The Happy Turtle's Journey to the Start: An Ironman Tale

For those of you that believe that you have to be sleek, slim, cut and fast to be an Ironman, think again! Some of our bodies just don’t fit that mold but we have the guts to set our intention, make a plan and see it to the end. In my heart, I believe that turtles CAN fly! The turtle society is not just challenged by fitness, but by the time limits imposed by race companies insisting we keep up with the status quo so they can get to the bars before last call. Well, I suppose there has to be a cut off or us turtles might be out there for days enjoying the sun on our backs. Some stare at the turtles on the course wondering why it even embarks on such a journey and what purpose it has. It is old, weathered, wrinkled, and slow no matter how you twist it. I just know that you can train a turtle and the turtle might teach you a thing or two along the way. We are old and wise and we have a shell that cannot be broken. We want a taste of victory just like our other friends. I cannot find another creature that I am most like. Join me on my journey from start to end to help the Happy Turtle win again!

Friday, January 1, 2016

It's a New Year!

Well, I happen to click on my blog and found my last entry was in May 2015.  My blog was started at the end of 2011 when I was about to embark on the journey to my first Ironman.  The blog has had it's ups and downs and last year it just about went dry when my energy took a downward spiral.  After many doctor's visits and finally a medical explanation for what was robbing me of my energy and my passion, the blog took a long nap ending in my legal separation from triathlon.
Image result for Free pics for writers
At that time, I did not have answers to what ailed me.  Most doctor's told me I was healthy for my age and time period of my life "menopause".  In my heart, I knew this was not menopause and I was just about to succumb to a lackluster life being the new normal.  I stumbled upon my last chance when my gynecologist sent me to see a reproductive endocrinologist to determine if it was safe for me to use hormone replacement to try and restore balance in my world with my complicated medical history.  I have been told I am complicated, quirky, and the odd one out.  After most doctors who should have followed the blood trail wrote me off, my last chance doctor drew a timeline on his desk, listened intensely and connected the dots.  He determined that I was suffering from CD8 T-cell exhaustion most likely from a chronic viral infection and determined I needed a new line of defense to normalize this Immune/Inflammation Dysfunction.  My life has been filled with a rigorous regimen of vitamins, supplements, medications, high protein diet, and evening bouts of exercise to try and balance the abnormal things going on in my body.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of an arcade styled nurse ghost
It is hard to separate the mental from the physical in this state but the lab tests have been the proof that there was an underlying cause to the way I was feeling (and reassurance I was not crazy) and it is the ticket back to health seeing the labs normalize during this process.  Finding new energy.  There is no miracle cure for what ails me as this condition will always be something I am probably managing, but trying to distinguish what is fatigue from the condition vs fatigue due to being deconditioned is tricky and the fear that pushing myself too hard will cause a setback weighs heavily on my mind.

I think we are moving in the right direction because I have had sparks of hope and desire to get back in action.  I do think I needed the separation from triathlon regardless of there being a physical reason for the diminishing level of performance and loss of energy.  I needed to get back to the roots of moving for fun and fitness vs. it being an obsession and appreciating the opportunity to experience a workout for the sheer way it makes you feel with sweat cleansing your body and your mind becomes just a little bit clearer.  3 months ago, 30 minutes of moving was like lifting a 100 lb weight over my head while today I feel just a little bit lighter.

I may race again, but it will have different meaning the next time.  There will be a greater appreciation for just being there and not getting tied up in the competitive nature of it all.  I love not having a schedule and finding a friend who wants to go take a hike and is not bound by their contract to complete a certain mileage or a certain time.  Not to say I will never go back there because once a competitor, it is always in your blood and although my blood is missing some important key players, it is still what nourishes my body and soul.  I work out now because I "feel" like it, not because I have to.  I did fire up my new Garmin 920xl as I have not collected data in over a year.  Maybe that is a sign.

