Happy. Healthy. Heathen.

Traveling, training, thinking, talking, typing


March 2010

What I’m reading

When Jesse bought me a Kindle for Christmas this year, I was delighted.  (Give him credit for listening – I’d been whining for it for over a year).  I had no idea, however, that in the three short months I have had it, it has become as indispensable an electronic device as my cell phone and laptop.  They’re gonna yank my hippie credentials any second now.

I’m a voracious, ferocious reader.  When I was a little girl, my family would vacation in the car, like everyone else in the 60’s, and I would position my book under my leg to sneak reads while I was supposed to be sightseeing.  When I was in high school, I had several books stashed in my locker just in case I finished one during the day and needed another one before I could get home or to the library.  As an adult, I keep books all over the place – in my car, at work, in the bathroom, in the laundry room, in the kitchen, so that I’m never without the ability to grab a quick read when I have 90 seconds or so.

When my kids were little, I made them a simple promise about books:  anything they wanted to read, I would buy for them.  (I didn’t factor in porn, and I guess they were too young to see that loophole!).  When we designed our house, in a very real sense, I structured the inside of the main living area around the bookshelves, upstairs and down.

All this to repeat:  I love reading.

Here is a non-comprehensive list of the books I’m currently reading:

On the Origin of the Species, by Charles Darwin

Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

The Problems of Philosophy, by Bertrand Russell

The Vegetarian Myth:  Food, Justice, and Sustainability, by Lierre Keith

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce

Eat, Pray, Love:  One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond

The Greatest Show on Earth, by Richard Dawkins

The Chalice and the Blade, by Riane Eisler

Those include books on my Kindle and traditional editions, but they don’t include those books I have already read, to which I’ll occasionally go back for a chapter or two; that list is enormous.

the pile by the bed

I’ve just reread the list and I realize I don’t have any fiction in there.  I enjoy fiction – I’ve recently been devouring Nelson DeMille, especially his John Corey novels.  I’m just not reading one right this red hot second.

Share your books with me – I like nothing better than to have a book recommended to me!

Thanks for reading!

Kiwi kayaking

I’ve said it here before, but let me say it again:  Put “Visit New Zealand” on your bucket list.  Now.  Go do it.  I’ll wait.

Here are pictures that do not do justice to our rafting trip on the Rangatikei (with our handy built-in raft guides).

looking down the gorge at the river
pre-float sandwiches
lots of supervision
part of the plan is to get Jesse up to speed to raft the fam down the Grand Canyon...
counting on Sam for supper...
...and he came through!
Middle Earth Waterfall
It was really this beautiful

Then the camera battery died and the photos were over.  We camped on the riverbank and had trout for supper.  Sam and Laura had to go back to Palmy for classes, and we had to go home.  We all vowed we would go back and do this trip again, in some kind of variation.

Now we’re unpacking and enjoying a couple of days with sweet Amy as she passes through on the way to see her sissy in Paris.

Glad to have this lovey home even for a few hours.

Thanks for reading!

Post post


35,000 feet.

Somewhere over the Pacific.

I’ll Command C then Command V this right into the blog when I’m online again, but here’s when I’m feeling it.  When writing is your therapy, your catharsis, as it is for me, you let the moment take you when it will, and this is my moment.

I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on the whole thing.  I’ve gone rafting with hubby, son and son’s lovely girl in one of the most beautiful places on earth; all of which worked on my psyche to help me get things into perspective.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. I am so very fortunate.  I have the most unbelievable family and friends.  The outpouring of support I received when I told my Ironman story has touched me to the core of my very soul (and if you know me at all, you know I don’t use expressions like that lightly).  Someone very dear to me suggested that I had all of my loved ones swimming with me that day in the lake, and it was no wonder that I struggled, but if that is the case, then I’ll happily never complete Ironman, because that weight is a privilege, a pleasure, and an honor.  I cannot begin to express my humility and gratitude for your words of support and encouragement and affirmation.

