Friday, July 15, 2016

Paddling for Peace of Mind

This past Monday was our 7th year to paddle 21 miles in The Flatwater Foundation's Dam That Cancer event. 48 hours later I was on a plane to Denver for our First Annual 10 mile Kristin McLain's Get Out Girl PaddleJam in Frisco, Colorado. PaddleJam benefits The Flatwater Foundation as well as Foundation 1023, a nonprofit we began this year to parallel what Flatwater does, but providing similar benefits and services for First Responders who are dealing with illness, stress or loss.

Both of these nonprofits are near and dear to my heart as they help people find positive mindset to deal with the difficult times that come our way of which we have absolutely no control. As a very active, outdoors girl, physical health is of constant topic in my career, household, and client base. However, what I know after personally training and competing in many Ironman, endurance paddle, run and cycling events as well as coaching many individuals in the same activities, the difference between "surviving" - not to mention "flourishing" in these types of events is the mindset. And what I know now is that is the same with someone that is the backbone of a family member or friend battling cancer, a first responder dealing with an amazingly stressful, tragic career, a person hearing a diagnosis for the first, second or even third time, or someone having to get up every day putting one foot in front of the other after a devastating loss.

Paddling 21 miles in a head wind is nothing compared to dealing with these pivotal life moments. I've looked down at mile two and helped someone sitting on their board, paddling, in tears because they "didn't know it was going to be this hard." I've also looked someone in the eyes a year and a half after losing a first responder family member and have heard the same thing. It's hard.

Getting on that airplane Wednesday late night to fly out to Denver for another paddle event, I was pretty tired, done from paddling DTC, then working two more days, putting our gear away from the event - as well as much of the safety and support gear it took to run the event. Then packing myself and my son up to head out in 48 hours. We arrived about 2am and after a quick 3 1/2 hours sleep in the mountain home of dear friends outside of Denver, I awoke to 45 degrees, crystal clear skies and a semi-dirt road beckoning me for a high altitude 8500' run (of sorts - heavy panting was more like it). I set my VivoActive for a quick 5k distance. When I glanced at my tracker to see the distance marking my turnaround, I looked to my left to see this sign marking my place. "Peace of Mind". The reason I was here, the reason I paddled DTC, the reason I am paddling another 10 miles Sunday, the reason we have created and been approved for a new 501c3, Foundation 1023, which will model and share best practices of The Flatwater Foundation, and the reason I want to continue to inspire and encourage others with opportunities for mental wellness either through counseling, outdoor opportunities and serving others. Our physical bodies eventually change and give out, our life deals us obstacles we can sometimes never imagine or predict - but our minds give us the fuel, the power, the peace to move on.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Predicting The Future

I was teaching a TRX class of "transient" clients today, people I only get to teach a single class to while they are on vacation. I asked a woman to squat a little deeper, challenge herself a little more. By looking at her, she was average height, weight, cute little $$ workout outfit, matching shoes, coiffed hair. But as soon as I asked her to get out of her box and challenge the depth of her squat, before I could get the words out of my mouth, she said that "fingernails on the chalkboard", debilitating four letter word, "I can't". And she then followed it with, "I will never get back up."

Can't. Never.

I knew I would probably not see this lady again - or at least in the next six months. But there was so much I wanted to tell her that she said that was setting the stage for the second half of her life in two very short statements. 

"I can't."
Well, yes, actually, you can. Your arms are connected to two straps with handles. Use them. Use your legs. Use them both. Use your body. Use all of your might. Use it like your life depends on it. Because you know what, it actually does. And if you don't, you may...

"...never get back up."
And I mean that honestly. As we age and as we limit ourselves, what once was "I will never get back up" becomes absolutely just that: an individual who is not able to rise from the floor unassisted. There goes independence, functionality, and quality of life. And in addition to that, there is also research from a 2012 Brazilian musculo-skeletal test on 2002 men and women which correlates directly to mortality: the less assistance one needs to get off the ground correlates to a longer life expectancy.

Now I don't know about you, but there are so many things "out of my control" when it comes to life expectancy, that I definitely want to control those that I can control. 

If I tell myself I can't, guess what? I'm predicting my future. If I tell myself I "never will", then your second guess is also correct, it's not going to happen. And if I allow my mind to tell my body that something is not going to happen, then your third prediction is also coming true: my body is not going to respond or perform.

