Why You Should Always Take the Train

On Sunday, my husband and I took my oldest to college. It hit me like a freight train.

I knew it was coming but didn’t anticipate the impact.

Sure I:

  1. Deal with the ache of missing him daily around the house. (knew it)
  2. Wish I could have stayed longer when we dropped him off. (normal, kinda)
  3. Face the fact that much of my job with him is done. (endings, not doing well with this one)

NickDon'tLeave

I like beginnings much better. Until I went to Germany with the SpeakUp Race Team, I had never been on a train. Because of the beer and comfy seats, I love this mode of travel.

Just yesterday I said good bye to Nick as he boarded the big yellow bus for the first time.

NickFirstDayKindergarten

What feels like 2 seconds later, I did this:

NickMomLC

Organized his dorm room and stood next to him for a big moment – The last hug before I was no longer his daily confidant, baseball sherpa, homework advisor, cook (sometimes) and nag (kinda, sometimes).

He is ready to fly and for that I couldn’t be more grateful for all his new beginnings. (And for the record, mine too)

He is prepared!

As we were loading the car I noticed one of his Thomas the Trains sitting in the box marked “desk”. I pointed it out to him as tears welled for a moment long gone:

Nicktrain

 

He said:

Mom, you gotta bring Thomas. It’s good luck.

His childhood brings him strength and hope and luck for the hard work of new beginnings. That’s just what I needed to let him go and grow.

And to begin again in a life of change and adventure. How blessed am I for the chance.

I am so lucky.

Has to be the train.

 

One Thing I Am Obsessed With and Why You Should Be Too

I have a bevy of beautiful girlfriends; smart, adventurous, fun, accomplished, driven queens of their kingdom who inspire me everyday. Of particular note, is my friend Jen who could and probably has been mistaken for Kelly Lynch or Michelle Pfieffer.

I was super excited when KellyMichelleJen came to a few of my yoga classes earlier this summer.

Jen gave me a book she thought I would enjoy, she was super-sized right.

Here’s the obsession

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 3.35.53 PM.png

I want to attain a level of fitness as I approach 50 that is currently stunted by the untrue mantra, ‘sucks getting old’.

No it doesn’t. It means you are here drawing new, never-been-done before inhales every single second. Makes me giddy to think of it and to read this book.

One excerpt:

Webb argues that exercise can improve our bodies at any age, hailing it as the most powerful tool we have to forestall aging and prevent and even treat just about every chronic disease that exists today. “If we had a drug that did what exercise did, it would be the biggest revolution ever and would be promoted all over the world. And all you have to do is go out for a run.”

I am staring at 50 with rose-colored glasses and this affirms my passion for exercise. I am not going down as age creeps up, unless it’s opposite day.

This book is filled to the brim with research-backed expert, nutritional advice and preaches from the Bible of Yoga and Cross Training – my own personal fitness scripture. Among other, I-love-you athletes and experts in their field, Webb went to see the world’s oldest yogi to glean sage advice for living with vitality to old age.

Tao Porchon-Lynch who turns 98 tomorrow.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 3.48.39 PM.png
Happy 98th Birthday Tao! I love you.

Like the author:

I want to enter the second half of my life in the best shape of my life.

And I will get older, faster and stronger – a nice side bonus will be more energy, better quality, good moods, and a leaner frame. Good Lord, now I can’t wait to be fifty.

I bet this book is pretty good too:

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 3.56.12 PM

I  never said I wouldn’t have fun along the way. Margarita’s, anyone?? (only with fresh organic lime and Patron, please)

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 4.11.04 PM

How are YOU staring at the rest of your life?

Join me on my journey, please. Details to come.

 

3 Recovery Revelations

With Challenge Roth 140.6 in my rearview mirror, I want the euphoric after-feeling to last forever.   Alas, deadlines, family responsibilities and bills are taking up the vista on the view out the front.

But that’s may fault. It’s up to me to recall and imprint the lessons and successes and pure love of the day and to let the experience take root.