2.  I have enthusiastically capitulated to my grief.  I have cried (when my husband bought me the dress in the Sydney airport we picked out in November on our trip here and labelled it my Ironman dress).  I have laughed (when my son said he would never again wait at the water for me to exit from a race – and then at our good-bye hug said that nothing could keep him from it).  I have gotten drunk (keep those first- class vodka and cranberry juices coming).  I have planned (for we high-achievers, nothing assuages grief like a plan:  sprint Tri in June, Olympic in July, Half in August, Iron in September).

3.  I am ready to be home.  I’m ready, after a month, to see my dogs, my room, my farm, my horses, cows, donkeys, my work, friends, coworkers.  I have been dreading it, not because you are disappointed IN me, but because you are disappointed FOR me, and I don’t want to cause you pain.  I am OK.  I tried a mighty thing and didn’t get the result I wanted.  I’m going to try again.  And again.  How incredible to be healthy enough to make that statement.

4.  I have come away from this experience knowing that I am more than Ironman.  My focus will be different, my plan will be different.  You each have shown me, through your lovely words, that my value lies in who I am, not what I do.  My blog will reflect that.  I am ready to write about other things:  the remarkable people I know, books I’ve read, things I’ve done, places I’ve seen, experiences I’ve had, things I’ve learned.  I did not realize my focus had become so narrow, and I am grateful for the growing experience of this event to help me see that I had become only an Ironman-in-training, and not the multi-faceted person I really am, and love to be.

5.  Back to #1:  I am so lucky.  I don’t know how I’ve come up with the most supportive network of friends and family in the world, but I have.  How many people don’t know the joy of the hug of a friend, the whisper of encouragement, the kiss of good luck, the prayer of health, the intention of love, and I have known them all.

Here we go:  what a ride!  I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Come with me; take this journey, however it manifests for you, and tell me about it.  Thank you for your absolute generosity in giving to me – I just can’t find a way to express my gratitude.  I can’t wait to hear what your next adventure is – I draw strength from reading and hearing about what you do.

Life is so very, very good…

Thanks for reading.

Never, never, never, never, ever give up. Winston Churchill

“Mrs. Jordan is  a 49-year-old female who appears in excellent health.  She was removed from the swim course at 9:04am and brought to the medical center.  She suffered what appears to be an acute asthma attack, triggered most likely by the excitement and anxiety of the event.  Race medics removed her from the course with protestations from Mrs. Jordan at buoy #18 (of 24) because of the severity of the symptoms.”

Then more medical speak about blood gasses, oxygen administration, and so forth.

And just that quick the race was over.

My version of it would include lots more drama, but this is good enough to give you a picture of what happened.  I’ve never had anything like this happen before, but it gives me new respect for those who suffer from asthma.  Even this morning my lungs, throat, and chest are still burning with the inflammation.

Disappointed.  Frustrated.  Pissed off.  Was that your next question?  And you know I’m never a person of just a few words, so here’s the expanded version of that.

Yesterday, I was devastated.  Today and this month, I’m disappointed.  Next month, and for longer term, I know that life is made up of what you make happen, and what you make of what happens.  And here’s what I’m making of this experience.

Ironman and I are not over.  Not by a wide shot.  I have decided that I will give myself 3 chances to accomplish this (3 strikes, 3 wishes, 3 guesses, so  3 chances seems good).  It won’t surprise anyone who reads this blog that I spent a lot of time last night on the internet looking for races.  China.  Brazil.  Utah.  France.  I’d like to tag on to this series of training, but these events are so highly structured, registration usually closes several months out.  I’d like to give it a second go before the end of this year (meaning my third go may even bring me back here next March).

Everything about this (with the tiny exception of the race itself) has been a wonderful experience.  Even the grueling days of training, even in the cold, has been challenging and satisfying, which for me is a good thing.  This trip to NZ has been fabulous, and it’s not over yet.  The people I have met along the way, the things I have learned about myself, the changes I’ve made in my body, these are all growth events that make up what I think life is all about.  So I will not call this Epic Fail, I’ll call this Epic Attempt.