So there you sit. Stuck on the floor. You are now in your 70's or 80's, your kids live across the country, your neighbor is at work, and where are you: stuck on the floor - or in the chair, or worse yet, on the toilet. Remember back when you were working out in your 30's, 40's or 50's and you predicted this would happen when you insisted that "you can't"? Or in some cases, I hear 8, 10, 12 year olds predict it, too: "I can't do that."

My mom took a spill in her back yard a couple months ago. She was fine, just landed on her bum. But the worst, most humiliating, most painful part for her (and me watching all of this take place) was she had to sit there for almost an hour until someone heard her calling for help. Not medical help. Just "help" to get off the ground. It took three of us to slide a blanket under her bum, hoist her into a lawn chair, then get her to her feet. Never going to be you? Well, it may if you choose to not consider how the consequences of what you say and do today effects what happens in the next decade or two or three.

What are we working out for? Most of us are not cashing in a performance or professional athlete paycheck to get out there and workout (now that's an entirely different blog ;-). When it all comes down to it, as adults, we are really working out for longevity: to stay healthy, to stay mobile, to live long and able. 

So enable yourself now. You Can. Frankly, you Need To. Change your Mindset, Change your Attitude. Get Out of your disabling mental box. Get Up. Get Down. And Repeat. Again and Again.

Because You Can.

Monday, August 31, 2015

She Believed She Could So She Did

My clients, friends and family know there's one word that gets under my skin more than any others: "can't". I should have been counting, but over the past 2 1/2 years in any training groups I have coached, if I heard that sneaky little word, as a team, we have all done 50 push ups as a reminder of how we use our words. I kid you not, we have done thousands of push ups during that time, hundreds in certain workouts.

I'm a believer of mind over matter. What you tell your mind your body will live out.

"I can't do 50 push ups."
"I can't reach down to tie my shoe."
"I can't keep from drinking diet coke."
"I can't run 1 mile."

When I hear the "c" word, I literally cringe because I know that the user is debilitating themselves with one little four letter, contracted word: "can't". Ouch.

My mom is 85. In a conversation with her yesterday, I bet she said "can't" a dozen times - in just a few minutes. It struck me that her ability, mobility and willingness was being paralyzed but how she was choosing to view the situation - she "couldn't". She was physically being disabled by the words she was using. 

Similarly, I coached a small group of little 8-9 year old wake boarders this summer and after 30 minutes had to take a time out and ask them to listen to their words. The C Bomb was flying. Of course, once I pointed it out to them, it became a game for them to see how many times they could say it because they knew it was getting under my skin. But truly, with the amount of time and money we spend on our kids assisting them to run faster, jump higher or surf farther, as a society, if we helped them empower themselves through their words, wouldn't that be one of the best gifts of all?

We believed we could so we did.
Yes, we can.

(and yes, I ordered the bracelet ;-)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Living Out Our Choices.

My parents are now in their mid-80's. It is so odd for me to think of my parents nearing the last chapters of their lives. To me, my timeless memories of my dad will always be racing me on horseback up canyon walls that had my stirrups dragging the ground and my face buried in my horses main we were at such a steep angle; him pushing me down so I'd have to get back up to win a sprint across the yard with him; building a backstop so he could teach us how to connect with a baseball; and always telling me "If you're not falling, you're not learning."

My lifelong mom memories are of her nurturing us and our friends - weekend after weekend, feeding us almost every other hour when we'd come in off the lake "starving"; always making sure the fridge was stocked to host the revolving door of lake friends that would come over; and then when my kids were born, having never-ending energy to be the first one up and over at the house checking in on what the plans and needs of that day would bring. Always there, always helping, always supporting.

As mom and dad age, their health needs have increased. Both mom and dad have macular degeneration (a horrible disease that I pray finds a cure soon). Dad's is worse than mom's and he's actually lost about 95% of his eyesight because of it (with the help of a racquetball that I connected into his cornea in the late 80's. Yikes. Guilt Trip. Always wear safety glasses, friends.) I find myself now reaching to dad's hand to guide him to the touch of a paper, a cup, his fork, the handle on a door. This disease was one he had no control over. My dad's in great physical health. He stretches, moves, used to canoe, ride his bike, and most importantly, just stayed moving because he was always doing his own "chores" and never hired anyone to help. Losing vision in your mid-80's is not only physically debilitating to someone that is extremely independent, fit and active, but also mentally and emotionally compromising.

Mom's macular is not as bad, but she struggles with painful hips. She's been diagnosed with "arthritis", but arthritis does not always hurt to the point of disability. Sciatica and limited range of motion due to becoming sedentary can. And I believe that is a bit more of what we are dealing with.

