Happy. Healthy. Heathen.

Traveling, training, thinking, talking, typing



Running with the grand!

What a wonderful thing!

Yesterday was the Zoo Run Run, the annual 5k through the Nashville Zoo.

This was a run chosen by my beloved massage therapy school posse in an effort to show that the caretakers take care of themselves too!  We preach health and fitness and nutrition and stress reduction every day to our clients, and it is past time for us to live what we teach.

The squeeze and I had registered for the race together, but business took him to California for the week, so I ended up with an extra registration.  I also ended up with the grandson for a sleepover Friday night.  When I offered him the opportunity, he was ALL. FOR. IT!! After all, as he reminded me when I ordered him a Little Boy’s Hot Chocolate from Starbucks, “Gammy, I’m not a little boy.  I’m 8”.

So after Friday night’s Snacks n Movie on the big couch (Cheerios and milk, and Stand By Me), and after helping me do some work at my gym on Saturday morning, into our warmest running gear and off to the zoo we went.

First thing was registration, checking in to get our race bibs and tshirts.

Representing my school too!
Representing my school too!

Then it was visiting vendors, and seeing runners in animal costumes, or animals in runner costumes, picking up a few freebies, and petting the animals brought out for just that.

I think there's a pony under all that shag.
I think there’s a pony under all that shag.

Then we had a few minutes to stretch before they called us to line up with 2000 of our closest friends, and it was time to get our Zoo Run on!

Race Face!
Race Face!

3…2…1…GO!  We shot right out of the corral at, well, a fast crawl, til the crowd spread out a little, then it was full speed ahead.  My race strategy was this:  I was sure I could outrun him, even if I am a little older, so I was going to let him run til he was tired, then we would walk/run the remainder of the race.  That’s exactly the strategy we implemented, but we added a few short stops for animal pics.

Some kind of a red-haired pig or something - neither one of us could remember the name of this cutie
Some kind of a red-haired pig or something – neither one of us could remember the name of this cutie

Then we came upon the elephants – they were magnificent!

Look closely to see the big guy behind us!
Look closely to see the big guy behind us!

Then it was the kangaroos, then an ostrich, the zebras, the cats, and finally the flamingoes!





Then, in one final, reserve burst of speed and energy, he tore across the finish line, arms raised in victory, cheered on by the crowd!

He did it!
He did it!

I am so proud of the little guy, and we’re already talking about our next race.  I once made a promise to my kids that whatever they would allow me to participate in with them, I would do my very best to do.  That promise has taken me to the top of black diamond slopes, down rapids that scare the hell out of me, to runway fashion shows, and up rock walls.  Now I’ve made the same promise to my grand.  I can’t think of a better way to stay healthy than that.

Our celebratory cones at the "ice cream place with the two lips".  Took me a while to figure out too.
Our celebratory cones at the “ice cream place with the two lips”. Took me a while to figure out too.

Thanks for reading!

Warrior Dash 2012

Because it’s fun, that’s why.

Start here.

The pictures at this site are so much better than any I took, and there’s video too, so take a glance at that to get an idea of what this race is like.  TL; DR:  5k with obstacles.

I did this race last year for the first time, and just loved it.  It’s right up my alley – all fun and mud and games and mud and beer and mud.  Costumes are a big part of it too, so this year we spent all of 9 minutes pulling ours together.

Hat tip to Sam Jordan for Eliott’s:

Senior Chippendale
Yep, it’s an LBD.

I wish I’d taken a better picture of the fishnet stockings with the running shoes.  And ours weren’t even the best costumes there.  I didn’t take my phone onto the grounds because that’s the Mud Zone.  The site has some good shots; the best we saw were a Pebbles and BamBam couple, complete with clubs and hairbones.  We saw a team of Oompa-loompas, lots of tutus and vikings, and tutus on vikings.

