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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

I got called out at yoga…

It wasn’t for anything good.  As a yoga teacher, I know it is disingenuous to rate the poses or practice as good, bad, or great. However I do not mind being told my down dog is the bomb or my camel, dancer, or pigeon pose is on point.

The middle little girl in me still likes a pat on the back, a nod, some attention that she is special. But not like this.

Last week I tried out a new yoga studio. It is posh, lovely, soothing, and smells good. It attracts the hipster millennials who live in its cool urban hood. When I noticed my teacher looked like Simone Biles, the gold medaling megastar gymnast and was about Simone’s age,  I thought I’d be in for a real athletic and dynamic workout. I had already started thinking how my practice would certainly stun her stunning self (so not yogic).

 

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Not my actual teacher, but the actual Simone Biles.

As is customary in many studios there were no mirrors. By my calculations, on the inside I am about 27. On the outside I am actually 48. Apparently without the help of mirrors, I forgot what the outside said.   Because the next thing happened.

In a new studio I never know how each teacher will incorporate the use of props in the sequence. I do not need them but I find them to be great tools to deepen a pose or provide spatial reference or just give my ASSana a soft place to land if I want to. So I gathered a few to have at-the-ready near my matspace. (I made that word up – like a millennial would)

After the usual centering activity Simone brought us up to (wait for it…) table top – to start our moving practice. I think she thought it might be too much for me.

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Actual Table Top

Simone then explained while looking AT ME that if our knees hurt we could roll our mat up a few times to provide some cushioning. Or, we could use a blanket underneath to soften the blow to our knees. She didn’t say it but she implied – like those of us with more advanced body parts. She even came over to me (only me) with said soft blanket to offer her geriatric follower some relief. I giggled like the school girl I think I still am and told her I was fine.

Some might call it a sweet gesture, others might call it ageism or profiling. Most would might call me petty.

But I couldn’t help it. What I wanted to say is: Look b*tch, I have been holding tabletop and plank longer than you’ve been alive. Have you seen my tattoo?

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My actual calf

I proceeded to put so much zest into a slow hatha yoga with meditation class that I made myself sore – serves me right.

I temporarily forgot that the face that chatted Simone up before class looked like this:

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My actual face

I had just had a number of skin cancers removed and am wearing new but healing scars. I can’t blame my yoga teacher that she may have thought that mostly happens to old people. Because it does.  Compared to my waiting room compatriots for the procedure, I am millennial.

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The actual waiting room

I am old. I am young. I am whatever. Age isn’t a thing – it’s me that made it so.

Maybe the gymnast in Simone look-alike saw the efforts my body made to be strong and vital and healthy and thought I could use a rest.

Maybe she felt a tug at her heartstrings that I may have been through something recently and could use some extra softness.

Whatever it was, it was just (what for it…) nice.

For the record, I would go back. Maybe my next teacher will be her:

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Jaysea DeVoe – The Youngest Yoga Teacher in the US

She’s 13. Like her:

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My actual daughter, Jane.

76 Million Reasons Not To Die

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At almost 80 years old, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is one of the wonders of the world, and one of the most photographed things on the planet.

By 2020 it will be impossible to die by jumping off of it. According to a Golden Gate District press release, a  stainless steel net, will be installed about 20 feet down from the main Bridge roadway, extending 20 feet out, with a slight raise on the outer edge will deter suicide attempts and catch those determined to try.

Beginning on the east side, the net will be installed along both sides of the Bridge, running 1.7 miles in each direction. It will be constructed to have minimal visual impact, with 90% transparency.

This super safety net costs $76 million dollars.

According to Kevin Hines, it is worth every penny. Kevin, like over 2000 others, tried to end his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

He, like 35 others, failed.

Thank God.

On Wednesday, thanks to the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation I got meet him and hear his story firsthand. Kevin is holding Cameron’s SpeakUp5k race shirt. (2014 edition). Cameron’s cousin, Kathleen (my daughter) is on his left.