As I went to physical therapy with her last week, I found my "soap box" within minutes of watching her deal with the basic therapist requests. I got hot flashes, my palms were sweaty, I had that awful taste rise into my mouth, my stomach sank. I was dealing with a rush of emotions. So watch out, friends, I'm coming after YOU!

You hear me cite research about mobility and how "the time it takes to get off the ground" has been found to be directly related to how long you will live. Can I tell you I saw that unfold before me during that physical therapy appointment? Even more poignantly, the "amount of time it takes you to roll over from you back to stomach" on a physical therapy table must absolutely, positively be related to mortality!

It was an awful experience to sit in a chair as a witness, watching your 82 year old mother take minutes, not seconds, to struggle, get stuck, work on getting unstuck, have her arm stuck under her body, then her face scrunched, smeared, stuck, then unstuck from the therapy table, as she suffered, winced, pained, moaned, and grunted her way from a supine position to a prone position. And I'm not talking prone, like "on your elbows, supported and ready to plank up." I'm talking "I can't find my right arm that I just rolled over on, nor can I see it because I cannot lift my head as I've slipped into a gravity vortex that I have no strength or mobility to overcome."

Is the picture clear?

I'm not painting it to let you know what a horrible condition my mom is dealing with. That's something we're working on and I love her dearly, so trust me, there's LOTS of working going on. But I share this painful vision with you because, as I step up on my soap box, friends, NEVER allow yourself to slip into such condition while you have the ability to NOT go there!

SOMEONE in your family or support community will be helping you exist one day. PROLONG the day they have to help you physically move your body in basic fundamental motions.

More and more I become tuned into "physical activity" vs exercise. Fundamentally, the human body was designed for physical activity. That was our ancestry of hunters and gatherers. "Exercise" would not even have been fathomable to our hunter and gatherer ancestors. Why the heck would one "exercise" when they'd been chasing antelopes, fishing, gathering herbs, cultivating land, raising cattle, building homes, tending to family needs, and leading communities. There was no time to sit down! "Exercise" was not even a word that existed - and didn't need to! Their lifestyle was one of being physically active to just exist. (This is my dad.)

Then came the invention of the "almighty chair." Then the desk. The car. White collar jobs. Technology. Thus, the "have to" of exercise became a must to keep us moving and mobile. (This is my mom.)

As our 6 For 60 draws to a close, I'm humbled at the awareness and accomplishments made by all. Some nailed all 6 pillars weekly. Some consciously made a choice to nail 2, 3, 4 or 5 pillars. And that was a HUGE win for them! Frankly, just hearing the "ah-ha's" of "THAT'S what they are putting into my "food?!?!" is one of the biggest wins of all for me! Knowledge is power and for you to have the understanding, knowledge, power and control over what someone ELSE is choosing to put in your food is huge! You now have the knowledge to make conscious choices over what you choose to eat.

So beyond the nutrition pillars that you've established, I pray that you'll do everything in your power to be in control of your physical health. Don't let your lack of desire, (soap box, please) your lame excuses, (yes, I called your excuses lame) or your apathy become someone else's problem in the future. When your kids, friends, or significant other has to physically roll you over on a table because of the choices you are making now, that's (I hate to say it, but) self-centered (and friends, rolling 150-200 pounds of "dead, unassisted" weight over is virtually impossible not to mention a very horrible scenario to experience).

My "soap box plea" is that while you are ABLE, do whatever you CAN to remain MOBILE & ACTIVE. You do NOT have to plan a workout. Just Get UP - Get DOWN - and Get Back UP again. You get the picture. You have the tools now. You have the knowledge. You know what to do. MOVE and be MOBILE.

1) Mobility. Stretch, Flex, Move Your Joints, Trigger your fascia
2) Core Strength. Keep it. It does not take long every day, several times a week, to keep a strong core.
3) Strength. Whether you're sitting or standing, lift something repetitively. And if you don't have something to lift, lift YOURSELF. Up/downs in a chair, up/downs on the floor, up/downs jumping up and down. For pete sake, Up/downs and ROLLOVERS on a table!
4) Cardio. Physical Activity. Keep moving. It does not have to be "breathtaking", it just needs to require a bit more "breath" than just sitting.