Image result for Pics for New Years
What will 2016 bring for a turtle with no wings.  I guess learning to fly again begins with desire and that is where the new year begins.  I don't think I believe in resolutions or for that matter what tomorrow will bring.  May you appreciate every opportunity you have to do what you love.  When the opportunity is taken away, may you find the strength and perseverance to find a new outlook and maybe find wings that will take you to an unexpected place.  At least tri, that is what I do!  PEACE AND LOVE for the New Year.

Friday, May 22, 2015


I have filed for legal separation from Triathlon until I work things out with me, myself and “I”or is it me, myself and “TRI” (which ever trio you are married to). All good things do come in threes (and sometimes bad things) and I do hope to work things out with my true love, “triathlon”. After Oceanside 70.3, my energy levels went back down and I was finally able to take the break that my body and mind truly needed and was recommended 6 months earlier after completing Chattanooga.
bike signs no bicycles allowed signs k 7904 no bike sign no biking ...
Despite the ongoing struggle with my stamina, I had built up some nice momentum on my bike improving my climbing skills to make it up the hills of Oceanside and I was even hoping to continue to go UP. Instead, I parked my bike on the wall in my house and one day off lead to another and I finally gave Scottie the bike my blessing to take a staycation (a vacation where you stay at home). The longer I was separated from my bike, the less desire I had to ride. The thought of riding is making me anxious about the energy costs and being on the road again with traffic. Without the worry or pressure of an upcoming race, I am happy to report a lot of my training distress has disappeared and I don't feel guilty for this prolonged break from cycling. I think it is a mutual agreement that we needed this 2 month separation. I have not taken more then a week off from riding since I began triathlons 5 years ago. All relationships go through trials and tribulations and sometimes a break is a must for repair and rejuvenation. Only time will tell when we start to reunite if we were meant for each other.

