-grocery-sack kind of bag.

bagThe instructions were to use this as your gear check bag and they included a zip tie. Dear Rock ‘n’ Roll organization: this is Portland, Oregon and you are hosting this event in May. Do you know that it rains here in May? Do you know that a zip tie will not close a bag of this type? How do we ensure our checked items will stay dry and remain inside this stupid bag while it is thrown into a truck with 10,000 other bags? Oh brother!

To their credit, RnR put on a great Expo. I let go of my bad mood and fully immersed myself in the festivities, even laying down some cash for these bad boys:

glasses

Just wait until I wear these on my bike. BAD ASS!

Sunday morning arrived in typical Portland fashion; overcast, cool, and threatening to rain. I debate what to pack for weather protection and decided it was most important to pack warm dry clothes for AFTER the run, since I knew there were be a lot of standing around and socializing when we finished in all of our glory.

Thankfully, my friend, Suzanne was way more prepared than me and had some extra ponchos. This is how I looked just before the race.

Patty B's rainy startLiquid sunshine was in abundance that morning. Thank God it was warming up!

If you’ve ever run in one of these types of mega races, you know that you have to have a sense of humor and never expect to PR. You start running shoulder to shoulder with every skill type of runner and it takes a mile or two before you even have room to bob and weave around people. This day was no exception. Suzanne and I had planned to just run together until one of us decided to drop back or run ahead. There was no pressure to go fast or necessarily stay together. “Let’s just see what happens” was our motto. We stayed together for most of the race. Things went well for the first three miles or so and then this happened:

Train stop

What well run Portland race doesn’t include the obligatory train stop along Front Ave?

Train stop! You have to have a sense of humor when running in Portland! After this, I just had to laugh. We got going again rather quickly and decided to make a potty stop. I usually try not to stop during races unless it’s an emergency, but on this day, we ran for fun.

The music this year was a far cry better than last year, and my mood started to lift as I found my recently rested body feeling strong and loose. The hills on the course that wrecked my injured tendons last year were a breeze for me to conquer this year. I got into my rhythm and focused straight ahead. At one point I felt so good and checked in with my Garmin, to realize that, despite the train stop and potty stop, I was not too far off from possibly finishing close to my PR time. This set me off running at a faster pace and I was determined to finish as fast as I could. My spirits SOARED…right up until the traffic stop. Yep. Portland Police stopped us to allow traffic to cross the route. Twice. During a race. Seriously. I may or may not have cursed at a cop. I’ll never admit to anything.

After the last stop, I flew to the finish. My official time was five minutes slower than my PR, but with the FOUR stops along the route, I was thrilled with my performance. My IT band wasn’t so happy, but that’s a price I pay for negative splits.

Afterwards, I got to pose with some of my Honey Badger friends.

We are so silly. I love these women!

We are so silly. I love these women!

I also got to play with some of Portland’s Urban Goats!

Portland goat sceneThis turned out to be a fantastic race and a stellar day. I limped to the medical tent and got a massage, managed to walk the mile back to the car, and later met up with Amy, one of the girls I ran with, and had a foot soak and reflexology at Feel Good Feetfoot soak Later that evening, I rested my legs in bed with a good book and a great dog.

doggy loveSo, despite my bad attitude going into this race, I had a spectacular day. I spent it with friends, had a lot of laughs, played with goats, and ran for a wonderful organization. Now it’s time to  take a few weeks off from racing, keep training, and get ready for my first triathlon for the season in June.

Thanks for stopping by my blog again. Subscribe if you’d like to follow along.

When All Else Fails, a Good Attitude Will See You Through

What an interesting weekend. Several days ago, I was basking in the afterglow of seeing several of my “team mates” conquer an assortment of races across the country. I got  caught up in their victories, trials, struggles, and achievements, and found myself desperately seeking the adrenaline high’s they were experiencing. What can I say, I’m a lemming.

I went online and found a Triathlon nearby in Eugene, Oregon. This race offered a Sprint distance with a 700m open water swim, 14 mile bike ride, and a 5K run. I have been training in open water for the past few weeks and thought it might be a good idea to do this one for a trial run, in preparation for my Sprint Tri in Montauk, New York in September. I immediately signed up and booked a hotel room for the night before. I sent a Facebook message to my coach telling him that I put a Sprint Tri on my calendar for the following Sunday, and his response was: “Ugh”. Hmm, this concerned me. He doesn’t like when I throw things at him that are not in our plan. After three months working with me, I thought he would be used to this by now.