And here's the kicker - NO ONE - absolutely NO ONE - cares what you do in your spare time right now. But friends, when we all reach those last chapters, anyone and everyone near and dear to you will absolutely care what kind of physical condition and mobility you possess because they will be actively involved in caring for you. Period.

I'm stepping off my soap box now to join you in the commitment to do something EVERY DAY which will improve my quality of life in the last half of my life. I shudder at the day I have to look into the eyes of one of my boys as they reach around me to move my body. I DO NOT want to see into the eyes of their soul them asking, "Why did you let yourself get like this, mom?" I want them to always know I will not become their burden by my own choices but will live to the utmost of my own power until something else takes me down.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What Are You Doing With Your Health?

Friday I read an amazing article about the Marathon Monks. (and will definitely be getting the book by John Stevens, The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei.)  

If you haven't heard of these monks, I'm quite certain there is no comparison of any individual "endurance athlete" I've ever heard of.

These Buddhist Monks of Japans push the boundaries of endurance limits in search of a higher plane of spirituality. And after five full Ironman events, I can definitely say that 140.6 can become quite "spiritual" - I cannot even fathom the level of spirituality that this would send you into :) Here is the 7 year commitment they make:
  • 1st year: 100 consecutive days of 26.2-mile marathons, beginning at 1:30 a.m., each day after an hour of prayer
  • 2nd year: 100 consecutive days of 26.2 mile marathons
  • 3rd year: 100 consecutive days of 26.2 mile marathons
  • 4th year: 100 consecutive days of 26.2 mile marathons - performed twice
  • 5th year: 100 consecutive days of 26.2 mile marathons - performed twice
  • On the 700th day, the monks undergo a 9 day fast without food, water, rest or sleep - a mind-boggling feat which would result in certain death for most human beings, before having a short rest of a few weeks and increasing their gruelling schedule
  • 6th year: 100 consecutive days of 37.5 mile marathons
  • 7th year: 100 days of 52.2 mile marathons and 100 days of 26.2 mile marathons.
However, it is not just the relentless running that they are disciplined by. It also includes stopping at different stations along the way to recite prayers and perform ritual chants. Upon completion of each day's marathon, they don't stop for burgers, get a massage and go home to lay on the couch the rest of the day (mind you, they have been up since 1:30am). 

The monks perform chores, clean the temple and continue to pray until going to bed at 9:00 p.m. The ritual begins again a few hours later. Alarmingly, if at any time the monk finds himself physically or mentally unable to complete the 100-day ritual, he is duty-bound to commit suicide by hanging himself with the belt from his robe or through ritual disembowelment.

Amazing. Unimaginable. There are so many words that come to mind, but there is NONE that I can find that really describe what these individuals are doing.

I read this article right after helping a client/friend fine tune her mental and physical training for an upcoming Ironman. Prior to that, I read an email from a person who was throwing in the towel on "challenging" herself to Get Out 30' a day OR eat 8 fruits/veggies a day. Too "hard" she said.

Within about ten minutes of reading about the Monks, I opened my email and saw a blog update from Brandon Marsh. He and his wife have raced pro in half and full Ironman events for some time and represent Austin quite well. In December, Amy was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). As you would expect, they were both shocked that her "exhaustion" was not typical post-Ironman season fatigue, but something much more intense. Amy is fighting hard at MD Anderson awaiting a stem cell transplant.However, the point of what I'm sharing follows. It's Brandon's perspective on how a super-fit, elite Ironman triathlete shifts gears and does what he can when he can - and not take his health for granted while "Taking Care of Himself" so he can be a caretaker of his wife. 

"My ideal minimum (of exercise) is 20 minutes, 7+ hours of sleep, and at least 1 big greens based salad meal a day. Some days my minimum has been a few trips up a full 7 flights of stairs at Seton. Others like yesterday it was 30+ minutes of walking the halls at MD Anderson. Everyone with 2 workable legs can walk. Everyone. Everyone can put down their fork or order something with a few less calories. Everyone can grab for the carrots instead of the cookies. To go from 20+ hours of actual training a week to 6-8 hours of exercising has been an adjustment. 
To go from 2 plates of food at each meal to 1 has been a bigger adjustment! 
My average week has probably been 6 hours of exercise. 1 day every 7-10 days that might be considered a zero in most books. I've hit the gym...2x a week.Amy was inpatient at Seton for 45 days. 45 days. Over the course of those 45 days her initial fitness helped her handle the chemotherapy. She probably averaged a 20 minute daily walk outside of her room, and on some days she rode an archaic Schwinn Airdyne 10-30 minutes.
20 minutes a day for 45 days while undergoing chemotherapy. What's your excuse?"
Would Brandon, or sweet Amy, fighting through the biggest endurance event of her life, prefer to be logging 25-30 hours a week of Ironman training as opposed to this? You know that answer. But when anyone with any level of "good" health doesn't prioritize staying "healthy" there truly is no excuse.

