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.

Normans dinner

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.

 

 

3 things that are working for me.

I am tired.  I need to get away.  That is all. 

I am blessed a million ways from Tuesday but I am feeling beat.  I have heart, people but no gas in my tank.  I am tired all the time and I am not pregnant or training for an Ironman.  Though I only work part-time (wimp!!) I need to get away from work.  I need to NOT SCOOP CAT POOP or worry about my four legged babies whom I love very much.

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Even my very favorite thing in the whole world, teaching yoga, is leaving me limp.  I need to fill my well.  Therefore I am leaving town on Friday for 8 days.  The first two will be for the opening of my son’s World Series Tournament the rest is for hilarity and frolicking in the Atlantic Ocean with my 3 sisters – husbands and children included.  Because leaving town to reboot is not always an option, here are three things that are working for me to help me stay in a somewhat positive frame of mind.

1.  Watching ‘Friends’ reruns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enough said.

2.  Practicing Yoga

Teachers shouldn’t forget to be students.  Theoretically we know we are all students and our students are our teacher and all that business but we really need to go TAKE CLASS.

3.  Leaving Voice Mails

That’s right.  Picking  up the phone and calling a friend.  Not texting, or facebooking (is that a verb?) but hoping to get a heartbeat on the other end.  Leave a message, don’t hang up – let your friend know you tried.   In case you are wondering, there’s a great resource on how to be cool on Facebook.  Take a look and let me know what you think.

3 Things that are NOT working for me.

1.  Naps

Don’t do it.  They leave you drained and wanting more.  I have enough fatigue in my life I don’t need to encourage more.  Plus avoiding the pull of the poppies may help my insomnia.

2.  Giving up my daily wine. 

What’s the point?  One or two a day never sent anyone to Betty Ford.

3.  Putting up with every silly person in my life.

You needn’t waste your time on people who don’t life you up or at the very least support you.  Be nice.  But don’t invest.  I have invested far too much in dead ends.  So no I am discerning and loving and protecting myself.

 

THIS ALWAYS WORKS:

The Sunrise Ruby (excerpt)

Work. Keep digging your well.

Don’t think about getting off from work.

Water is there somewhere.

— Rumi

Where do you find your water? I am going to roll around in a lot of it next week.  Catch you on the flip side…

Mutts make the best beeyatches

Here’s how Sunday went down.

(Spoiler:  it was a good one.)

I awoke at 5:30 to prepare for Amy to join me in our weekly communal Sit Fest.


If you have read a few of my posts over the last month, you may recall that my friend and I propelled ourselves into a Zen Meditation practice inspired by a book, a gorgeous priest with 1 inch hair, and a crazy road trip to Washington D.C.  We continue on this path to who knows where.  If the journey is the point, I’m not getting off the train anytime soon.  It’s a marvelous ride.


This entailed re-cleaning the kitchen from the efforts  of my two older children, making coffee, lighting up my praying lady and letting the dogs relieve themselves.

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My praying lady

I have grown attached to this $12 trinket from World Market.  She’s been a part of my Zen Meditation journey from the beginning.  Think Tom Hanks and Wilson from Castaway.

Likewise, I have grown attached to this daily practice of sitting still on the throne my my hind quarters.  Amy and I are both at a loss for words when we are asked what it is we are up to.  We don’t know.  But something’s happening here, just read the signs or look at the bitches.  Here’s my Maggie during our quite time:

Completely relaxed.  Wide awake.  I want to be like her.

After I shot us up with coffee and we caught up from the weekend by whispering in the dawn light (my family was asleep but had been forewarned that this ritual was to take place one floor below their slumber.)  I was nervous we’d be walked in on.  In the immortal words of one of my VERY FAVORITE BANDS THAT NO ONE REMEMBERS AND FEW HAVE EVEN HEARD OF, The System:

Hang a sign up on the wall, don’t disturb this groove.

 

Amy (l), Clair (r)

Then she left.  Time stands still when we sit.  We are quiet, we breath, and then the bell rings.  Sounds riveting, doesn’t it.  It is.  It really is.

I set my praying lady back on her throne in my dining room and proceeded to wake my children so we could attend Mass at a monastery and then serve pancakes to the monks.  I was so deeply connected to that experience and didn’t once feel confused or like I was cheating on myself.  Eastern-influenced meditation practice meets the beautiful rituals of Catholic sacrament.    Though I felt like a spiritual mutt, it somehow works.  They say mutts make the best female dogs.  A mix of many influences, some obvious some mysterious.  Mostly they are loveable and very, very chill.  I’ll take that.

I taught a yoga class later that day, cleaned my house for the hilarity of the upcoming holiday, picked up one of my daughters from a sleepover hosted a marshmallow-roasting fest in my backyard and the other usual things most mother/yogi/wife/sister/friend mutts do.

This beeyatch was tired.

Conclusion:  you don’t have to be one thing to be full-on, all-out, 100% awake.  But, I do need coffee.

