The Wisdom of Ironman Texas

A very bad haircut inspired the phrase business in the front, party in the back. It appropriately describes my Ironman Texas 2019 experience. Also true, miracles happen in the back.  The miracle of pulling off 140.6 miles by water, bike, and leg engines with just enough training and fitness to get it done.  Just enough.  Knowing her careful and methodical training plan was only kinda followed by her client, my coach’s coaching of me in the hours leading to the start gun were:

‘Your goal is to finish. Your race, your pace, on your terms.’

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Coach Coral (left) and her people

I seem to have a panache for late day Ironman finishes (3) where the cut-off watch-dogs play cat and mouse with my finish line.  Luckily I grabbed it before they did.

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I owe my Texas finish to my sister, my team, my husband, my children, my niece, my coach, my purpose and Eduardo.

Who’s Eduardo?

Between you, me and the fencepost, Eduardo is my angel who landed around mile 18 of the run and did not leave me until the finisher’s chute. He was part of a posse flanking his nephew who was just ahead of me.  This tight-knit family collectively longed to hear the six words:  “Eduardo’s nephew, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.”  Eduardo’s nephew needed his tribe. And I needed one member. I didn’t even know it, yet.

A lot had happened before mile 18 of the run.

A 2.4 mile swim in a lake with moderate water quality and narrow canals. A 112-mile bike ride, 80 of which were on a closed expressway with a thigh pumping, breath stealing headwind for half of the 80 miles on hot, hot asphalt. And 18 miles of a 3 loop run course that was slowly sucking my soul.

And then my legs and my belief in my finish were restored when a nice man asked me if I was okay.  I said yes.  He said I looked like I could use a friend. Indeed.

I learned Eduardo was an ultra runner with an ultra heart. He had just completed a 50 mile trail run and before that a marathon with his beloved second wife.  He blessed me with his presence and words and stories and encouragement along the long, long way of an Ironman day. In his mid-fifties I asked Eduardo if he had children.  He giggled a ‘No’ with a twinkle in his eye and a confession that his most proud living came after age 40 and one wife.  I realized I had crossed paths with a human saint with a real life.  I kept encouraging Eduardo to go on with his family so he wouldn’t miss his nephew’s well deserved finish.  He told me he enjoyed our ‘run’ and liked helping me.  He said I inspired him.  WHAT??  He was impressed the duration and heart of my effort and I told him I was honored to be his mirror.  Indeed that was my reflection of Eduardo’s life story.  At least the bit I knew. Eduardo told me I was going to do this and I knew he was right.  At the beginning of the finisher’s chute, a smiling Eduardo told me to go get that medal.  I wish Ironman announcer, Mike Reilly could have started the long awaited phrase ‘Clair Norman, you are an Ironman’ with “Because of Eduardo…”

Indeed the miracle of human connection can always be found in the back.  Lots of other places too.

Like in the clink of a cold beer cheers on a Sunday morning  after living a life in a day.

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There are miracles everywhere.

 

 

Always Go

You’ve done it too. When your alarm innocently does its job to nudge you up and into your life you at 4:45am (ungodly hour but you have goals and a body that needs to move) you immediately consider sleep over cycling (or yoga, or swimming, or running).

And therein lies the unfailingly present daily question: Go or No Go?

You think of the many reasons for no go. I NEVER sleep. I will get my workout in later today (yeah, right.) I have done really well this week. I just don’t want to today.

Just sit up. It is much easier to blink away the sleep from an upright position.

And therein lies the expression: Think straight.

Go.

Always, go.

No one ever regretted a work out. Ever.  Or an adventure or a challenge or an opportunity to live big. You have to Go to Go Big.

Here are 2 times people I know and admire who recently went Very Very Big.

Check out what my friend Rebecca said about her June 3 adventure at the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.

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“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…. Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. “ – Shel Silverstein
My goal for this race was to have fun. I didn’t break any records at Escape from Alcatraz but I surely did something that a year ago I didn’t think I could do. And I had an absolute ball doing it!! I made so many new friends from around the world in the process, including this girl who finished the swim with me. First race I’ve done where I talked to my fellow athletes all along the way.
If you think you can’t do something or are afraid to do something, but wish you could, that’s a sure sign you better just try.

You’ll never be sorry you did. Always GO.
#fightfinishfaith #speakupraceteam

I awaited every text, every post during that day and still feel spun up with gratitude that Rebecca chose Go.

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For my friend, Garland – I feel sure No Go is never an option. The Virginia native and former owner/director of Bikram Yoga Richmond is working hard to open her beautiful yoga studio, Kauai Hot Yoga  in Lihue, the commercial center of the island of Kauai where besides daily life-changing yoga with Garland and her team, you a can experience a variety of natural wonders like a 1,000 year old aquaculture reservoir and many tropical  treasures that make you wonder which side of heaven you reside.    A teacher, mentor and friend – Garland is a dreamer with work ethic and moxie to make it all happen.  I am so proud of her and when it comes to visiting her yoga studio, for me, it’s

A GO!