 Ever wonder why it can feel really hard to make change happen?
I still had a plan for my near future during this time apart and that was to work on my health and fitness through some less competitive activities like yoga and weight training. I also picked my weakest sport or my limitors as Joe Friel likes to call it and decided to focus more on that and signed up for RUNNING SCHOOL with my track coach which turned out to be a private one on one running school and individual coaching so I hit the jackpot when nobody else showed up to class. I did not realize there was more to running then putting one front in front of the other and trying to move faster, but just like the other 2 sports and the advances in motion analysis and biomechanics, there are optimal postures, technique and cadence for running and you need to have adequate range of motion and strength in the muscles that propel the body to prevent injury and go faster. I have so much homework and it is fun to have something besides nothing to focus on during a run. Usually I prefer to think about nothing during endurance sports and can appreciate the meditative time, but running has been harder for me to get past the discomfort and into the zone and I am having fun. It is refreshing to try something new and be back in school!
I even signed up for a summer running series to have a small challenge to keep me honest and to track my progress with running and hope that when and if I return to triathlon I will be able to “run the runs” and improve. More then anything, I longed for something short. I loved running in my first 5K race in years because who runs or even pays for a short 5K anymore when there are marathons and Ironman triathlons. I found it to be just as challenging in the heat of it, but thankful it came to an end before I could get comfortable with the discomfort as one does in a long distance race. You can push a little harder because you know the end will arrive sooner. Who knows maybe the 5K will come back into style. Just like fashion, sports events are cyclical and while a lot of people are running through mud, bubbles, obstalces or paint or tackling long and longer events, it is refreshing to do a basic 5K. I think the tables are turning.
Weeks To Your First 5K
Not that I have been completely faithful, but I have been cheating on triathlon for a while now with my new passion, YOGA. It is an affair of the heart and soul you could say. I have been practicing yoga for almost 6 months now. What yoga did for me when I needed it most was allowed me to accept myself for who I am and what I could do at any given moment. It is gentler and more forgiving then triathlon miles on your body although holding postures and breathing are no cake walk. There is no competition between students and each individual develops their own practice meaning you do not all have to go the same distance, you do what your body allows. As granola as it sounds, yoga is pure joy, love, and acceptance not to mention flexibility, strength and balance. So it might seem like I was unfaithful but this could only strengthen my relationship with triathlon in the future.
Find Your Perfect Corner of LBI!
This past month my studio hosted a yoga challenge to encourage students to develop their practice. All you need to bring is yourself and your mat (and in my case a few props) and the willingess to TRI (oh I can't go anywhere without tri-ing in one way or another). The challenge was to complete 30 classes in 30 days and I am 8 classes away. Plus I was motivated to WIN a free month of yoga! I still love to win! It has been fun meeting some less competitive souls and sharing the joys of yoga with an accepting non competitive group of people. Yoga has helped me learn to breathe when times are tough, relax, and accept myself for what I can do at any given moment and to forgive myself when I am not perfect.
Iron Man Competition
Yoga has been medicine for my soul because triathlon is one of the most competitive sports I have come across. Athletes are tough on their bodies, judgmental about their performances, lack confidence in their readiness, want to improve at all costs to beat their times and those of their competitors. They are always planning their next event before crossing the finish line regardless of allowing adequate time for recovery or considering the costs, or prioritizing health in order to keep the adrenaline rush going. It is human nature to strive to be the best we can be and desire a place on the podium but when your body and mind are not aligned and training is not going your way, we have to remember that triathlon is about a lot more then winning. This growing sport sparks the desire of many to challenge themselves to become faster and stronger. The fitness industry has been able to entice athletes into reaching deep into their pockets to achieve their personal best by hiring coaches, reading the latest books on how to get better, buying the latest gear and equipment that will shave seconds off your time, and sign up for catered events. Sometimes the love of the sport gets lost in the competition and pressures of doing what everyone else is doing. How many races can you do, how many Ironman can you complete, how many challenging courses can you conquer, how many consecutive races can you do, how many years can you keep going, maybe being an Ironman is too simple and there is something bigger. For some there is no end in sight. Others spend many weeks injured and tormented by taking time to heal. Then athletes like myself may feel like it they do one more race, they might explode or wake up in the middle of the night and throw their bike off a cliff. I spent most of the past year or so struggling in my training and with my health and I had more bad workouts then good and my times were getting slower. As much as I was tormented by the possibility of not starting a race I committed to, I could not let go of finishing what I signed up for with my club. So I stumbled through Oceanside stayed in an unhealthy relationship and I paid the price. It was time to heal and that is what I have been doing. I needed to come to terms that happiness cannot be tied to performance, only effort. Sometimes you have to step away before you can mend.

The water. A place that I usually am at ease with can lose its buoyancy and become a resistant environment when you take a break. I swim once in a while which is good for keeping the stroke alive. I miss my time in the water and I miss feeling at ease. Friday mornings at the lake are enough to motivate me to get back in. I love spending my morning watching the sunrise while rythmically dancing through the sea. Everyone that goes shares the love of the water or they are just cramming for a race to find comfort and ease for an upcoming event. I think the water will foregive me for this lengthy separation and we will find peace together soon again.

Taking away the pressure of an upcoming race has helped me find the courage to do the things that don't come easy. Getting stronger and trying to convince my body that high intensity workouts and strength training will help me find my way back to this sport. What about the Core? I thought it was all about the base, but without the core, your base would collapse as it is the stabilizing force. Gravity and age can work against you over time if you let them. There seems to be some sort of PLANK conspiracy going on out there. How many different ways can you do a plank static OR dynamic. There must be a BOOK OF PLANKS in the works, but I have been taught at least 10 different ways to plank over the past few weeks.
The only way you can be in a healthy relationship is to take care of yourself first and hope it makes you a better person before you get back together with your love. This is foreign territory for my body and just like running a 5K, my body is not accustomed to these type of workouts. I am missing my base and I think I will tolerate these workouts better if I start building the base back up.