In the days following my return flight I did a 3-day juice cleanse, took 4 yoga classes in 5 days; 3 hot and 1 suspended, and found my way back to my strength trainer. I executed a days long festival; Jane-a-palooza, as a way to beg forgiveness for missing my daughter’s 13th birthday to chase my dream race Challenge Roth. I dug back in to personal and professional projects that I had placed on hold.

janeandclairyoga
Jane (left, orange) and Mom during day 1 of Jane-a-palooza – “Yoga on Ropes”

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to have to climb up from a low so low during the run. Now the work begins to be the change that I felt after the race and to banish old beliefs about abilities, capabilities, and possibilities.  While I am still recovering and discovering a new path since July 17 a couple of big things became apparent.

Revelation #1 – I do not need drugs to sleep

Dealing with chronic insomnia since my early 20’s, I was taking melatonin every night to help me sleep. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I don’t know if my body was jolted into making its own because of the physical demands of the race or if I have had spontaneous healing – either way I have been sleeping drug-free since July 13. Feels good.

Revelation #2 – I still like to run.

4 miles hot and humid. A herd of dragonflies levitated and danced about with synchronicity at mile 2. They are never far away. This is my favorite one.

IMG_0018
Beauty on Beauty

Revelation #3 – Reconnecting is essential.

Training takes up so much time and energy, some areas of life don’t get the attention you want to give. Time with family and friends is sucked up in to bike wheels or pool lanes. Neglected people, projects, goals, and bucket lists items wait patiently for attention. I am here.

 

I am ready to love on you all.

And plan for the next big race.

 

Challenge Roth Race Report

That Time I Learned What I Already Know

Warning: Long post, but 140.6 miles is a long way to go. Thanks for taking the time to read.

IMG_0642
Plane Ride – Clair and Tracy

A long time coming with purpose that cannot be over played, Challenge Roth 2016 in Germany was an epic adventure. My first full-distance triathlon, my first trip to Europe, my first time turning 48. My first days after crossing the finish line are fresh with hope and intention and inspiration. I have almighty God, a mighty fight by my niece,  and the magic blessing of love from my family and friends, teammates and strangers to thank for this life I now have after the race. This is one of those defining events that marks life before July 17, 2016 and after. I hope this happy hangover never goes away.

The Swim

IMG_0646
SpeakUp Race Team Ladies – Practice Swim

After a severe OWPA (Open Water Panic Attack) during the practice swim, I was filled with dread the nasty monster would again take up head space during the actual swim 2 days away. Because our teammate who triples as a nationally known coach, race director and endurance sports entrepreneur, got back in the water to talk us back from the OWPA ledge I started to believe I could keep my head clear of the water demons. So I did what most might. I had a beer for lunch.

BeerGermanyprerace
Nerve-calming nutrition

I digress.

My mantra that was engine for the swim was: All Good. No Doubt. Go. Go. Go. Compliments of my sister, Mary-Suzanne. It was the exorcism to the OWPA monster who rattled my front door during the race but never got in. Because I have poor sighting skills am an over-achiever I swam 2.8 miles instead of the required 2.4. Oh well. I was still (super) happy with my time.

The Bike

The course was magical – through towns so picturesque and quaint, God owes me nothing for the dreams of Europe He planted in my head when I was a little girl. I had technical issues (lost chain at the bottom of a major hill which I cranked up with no momentum from a previous downhill, mistakes with water bottles, cages that didn’t hold and general nutrition probs. I have A LOT to learn here) that stole time but not enough to keep me from the cut-off.

The legendary Solar berg hill is as astonishing as Roth veterans testify. They say the energy from the crowd pulls you up that hill in Froome and Frodo fashion. I say I knew my quads had a ton to do with it but the push from the crowd who loves their country and their race kept the legs churning.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 6.27.08 AM
It wasn’t pretty but I got it done.

After 112 miles, and more hours than I expected, I happily turned my bike over to the volunteer to start the final leg of the race of my life so far.

The Run

During a pre race pep talk, my dear friend Beth Risdon shared that the key is to learn to ride the wave of the day. Don’t get to comfortable in the highs and know the lows will pass. You need to stay mentally strong and believing that things won’t necessarily get worse when you are struggling.

Because of a nagging foot injury I had a run/walk race strategy from the start. I felt pretty good and settled in to that for the first 4/5 miles. Slowly but surely I began to break down. My painful foot and GI issues plagued my run. As I passed the half marathon mark I knew I wouldn’t get pulled from the course but I also knew unless I picked up speed I may not make the Roth-specific 15 hr time requirement. Ironman time limit is 17 hours.