Your kind words of encouragement here and Facebook have touched me profoundly; so much that I’m going to assemble them in some fashion of a hard copy and incorporate them into a training aid of some sort.  Thank you for your faith in me, your well-wishes, your patience as friends and clients, your generosity of time and effort to keep track of all my progress.

Pictures to come of our multi-day raft trip with Sam and Laura.  We’ll be out of touch a few days before heading back home.

Thank you for reading, and all that it implies – your interest, your participation, your involvement, your support.

How to Eat an Elephant: part 2

Sorry for that abrupt break…campground is spectacular, but internet lacks.

all my stuff

The logistics of all the paraphernalia is astounding – bike, helmet, wetsuit, biking gear, nutrition, hydration, running gear, special needs gear, bike transition, run transition – I’ve had my list going since November.

my two Ironmates (their ID bracelets actually say that)

Sam did my tire-changing drills this morning – he didn’t actually time me, but he made me do it right.  I have changed a flat tire or two, but when your kid is a bike mechanic and your husband is a fix-it-up chappie, you don’t get the practice you need.  Anyway, I’m going the route of the CO2 cartridge instead of the pump, so there may be a story there…

I’m still struggling with downloading the pictures, and I want to get the blog wrapped up before a) my block of internet runs out, b) my computer battery dies, and c)10:00 which is when I’m going to pretend to go to sleep.

Time is too short here for me to reflect on the whole experience; I’ve been doing that a bit with a Word document I can transfer to the blog if I choose.  For now allow me to close by saying thank you thank you thank you for all your kind words of support.  I’ll express my gratitude more fully in the days to come.  I really mean it when I say I memorize your sweet words to replay in my mind when I struggle on the course.

The fam will try to update my FB status as the day goes on – and then sometime Sunday I’ll try to at least do a short entry here.

I’m ready.

Thanks for reading.

How to Eat An Elephant:

Dizzying two days with not much time to post, so I’m gonna Tarantino it from now and go backwards a bit:

my instructions for today: Relax. How am I doing?

Thursday was Official Check-In Day – 1300 athletes checking in between 10 and 4 in one big tent.

that's the finish line media grandstand behind the athletes

Everyone with whom I have stood in every line this week has been so joyful and happy and excited – maybe it’s just something about Ironman.  This has been the most social group I have ever been with at any race.  I’ve met so many interesting people, it has been worth that alone to make the trip!

more wetsuit dipping with Didymo Dave
My girls

Huuuuge shoutout to my girls Liz and Ali…these girls have been life-savers for me.  They’ve befriended me, helped me with the swim, told me where to get coffee, helped me with the swim, eaten pasta with me, helped me with the swim, and have encouraged me at every turn.  They are Ironman veterans, and are from the same town (Canterbury) as daughter Glenda’s squeeze Sam.  I have loved making these new friends, and any success I have tomorrow will be due in no small part to their guidance and advice!

on the start beach

Jesse, Sam, and Laura showed up Thursday night, and this morning (Friday) Laura went with me to the women’s breakfast.  It was a panel of 4 women who have competed in various Ironman races.  Their ages ranged from 22 to 64, and they were a delight to listen to.  Then we attended the competitor briefing, then back to the campground to get the last few things packed into the bags.

(Brief interruption as I save and publish this post and begin another – a little trouble downloading pics)

Another delightful day in Paradise.

Most important order of business, I suppose:  I have my bike and helmet inspected, and stickered up to show that.  I’ve had my wetsuit dipped for Didymo.  Tomorrow is the official check-in day and Carbo dinner – and, no, I won’t be loading up on carbs 2 days before the race.  Not even the night before…you DON’T want my carb lecture here, so I’ll save that for another time.

Today was Expo day:

So much good stuff, so little money...

After looking at every tire, nutrition aid, running shoe, multi-tool, wetsuit, trisuit, swimsuit, tshirt, flipflops, sunscreen, vitamin, keychain, training video, and bike jersey, WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING, I headed into town for a bit.  First a quick look at the lake…big mistake:

look closer.