As my yoga challenge and running school come to a close I will continue working on those areas and start to build up my base and see where it leads me. In the meantime, during this separation period, I have found enjoyment in helping other triathletes out by Volunteering at our local races and Sagging. There is a thrill in making another athlete's training day a little easier or a race day a little less stressful and I have also been learning the art of wet suit stripping.
BevWire On Vacation Until Labor Day
Sometimes separation can provide great relief.  It has been awesome to really take 2 months away from being a triathlete. Sometimes you work things out and sometimes you go your separate ways. Maybe triathlon and I will be back together or maybe the separation will continue a while longer. Not until I actually took time off, did I realize the value in it. So many triathletes fear time off and don't understand the impact it has on their mental and physical well being. It has taken me actually this amount of time to realize that taking REAL time off was the right choice for me as challenging as it is when you are surrounded by your energetic peers who may not understand your need.
 This is best described as fitting two pieces to a puzzle together!

It may just take one bike ride or just one long run or a few months of base training to ignite the fire inside me again to tri, but for now I am content to live from day to day trying to balance life as I see fit in each moment.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Oceanside and Beyond!

One week after Oceanside, I am finally sitting down to reflect on the experience.  After weeks of debating to race or not to race that feeling never went away before, during or after the event.  I was petrified about signing up for a race that was going to challenge my climbing skills on the bike on a reportedly daunting course with several steep climbs along with swimming in the ocean with adorable but dangerous sea creatures and possible cold and choppy conditions.  Nothing like psyching yourself up or even out for a race before you even sign up.  The fear of being left out superseded the concerns about the course and helped me hit the SUBMIT button and before I knew it against my instinct I was registered for Oceanside 70.3 before I could compete and recover from my pending Ironman in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga sucked the life out of me and I struggled with my health and energy after my second Ironman.  I even wrote a poem about triathletes who compete in Ironman:

Who are You?

I am one of the lucky ones who's blood counts drop and immune system does not support the vigorous training and recovery is a bear.  I thought for certain I was "2 and through", but I now had this 70.3 hanging over my head.  I did not have the energy or the spirit to train properly.  I was ready to end this battle and just hang Oceanside out to dry before it ever got wet.  Something inside of me could not allow a paid race with no refund go by unused (LESSON #1:  BUY THE INSURANCE!), so I accepted that I would just do it for fun with no set time goals and expectations except to cross the finish line and then I would finally be able to REST!

I built up a base and finally felt a few weeks before the race, "oh if I only had 12 more weeks, I could actually train for this race".  I had to accept where I was and stick with the plan of not having a plan.  Oceanside was a beautiful venue and we were blessed with perfect weather for race day.  My tri club was there in full force so there were a lot of familiar faces around.  What struck me most were that every person who I came into contact felt obliged to share their description of the bike course with me.  There were many many different versions of this story! (the same 6% grade for one person was an 18% grade for another!)  The logistics of the race required a lot of walking between the expo and the transition area, so what could have been a nice warm up, took quite a bit of energy and by the time we picked up our packet, checked out the expo and walked back to our hotel and then to the harbor to drop off our bikes in transition and back to the hotel, we were too tired to get a proper meal and we ordered pizza with chicken.

The next morning we had to wake early and walk 30 minutes back to transition.  I did not feel good or bad and just went through the prep steps.  The transition was huge and the only thing I would change is not having my own bike pump.  That was nerve wracking waiting to borrow a pump to inflate my tires.  The most important thing is inspecting your bike in transition and pumping your tires and until that was complete, I was a bit on the edge.  Then we lined up for our swim waves.  The weather was cooperating and the air temp was 55 with a water temp around 65 or so.  That was a relief only having a sleeveless wetsuit, but I was good to go as long as the water was 60 or above.  I made the mistake of taking my time to get into line and got stuck behind a few ladies at the swim start and could not break away from the slower swimmers until the first buoy.  I even swam into a kayak at the start and because I don't see the purpose of using aggressive tactics to pull swimmers out of my way or swim on top of them I had to wait it out. (LESSON #2:  Line up early and in the front of the swim!).   Once I broke away, I did not have to deal with too much swimmer traffic.  I headed out toward sea and then the chop begin.  It was not too powerful but it felt like the waves were big and it was hard to make forward progress as our bodies turned into surf boards riding the waves.  It made spotting the turning buoys a little tricky as well.  Once you made the turn, Mr. Sun was right there to greet you and again I was not certain what line to follow so I mostly followed the people.  I did not know if we had to swim along the buoy line before turning right into the final section or if we could just head to the finish.  My time was over 4 minutes slower then my previous IM 70.3 races, but good enough.  The transition was a long long run in the shoot and then a long long run back to the rack.  I was slow but purposeful in getting my wetsuit off and bike gear on.  My calves were already beginning to cramp as soon as I started pedaling but I was able to spin it off.  Just as you begin, a steep hill is there to greet you and I stand as most people remain seated.  There was a lot of excitement and I am just wondering where the first big climb (which is what I have been waiting to experience for 6 months) was and how I would feel at that point. 