The race started with a series of hills/ditches with mud that were easy, but the mucky mud at the bottom was a real shoe-eater.  Next came a commando crawl under barbed wire, but it was hands-and-knees height, so that just created muddy hands and knees.  Next, we had an over-under obstacle which wasn’t too bad – the “over” was a wall about 4 feet high, the under was barbed wire around 2 feet high.  I got a dress strap caught on one, but Eliott untangled me and off we went.  Then there was a series of webbing, kind of like boxing ring ropes (that’s a guess – I don’t believe I’ve even felt the strappy things around a boxing ring).

I’m sure these are out of sequence now, but somewhere along the way there was a field of tires, and junker cars laid end to end so it was hood/roof/trunk/hood/roof/trunk.  The trickiest one for me this year was the rope climb – kind of an A-shape that rose about 25 feet in the air.  One side was a ladder-type slant that you climbed down; the upside was a sandpaper-covered slope that you climbed by holding on to a rope.  The trick was not the climb up, nor the climb down, but the transition over the top.  I flattened out too soon, with my center of gravity on the rope side, and with no leverage for my legs, I was left with just powering over with upper body, like when you push up on the side of the pool to get out.

As you near the finish line, there were two jumps through fire (not kidding), then the final mud pit.  Mark Twain described the Mississippi River as:  “Too thick to drink, too thin to plow”.  Capt Clark (of Lewis and Clark) said:  The water we Drink, of the Common water of the missourie at this time, contains half a Comn Wine Glass of ooze or mud to every pint.  Yeah, that’s about what it was like.  Even a visit to the fireman’s hose after the race was over only took off the thick top layer.  It took 2 showers after that for the water to run clear.

The race organizers have cleverly designed the timing-chip-for-a-beer trade, and of course turkey legs and pork sandwiches were aplenty.  This race is pricey, plus a hefty $20 parking fee, but if you know that ahead of time, you can limit that by carpooling, and registering on time saves a bit too.  Wave starts are every 30 minutes all day long.

Nice and clean pre-race

I will go back and edit if our official race photos turn out – for now, this is the best I can do:

smelled as good as they look

See you at Dash 2013!

Thanks for reading!

The Fitness Post

How Finding my Fitness led to my Atheism


How Finding my Atheism led to my Fitness

(This was a guest blog for my friend JT Eberhard, who resides at Scienceblogs.  The “everyone” in the first line was directed at his atheist readers, as that was the context in which this was discussed and then written.  I’ve written about this before, but never all in one post…so….here it is!)

Everyone of us has one of these stories.  Everyone’s is interesting, and everyone’s is different.

It gives me joy beyond measure to recount mine.  It may seem like I’m taking license to have the two branches of my story to run so parallel, but it only seems unusual now, after the fact.  At the time, it just happened.

In 2000, I turned 40, mother of 4 teenagers, active in church and community.  I was also active in my Southern Baptist Church, a Sunday School teacher, Missions Director, and committed to the faith.  And 60 pounds overweight.

The evening of my 40th birthday party, surrounded by friends, I came to the conclusion, which later I began to describe as an epiphany:

That the first 40 years of our life, we can treat our body pretty brutally, and it will respond, for the most part, to the demand; the second 40, however, are quite a different story:  we have to treat our body with deep respect and reverence in order for it to respond to the demands of life.

I had attempted diets before, lost a few pounds, then, ad nauseam, reverted to old, comfortable, established habits.  Walking into the bookstore left me more frustrated than helped, facing the wall of books in the Health/Fitness section, some of which were in direct opposition to the one right next to it.  Fuck that.

This was in the year 2000, when the internet was a toddler, and I spent hours at the public library looking up nutrition information, going directly to the study when I could.  I don’t have a medical background, or even a degree that was heavy in science (education), so I had a lot of remedial work to do.  Maybe that even worked in my favor since I had to start from scratch understanding human anatomy, physiology, metabolism, nutrients.

For two years I applied what I learned to my routine, tweaked, applied, and tweaked some more.  I lost 60 pounds, and became so interested in and excited about my new lifestyle I became a trainer to try to help others struggling with health issues.

