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.

 

 

 

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??

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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:

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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:

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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

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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:

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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.

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

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

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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?

 

I said yes.

Now I  need a passport.

I am going here.

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To do this.

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A friend told me recently that she was trying to say Yes more often.

  • Date Night (need more).
  • Adventure (want more).
  • That third glass of wine (so easy).

The Yes Mantra was echoing when I got this a couple of weeks ago.

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The greatest year of my life? After this, heck yes.

A group of us are headed to Roth, Germany in July 2016 for DATEV Challenge Roth, the world’s largest long distance triathlon.  The purpose is to raise money and INTERNATIONAL awareness of the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation dedicated to erasing stigmas associated with teenage anxiety and depression and to developing and providing programs that help. Promoting the legacy message of my angel niece is a life’s calling to which I will always answer YES.

  • I have never been to Europe.
  • I have never done a race this long.
  • I never thought I’d have to wait to see her again.

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And so we do all there is to do. We fill our days with people and purpose we love.

We aren’t stopping with German beer. After some Bavarian pilsner we set our sites on Oatmeal Creme Pies at in Smoky Mountains of Tennessee for Little Debbie Ironman Chattanooga.

Do more than I ever thought I could do in one year??? Ummmm yes.

Do I believe I will cross the finish line after traversing 140.6 miles twice in a year?

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Yes.

So I have a lot of training, a ton of yoga, a ocean of gratitude for my family’s support and a blog to write. Will you hang with me for this amazing journey?

Please say yes.

Meet My Tattoo Artist

What a day!

February 16, 2015 brought snow, froze my pipes rendering me waterless with 3 children during a major Virginia snow. It also brought a new era to my 46 year old body. I am now a member of the tattoo club.

Meet the artist. The one-of-a-kind Leigh Odom.

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A lady with “Baby Phat” embroidered on her silky gold vest took this pre-tatt pic. Thanks, Ms. Phat!

Here’s the geography of my future body art:

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Straddling backwards a soft, high-backed leather chair of worn crackled red, I sat listening the musical cadence of Leigh’s voice as he told of his life’s work – a story that sounded like song. And sing it, he did. The machine purred. The lines got laid. It stung like a mother. One hour later I had a new shoulder.

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Leigh has the soul of an artist. Skin is one of his many media. He is kind and gentle and talented with bright lights behind his eyes. Helps since he uses needles to draw.

We all have a story. I am wearing mine. Thanks, Leigh.

Do you have a tattoo?

Would you ever?