Amy Marsh, Pro Ironman Athlete
Amy Marsh, No Excuses

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Ripple Effect

After I finished the Ironman World Championships in Kona, I went on the search for the "next" endeavor. As much as I love triathlon, if I kept training 20-25 hours a week swim/bike/run, I knew I'd NEVER get the opportunity for other experiences. 

That's when I came across The SUP 11 City Challenge in the Netherlands, ranked one of the top, toughest endurance events in the world. Eleven cities, five days, 220k. Hmmm....what if we created a team and as Ambassadors made this the ultimate paddle event for The Flatwater Foundation, while raising funds, creating mission and brand awareness in the US for Flatwater, and doing what many of us love?

Sounded awesome to me.

Fast Forward to two weeks ago when Mark and Chelsea at Flatwater invited a group of us to create a Flatwater Ambassador Team for the Ultimate SUPporter Challenge to travel to the Netherlands. An amazing opportunity to spend the next 10 months promoting, paddling, and raising $10,000 per team member for The Flatwater Foundation.

In my typical contemplative fashion, I had not pushed "send" on the big commitment/event yet (when I pushed "send" for each of my five Ironman events, I did it alone, silently, in the quiet of my own kitchen, knowing that with the press of that button, I'd just wreaked havoc on the next 5-10 months of my life and my family's ;-)

However, two days ago, I received an email from a dear friend, training partner, and huge supporter of our Dam That Cancer fundraising endeavors for The Flatwater Foundation since day one. Steve and I read her email together, over our kitchen table, with tears welling in our eyes:

Cindy and Steve and Milburn (and I can't copy Steiner:(  )

Ann Marie and Christina just returned from Dallas visiting their very close friend and roommate for many years who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Melissa is in isolation for a month at Southwestern Hospital and receiving bone marrow tests and chemo to find out just what sub type of leukemia she is fighting. At 33 years of age, an Austin ISD school teacher, is facing an incredible challenge, as you well know. Of course, the emotional impact has been very challenging. 

As Melissa journeyed through her challenges with Christina and Ann Marie, she stopped to say that this wonderful group called Flatwater Foundation is paying for her mental health therapist for 8 sessions. Her insurance will only cover a few sessions, so she was so thankful for the generosity of others. 

My girls immediately said "that's Cindy's charity and part of her work!" They talked about Dam that Cancer and all Cindy and Steve do for that charity....paddling all those miles for Melissa!

I just wanted YOU and STEVE to know, it really is a gift, what you do for others. It's personal...touching a very dear young girl. 

What you do, does make a difference.

Thank you!
With lots of love,
Ann, Tom, Christina, Forrest, Ann Marie, and Rusty

We both sat there silent - and stunned. Every paddle stroke we had taken for Flatwater had its own ripple effect. "We" weren't the only ones doing something for others. Our friends who had sent the email had supported our Dam That Cancer paddles every year. We recently hosted a Get Out Girl PaddleJam for others to paddle for it. Many of our friends and family now donate and/or paddle for the cause. And now, in addition, the fruit of our efforts had a ripple effect through a family, through their kids, to, now, their dear friend.

The mission of Flatwater was derived on the fact that cancer diagnosis' create a ripple effect in families - on numerous levels, one being emotional stability and well being. After reading this email, I was humbled to see first hand how paddling for Flatwater also creates a ripple effect. Here was a woman in a hospital in Dallas, Texas, who was suffering physically and emotionally, and by placing our paddles in the water mile after mile, five Dam That Cancer events, 105 miles, plus our first Get Out Girl PaddleJam, 10 miles, plus Steve and my 26.2 SUP miles/week for the month of May 2013 after the Boston bombings - not even counting the many, many miles of training, playing, teaching and social paddles in between - and here, a single, ill, sweet school teacher from Austin who is dear in the heart's of one of the most thoughtful families we know, is benefitting from Flatwater.


Yesterday it was about 42, 15 mph winds, but a beautiful day. After reading the email the night before I knew I was going paddling yesterday no matter what the weather would be. Melissa didn't choose the day she found out she had cancer. I wasn't going to choose the day to start my biggest fundraising endeavor to date in honor of her - and whoever else the ripple effects of my paddle would touch.