Clipboard: yes. Whistle: not so much.

Parallel to this information-gathering, exercise-implementing, nutrition-experimenting journey was a gradual, slow, dawning of realization relating to religion.  While I had never been an actual creationist, I was a believer of the Bible, an advocate of a personal savior, even a teacher in my church.  My view of the beginning of human history was that whether it was Eden or evolution, Goddidit, and resolving the particulars was irrelevant to me.

As I began my study of nutritive science, however, I found that I needed to study our human anatomy and physiology to make sense of the process.  That in turn led me to study our evolutionary heritage:  what were we to eat to make us truly thrive?  What had we eaten for the thousands of years that we did thrive?  While the answer was simple:  whole, unprocessed, fairly accessible natural foods, the implication was greater.  Evolution was an absolute, undisputed by any scientist, and the evidence was abundant.  Hmmmm.  Not a show-stopper for the faith, but certainly a proverbial chink in the wall.

I visited Christian apologetics sites and read several books trying to reconcile my new acceptance of evolution with the broader picture of my faith.  I knew there were Christians who accepted, even embraced evolution, and I was eager to understand how I was to do this.  It was completely contradictory to the version of humanity’s beginnings in the Bible.  The general explanation was that the events that occurred in Genesis were “poetic”, not literal, that they were representative of God’s relationship to us.  Hmmmm.  Again.  My next question was:  When did the poetry end and the reality begin?  Noah?  Abraham?  David?  The apologists diverted at this point:  some said that during the course of evolution when we became modern humans, the history then became literal.  Some said that the poetry continued through most of the Old Testament.  But most certainly they all agreed that when Jesus entered the picture, why then it was all literal.



The brevity and simplicity of the paragraphs above belie the drama and torment of the process.  In sharing stories with other atheists, I have heard from former believers who left the faith kicking and screaming, who begged God for a word, who didn’t want to be atheists, who fought for years against acceptance of the truth.  While mine was not quite so vehement, it was painful, it was sorrowful, it was traumatic, and it was humbling.  I had to grieve anew those folks I had only said goodbye to “temporarily” – my grandparents, some friends.  I had to recollect every Sunday School lesson I had ever taught with confidence and arrogance.  I had to grasp the separation this was going to create with my already fractured extended family.  I had to reevaluate my morality.  I had to redirect my compassion and drive and creativity and time that for years and years I had devoted to my church.

But do not misunderstand me.  Although the journey was unnerving and unknown, it was thrilling and exciting and liberating.  My 4 teenage children had been making journeys of their own in the same direction, and we spent countless hours discussing and debating and researching toward the same conclusion.  This brought me absolute, sheer delight.  Watching their beautiful brains develop their critical thinking skills and refuse to accept dogma made me as proud as their mother as I had ever been.
I love reading former believers’ coming out stories.  I love commiserating with the struggles and rejoicing in the victories.  I feel the pain of lost relationships and the joy of new discoveries.  This is mine.  I am honored to share it.

Thanks for reading.

Very long overdue

I know, I know, I know.

I’ve been completely neglectful of my wonderful list.  I assure you that I’ve only neglected blogging about it, not dreaming about it.  It has transitioned from the 50 things to do in my 50th year to my straight-up Bucket List.  I have a hard copy of it too, that I keep in my planner and I’ll occasionally make a note or two.  The original list and notes are in italics – every time I publish it I try to add commentary on what I’ve done.

In order to celebrate managing to stay alive, happy, and healthy to my 50th, I am going to try 50 new things this year.  Some are huge (hike the Great Wall of China).  Some are tiny (drink a lime gimlet).  All are things I have never before done.  And in that same spirit of celebration, my friends and family will be participating with me.