The Darkness and The Light

While on the last out and back at about mile 17/18 the sun began to set. As I entered a stretch of trail I took the head lamp and started to mentally and spiritually break down. I knew all of my team mates were finished or almost and realized there were absolutely no other runners near me. It occurred to me that the ones behind me were pulled perhaps at the half way mark and I started to believe they were the lucky ones. (I am not minimizing the terrible feeling of being pulled off a course that has your heart and soul all over it but whereas I was well into the run… 18/19 miles at this moment I still had a shit-ton to go)

I was alone in a foreign country with a very painful foot and stomach issues. Course support was just about nil. No water. No food. No cell phone. No light. No one.

I exited the woods about mile 20 still very much alone.

Keep moving forward. Keep moving forward.

I reached a stretch of soft pavement by a lovely during-the-day canal and saw blessed volunteers breaking down what would be the last opportunity for water or calories. I desperately needed both and knew my body would gobble them up faster than the finish line loomed.

Don’t stay in the lows. Don’t stay in the lows.

Grace is worried about me. What if my legs buckle and I can’t move? There is no food. There are no people. I have no cell phone. I still have 4/5 miles left. I am alone in a foreign country. No light. No food. No people. Depleted…. almost.

I toyed with shame an embarrassment. No one wants to be the sweeper or the last teammate. With the SpeakUp Race Team, I am in company with Kona kings, Could-be-pro’s, and born-to-swim-bike-run athletes with heart, moxie and staying power who eat pain to help others. I may not have speed but I refuse to be the weak link. I did not want to be pitied. Pride poked through my madness but quickly left when I needed to stay in the moment to make it. Pride took up precious space in my constitution until it left with this prayer. (remember I am still very much in the race. At this point it’s my race I am going for Ironman time.)

God, I know I am in your Grace. But I am afraid. Help me.

My Frenchman

Within moments a gentlemen came behind me and asked in broken English if he could Finish This with me.

God, really? That was fast.

In true Cameron Gallagher fashion, I said to him: “Let’s Finish This.”

Jean-Marie is from France, a 3-time Challenge Roth Finisher with a number of impressive races under his belt. I am in very, very good company in every way. We have each given over to mostly walking with a few stretches of jogging. It is mile 22.

Two strangers, one an angel to another. We knew we’d Finish This and likely in Ironman time. Along the way he learned about our amazing SpeakUp Race Team, our purpose and our maker. I learned his family has been dealing with mental illness for quite some time.

I have a spot in Paris for my family to visit and a free tour guide.

He taught me to be proud of myself. I taught him about the changing face of depression and mental illness drawn by Cameron. We held each other up – he more than I, I feel sure. But together, nonetheless, we fought the good fight. We finished the race. And with a little help from a friend, we kept the faith.

IMG_0663
Jean-Marie and me at the finish. Poor lighting. But it was perfect.

My Heroes

My team. My husband. My BFF in Boulder. My friends. My children. My siblings. My parents. My collective extended team family. My Coaches. My niece, my Cameron. All.

You are my all in all.

My medal.

They don’t give out Ironman medals at Challenge Roth. Our Moose gave me his. Our Jeff gave me his commemorative finisher’s beer stein. This belongs to Us. All of Us.

 

Challenge Roth taught me what God’s been trying to show us all for all time.

We have Enough. We are Enough.

At 48, I believe.

Cheers.

IMG_0672.jpg
On to the next.

3 Reasons to Quit Something You Love

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 5.31.49 PM

Soon, I am going to quit teaching Yoga. Given the name if my blog, it may seem a bit insane and it does feel super weird.

After all, teaching Yoga:

  • Makes me happy.
  • Is legal.
  • A part of the very core of me.

Albert Einstein is much smarter than me and he said insanity is:

doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

I  need change. As I stare at the exit sign of my 40’s I know there is so much to do – new paths to take and time won’t wait.