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Of her beautiful tree, Garland says: Be the tree! 🌳 Grounded in your roots, strong in your trunk, and flexible in your branches💚 #yoga #backbend #movebecauseyoucan

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One thing is for certain, I will be choosing ‘Go’ on November 3 when the horn blows to start swimming at Ironman Florida.

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I’d Always Go anywhere with them.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Things I Love

  1.  Mommas Drunk With Love

I began a new 8-week session teaching yoga to my beloved students from CarMax Headquarters.  I see some new faces and my loyal’s.  One loyal’s face looked new.  She had fresh love all over it – I recalled that I hadn’t seen her in a session or two and she reminded me why.  Her 2nd daughter arrived and her face was stamped in the glow of Mom-love.  The kind that no matter the poop, the tantrums, the little no sleep, the sketchy decisions (theirs and yours), the hopes, the fails, the worries, the many nights waiting for teen drivers to get home and the unknowns – you would take that drug again and again for the high of their faces and oh, the places we all go. HAPPY Mother’s Day!

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My drugs angels

2.  My fastest Fifty

Not a trick I turned but miles I laid yesterday during the Cap2Cap Half Century Bike Ride.  I was hoping for under 3 hours and 2:59:10 it was!  At almost 50 years of age and a slowing run pace (as if that’s possible) I was super stoked to turn my legs over like that.  And it’s a good thing because Ironman Florida, here we come!

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I don’t love the trainer, but it works!

3.  My opportunity

I get to work alongside my sister.

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Love beyond words.  Purpose beyond measure.

If you are interested in mindfulness, listen to this Facebook Live recording.

4.  My Mom

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Seriously and unforgettably my very best gift.

I still am incredulous that my little soul landed in her almost 50 years ago.  I have missed her every single day for over 21 years.

Have a Happy Mother’s Day.

Mother Earth Counts!

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2018 is All Jacked Up – Already

I mean, CRAP! In like a lion, 2018.  Is it too early to ask for the lamb?

I am all jacked up for this year because it is the one wherein I turn fifty, (shhh!).  Saying ‘yes’ as much as I can is.  Pondering ‘how’ not ‘if’ cool things can be done.  Not just dreaming but developing action plans for doing Very. Big. Things.  In life, in work, in sport and adventure, at every intersection possible.  In my 49 years, I have loved each New Year for this fresh opportunity.

13 days in and 3 biggies already.

#1 – We lost him:

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My sweet-natured, loyal to the core, gentle-spirited uncle, godfather and friend. It was sudden to say the least. Fit and healthy in mind, body and soul, he died at the gym. His exit from here and entry to his heaven stunned  his large family and devoted friends. We love and miss you, Frank H. Nott. We are reeling from the loss of you. However, I am comforted to know your energy is commingled now with your sisters and brothers and parents who paved the way before you.  I am grateful to feel it is a little more okay to hit the highway to heaven – I just don’t want it t happen to me anytime soon. I got sh*t to do.

Lesson: Ya better get going, people – you never know when it is your time.  Repair what’s broken. Create your dreams. Dump love along the way.  Everywhere.

#2 -I did this:

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I had my 5th or 6th surgery to remove skin cancers from my face.  This is not really a biggie but starting off a year with surgery and scars is kinda a thing. I list it really for the irony.  The surgery was scheduled for Feb 6th. I got a call from my surgeon that she wanted to fit me in on 1/8 the same day and almost time that Frank left. As my face was getting fixed my aunt and cousins were falling apart. My face will heal fast. My prayers for my Aunt and cousins picked up pace and continue so. Drop one down (or up) for them if you are so inclined.  Thank you.

#3 – January happens.

Every year.

This month is full of significant milestones. Anniversaries of loss, births and memories of knuckle grinding, bootstrap pulling, breathing to survive.  We have been remembering for 21 Januaries now.  New sh*t in the pot of heart-searing memories re-etched year after year.  This is a pot I will gladly keep stirring – because it’s a poke at the bee’s nest of pure pure love.

And so themes for 2018 are:

Love.

Yes.

How.

Happy New Year.

 

 

 

 

Watch Party

A fan of Ice Cube, Tiger Woods, the James Madison University Dukes, Running, Ironman and all things Yoga, it was a good day.

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Running

It wasn’t good just because I ran 7+ miles with my Iron-mommas and tri-babies plus one Navy Seal in the making. A display to admire, this guy upped his fitness game by strapping on a 20 pound vest and still schooled us all finishing the route with barely a pant or sweat bead forming.  I love him.

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Tiger

It wasn’t good because I was moved by Tiger Woods’ come-back-ability.  An athlete and person down, way way down, he impresses the best with a return performance that reminds me how brilliant the human body is.  Couple that body with indomitable spirit and it’s a let’s-see-where-this-takes-us show to behold. Like or hate the man, people like me who think the human body is brilliant and resilient see past the past and enjoy God’s grace in gracing us mortals with this exquisite structure to hold our soul.