I’ve had a few more suggestions since my last blog, and those will be reflected in the list.  I’ve decided to be a little less OCD, and a little more organic in the list.  I’m not going to preemptively remove anything from the list; there will be more than 50 things.  In my daily life, as I always do, I will seek out new and exciting experiences, and may very well add something to the list spontaneously, maybe even after I’ve done it.  I will attempt to do all, but my primary goal will be to accomplish 50 New Things.

You all have been so enthusiastic and free-spirited about all this; thanks for the suggestions and the WILLINGNESS to do them with me!

1.  Streak through Publix    –   Dora (You are SOOO on the hook for this – still)

2.  Do a Bob Ross painting   –   Glenda (Maybe after finals?)

3.  Drink a lime gimlet   –   Sam M (Got this one done – Hendrix gin, Rose’s Lime Juice, shaken and served by an actual Englishman – P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N!)

4.  Fire-hoop   –   Glenda (Not yet – need a little more practice)

5.   Color my hair pink/blue/something for a race   –   Glenda/Amy (for the Ohio Iron in September)

6.  Go to the Superbowl

7.  Scuba-dive Cayman or Honduras or Bahamas   –   Fran (maybe in conjunction with our Key West swim?)

8.  Write a song   –   Beth

9.  Hike a 14-er in Colorado   –   Ben (climbed Torrey’s Peak and Gray’s peak – 2 14’ers in the Front Range with my boy)

10.  Write a children’s book   –   Kristen

11.  Be in a live audience for a TV show   –   Kristen

12.  Eat crumb cake at Carlos’ Bakery in NYC   –   Kristen

13.  Horseback riding on the beach   –   Kristen

14.  Go parasailing   –   Kristen

15.  Go bungy-jumping

16.  Big-ass rubber band thingy   –   Mandi

17.  Run 50 miles   –   Vic  (less and less likely with each passing day – and it wasn’t probable to begin with!)

18.  Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand   –   Vic

19.  Hike the Great Wall of China   –   Vic

20.  Swim in the largest swimming pool in the world, in Chile   –   Vic

21.  See sea turtles hatch and head for the ocean   –   Vic

22.  Go sky diving   –   Phil

23.  Learn to play pinochle, mah jongg, canasta or gin

24.  Eat gefilte fish with horseradish

25.  Dress like a man and go with a man to a straight bar and a gay bar (They don’t know it yet, but I’m going to do this with Chris and Bryson when they turn 21)

26.  Have a colonoscopy   –   mom

27.  Get a tattoo   –   Amy (Done!)

28.  Go to South Beach, Miami

29.  Attend lighting of candles in Jerusalem

30.  Take ballroom dance lessons  –  Tonya

31.  Meet the President 

32.  Do nothing for one day:  no work, no workouts, no computer, no phone, no TV

33.  Go on a photo safari

34.  Visit all the continents

35.  Panhandle on a corner

36.  Ride the TransCanadian Railway

37.  Drink Paddle of Destiny at Mellow Mushroom   –   Susan (I’ve done this at least 3 times, but never with my girl Susan, so it stays on the to-do list!)

38.  Renew marriage vows   –   Mike

39.  Finish an Ironman  –  me (woooohooooo!!!  October 23, 2010!!)

40.  Climb a redwood tree   –   Amy

41.  Hike the Adirondacks   –   Becky

42.  Learn to swordfight   –   Ted (I know Ted, my bad – I will do this!)

43.  Drive a race car   –   Ted

44.  Hike the AT   –   Ted

45.  Take a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class   –   Shannon

46.  Kayak the Gauley   –   Sam

47.  Do a road trip   –   Brianna

48.  Swim with dolphins   –   Brianna

49.  Full moon party in Koh phangan, Thailand   –   Lila

50.  Visit Iguazu Falls in Argentina   –   Lila

51.  Go dog sledding in Alaska   –   Lila

52.  Become a licensed minister and marry someone   –   Lila (OK, girlie, I’ve done the become-a-licensed-minister part – just gotta find someone who is disrespectful enough of the institution to allow me to do it!!)

