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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.

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 red...it'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.

In the land of the Kiwis

Sorry for the brief hiatus — travelling across the globe can do that to you.

I have made it to the country in which my race is being held (still have about a 3-hour drive and a couple of adventures before I finally get to the site).  The trip over was fabulous – got up front on the leg from LA for the win.  I spent a long 9 hours in the Sydney terminal before boarding the flight into Wellington where Sam and Laura were waiting – just so happy to see their sweet faces!

I haven’t blogged since I travelled back east to attend my mother-in-law’s funeral in South Carolina.  Jesse and Glenda both spoke and did a lovely job memorializing her.

Ben and Glenda

The two kids and I got on a plane the very next day, flew to Atlanta, then within about 2 hours boarded planes to Paris, Colorado, and Los Angeles.  I trained another day in the warm California sun before getting on yet another plane, this one headed Down Under.

The first thing I saw in the Sydney airport - we have to make the Kiwis fat too

My bike and bag w/gear arrived safely in Sydney where I cruised the airport like a homeless person/grocery cart combo til I could check them on the flight to New Zealand.

I got lots of guesses on the case: musical instrument? sound equipment? surfboard?

Sam had texted me before leaving the states asking for the usual I-can’t-get-this-here-would-you-bring-me-some _______, so I got the requested items:  graham crackers, Nilla wafers, marshmallows, black beans – I got them all through New Zealand’s hyperactive biosecurity panel except the black beans.

Moment of truth - will it go back together?? The answer is: Absolutely - in the hands of the master.

No training today, but Sam and Laura and I will ride tomorrow, then we’re headed to Mangaweka where they were raft guides all summer and kayak a day or two.  I check into my rustic cabin on the lake on Sunday, and begin the countdown to Saturday.  Jesse will begin his long journey over next Monday.

Thank you for all your kind comments – Dora, Renee, Susan, Lisa – your words mean so much more than you can know.  I will have them memorized and at the ready when I’m in the water, on the bike, and on the run.

I’m enjoying myself in spite of the stress, and really and truly can’t wait for the race to get here.  I’ll have to check out the internet situation at Taupo to know how that’s going to look, but I’ll do the best I can with the blog.

Thanks for reading!

How to du a triathlon

Well, my intentions were good.

After a week of travel, then a week of ill health, I decided to register for and participate in a little mini-sprint race at my local college campus.  One of the sororities, something-something-Pi, sponsored this little event:  300 yard swim, 10 mile bike, 3.14 mile run (get it?).  I missed online registration, so I just showed up this morning around 6:45, paid my fee, got my number, and set about getting all that crap in place. 

This is the inaugural effort for this event, and truthfully, they really did a great job overall.  They had door prizes, t-shirts, volunteers cheering you on through the bike course – lots of time and effort went into the race.  The one thing I needed, the one critical piece of information I missed was that there were 2 transition areas.  What this means to a racer is that when the time came to transition from the bike to the run, she is directed into the second transition area where she has no running shoes!  MTSU’s campus is not that big, but I didn’t even really know where the gym was.  After riding around for a few minutes, and after having started at the tail end anyway cuz of the late registration, I bailed on the run leg of the race.

Transition 1
Transition 1
yeah, it was cold, and that trisuit is still wet here!
yeah, it was cold, and that trisuit is still wet here!
I know, no color sense AT ALL
I know, no color sense AT ALL

Jesse and Aden were there waiting for me, and breakfast at Cracker Barrel sounded wayyy better than the door prizes looked, so off we went!

post-race breakfast at the Barrell!
post-race breakfast at the Barrell!
And now, a word from our sponsors…
This afternoon, again, remember the week of travel (wit limited workouts), the week of sick (with no workouts), and this morning’s events, I scheduled my bad self in for a massage (THE perk of owning a massage therapy practice).  My few days of being under the weather included lots of aches and stiffness in my neck, back, and shoulders.  This massage was absolutely delicious!  Colt is a relatively new therapist on our team, and he went above and beyond with his work today, and I was not an easy client with all those knots and chords.  He was gentle and patient and I feel like a new human, so…
Let this serve as a rounding endorsement to incorporate massage therapy into your training regimen.  This is what sent me to massage therapy school in the first place, this difference in recovery after a hard event, and my wanting to educate others about this affordable enhancement to a training series.  You don’t have to visit my practice, but visit somebody’s! 
No iPod today, of course…but thanks to all the girls of whatever-whatever-Pi (note to self:  find name of this group because they deserve the recognition, and I mean no disrespect).
Thanks for reading!

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