So, good coach that he is, he adjusted my workouts and we both pushed on. I was feeling in good spirits until a few days before the race when I received the email that said:

“The swim segment of Triathlon Eugene has been cancelled. The race will convert to a run-bike-run configuration. Working Friday afternoon with the Oregon Health Authority and Lane County Parks, and after reviewing data compiled during the week, Pacific Sports has made the decision that it is in the best interests of the participants to eliminate the swim portion of the course. We will be announcing the final details and course by Saturday afternoon once we have an opportunity to establish the course and coordinate with the timing company. The Olympic distance first-segment run is 5K and the Sprint distance is 2.5K.”

WTH???

While I am very happy that Pacific Sports decided that exposing participants to God knows what kind of algae, I was, nevertheless, disappointed. The event website was very clear from the beginning: There would be no refunds or transfer of registration, under any circumstance. Well, this was just great. Here I was, preparing for and stressing out for an event that wasn’t going to be the “real deal”. I was signed up to drive two hours,  spend money on a hotel room, and participate in a triathlon that wasn’t a triathlon, and there was nothing I could do to get my money back. Being the “adventurer” that I am, I decided to go through with it.

The packet pick up was at a CrossFit club in Eugene. While I don’t do CrossFit per se, nor do I have any objection to it, I do have one question: Do they purposefully make these clubs filthy and disgusting? I wanted to get a Tetanus shot after spending 20 minutes in the place. Whatever. Be tough, be a bad-ass, but at least make it sanitary.

While at the pick up, I stood for 10 minutes before anyone helped me, and there was only one other athlete there signing in. I was tired from my drive, so I didn’t speak up, I just kept smiling at the volunteers and hoping they would help me. (Totally disorganized) I managed to get my bib and bag, and was temporarily perplexed when they asked me what color swim cap I wanted. I laughed and said, “Oh, I’ll take the purple one, even though it’s not really a Tri anymore.” The volunteer looked at me and said, “Yes it is. You’re doing three legs.” Oh my! With a chuckle, I went back to my car and headed to my hotel.

I arrived at the Red Lion, (and I must admit, my attitude was less than perky) to find the  Hotel Display sign as follows:

Do we really want the stoned out people of Eugene, Or carrying?

Do we really want the stoned out people of Eugene, Or carrying?

My hotel room was actually pretty good and I felt great settling in. I drove out to the triathlon location to do a little trial run and ride, just to get familiar with the place, and ended up pretty much getting lost. The event website wasn’t exactly clear on the location of the start! I drove to three different parking lots before I found the right one. My nerves were starting to get to me, but I ended up having a nice little run and trial ride for about a half hour. The streets were wide, and the hills seemed to be manageable. All was good in my world.

Before the start

Look how confident and happy I am in my new short haircut!

The next morning, I got to the start early enough that I secured a great parking space, got checked in, and had time for several bathroom trips and about 1/2 hour of a warm up. I wasn’t too keen on doing the 1.5 ish mile first leg, in lieu of the swim, but I had no choice.

When the starting horn went off, I ran like crazy. I was determined to get this first segment over with as soon as possible. I am NOT a fast runner and I am certainly not a sprinter, but I knew this race was going to be set up during this first segment. I ran 8:18 minute miles for the 1.5k, which was pretty good for me, and hopped on the bike to do my 14 miles. I was NOT prepared for the hills! Holy MOTHER, they were tough! I said more than a few bad words in the first half of the bike ride, wondering why in God’s name I chose to do this, until I finally got a hold of my nerves and just RODE LIKE HELL! Several elite type cyclists passed me as well as some “regular” people, and each time, we shouted encouragements to each other. That was pretty cool.  The scenery was gorgeous and the volunteers were fantastic. Just about the time I was heading back into the transition area, it started to rain slightly.

I bounded off my bike, determined to finish strong and sprinted out for the 5k run. My legs were numb and my lungs were heaving by this time, but I managed to keep up a good pace. About halfway through my run, the skies opened up and it just poured. I thoroughly enjoyed the rain, until it was coming down so hard that it was streaming down my face. Thankfully, it was a warm day. When I saw the finish line, I tried to give it more gas, but realized I was already at capacity. I finished strong and with a huge smile on my face. I also let out a few loud “WOOHOO’s” and “YEAH!’s”.