Would you have coffee with a mutt?

I saw my therapist today

As you might imagine – given the nature of this blog – I am a big believer in therapy.  I love the whole bit.  The couch.  The kleenex.  The tea and the tears.    I have accessed some deep healing from traditional talk therapy with very gifted practitioners.  I became fascinated by the depth and breadth of healing possible within the human spirit.  So much so I went to graduate school for a time hoping to become a therapist in private practice.  I didn’t finish the program for a number of reasons but I just may.  That’s another post.

I have been on The Couch of a particular therapist on and off for nearly two decades.  It started with a broken heart and opened a treasure trove of untapped memory and hope and inspiration and mostly Truth.   I find it incredibly healthy and positive to engage in the therapeutic process.  This lady learned of losing my mother, a surprise pregnancy, losing my father, my marriage, my children, my in-laws, reconnection, loss and love.  The basics and then some.  She knows it all.  She retired a number of years ago but yesterday I saw her at a yogurt shop.

I was with two of my children getting a treat between errands when my eyes found the face I stared into many, many times as my unique truth crawled over me.  Those eyes cradled my soul in safety as my secrets surfaced.  And she protected it all with dignity and professionalism and beauty.  She will forever hold a special place in my heart.

My children witnessed this special reunion – complete with long-held hugs and a damp eye.  Of course they wondered who she was.  I told them she was a special person I had known for a very long time.  It seemed to appease them enough.  I am not ashamed of my therapy – in fact I think everyone could use a dose; but decided my children were too young to get the whole picture.

“She’s nice,” they said.

So true.

As we were leaving the yogurt shop, I  had one more chance to catch up with her.  I told her I had become a certified yoga teacher.  She had known of my attempts to become a therapist.  She smiled at me and my children.  Though I was in post-run workout wear with hair to match – she told me I was beautiful.

“What a healer you must be,” she said.

“No,” I said.

“You are.”

And we parted, my heart full.  Just like old times.

It was a good day with my therapist.

I hope your day was good too.  Who did you run into?

The tourniquet effect

Spoiler:  My nightmare came to light; someone limped out of my class yesterday

During yesterday’s Yoga class my goal was to open and heal the hips.  Women especially hold a lot of tension in their hip joints – both emotional and physical stress.  It comes from past injuries, misalignment, incorrect posture, bad habits and even just lethargy.  Lack of nourishment from proper movement to these hard to maneuver joints can create an environment of stagnation that leads to inflammation and pain with movement.  Ewww.  I want vitality in my joints – especially big weight baring ones like my hips.  They support and cradle the weight of  your entire torso/upper body and provide the range of motion for your low limbs.  Hips belong on an altar.  Since we couldn’t do that I decided to make them the body part of the day. 

 

Among other things,

We started with this:

 

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Source:  Yoga Journal

Thread-the-needle to stretch the outer hips.  Remember hips have a wide range of motion and many aspects.  We sprinkled in a little of this:

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Source:  Bikram Yoga Boston

Wind-removing-pose.   This is a great example of the tourniquet effect in yoga.  The intent is to cut off blood supply to a major joint temporarily.  When the posture or hold is released there is a FLOOD of fresh, rich oxygenating blood supply flowing to the joint.  Very, very healing.  You can feel the warm flow of new healing blood rush to the joint.  It’s awesome.  Several poses can achieve this same end.  Like:

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Source:  me

Garland Pose.   Ignore the super-bad form.  (I am rolling in on the inside arches of my feet and my sitz bones should be parallel to the floor.  For the record, this picture is 7 months old.  I’ve much improved!!  BUT you get the drift on what is happening my hip joints.  Nothing getting through that flexion.  The tourniquet effect, step 1.  Cut of blood supply.  Simply returning the hip flexors to neutral (or standing) will send the rush of healing blood.  The tourniquet effect, step 2.  But we did this:

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Source:  www.andreasfetz.com

Lizard Pose.  Focus, right leg.  Look how beautifully open that hip flexor is.  Fresh blood supply just oozing in healing and nourishing.  I can almost feel it.

It’s a beautiful thing.  Like everything, when it’s in balance.  You don’t want to cut off the blood supply too long and you don’t want to over stretch into the joint’s open place either.  This is what makes yoga, a mindful practice.

So, one of my students seemed to be limping a bit out of class.  Help.  A newer teacher, this is my worst nightmare.  I asked how she was and she said her hips hurt.  This was the opposite of my intention, I wanted the sequence to heal.  I know this lady’s abilities pretty well as she is a regular and I was not worried at all about her lizard pose because I have seen her do marvelous things with her hips.  She confessed she over stretched – allowed too much body weight to be released into the joint as she stretched it open.  She was cheerful and seemed confident it would work itself out.  I know it will.

As a teacher I learned to weave even more a good balance of encouraging your body to do new things and recognizing signals to back off.  Like the tourniquet effect, a perfect blend of cutting off and letting in is remarkably healing.

What did you cut off, what can you let in?