Gum doesn’t work.

With Ironman Chattanooga almost two weeks in my rear view, I hasten to document the experience of taking my body over 144.6 miles by water, by wheels, by feet.

I am starting with thank you:

God.  For blessing me with a healthy, mobile body and a heart for endurance. For the beautiful planet we inhabit including the soil and mountains and water that reside in your gorgeous city of Chattanooga, TN.

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Cameron. For asking your soldiers to change the world in a way that is changing us.  For giving your SpeakUp race team purpose and push and hope.  For your smile and hug that I miss so much.

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My husband and children. For never complaining about the time Ironman training took away from you.  For believing in me 100% of the time. For being proud of me when I couldn’t be.

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My teammates. So much life lived together. So much more to go. For the symbiosis that became one body, one heart on that course.  Same tears. Same smiles. Same pain. Same purpose.

SURT

My friends. You know who you are.  You texted. You called. You posted. You sent your positive vibes. You donated. You stayed up late, very late waiting to see me finish. You told me you were proud of me.  You made me feel special even when from the back of the pack, I couldn’t feel it so much.

Race Summary.

Swim. With the aid of a downriver current. It was amazing.  The usual slug fest from hundreds of arms slicing out a freestyle stroke to get to T1 had me sending light and love to the dude who slammed my head 4 times.  GET IN YOUR LANE. Oh wait we were sharing one big lane.  Best part was starting with my sister. Staying close until we knew we were each okay was a highlight. And guess what, once we told each other ‘I Love You, I’m okay.’ It was head down and GO.  We still finished within a couple of seconds of each other.  I’ll take her pace any day of the week. I’ll take her courage and heart and light. If only.

My baby sister… no words.

Bike. Beautiful hilly course with a ton of elevation change.  I felt strong. I made some decisions that cost me some time but mostly I was prepared and confident. I still don’t know why Chattanooga requires 116 bikes miles instead of the usual IM 112.  I need to work on nutrition but mostly I was glad it was done and felt lucid enough to smile as I started the gawd-awful run.

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 6.28.26 AMRun. After about 7/8 miles of relatively flat, there are 3 hills so steep they punch you in the chin.  And you get to do it twice.  At the half marathon mark, athletes have access to a ‘special needs’ bag which contains items to help you stay strong and motivated to keep (in my case) slogging it out.  When I packed my special needs bag,  I decided that Trident, bubble mint gum might be just the thing to motivate me to keep going.  I love gum. In this case, gum doesn’t work. I was wrong.

gum

About halfway, I experienced GI issues that NOTHING seemed to cure.  After stopping 4 or 5 times to preserve the color of my shorts for the finish line pic (gross.  Sorry for the non running readers. There is no dignity left.), I started to see that indeed I would make it.

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Not before I enjoyed this script on auto pilot in my head:

Here I go again.  I am so slow all my teammates have to wait a VERY long time for the likes of me to finish.

This is the stupidest thing I have ever done.  Who do I think I am?

I did NOT want to go this mentally low since my Challenge Roth experience, and here I am, again.

YES, Indeed.  Here I am, again.

I am here.

Lucky, lucky me.

 

 

Tales From Tour de Wintergreen

My teammates and I went to ironman camp over the weekend. The pic below is proof we survived.

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We are repping the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation through the SpeakUp Race Team, an organization dedicated to erasing negative stigmas associated with teenage anxiety and depression and to providing help and hope through education and positive activities at either Ironman Chattanooga or Ironman Louisville this fall.

Nestled in the hills near Charlottesville, Virginia is Wintergreen, a resort for Mid Atlantic skiers to whet their appetite for real western mountains and wintertime adventures. It is also Mt. Everest to me.

There are breweries, wineries, and spas galore. Do not be fooled by the fluffery and fun that can be had at this resort.

Last weekend was NO VACATION.

There are many details to share about how I worried an ulcer in my gut for the anticipation of the workouts (exaggeration) and how much I LOVE the people I am training with (not an exaggeration) and why I am on fire to complete this race (TRUTH). But I will spare you those.

This is a candid moment of the bike route description with Coach/Friend Parker Spencer (famous rising star in the triathlon world, good friend, good person, good-god-does-he-push-us guru of fitness)

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Does he think I am a 19-yr-old boy?

Following are some highlights:

It’s the climb. I don’t know the grade or the elevation of the bike course but I will tell you I have never gasped for and choked on my breath AT THE SAME TIME. I have very generous thighs but my heart and lungs were being very stingy. This lasted a long while.  Additionally, I have never considered pulling over on a downhill for sheer terror.  Check.  Considered but not done. White knuckle grip and positive self talk got me to flat land.