Thank you, Melissa. Yesterday's paddle was dedicated to you. You will be my first donation to my fundraising page. Because of you I committed. I will paddle in preparation for The SUP 11 City Tour in a commitment to raise a minimum of $10,000 for The Flatwater Foundation to support friends, friends of friends...and rippling out to people whose lives I do not even know, but are very dear to those we care about.

I paddled. It was cold. It was very windy. It was not easy. But it was worth every single paddle stroke.

"Send" pushed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wow! What A Ride!

Today - 25 years Ago.
Kona Oct. 2013
May 13, 1989. Yup. The day we were married. River Place Country Club. Only a club and golf course back then. No houses. One road.

I think that was one of the last big rainstorms we had, too - aside from last night! Well, actually, one of the last most memorable storms. My dad forgot his bow tie-thingy (not really a bow tie, but a western version of that). He left the country club about an hour prior to the start of the wedding and 30 minutes after the wedding was supposed to start hadn't shown back up. The creeks were rising, the canyons flooding, and large softball size hail was falling from the sky. Dad was late - but not too late to have put one of the super-sized hail balls in the freezer for proof as to why a room full of people were anxiously awaiting his arrival. It was a "turd floater" as we call that kind of storm here in Texas. But right when we decided to go ahead and start the wedding (because everyone was running late - and rather drenched!) a double rainbow popped out over the canyon and behind the huge plate glass windows where we stood, and I knew God was shining down on our marriage.

And He continues to do so.

25 Years. The "big" Silver wedding anniversary. I remember when I was little, I used to think about those significant marriage milestones. What would my "husband-to-be" get me for those special "significant" anniversaries (like the years in between don't count???)

Year 1 is supposed to be "paper". I got a card. Year 5 is said to be "wood". Back then I guess it could have been a wooden water ski. Year 10 they say is "tin"? What? A beer can perhaps? 15 is "crystal". Hmm...not for me and never happened. 25. Silver. Now that might have potential.

But 25 years later the traditional milestone wedding gifts aren't quite so significant. Steve and I aren't very materialistic; I don't even wear my wedding ring much because of the sports I do. We buy the toys we enjoy and use when we decide to throughout the year (which is one of the things that is super fun being married to your best friend - doing so many activities together ;-) Thus, waiting for special occasions isn't really our style. And buying something just to "buy it" because you're "supposed to" is not that fun either, so "something silver" isn't really in the plan. 

So my gift to you, Steve, is to do what you have been asking me to do for the past six months, and that is get back to my blog.

My Rock.
The first "day" we began dating, July 22, 1983, I knew there was something different about you. About a week later, I realized what it was - you were a ROCK. I couldn't rattle you, I couldn't shake you. No matter what the conditions, you were solid, stable, and grounded. My dear, you have not changed in 31 years. No matter what I throw at you; whatever I do, right, wrong, or indifferent; whatever I register for that you know will throw off our family plan for the next year (or 3 years ;-); whatever I've "gotten us into this time"; whatever I suggest, you don't waiver. You are my rock.

My Supporter.
You may not like it, but you support it. You may not agree with it, but you back it. I've never once had to ask you for "a pass" to participate. Frankly, you know "asking for a pass" is not who I am, but doing what I love and loving what I do is who I am. And you've never stood between the two. You stand behind that and know that's part of the package you married. If I were to ask first, I'm certain you'd clearly think something has gone wrong. You've followed me, cheered me on, stood in the heat for 12 hours (five times now ;-), cramped up, clammed up, champed up - to cheer me on. Neither of us aiming for podiums or results, but just chalking it up to accomplishment, determination, and personal growth. You followed me through a line item on my bucket list (well, we did get into a few subtitles we weren't expecting which added two additional years ;-) but we did it together and I will always cherish the sacrifices you made on my behalf. Check. 

My Forgiver.
I have never been one of perfection. My flaws run deep and wide. But you have never poured salt into any of them. You have never waived them on a banner. You have taken them in stride and moved on. Even when they have effected us both, whether they've been something we could laugh at (like when I was in such a hurry I drove into Grandpa's carport and took the pole out to the point it was resting on his car); something we both should have cried at, but you never did; or something that hindsight would have produced an entirely different result for us and you never brought the view in the rearview mirror back up to me. Silent, stoic, and stealth. You have always loved me for who I am and the lessons I've learned through imperfection.