It may not show up on the picture well, but those are whitecaps, tossing about all those buoys.  If the lake looks like this on race morning, I’ma freak my freak.  Do we need to revisit the Half-Iron experience?

I have stopped every day in a different coffee shop in the town of Taupo and had a cappucino.  They’ve all been delicious, and sitting outside watching the other competitors roll by is my favorite part of the day.

and it tasted as good as it looked

At the end of the day, we had a little 5k fun run, mostly locals, and the kids had a 1k run as well, so I got that little jog in to stay loose and relaxed.

Lovely day for a 5K

After both the Splash and Dash on Monday, and today’s Fun Run, this was the free food offering – not exactly typical athlete food, but maybe they do things differently here in the Southern Hemisphere:

those are sausages, or saussies, as the Kiwis call them

Finally, I have to share a picture here of Magellan (too many Magpies are named Maggie, and besides, he’s a boy).  Magellan wakes me gently every morning with a beautiful repetoire of bird songs and whistles, and he’s a right as rain.  We have developed a deep relationship – I speak to him at sunrise and thank him for his melodies…I will never forget what he sounds like.

I'll try to get a better picture of him before I leave - that's where he always perches when he sings

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday night.  This week has both flown and crawled.  Thank you to everyone for your supportive comments – they just mean the world to me.  I’ve done enough of these races to know that when you are struggling, you cast about for anything you have heard that will help you go just one more kilometer.  Every one of your positive words do that for me, and I am so grateful for them.

Thanks for reading.

The Flats came out today

I have been remiss in not mentioning in all my blogging that my Flat Friends have made the trip with me.  They have spent a lot of time hanging from my window curtain in the room, but they got out today for a little bike ride:

Flats on bike with campground ducks outside my door

Then it was back into town and back into the lake (for those wondering, I stuff the wetsuit into a backpack, along with the swim cap and goggles).  Today’s swim was much much MUCH better; I swam about half the distance.  There are 24 buoys and I turned around at 6.

Can't hardly see them, but that is an endless row of orange buoys...

I have to admit that I am an emotional athlete; I can get caught up in the joy or despair of the moment.  My coaches have always tried to get me to overcome that.  It can work in your favor when times are good – your pace quickens, you perform better when the crowd is with you, but it can destroy you when it goes badly.  In the excitement of the competitors, always on race day, my adrenaline surges, my heart rate speeds, my breathing increases – not so good if you are about to embark on a 2 hour swim.  I have worked so hard on focusing, removing the distractions, listening to the bubbles (swimmers know what I mean), and today I did that beautifully.  Which was easy, since there were about 10 of us in the lake at the time.  When there are 1200, not so easy.

I have met some positively lovely people since I’ve been here.  I’ve already mentioned Didymo Dave, Jim and Susie from Auckland.  I’ve also met up with Liz and Allie from Canterbury, England (insert obligatory small-world comment here – that’s where daughter Glenda’s boyfriend Sam lives), and Leo from Hawaii, and Bill and Ginger from San Diego.  Everyone seems, like me, to be having the time of their lives.  Today when I was fretting over the swim, Liz and Allie invited me for coffee and a scone (a scone!!  During training!!).  I am sorry that I declined in my edginess to get in the lake.  If I find them tomorrow, I’ll invite them for a beer!

You just have to see this to believe it

So, this picture of my foot may not seem amazing…until you realize that I’m taking it underwater!  I’m in water up to my chest, I bent over and put my fancy waterproof camera into the water and snapped this picture.  You can’t imagine what it is like to swim in this!  I told my daughter Glenda today on Skype that it is like swimming in an aquarium.  I haven’t seen many fish (Taupo is the trout capital or something) but we stay relatively near the shore.  We pass one of those floating golf greens, where the tee is on the shore, and I can’t help but chuckle when I see all those golf balls on the bottom – some of them WAAAY away from the green (shankapotomus, I guess).

Then I wandered through town again, because I just can’t get enough of seeing everyone having coffee on the sidewalks, and seeing the other triathletes biking, walking, running through town.  I don’t have an explanation for this picture:

2nd airplane on a stick at a restaurant on this trip...what's up New Zealand??