Profanity does help. I am not proud of it and it’s not pretty but I can tell you when Parker said we’d likely be cussing him during the second leg of the bike route he was right. I do not however, think he was prepared for the rotten filth that actually tumbled out. And I liked it.  That is all. Suffice to say we had to explain to our English learning Spanish compatriot who joined us for the weekend what some of the phrases meant.  He just turned 18. I said I wasn’t proud.

Sleep makes everything better. The bike experience was rough. We witnessed a cyclist, whom we did not know, being air lifted to help after he tumbled down a deep ravine at a  sharp switchback. He survived but it was serious. After we settled down from that and had an appropriate fit, we relaxed, whined and wined a little and tried to get rest for day 2 of camp fun. And like the cussing, it worked. Parker prepared a perfect run course and provided feedback for all campers as he rode the loop on his mountain bike. We then received awesome swim feedback and performed drills to improve technique at the resort pool. We all then hopped in the hot tub to debrief with weekend and talk through our upcoming races.

Indoctrinated. You know you are cyclist if you belly laugh to this:

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Watch it.

You’re welcome.

Fight! Finish! Faith!

CKG all the way!

4 Requirements of a Golden State Warrior

I  can’t keep this to myself.  I learned something during a recent, first-of-its-kind Mindful Parenting conference.  I shared this with my husband, my children and a few friends and now you.  We are talking change-the-world kind of stuff.

You’re welcome, in advance.

I am not claiming this information as my own or suggesting I know Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry or any member of the World Champion Golden State Warriors basketball team. What I learned was parlayed by my dear friend and much admired colleague, mindfulness teacher, and mentor Alex Peavey 

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NBA World Champions 2017

To be a Golden State Warrior, 4 things are required.

1.  joy

2.  mindfulness

3.  compassion

4.  competition

Joy – Every team member must bring a sense of joy to the court. Happiness and gratitude need to be there and easily noticed to be a Warrior.

Mindfulness – Each Golden State Warrior must bring a sense of presence, an awareness of THIS CURRENT MOMENT. Warriors must check unnecessary static (commonly referred to as bullish*t) at the gym door. Anything that doesn’t serve the required tasks has no home in a Golden State Warrior locker.

Compassion – Literally meaning ‘to suffer with’ compassion is required to demonstrate the Golden State Warriors as one body, sharing one breath moving as one unit to celebrate, contemplate and evaluate and authenticate their god-given talents as athletes. They share the highs and the lows as one.

Competition – Each GSW must have a desire to get better, to improve, to never stop learning or dreaming big – VERY BIG.

These are their core values.  Not once does Coach Steve Kerr mention winning.

And yet they are the winningest basketball team in history.

This mindfulness thing, it works. ClairmeditatingVegas

With awareness, I am convinced we can change the world. And become world champions.  Just ask a Golden State Warrior.

Or Alex Peavey

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You can learn more about Steve Kerr’s philosophies here.

Follow me on Instagram @clair_norman_mindful_life

 

 

Earthquake in Lynchburg, Va

That time you woke up heart bursting because you get to see the Game of Life played by your first-born who left you just 6 months ago to chase his dreams, have new experiences and get a college degree.

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And you walk extra slow across the parking lot to make the getting of shampoo and toothpaste and beef jerky and sour patch kids and microwave popcorn at a smelly and run down Family Dollar take hours upon hours because you know the time is nigh to say good-bye (again)

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And even though you know he is safe and happy and on a path you cannot pave for him, your heart quakes a bit because the velcro sandals and the band aids no longer need the curl of your knuckles to apply. Why oh why does time fly?

And don’t get me started on the pirate costume and swords made of sticks.

And you realize everyday is another day closer to another good-bye. Next time, it will be her, then her:

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The best part is, if we are very, very lucky – there is also ‘hello’ right around the corner.

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In gratitude for the 11 mile run I have today and the endless hours of Ironman Training coming up,
MMY

I came in last. Truth.

I have never been fast and I am okay with that. My best marathon time is 4:20.

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I thought I was a rockstar that day.

In 2014 I added in swimming and biking and became an age-grouper triathlete with realistic expectations. I can hang on the slow side of the middle of the pack on a good day.

I do it for this:

And because she does:

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My Boulder Bestie who is almost 50

And for her legacy:

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Cameron K. Gallagher

I do this for fitness, to test myself, because I am fascinated by human endurance. Whatever the reason a person endeavors to travel 140.6 miles WITHOUT A MOTOR and IN ONE DAY, it’s a big F**king deal. I bet none of them expects to be last. DFL (dead f**king last)

I was.  You can read about it here. The full truth.  Full disclosure.  16:55:42. Barely BARELY Ironman cut off.

For the last 7 months (to the day TODAY!) I feel slight tug of embarrassment whenever anyone asks about my first full ironman distance tri.

I say things like:

‘It was something.’

‘I barely made it.’

I never say: ‘I was last.’ But I was. I came in just ahead of the sweeper who was tooling about on a basketed bike wearing a smile that seemed so out of reach for me.