53.  Swim with sharks   –   Lila

54.  Jump off of a waterfall   –   Lila

55.  Watch Dr. Zhivago (how did I miss that?)

56.  Memorize Pi to 50 places  (3.1415926535 – that’s as far as I can do from memory)

57.  Go see the Formula 1 race in Monaco  –  Brother Eric

58.  Sit through an entire episode of:  O’Reilly/Beck/Colter/Limbaugh  –  Brother Eric  (you have no idea how hard this will be!)

59.  Make Bananas Foster

60.  See the Tour de France in person, not just on Versus at 2:00 in the morning!

61.  Place a $1000 bet on one hand of blackjack  –  Brother Eric

I’d like to add here

#62.  Ride my bike around Cade’s Cove in the moonlight.  Done.

So there it is.  My achievement ratio is disappointingly low.  BUT – remember the disclaimer.  If I don’t get it accomplished this year, it rolls right onto the Life Bucket List.  And the ratio doesn’t take into account things I have done, since May, for the first time that DIDN’T make the list.  Like bat wrangling in England.  And trying to catch a longhorn.  And manually expressing my dogs’ anal glands.  Oh yeah.  Just couldn’t bring myself to blog about that one.

So that’s the update as of April of 2011.  I’m going to Florida with brother for a few days next week.  I’ll try to get one of those TV shows watched while I’m there, and maybe make the Bananas Foster.

If you have another thought, comment away!  Just remember the rule – if you suggest it, you’ll be asked to do it with me – that’s the dealio!

safe driving technique

Thanks for reading!

Ironman? Check.

Sunday.  8:30am.

I did it.  I had help, vital help, from all directions, but I got it done.

heavy metal

Iron-distance triathlon.  2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run.

But first things first:  The Apology.  I know this is the first most of you are hearing of this race, because I haven’t been blogging about it.  There’s a reason for this.  If you recall the Taupo experience, my excitement and anticipation, including all the blogging and friend support, led to my having an anxiety event at the beginning of the swim.  In an effort to prevent this from happening again, I tried several things, including keeping this race on the DL.  I’ll tell you about the success in the water, but I will say that it was a real loss (for me) not including everyone in the process.  So that’s the explanation of this sneak-attack race.  I believe this is the only time I’ll have to do that.

Now to the race.  It was the Great Floridian Triathlon (trivia tidbit:  Ironman is a franchise word, a brand name; there are many Iron-distance races that are prohibited from using the Ironman label – this was one – in this case they called it an Ultra Triathlon).  It was held in Clermont, Florida at Lake Minneola.  Word to any future racers:  do not assume that because the race is located in Florida it is flat.  More on that in the bike paragraph.  Jesse, Sam, and I drove down here on Thursday to get settled in and registered.

surveying the challenge

So, back to the swim issue.  This paragraph is probably more info than you’ll want to read if you’re just trying to get a rundown from the race, but it’s incredibly important to the success I had.  Being an emotionally open and adventurous person has served me well my entire life.  I will occasionally do a “sensory check” in the middle of a random moment:  What am I seeing?  hearing?  tasting?  smelling?  I am so greedy about sucking every moment out of life, and I try to stay open to every experience, particularly new ones.  This life attitude very seldom feels like it has a downside, but I have come to accept that it was exactly this desire for wide-openness that created the anxiety event in the water at Lake Taupo.  So I used a different approach for this race, which, as I explained above, included not broadcasting my attempt, to cut down on the pressure.  My informal triathlon coaches, Ali and Liz from the UK (and very dear friends), also suggested limiting my exposure to all the pre-race hype and activity, which I normally would have embraced and participated in.  Between that, and a little chemical intervention suggested by another fellow athlete/physician, I approached race day in a completely different manner than I usually do.