 

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Tiger checks his shot at the Hero’s World  Challenge

I will just keep fighting.  It is what I have always done.  – Tiger Woods

I get what he did. Don’t worry I won’t suggest Lance Armstrong explore pharmacy as a comeback career.I have my limits.

 

James Madison University Dukes

Alum and football fan this is my true Good Day Maker. First, I had a virtual football Watch Party with them:

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JMU Alumni and Colorado Besties

Two thousand miles apart and with the brilliance of texting, we simultaneously cheered/sipped our Dukes to a quarterfinal victory.  Six days later, I witnessed our Dukes berth into the semi final game – IN PERSON.

With one second left, a field goal sealed our deal one step closer to Natty #2 (that’s coolspeak for National Championship) in Frisco, Texas.

One game to Friso – Frisco (can’t you hear Dr. Dre singing the riff in California, the iconic 2Pac Anthem?) I like Dre too.

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Fingers crossed. Looks like next week, there will be another virtual watch party.

Join me?

Oh, and yoga?  Every damn day.

Janeyoga

 

 

 

 

 

Gum doesn’t work.

With Ironman Chattanooga almost two weeks in my rear view, I hasten to document the experience of taking my body over 144.6 miles by water, by wheels, by feet.

I am starting with thank you:

God.  For blessing me with a healthy, mobile body and a heart for endurance. For the beautiful planet we inhabit including the soil and mountains and water that reside in your gorgeous city of Chattanooga, TN.

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Cameron. For asking your soldiers to change the world in a way that is changing us.  For giving your SpeakUp race team purpose and push and hope.  For your smile and hug that I miss so much.

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My husband and children. For never complaining about the time Ironman training took away from you.  For believing in me 100% of the time. For being proud of me when I couldn’t be.

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My teammates. So much life lived together. So much more to go. For the symbiosis that became one body, one heart on that course.  Same tears. Same smiles. Same pain. Same purpose.

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My friends. You know who you are.  You texted. You called. You posted. You sent your positive vibes. You donated. You stayed up late, very late waiting to see me finish. You told me you were proud of me.  You made me feel special even when from the back of the pack, I couldn’t feel it so much.

Race Summary.

Swim. With the aid of a downriver current. It was amazing.  The usual slug fest from hundreds of arms slicing out a freestyle stroke to get to T1 had me sending light and love to the dude who slammed my head 4 times.  GET IN YOUR LANE. Oh wait we were sharing one big lane.  Best part was starting with my sister. Staying close until we knew we were each okay was a highlight. And guess what, once we told each other ‘I Love You, I’m okay.’ It was head down and GO.  We still finished within a couple of seconds of each other.  I’ll take her pace any day of the week. I’ll take her courage and heart and light. If only.

My baby sister… no words.

Bike. Beautiful hilly course with a ton of elevation change.  I felt strong. I made some decisions that cost me some time but mostly I was prepared and confident. I still don’t know why Chattanooga requires 116 bikes miles instead of the usual IM 112.  I need to work on nutrition but mostly I was glad it was done and felt lucid enough to smile as I started the gawd-awful run.

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 6.28.26 AMRun. After about 7/8 miles of relatively flat, there are 3 hills so steep they punch you in the chin.  And you get to do it twice.  At the half marathon mark, athletes have access to a ‘special needs’ bag which contains items to help you stay strong and motivated to keep (in my case) slogging it out.  When I packed my special needs bag,  I decided that Trident, bubble mint gum might be just the thing to motivate me to keep going.  I love gum. In this case, gum doesn’t work. I was wrong.

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About halfway, I experienced GI issues that NOTHING seemed to cure.  After stopping 4 or 5 times to preserve the color of my shorts for the finish line pic (gross.  Sorry for the non running readers. There is no dignity left.), I started to see that indeed I would make it.

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Not before I enjoyed this script on auto pilot in my head:

Here I go again.  I am so slow all my teammates have to wait a VERY long time for the likes of me to finish.

This is the stupidest thing I have ever done.  Who do I think I am?

I did NOT want to go this mentally low since my Challenge Roth experience, and here I am, again.

YES, Indeed.  Here I am, again.

I am here.

Lucky, lucky me.

 

 

Earthquake in Lynchburg, Va

That time you woke up heart bursting because you get to see the Game of Life played by your first-born who left you just 6 months ago to chase his dreams, have new experiences and get a college degree.

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And you walk extra slow across the parking lot to make the getting of shampoo and toothpaste and beef jerky and sour patch kids and microwave popcorn at a smelly and run down Family Dollar take hours upon hours because you know the time is nigh to say good-bye (again)

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And even though you know he is safe and happy and on a path you cannot pave for him, your heart quakes a bit because the velcro sandals and the band aids no longer need the curl of your knuckles to apply. Why oh why does time fly?

And don’t get me started on the pirate costume and swords made of sticks.

And you realize everyday is another day closer to another good-bye. Next time, it will be her, then her:

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The best part is, if we are very, very lucky – there is also ‘hello’ right around the corner.

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In gratitude for the 11 mile run I have today and the endless hours of Ironman Training coming up,
MMY