If you are like me and want to squeeze tons of life out of every single moment, go on travel adventures, make a difference every single day, you may need to free up some space in your mind and calendar for new gigs.  You cannot take on new endeavors make any more $$ and set your sails with the wind at your back if you are too busy moving food around your plate. Even if you love everything you do, too much is just that too-the-hell-much. Nothing changes and you end up insane.  I want to be insanely happy and the process isn’t for the faint of heart.

So I say good-bye for now to something I love (you should think about it too) Here’s why:

  1. To get better at it and to practice more. I rarely make time to practice yoga.  A good teacher has a consistent self practice. What I currently get is a few random poses around the house.

And the occasional Bikram Yoga treat.

2.  To focus on new challenges. A new relatively new triathlete, I am racing my first (2) Ironman distance races this year and Lord, the training is kicking my butt.

I want to be a student too. I am considering additional certifications in the yoga, health and wellness arena. Maybe I’ll just go away to college with him. No, please don’t go. 

IMG_1450

My first is leaving the nest and I am insane over it.

3. To give good attention to current endeavors that give back, can be financially rewarding (I have 2 more to send to college) and also bring me much joy.

They include:

Working with my sister at the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation and SpeakUp5k.

IMG_1175

Writing this blog and for this magazine.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 8.06.33 AM

Grow my direct sales Rodan + Fields (premium skincare brand) business. I love working with wonderful talented people who are helping others love the skin they’re. This will end up being what supports my dream journey…

To living.

To really living.

Yoga Teaching, we’ll get back together when that thing called Time, says it’s okay.

For now it’s okay to say good-bye. I will always love you.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 5.31.49 PM.png

Him too:

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 5.33.47 PM

Dang, it’s hard to say good-bye.

 

 

3 Shots of Tennessee Whiskey

I had every intention of practicing yoga on my recent trip to Nashville. I researched studios in a trendy ‘hood called the Gulch, a dynamic area of urban development and redevelopment located between Music Row and Downtown. The Gulch is an exciting combination of the old, the adapted, and the cutting edge. It pulsates with opportunities for the very best Nashville experience.  I almost went here.  Almost.

I was too busy having epiphanies and getting out of my comfort zone to bother.

They did not come as after-effects to shots of Tennessee Whiskey though I think one could argue that such a drink or song could cause hallelujah moments. Amen??

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 5.22.30 PM

Whiskey in Tennessee is like coffee  most places. Consumed with anticipation of its sweet and smooth effects.

I am not a whiskey drinker which I kept secret in its capital. I did, however, feel what I imagine to be similar ripple effects from shots of such. I felt more calm, more capable and happy with hope and anticipation for life’s next chapter(s) after shots of a different kind. All thrown back in Nashville, my  new favorite city (for now).

Shot #1

A conversation with her:

IMG_3396

There is nothing like a heart to heart conversation with an old friend to take the adhesive off a ‘stuck-feeling’ outlook. Thanks, Beth for a million years of friendship. I can see clearly now one should dream, prioritize, make a task list and act. Duh!! Thanks for not, saying ‘DUH’!!

Shot #2

I did my best to stick to my Ironman training plan by taking a ride on this:

IMG_1359

Twice. For a total of 2.75 hours, 2 of which were in HR zone 4 and sometimes 5. The endorphins and sense of accomplishment is a hangover I welcome.

Shot #3

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 5.24.20 PM

I did not have Justin Timberlake or Chris Stapleton (at least in the carnal sense) as they belted out the sweetness of strawberry wine. I did however spend the evening in the Country Music Hall of Fame for a business dinner and private concert (300 people) by him:

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 7.37.37 PM

That’s Richie McDonald of Lonestar fame. Though they have many hits in their own right, I did not realize that he wrote Walking in Memphis, sung by Marc Cohn – which is one of my  all time favorite songs. My maiden name is Handy, no relation to WT. I do however have a prayer in Memphis Nashville.

Here are some some after-effects of my 3 shots:

I bought boots.

IMG_1370

I stayed out very, VERY late. (I did not drink Miller Lite – I am discerning.)

IMG_1376.jpg

I opened my mind. I closed out the weekend with a beer. (I don’t like beer.)

IMG_1387

That Fat Fire is for you, Beth. The actual epiphanies, that’s for a later post.

Cheers.

Do you practice yoga and train for long-ass races while on vacation?