So race day started with our 5:30am wakeup call.  Race gun was at 7:30, and as I cautiously began my swim, I was as calm as I could be.  It feels counterintuitive to the whole “Eye of the Tiger” approach to athletic competitions, but it certainly worked in my case.  My swim was a good deal slower than I usually swim, but that was intentional on my part, and I exited the water no worse for the wear after 2.4 miles.

better exit than last time
scouting the "Florida" terrain the day before race

Into transition and onto the bicycle.  Jesse and Sam and I had driven the course the day before, for which I was grateful, because it prepared me for the hills to come.  It was as hilly a course as I’ve ever ridden.  I was glad to have spent the 10 days before cycling the Natchez Trace, particularly the hilly northern section.  This ride was a 3-loop ride, and I was pretty toasted by the second lap, but off I go on the 3rd, with the knowledge that there is a 6:30pm cutoff for the bike course.  No need to magnify the drama, but I rolled across the chip mat into transition at 6:28, with Sam yelling at me about the time (Jesse was in a bar watching the Auburn/LSU game at the time).  One more set of clothes, and off to the marathon.

starting the timer for the bike course
start of a long, long run

Sam, because he spent all last year in New Zealand and that is the custom, never wears shoes.  The run course was a 3-loop out and back, and because this race is a little more laid back than Ironman events, allowed support people on the run course.  So, yes, Sam ran/walked 8 miles with me BAREFOOT.  When we got back off the first lap, Sam took a little 4-mile break and Jesse joined me (the game was over by then), and when Sam rejoined us, he had on his Chacos.  So these two guys ran/walked/limped with me the duration of the race.  We crossed the finish line at 1:00 Sunday morning in a huge victory for me!!

I am as tired as I look in this picture

We gathered my gear/bike/clothes, threw them in the back of the minivan and cruised back to the hotel, where I showered and collapsed, Jesse showered and collapsed, and Sam collapsed in his clothes and dirty feet while waiting for the shower.  In the light of this morning we surveyed the damage.  I am sore all over – even my hair feels like it hurts.  My top pains:  the bicycle booty, my quads, my blistered feet, my sunburned back, my clavicles from resting 8 hours on the aerobars, and gluteus minimus – the underlying glutes deep in the hips.  Jesse, who only had his worn out sneakers on, has blisters the size of a credit card on the balls of both feet.  Sam’s feet, which are gnarly anyway, are beaten and raw.  Neither of them had been training to run or walk anywhere near this distance, so they are pretty sore in the marathon areas – butt and quads.

Jesse's horrible feet blisters

Now we’re headed back home, where I’ll take a few days off, then jump right back into training for the next race:  Lake Taupo Revisit in March.  I’ll look for some shorter races in the interim, but racing season is really March – October in the Northern hemisphere.

Thanks for reading, and in advance for understanding my need to handle this race this way.  I think I’ll be able to share at least the dates of future races, if not every little detail!

Huge thanks to Jesse and Sam for all the support, both pre-, during, and post-race.  I’ve got to get Sam in the pool for some swim practice….no ulterior motive.

Since Amy has my camera, and I haven’t yet replaced it, I’ve got to extract the pictures from Big Jesse’s.  I want to go ahead and post the story, and I’ll come back and add pictures (the one of Jesse’s feet is spectacular, as is the one of the roach in the hotel room, so check back).

disgusting palmetto roach in the hotel room (and Sam's face)

Thanks for reading and for cheering me on!

Thanks for all the kind words!

Labor Day weekend

In keeping with the commitment, here’s a little entry about my Labor Day Weekend…

First, if you keep up with FB, you know that recently Jesse commented on his status about the pond holding water after 15 years of his work.  So, of course, I had to at least make the attempt to swim in it.  After a rain, when the spring is running, the pond fills to the brim, then overflows with spring water until it is as clear as a stream – you can see the bottom and the whole thing is just beautiful.  After the rain stops, however, in a few days it’s just a farm pond – the cattle, horses and donkeys use it as both a water trough and bathroom, there’s no fresh spring feeding it, and it develops a lovely muck on top, and squishy, let’s call it mud, on the bottom.  That’s the day I chose to try to swim in it.

overlook the ubersexiness of cap and goggles - focus on the pond color
Boo verifying my in-pond photographer's location
Uggums on the other shore

That was truly disgusting.  I MAY try it again after a rain; I was just so excited about swimming in my own pond, I guess I chose my day poorly.