Once we rode through the first gate into Camp Pendleton, the roads were familiar to me as my husband and I had the opportunity to ride through part of the military base over the summer.  I was doing ok and around mile 15 or so when we just started turning onto the bike path, my chain dropped and I managed to get it stuck behind the chain stop.  Eventually after losing 8 minutes and a little help, I was back in action.  My mind had already traveled to my day ending early.  Eventually I got back into a rhythm.  My legs were not feeling super strong, but I thought I was going fairly steady.  They were already feeling some fatigue by mile 20.  I was taking my nutrition, fluids, salt, but I could feel the legs starting to give.  We finally entered the last gate into the base which is usually closed to the public and this is where the true ride began.  I tried to use the momentum of the hills to get me through the ups and downs.  So we get to the rolling part and a woman comes up behind me and says, "stay calm, don't be overwhelmed when you look ahead, just stick with it and you can do it".  She was talking about the first big climb that my friends all so lovingly described after the rollers you will come to a section that looks straight up. "You will know when you get there".  Yes, I had "arrived".
I already was ready to give it my best and if I had to walk, then I would.  There were a few others who unclipped at the bottom of the hill, but I was going to stay clipped in and do what I could.  I was able to conquer one section at a time and up, up, up I went.  It was hard seeing others walking because that played tricks on your mind, but most of my time in training for this race on my bike was on hills.  I did not do much interval training, but many many hours doing hills and drills.  I did it.  I got over the first hills, the second hill and the last.  My legs were kind enough to get up the hills without too much rebelling but the cramps were going from after the big hill all the way to the finish line....I call them CRAMPS THAT KEEP GIVING.  No amount of salt, fluid, anti-cramping tablets can save my day at this point.  I just have to work through them.  The last section of the ride had some nice down hill sections and then flattened out and YES, the headwind, as anticipated, accompanied us all the way to the finish.  Thinking I escaped any major debilitating cramps, as I get off my bike after another very very long trip through the same transition chute.  My legs went into major heavy duty spasm as I tried to put my running shoes on.  If I bent my knee backward to reach my shoe from behind, my hamstring cramped and if I tried to squat to put my shoes on my quads locked up.  I was perplexed as to how I would even get out of the transition area and thought I was headed to medical tent.  A volunteer was walking by and I asked if he could tie my shoes and he did.  As I started walking, I knew it would be a long day, but as my muscles relaxed, I thought I would try to run and I was able to get things started.  That only lasted for about 2 miles.  My legs were so heavy and tight and jumpy with spasms.  I grabbed some vaseline which saved me from chafed arms as leg pain was enough to deal with and then the long WALK/JOG began.  When I hit mile marker 1, I thought I would just about die if that is how painful and long it took to do 1 mile.  Then I got to 2.  The day was taking forever and I was questioning why I was putting myself through this over another silly race, another medal.  I just wanted the day to be over and the hope of running was fading farther away.

There was a man who was walking and running and we kept meeting up and I said we need to get in sync and instead of quitting after 1 loop, he helped me get through the next hour.  It turned out he was training for his first Ironman race in AZ and his cousin was a triathlete who I later learned belongs to my tri club.  I decided I could get through this, but this was going to be my last race for a while.