Can you see that rain???

Can you see that rain???

By now, the rain was coming down in sheets. It was ridiculous! I quickly changed into my dry clothes and full rain gear and went back to check on the results and cheer on the other finishers. To my complete shock, I found out I had gotten 2nd in my age group and 12th overall female finisher. SERIOUSLY? WOW, I was stoked!

2nd place AG

OK, I admit it. I took off my rain gear to pose for this one.

Shortly after this photo was taken the shivering commenced and I decided to go back to the hotel and take a hot shower. I had a 2 hour drive to make and I was pretty beat.

This event turned out to be a fun time, despite all the weird twists and turns leading up to it. Would I do it again? No. Not this one. I’d prefer a more organized event. I hope my next one is better run and there’s no algae to ruin the swim. We shall see….in about 3 weeks. Stay tuned.

Have you done a triathlon? Ever thought of one?

Race Season Rules for the Road. (The Pleasure and Pain of the Porta Potty Visit)

Now that race season is in full swing, I am presenting my first installment of Race Season Rules for the Road. Well, specifically, for what happens on the SIDE of the road. In the Porta Potties to be specific. There, I said it. Yes, the Porta Potties. (The modern version of what we used to call “Stink Peuw Houses” when I was a kid….you know-the fly infested Out Houses you’d use when camping?)

Oh yeah, there they are. Me first, please.

Oh yeah, there they are. Me first, please.

One thing I am aware of in public places is the consistent lack of hygiene in the public bathrooms. Germ-a-phobe that I am, I can’t tell you the number of times I have held my breath and cleaned up after someone, or forgone the pleasure of relieving myself in a public bathroom due to the unspeakable nastiness that I have found lurking in, on, and around public toilets.

When did mothers stop teaching their children to flush? If your child is too young to tend to themselves, then for the love of Mary, please assist them.

What the hell are people eating?

Why don’t they do that before they leave home?

RUNNERS!!!! PLEASE! Head my prayer! At group events and organized races, I know you LOVE your port-a-potties, but please pay attention to the Race Season Rules for the Road!.  Porta Potties are put in place for everyone’s comfort and relief. Be courteous!

Leave unto others that which you would leave unto you.

If you sprinkle where you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat!

If you splat where you shat, please be kind, and clean up that!

OK, enough poetry.

God knows I refused to step into a Porta Potty until I became a runner. Though they are disgusting little sweat boxes, when I am running a race I have been known to thank the Almighty when I finally see one on the horizon, and fall to my knees weeping for joy when there isn’t a line waiting outside one. But how many times have you opened the door and wish you could poke your eyes out with your own ear buds, or wished you had a hazmat suit to don before entering? Time stands still as you weigh the decision: “Do I enter and close the door, or just keep running and hope I make it to the next one before shitting myself?” Am I the only one that cries when the hand sanitizer dispenser is empty? Yuk, don’t touch the door handle!!!

So here are my Race Season Rules for the Road:

If it FALLS out of you, is PULLED out of you, PROJECTILES out of you, RICOCHETS off of your running shorts, or otherwise leaves your body at rocket speed, PLEASE take a few precious seconds and clean it off the seat, back, floor and walls of the “John”. Whether it is snot, vomit, pee, poop, or blood, nobody wants to navigate around it when they too are desperate to make their OWN emergency deposit. Sure you might be on your way to a PR, but this is just rude and crude, and makes you a bad sports person.

As someone with Celiac Disease and the lovely gastrointestinal “issues” that go along with it,  I am fully aware that there are many times when the body does things to us that we could never imagine, admit to, or ever want to remember. I am not criticizing those that are truly sick, in pain, or otherwise shouldn’t have eaten that last double chili bacon burger 2 hours before their marathon. All I’m saying is, please, please be aware that there are other people in the world besides you and they deserve a more sanitary place to potty. Thank you.

Stay tuned for my next installment of Race Season Rules for the Road in the coming weeks. Do you have pet peeves regarding runner etiquette? Care to share?  Be well. See you at the starting line.