Next Exciting Thing:  I have seen on National Geographic TV and magazines my whole life that a female preying mantis will consume the head of her mate immediately after their tryst.  While I believed it, and saw video of it, I had never seen it real and in person…until this week.  O.  M.  G.

THAT, Lady Gaga, is rough sex

There were right there on my bicycle seat, still, um, together when I went out to get ready for a ride.  I missed the actual head-eating part, but this was enough for now.

Then, on Sunday, I participated in a little triathlon in Callaway Gardens, GA (little in the sense that it was a sprint distance – no triathlon is “little”).

yep, they write your age right there for all to see - hells yeah
This moment right here? This is the addiction.
Callaway Gardens wanted to be sure EVERY parking space they had was used - so this balloon festival was going on at the same time as the race

I struggled in the water on the last 100 yards – still working on that breathing pattern, but it wasn’t too bad, and the ride and the run were beautiful – lovely little rollers and the day was the first real day of non-summer heat – not quite fall, but high of only about 85F.

Sam and Jesse got to do a quick trip to Hawaii where Sam surfed and tried to teach Jesse to surf, and Sam had an encounter with jellyfish – but I don’t want to steal Sam’s thunder, so I’ll let him tell you all about it on his adventure blog.  Also, Sam Miller arrived from England to spend a month with Glenda in Knoxville before he starts graduate school, so if you see her floating around UT’s campus, you’ll know why.

Thanks for reading!

Another odds and ends post

I have found that the best way to keep up with this blog is to let the pictures from my camera be my guide, so here goes…

Jordan girls are home!

Amy and Glenda decided to combine their travel home with a road trip, so Glenda flew from Paris to San Francisco, Amy drove from Arcata, CA to San Francisco and there they began their epic road trip home.  They did some sightseeing in San Fran, visited Arches National Park in Utah, saw Ben in Colorado, then drove home!  This picture of them with the puppies is of them approximately 90 seconds after they drove into the driveway.

Their first meal home, specifically requested

Green beans, mashed potatoes, cornbread, sweet potatoes, and key lime pie.  Then back out to the yard to hoop, of course.

the least talented of the Jordan girls hooping
another puppy shot
and another

Friday night we went to First Friday on the square in Murfreesboro where we hooked up with several old and dear friends.

Amy, Glenda, Chris, and Bryson
Amy, Glenda, and Tony
Amy, Glenda, and Tony
Glenda and Mark

Then Amy went served as my main cheerleader and support at a triathlon in Tullahoma the next day.  I’ve done this race several times – it was a great day, and I loved having her with me.

before the swim

I placed 2nd in the swim, 4th in the bike, and 6th in the run (in my division).

Aden and his coonskin cap from Yellowstone

Sometime in the mix, we got in a visit with Aden.

Aden's little Bro Gianni hanging with the pups

Then came Bonnaroo…

needs no caption
the absolutely fantastic interactive sculpture at our volunteer pod!

This art installment was a giant guitar structure with guitars, a mandolin, and a drum set built in for jamming.  Too cool.

the blanket's-eye view of the girls at the Norah Jones concert
Brother Ben's visit!
Ben's visit with Aden
bike ride with my boy

Now we’re almost caught up – this was yesterday’s 3-hour ride with Ben.  We did a loop on the greenway and somehow avoided the downpours all around town.  It was great to be out riding with him, in spite of the heat and humidity.  He flies out tonight to return to Colorado, and he and Kirsten will be moving to Denver for undergraduate/graduate school.

Amy is on a trip to Athen, Ga, to hang with her girl Melanie at UGA, Glenda’s a little under the weather, Jesse is on a trip, and Sam should start his journey home from New Zealand over the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for reading, and thank you again for all of your support and kind words!

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.

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