My Soul Mate.
You understand me. We share the same beliefs and loves. You know how I am wired. You don't question it. You don't compare it. You literally and wholly take me for "me". Is it because you really understand me? I doubt that; I don't completely understand me. Is it because you love me so much that you do? Possibly. But I believe you it's because you "respect" me for who I am, meaning you may not understand it, agree with it, or believe in it, but you respect me enough to take my beliefs, actions, intent, and purpose in stride as part of the whole package. I believe respect is as significant as love in a relationship, and a noun that many relationships lack. You know what makes me tick and you may not agree with it, but you respect it enough to allow it to "keep ticking".

My Friend.
For 31 years we have played, traveled, learned different sports, skied together (I wonder how many ski sets we have taken during the years??), worked out together, biked together (how many miles we've ridden?), run together? Not, just checking to see if you were really reading this! (However, if you will reflect back, there were about two weeks in July when we started dating and you were "courting" me that you'd run to Selma Hughes and back with me after we skied early mornings so we'd warm up - remember how COLD Lake Austin was back then??) We truly live life, love life, and enjoy it to its full extent together. We love God, our friends, our community, nature, what we can give it together, and most treasured, what it gives back to us. We do life together. And Life is Good.

My Brother.
You love me unconditionally and understand me spiritually. You do not critique me (thank goodness - as the list would go on and on!) You know me well enough to edge me forward. You know where my gifts, my passions, and my God-given platform lies. When I'm not using them, you nudge me; when I'm not sharing them, you urge me; when I'm sitting around complacent, you wonder why and ask me. You know that "my life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to slide in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming - with my arms raised to the sky - WOW, What A Ride!" 

My Husband.
Here's to the next 25+ years of our "Ride".
Till Death Do Us Part.

Happy 25th Anniversary (+6!), Steve! I wouldn't trade a day.

Monday, October 14, 2013

What A Day!!

Ironman Kona 'er done!! And it really was quite enjoyable!! The day clipped along at a steady pace, it never felt endless, and I never got miserable! Check!!

At 12 midnight the morning of the event I woke up and never returned to sleep. Apprehension. Nerves. Anxiety. I just needed to get this thing going. At 4:15 I officially started getting ready and we left for the pier at 5. I didn't see the Sherpas who had left prior to us (was this a hint of the day to come??) Steve and I parted ways, both teary eyed and emotional. There is something about that moment, all the training, all the sacrifices, all the dedication and determination, that brings out inner rawness. Time to bring it to fruition.

Body marking, chip check, bag check, sunscreen, bike prep, was getting close to game time. I realized that once the canons went off and I got in motion the nerves would go away and auto pilot would calm me. And it did.

At 7am with helicopters whirling overhead, loud speakers blaring, and the announcer counting down, the canon blasted and echoed through Kailua Kona and 2200 swimmers turned the ocean from a calm, morning blue to a maddening foam of white, arms, legs, kayaks, SUP boards and chaos. Welcome to the 2013 Ironman World Championships!

After 2011, I had decided to hold back behind the chaos about 50 feet and stay wide left. It did not matter to me if I started later or swam farther, I was most interested in being comfortable and not getting destroyed out there. And the plan worked. I had free water continuously except for the turn around, and even swam so far left the I had a private kayak escort going and coming! My new Aqua Sphere Vista goggles were amazing and I never fogged or had sight issues. At one point I clearly saw thousands of fish in an aquarium like scene, blanketing the floor of the ocean with cameramen imbedded in the center. It was a beautiful, stress free swim. In fact, at the turn around I questioned 'I am here already??' It was right on pace  with what I usually do. 2.4/140.6 done!

Bike transition was chaos with bodies, clothes, and gear flying. Someone started digging in my bag, volunteers were trying to handle gear, help with gear, repack bags, and getting in and out quickly was difficult. But off I went on the 112 mike bike ride.

While waiting for the swim start I heard a veteran Kona athlete tell a first timer to keep dumping water on themselves throughout bike and run. I made a mental note and at every water hand up on the bike I dumped water on my head and back. I never felt hot. The road to Hawi was pretty fast on the way out with really long... Climbs and descents. Every timing mat I passed I subliminally heard the sound an iPhone makes of 'whoosh' here comes my timing info back to ya, Sherpas! It gave me great peace and connectedness!!