But I found a smile:

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I would come in last again for this. But I don’t want to. Not so much because I am embarrassed anymore but because I had to dig so deep for so many hours to make it.

I don’t want to have to go there for so long again.

So if you see me at Ironman Chattanooga in September, remind me I am one and done on being DFL.

2nd to DFL would be a PR.

I am working hard and plan to cut copious amounts of time from the race.

I will hug whomever is DFL. I know what it feels like.

Pretty awesome.

 

 

 

5 Must-See Documentaries

I am a documentary junkie. I think real life has plenty of drama and amazing twists with central characters who are worthy of analysis and emulation.

As vacation or stay cation draws to a close for many, there are a number of days left to catch up on some Netflix.

Here are some great opportunities for quality screen time.

 

 

  1.   Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau.  Eddie Aikau enlightened me regarding the social struggles of native Hawaiians.   He was a badass athlete, a ferociously loyal family man and friend. I would have loved to have a beer with him or waded on waters of the North Shore to get a glimpse of its guard and god-like surfing legend. After watching this, I hope one day someone might say, Clair would go. One thing we know for sure is, Eddie Would Go.Watch it today.

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2. Ride the Divide Movie. An award-winning feature film about the world’s toughest mountain bike race, which traverses over 2700 miles along the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains. The film weaves the story of three characters’ experiences with immense mountain beauty and small-town culture as they attempt to pedal from Banff, Canada to a small, dusty crossing on the Mexican border. I became inspired to learn about this when my dear  partner in adventure, badass athlete, nothing is impossible, friend-I want-to-be, Maureen announced she was training for this very race. Go, Maureen! I want to make a documentary about you.

 

3.  Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead  100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope and the end of his hope. In the mirror he saw a 310lb man whose gut was bigger than a beach ball and a path laid out before him that wouldn’t end well— with one foot already in the grave, the other wasn’t far behind. FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD is an inspiring film that chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health. The best part about this film is how Joe helps folks along his way by bringing his juicer and his message to anyone who will listen. He profoundly changes the lives of many including an unforgettable trucker. There is a sequel I have not yet viewed.

4.  Finding Traction  Ultra-marathoner Nikki Kimball tests her body and spirit in this documentary tracing her quest to break the record on Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail. Finding running saved her from herself as she climbed out of the darkness of severe depression. She’s just amazing.Watch it with your teenage daughters.

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And then there’s this:

5. True Crime: The Amanda Knox Documentary To mix up the choices, you gotta add a little foxy Knoxy.  Kinda like OJ – didn’t want to believe she did it, and she’s free. Scratching my head on this one. Thanks to my bestie, Beth – I gave this one a whirl and was surprised at how well done and fully researched this was. Be sure not to select the Lifetime movie choice about the topic; unless you are really attracted to cheese.

You’re welcome.

Happy New Year!

Love,

This Is Us

Not a documentary but a great TV show. Check it out.

Scarred and Stoked

Disclaimer: Selfie game is strong. So sorry.

I don’t know if is this morning’s prana pumping party (aka kundalini yoga class) hosted by the marvelous Holly Henty or that fact that I have just had the 3rd of 3 surgeries on my face to remove skin cancers but I feel better than I have in 3 weeks.

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My new face

In less than 3 weeks I have:

  • Received 113 stitches in my face.
  • Taught a yoga class and given a talk looking like this (although a shower was involved):
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Post-op Surgery #1
  • Learned to drink water and wine like this:
  •  Showed up at Thanksgiving looking like this:

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I also got to experience this:

I was not and am not in a health crisis but the work was necessary if I want it to say so.  I feel so refreshed, so free so grateful to have access to an amazing surgeon, health insurance, and the means to pay for the balance on this bad boy. (I estimate my out of pocket to be around $25 per stitch.) Merry Christmas to me, I suppose.

Yes, indeed.

Besides the people, prana, and stitch-free state of affairs, I am stoked from a run-in with an angel this morning. As I was braiding my daughters hair I reflected that my mother (almost 20 years an angel) would have loved watching her daughter weave shapes into her granddaughter’s mane. I decided to ask if she was with us. I felt her presence but wanted a REAL SIGN. (hello, where’s the faith??) I asked her to show me by having my daughter say something in the next 10 seconds, could be anything.

10, 9, 8, (lord, please let it happen)

7, 6, 5 (I just know Jane will speak)

4, 3, 2, 1 (nothing. RATS)

All good though. I don’t like to be tested either.

About an hour later, as we began our yoga class, Holly reminded us that we are infinitely connected to our source of life. Before and after to umbilical cord is cut. The connection never dies. I connected it to my mother-yearning-moment of earlier and just KNOW I was meant to hear it.

It was so right in my face.

Here’s hers:

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I dig irony.