Once again, I had my slowest race.  It has all gone down hills since my first Ironman in 2012.  I ended this race NOT with my best time, but with my best effort for that day and that has to be good enough.  I knew for the condition I was in that the race would take 7 to 8 hours and I finished right in the middle.

Many of my friends are hooked, they are onto their next race.  I guess I am not an adrenaline junkie after all.  I celebrate the END!  I have found peace in the fact that I am done.  I experienced a big let down just like after my last full Ironman which included exhaustion, probably immune suppression again along with depression.  All I wanted to do for a week was cry!

Today I had the best gift and that was finally getting back on my bike and riding just because I LOVE to and not to go a certain speed, watt or distance or to train for any big race.  It is always a little disappointing to perform below your capabilities, but we don't always need to be at our peak.  Loving the sport is more important to me then anything else and if that means taking some time off or staying away from competition, so be it.  LOVE has peaks and valleys!  LOVE has desire!  LOVE means being kind to yourself and others!  Separation may allow the heart to grow fonder.  I LOVE TRIATHLON and I want to keep it that way.

I would love to go back to Oceanside some day when in a better mindset and better conditioning as it was a perfect course and we were fortunate to have ideal conditions for it.  As Forest Gump says, "Life is Like a Box of Chocolates....You never know what you are going to get" holds very true for triathlon and race day!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tri-ing to Fly

 Image result for pic of turtle trying to fly
As my son is on the beginning of his journey to figure out what he wants to do when he grows up (more specifically what direction he will go after high school), I find myself eerily in the same position as I try to come up with a plan for what I am going to do with the next phase of my life.  I have taken an early retirement from my career as a pediatric physical therapist for the time being, but I am too busy going to yoga class and cramming for a triathlon that I have not made much progress.  I am distracted and lack focus to really truly find my passion but my gut tells me it is probably staring me right in the face.
 Image result for pic of being buried in pile of clutter  "Where are my running shoes?"

It is much like cleaning my house, I am always trying to clear away the clutter and never quite get to the hard cleaning as we find ourselves buried in the non stop cycle of junk mail and other STUFF that just piles up.  My house is so dirty, that I need professional help at this point.  (Not much different then my life.)  I have been on a de-cluttering mission hoping it will help me focus and finally find a niche.
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Let me first give credit where credit is due.  My husband works very hard and shoulders the burden of taking care of our family and helping our only son pursue the career path of his choice which we are hoping includes a college education.  We have always had the luxury of my career being flexible so I could be available to take our son to his various activities.  He has been so lucky to have all the opportunities to shape him into an amazing and talented young man.  I don't think we would change a thing as far as making that happen for him.  As most teens do, he is trying very hard to break out of his cocoon and become his own independent unit, but he realizes that this takes a bigger income and a mode of transportation.

 Image result for cartoon pic of butterfly breaking out of cocoon
 For a mother, it can be a painful process watching your little person sprout their wings and get ready to fly away.  You grieve for the little child who giggled and smiled all the time as you spent every moment teaching and enriching their life for the first 5 years and then passing on the torch to their teachers, mentors and peers to help them soar.  I too, have been under the influence of many great people who have helped this turtle fly!  Sometimes when your life takes you to high places, your engine breaks down and you may find yourself crashing to the ground.

My absence from my blog only shows that I have been absent in life.  It is hard to find balance between being fully committed to something and having freedom to do as one pleases.  Ironman is an amazing experience, but for me it comes at a high price and I am not sure I want to experience the long recoveries any time in the near future.  I guess for some this love lasts forever and for others it waxes and wains.  When all your friends are made of Iron it does start to lose its appeal or maybe you start to think it is not as hard as it once used to be, however, once you complete an Ironman and you wake up from your dream world, you can't imagine how you ever did it.  Perhaps people do them over and over again to keep the memory alive.  I have to pinch myself now every time I see an upcoming race and remind myself that I don't need to sign up for a race to be great.  Once you cross the finish line, nobody can take that moment away from you.  Chances are that you were probably already great to begin with, but this experience may confirm it for you in case you did not already know that.