After my jaunt through town, I stopped at the info booth to buy a ticket to the Women’s Breakfast on Friday (can’t wait for that), and didn’t mean to stage this shot, didn’t even see it til I came back out:

that UT orange is supposed to be Georgia's a little faded

Finally I headed home to my shower, my green salad, my glass of New Zealand red, and the comforts of my little home.  I’m about 3k from town, and every day on the way home I see two things:

NZ roadkill. I pass this little skwushed (squshed? squushed?) hedgehog every day
NZ cattle. I pass these guys every day too, and stop and chat a bit.

So, in summary, I’m having the time of my life.  I’m still both wildly excited and wildly apprehensive about Saturday.  Tomorrow the Expo begins — FAO Schwartz for triathletes.  I plan on spending most of the day looking at all the toys.  Bike Tires!  Running Shoes!  Wetsuits!  Heart Rate Monitors!  Riding Jerseys!  Red Blinky Lights for the Bike!  Gu Gels in Every Flavor!

As always, and most humbly, thanks for reading.

We’ve renamed Mt. Doom…

Day two here in Taupo – and what a great day it has been!

I started the day a bit behind the power curve – didn’t sleep well and had freaky dreams when I finally did fall asleep.  Everyone with whom I spoke today said I’m right on course…

After having my coffee and a few yoga poses in my little room, skyping with home a minute, and tidying up my 25 square meters, I headed out on the bike.  I’m about 3k from town (which I only know because the brochure said so – my bike computer is spazzing), so I rode in on a screaming downhill (guess what that means) and immediately went to see the lake/swim start staging area.  It was while I was there gazing at ALL THOSE BUOYS, I met Jim and Susie…from Auckland.  Renee, we are going to call our mountian Mt. Kismet from now on – LOVED THAT.  Susie celebrated her 50th birthday 6 years ago by participating in this very Ironman, and at 61, Jim is attempting it for the first time.  They were delightful and so helpful with hints about the course and transitions.

After our brief visit, I headed out and rode one lap of the run course.  Seems manageable – some gentle rollers with a couple of long pulls; 42k is simply a long damn way to run.

what I'll be looking for on the asphalt Saturday night (Sunday morning?)

The race area is just gorgeous – this town has a huge triathlon group because it’s so conducive to that event.

Gardens at Taupo Town Center

And not to be left out, if ever my girl Dora comes back here with me, here’s something for her to do while I race:

Taupo Tennis: one-armed league listed in the fine print

So today’s group event was a Splash and Dash:  a 1k swim followed by a 5k run just for fun.  Before getting in the water, however, everyone had to have their wetsuits sanitized by, remember the word?  Didymo.  Here is a picture of the very enthusiastic wetsuit-dipper:

This is Didymo Dave, self-named, charming, and ebullient

My experience on the Splash and Dash was helpful – started out WAY too fast on the swim and effed up my breathing pattern and had to breast stroke slowly to recover, but then got back on track and had a delightful little run.  Always learning.  Tomorrow’s event is officially a 7am swim of the entire distance (3.8k), but a group of us are doing it a little later in the morning with a USAT coach who will kayak along and give us guidance.  I’m all about the free advice.

This lake is the most remarkable body of water I have ever been in.  I will take my waterproof camera in tomorrow and hope to be able to show you what I see:  it is a clear as a mountain stream – I can see the bottom as clearly as if I were in an aquarium – so unexpected but what an experience.

I am loving my little cabin of my own.  I have always relished personal space, and this is certainly no exception.  There is a little television set in the room; I turned it on, then off, the first day and haven’t had it back on.  I don’t have my cell on, so the laptop is my nod to communicating with the world.  I’m reading my usual 4 books on my Kindle, and I had my 6 ounces of red wine tonight with my green salad.  I guess the Unibomber could write the same blog…I love all my family and friends, but I know how to do solitude.

A little freaked out about messing up the swim, but will be right back in the lake tomorrow working that out.  5 days and counting.  I am soooo lucky to get to do this.

Thanks for reading.

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