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Kevin had a rough start. He was born to parents addicted to hard drugs. As a toddler, he was adopted by people he considers his parents and raised in a family with love but not without problems. His parents divorced, a beloved teacher committed suicide, and in his teens he succumbed  to bipolar disorder with paranoia and auditory and visual hallucinations. He was sick. He needed help. He felt he had no hope.

Sixteen years ago this Sunday, Kevin methodically and purposefully made his way to the bridge hoping for a sign not to jump. He didn’t get it. However, he says he experienced instantaneous regret the minute his hands hit the rail. But it was too late to pull is body weight back. It took 4 seconds to break the surface of the water at which time he broke several vertebrae. The bone fragments pierce many of his internal organs. He used  his arms to get to surface. It took much more than 4 seconds to break the surface of the water from the other direction. And he has severe asthma.

He now works as a mental-health advocate, traveling the world to share his story in the hopes of preventing suicide. His first book, Cracked, Not Broken, a memoir of his life before and after his suicide attempt, was released in 2013.

Kevin’s father, Patrick Hines now sits on the advisory board for The Bridge Rail Foundation, which works to stop suicides on the bridge. That group is largely responsible for advocating and raising the $76 million dollars for the life-saving net.

The first time Kevin spoke publicly about his life after the suicide attempt was to a group of 7th and 8th graders at his alma mater.

Bingo!! Schools!!!

This is the focus of programming like Minding Your Mind provided free of charge to area high schools by the CKG Foundation. These are school based workshops and presentations to give teens real tools and resources to help with anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health issues. And to end the stigma associated with these challenges.

Kevin is so stoked about the work of CKG, he had to pick up Cameron’s shirt.

He says he will come run the SpeakUp5k next year and you should too.

We welcome you with open arms, Kevin Hines.

 

 

19 Reasons to Drop the Mic

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Boom.

At 2:21pm tomorrow I will have been married 19 years. I never tire of a good race, birth, or relationship story and I do wholeheartedly believe every single one of us has one or a few. Here’s my story and why I simply must drop the mic.

I met my husband 20 years ago tomorrow at a party my cousin threw to mark her move to a new neighborhood that would soon become mine. She thought I may like her new neighbor but probably didn’t bank on having her cuz, bestie, partner-in-crime literally living a hundred yards from her kitchen table one year later.

Boom.

We met. We chatted. Three weeks later, he asked me out on a date. 9 weeks later my mother died suddenly.

Boom. Biggest ever.

Two weeks later at her gravesite he asked me to marry him. Seven months later, a year to the day we met, I said ‘I do’ forever. Six days later, I got pregnant.

Boom. Oops.

We had him:

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19 months later, we  had her:

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Then we had her:

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Boom. Boom. Boom.

16 months later, my first love – my Dad – died of a heart attack in his car.

Boom. Seismic.

A number of years passed. Big stuff. Little stuff. All kinds of stuff happened on this amazing journey we call life. Two and  half years ago, we were changed forever.

We lost her:

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My sixteen year old niece. Her story is here.

Boom. Broken.

From the beginning we have been going through big booms.

Meeting and marrying my husband is a case study in serendipity. When my mother died I had a brand new, called-when-he-said-he-would boyfriend who made me a laugh at the ready to help heal my broken heart. His million good qualities are only matched by my immense hope that he knows how well loved he is. By many – especially me.

He is tenacious, kind, loyal, compassionate, an amazing listener, an athlete extraordinaire, shy by nature, award-winning salesman who puts his family above himself with every breath he takes.

(That’s 15 booms mic drops if you are counting.)

He a wants only the best for me, supports my crazy, is a good cook, a gardener, with a sense of humor that still makes me belly laugh 19 years later.

One day I’ll get him to take my Yoga class

BOOM!

(The seven half marathons we’ve run together just isn’t enough).

We should all have a Mike  mic story like this.

Oh so very lucky, me!

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