Triathlon is a great experiment in focus, dedication, and commitment.  The aftermath of long distance racing is what I am still dealing with.  It is like eating too much of a good thing and having a stomach ache that lasts a long time.  Lack of energy and motivation slowed down any future in being competitive in sport for myself.  Despite being advised to take a year off, I could not totally abandon the three sports that I love.  I have been training A LA CART style to try and muster up enough fitness to make my Oceanside 70.3 into a fun training day.  I have to work on my state of mind to pump up the volume for a few weeks to make it a more pleasant day and prepare for the challenges that I might face.  I have finally reached a more solid base and I am still carrying around too much post Ironman weight.  Triathlon is an expensive sport and I wish I could buy more time!
Image result for pics of triathlon party  Image result for pics of triathlon party
I look forward to celebrating the spirit of triathlon with my club in 25 days.  I am coming to terms to accept where I am the day of the race and whatever will be, will be.
 Image result for pics of triathlon party
I am already looking forward to returning from Oceanside and rebuilding my engine without the pressure of a pending race!  I hope to re-create myself in a sense because I am not happy with the present condition that I find myself in. 
 Image result for cartoon pic of butterfly breaking out of cocoon
I hope that I am on the path of self discovery and finding out what I want to be at 50.  Hop on my shell if you want to find out where my path leads me to.  For right now, we shall travel by foot until I learn to fly again.
 Image result for pic of turtle walking


Monday, January 19, 2015


Unknown Voice:  "Knock Knock!"
Turtle:  "Who's There?"
Voice:  "Time to Wake Up from your long post Ironman hibernation"
Turtle"  Sounds:  Rumble, 360 roll inside of the shell, stretch yawn, open one eye "I don't want to!"
Voice:  "You have been off for 110 plus days since your last race!
Turtle:  "I don't want to race.  I want to stay in the dark, do yoga, and eat chocolate."
Voice:  "What happened to working on your LIMITORS and improving your run."
Turtle:  "That was then and this is now"
Voice:  "You paid 100 dollars to get that missing medal from your collection, now get up and crawl through it!"
Turtle:  "FINE!  I will go but it is against my free will because I don't want to TRI anymore!  I am tired and it hurts to move my body"
Voice:  "SHAKE IT OFF"

"Shake it off. Shake it off".  That is all everyone seems to be saying around here.  It has been a very long post race hibernation and my body and mind have not been in sync.   Over the past 2 months, I finally went to do my 50 year old physical after I completed Ironman Chattanooga and was bombarded with tests and specialists for a deluxe work up just to learn my body is aging, precancerous, overweight, and imbalanced.  In some respects being proactive is the responsible thing to do, but it tends to make me crazy and full of anxiety.  Sometimes the more information you find, the more confusing the puzzle gets.  I start a reading and research frenzy of how I can overcome my challenges and live healthier, but my choices and decisions are not all in alignment.  I started to build a base, but my heart was not it in and I wanted to escape from my passions.  I stopped TRI-ing and turned to Yoga.  It was a wonderful diversion, but I was preferring my mat to my miles and the prospect of participating in the upcoming events was slipping away.

Finally, I listened to the voice in my head and a few friends and went downtown to Phoenix to collect my race packet for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  I had signed up a while ago with the intention of focusing on running since that had been the weak link in my triathlons in 2014.   So I walked through a sea of runners to pick up my race number and t-shirt while I was still questioning why I was even bothering as I had no desire to run 13 miles since I stopped running about a month ago.  For some reason, my pride or competitive spirit would not allow me to switch to a shorter race as there were also 5 and 10K distances.  I decided I could probably run half and walk the other half and that would be a good training day and maybe I would get inspired by being around energy of the other participants.

I set out all my race gear, but when my alarm went off, I still did not want to go drive into the mass chaos of one of these "running" races.  Really, I am not really a runner, I am a triathlete, and a retired one at that (TWO AND THROUGH in the Ironman World).  I pulled off a good long bike ride yesterday, and maybe now I can work my way through the crowd for a long run.  If I can do this, perhaps there is still time to pull off a finish at the 70.3 I signed up for that is now 10 weeks away.