By the turn around in Hawi, I had averaged 20.5-21mph and held it to about mile 82. Prior to that I was again surprised at how quickly the event was going by. But as this island notoriously does, I was quickly humbled by what felt like hurricane force trade winds. They dropped me to 10mph descents at 120% power at times. It was the only time of the day I wasn't having fun. My average pace dropped 1 mph and with all other things equal, is what dropped me from a PR day. I was also questioning how my tummy was going to respond on the run as it felt a little dicey. I began rethinking my nutrition plan for the run.

After making it through 'Hurricane Kona' I dropped into transition to prepare for the run. 114.4/140.6.  

My goal on the run: to make it through mile 16 comfortable. I was questioning what legs I would have and was eager to test them out. About mile 2 I could feel my adductors twitching. I was thinking I may have over done it on the bike, but no. I could smile, run, interact with fans. Ok, make it feeling good to mile 16. At each water stop I dumped water on my head and ice in front and back of my shirt. I also hadn't eaten at all on the run and knew my body would need fuel but my stomach did not need the gels to upset it.

Mile 13. The sign. 'No spectators past this point'. Until this point the Sherpas had been bobbing and weaving all over town on their fleet of cruisers cheering myself and other athletes along. But now they came to an abrupt halt. Off I go down the Queen K solo. A lava desert with heat radiated the view. I went about .5 mile and I see a studly man... On a pink cruiser. Mark!! Thank Goodness!! He went through the check point!! The other OSHA Sherpas were officially down for the next 9 miles. It was just Mark and I....and about a thousand or so runners out there. Thank goodness for Mark! Accountability to keep running!

I knew I needed to start eating so took in a sip of perform at each stop. I made it to the turn for the energy lab cut off. I headed down the hill to the ocean about 1.75 miles, made a u turn and headed back up. Mile 19 or so. There was Mark and I was still feeling good! About a 7-8/10. What the heck!! No wall yet! Switched over from perform to a sip of cola at each stop for the last 5 miles. Still feeling pretty darn good!

So here we go! Back down the Queen K to Kona. About 6 miles. Mentally, I was gearing up for 4 more miles thinking the last 2 would be adrenalin. Mile 21. Wow. Feeling good, 2D still. Hmm. Really? In Cabo I started crashing at 18. But that's why I changed my training and did a 20+ mile long run for 7 weeks in a row.

I had told myself I wasn't going to race this event to feel comfortable, but race it to 'go down fighting'. Intervals. Here we go. .25 fast (as it gets) and .25 back at pace.

Mile 22. Sherpas Up! Let's go!! Still Intervals and feeling good. I don't think I am going to feel miserable. Mile 23. Intervals again. Mile 24. It's a hill and there's no people for the adrenalin rush. Do another mile of intervals. The Sherpas start peelng off for the finish line. Kristin asks permission and I quickly respond with 'no'. That's why you never ask permission :-) she stays with me to 25.75. I tell her 'go ahead, peel off'. After 31 years of friendship, the 'I love you's' escape us and we both pony up for the finish. She bombs down the hill to the finish chute on her cruiser and I sight in two girls ahead if me. If they are in my age group, I have come too far to let them beat me now. I start sprinting, Kristen starts biking and 17 Sherpas bomb down Palani to the finish line!

11:12 and 140.6 miles. We did it! Definitely the 'easiest' most enjoyable Ironman I have ever done. It was a good day!!!

A 'Beyond Words' Shout Out to the Kona Sherpa Team!! Again, it's not about the 'what' you do but the 'why' you do it. Yall are such a huge part of they 'why'!!! Thank you for sharing the journey here!!!

Beno & Toni
Ann & Tom
Jessica & Johannes
Mark & Paula
Porter & Andrew
Emily & Kevin

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jack is Back!!

Jack is packing up calories, filling flasks, and getting ready for bike check in today! How many calories and how many mg of caffeine will it take??

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Team Underpants

I see London, I see France, I see most of Kona in their underpants!!

Can't beat them, then join them! After a quick swim goggle test and stationary swimming to the espresso barge (current was a tad bit brutal today - like a Lake Austin swim when generating ;-) we quickly climbed into our undies and joined in the crazy Kona Under Pants Run for local charities. Easily the shortest run recorded (around the block, to the pier for group stretching, then back to the other side of the block for group pictures) it was also easily the funnest run ever! Perfect prep for my UnderAchieving Training come Sunday! 

Just say in' though, that when you edit pictures of your friends in Under Pants, there is a little more hesitancy when pushing the 'enhance' button :-)