Once you are fully converted into a triathlete, returning to a "run only" race can be like traveling to foreign territory.  You don't have to wake up before 5 am.  You can actually eat breakfast and read the paper.  The only thing you have to pack is your running shoes, bib number, 2 gels, some electrolytes and a throw away top.  You park your car, follow the people to the potty and secure your 12x12 inch spot in your corral.  I became increasingly anxious as strange people in all kinds of outfits started crowding around me with their ipods and ear buds.  I was like WTF, didn't these people sign up for this event to listen to the LIVE BANDS.  A few triathletes who could just not try to blend in stood out by wearing their Ironman Tri Tops and I have to admit I wore my IM arm warmers.  Soon there was not much space to breathe and I had to remind myself there was air above me (being short does not help in this situation).  More people squeezed in and finally the 20 minute walk to the start line.  I considered hopping the fence in the opposite direction from the runners and aborting this mission.  As we started to move, some of the anxiety dissipated and finally corral 9 was released into the wild.  I appreciated the 1-2 minutes between groups as even though there were thousands of participants, there was no trampling.  No runners that I know of were hurt in this stampede.  RNR has this race down to a science.  Everything was well organized from parking, to potty lines (although I did not appreciate the photographers taking pictures in the potty lines), corrals, police and volunteer support, aide stations, mileage markers and the bands.

I was planning on about a 3 hour day with a combination of running and walking and hoping to find some others to share that with.  The runners were fairly quiet around me and I was busy passing and being passed by many.  The first 2 miles came up quickly and by the second mile, I decided to stop looking at my watch and just enjoy the day since I had to rely on running at a comfortable pace I could sustain without training.  The bands did make me smile and I made a point to wave my arms and scream for each one.  I am not sure the runners appreciated them enough and as a parent of a musician I felt the need to cheer and scream for each one.  As mile 4 came up I had a plan for alternating between my new capsules I had found containing a mix of salt and herbs and my Honeystinger Ginstinger Gels.  My legs were tight and tired from the previous days bike ride and I was just trying to keep running to the half way mark.  I took a gel and kept running and I actually started feeling better the longer I ran.  I knew I had to contain my joy over this feeling because I knew my body was not trained and could turn against me at any time.    When I reached the 8th mile I peeked at my watch and realized if I ran the last 5 miles at a 12 minute pace, I could finish my run in under 2:30 giving me more time to get home and make it to my son's event.   My competitive self emerged and kept the legs running.  At mile 9 a big hill appeared on one of the more scenic sections of the course and I thought to myself, "they just HAD to put a hill in this race" and I was feeling a little high at that point and pulled out my turtle wings and was able to maintain my pace up the hill.

I also thought about how good this Ginstinger gel has been to me and I should do a commercial for them.  Although what felt fast to me during the race was much slower then in previous years, but it was nice to be able to keep moving.  Questions that passed through my quiet mind were, mmmm, wonder what this would have felt like if I had properly trained or if my body was feeling healthier and lighter AND could I get my body in better condition for Oceanside in just 10 weeks.    Regardless, I compared the way I felt running a half unprepared to running a half or full in a triathlon and I don't want to say it was a piece of cake, but it is certainly a different experience, maybe one I could TRI again.

I finally had a decent training weekend and a glimmer of hope that maybe I could pull off the 70.3 in Oceanside that I had signed up for and has been tormenting me.  This might be my most unconventional training period since beginning triathlons as I like to go into a big event prepared both mentally and physically.  The aftermath of doing a long or hard workout or race without a base has a long lasting impact on me (as I waddle from my bed to my kitchen and back hoping this soreness does not last too long as I have a race to train for).  REMEMBER before you say, "SHAKE IT OFF!",  "IT IS ALL ABOUT THE BASE!" 
The bigger question is can you build a sturdy base in a short time!  Stay tuned to find out the answer.