Let the Adventures Begin

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My 2018 Gift of Gifts

In 2018 I turned 50.  I experienced loss and much love and made a solid commitment to say ‘yes’.  Now the charge is to follow through and become who I always have been and unapologetically do all the things to set the table for the grand feast which is: The Second Half, Part Deux, post intermission showing-stopping, color popping, hip-hopping ‘talk-to-me-baby’, don’t stopping moments rich with NOW. And guess who made me do it?

Not a prolific writer (and I love many).  Not an endurance athlete extraordinaire (I know many). Not a half-famous, passion-stirring goose-bump making guest on an addictive podcast about yoga, meditation, the resilience of the human spirit or the nectar of human story. (I have a constant diet of tons).

It was her:

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My youngest.  We share a birthday and dreams of travel.  She gave me the above journal along with a note I will cherish for all of my remaining days. In it she details her own desire to travel, adventure, be kind, compassionate and accepting WITH ME. I just love her heart.  It is relevant to note the journal is a re-gift (Jane does not have a job and therefore $ to purchase gifts).  She received it from her mother’s best friend a couple of years ago with a note encouraging her to travel and live life and…. and in a circle of trust and with great serendipity I am the receiver of that precious gift through my baby girl.

And may we all have such a gift.  Permission.  The gift of being okay right where we are so we can experience all that ‘is’.  Near and far.  For me it is through travel and writing and endurance sports and yoga and mediation and learning and spreading love and acceptance through my work.

Jane and I got an early start on finding honey close to home.  Not far in miles, but worlds away, we spent a night at a ski resort.  Together.  We visualized Virginia as Versailles.

 

We didn’t even ski.  But it was perfect.  Fresh air and fresh croissants with brie (the wine is mine) does the mind good in a moment of buttery surrender to Now.  We watched movies, had dinner with friends and bought handmade leather purses from a street artisan. Bliss.  And no $ on air fare. That is to come.  All in sweet time.

Welcome to now.  Welcome to 2019.

Thank you joy and sorrow.

Thank you Jane and Thank you Journal.

Guide me.  Heal me.

Take me away and drop me back right here, right Now.

Now, let’s have some fun!  Salut!

 

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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Sweet Sixteen

Sweet 2016.

This year my daughter turns 16. Her behavior is not always sweet (what teenager’s is??) but her heart and soul always is so. She is intense and beautiful and deeply feeling. A thinker. She is my teacher of patience and compassion.

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She reminds me to always do and be better.  Just when I think – I’ve got this parenting thing down with her she  mixes things up. First blush, this frustrates me – Can we just have a smooth sail for a moment? 

The wind and life always changes. Thank God. I love fresh air. Thank her.

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According to numerology:

  • 16 – is the number of perfect completeness.
  • In the Tarot, number 16 is the Tower card which symbolizes great changes, moving on to something or someplace completely new.

According to the Bible:

  • The number sixteen is symbolic of love and loving.
  • This duality of true love is represented by 8 + 8 = 16.

My girl will be 16 on March 16, 2016.  Triple Whammy.

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Currently she is training for her SECOND half marathon to honor her beloved cousin who left us on her 14th birthday March 16, 2014. She was just 16.

True love.

What does 16 mean to you?

 

 

 

 

This one’s big

I am learning some big, big things right now.  The biggest one comes at the end. 

Kids, work, husband, carpools, bill-paying, training, all the usual and some not so usual life-stuff has put a lot of space between posts.  My last one was Easter Weekend – one of the hardest of my life.  Here’s why:

My niece had fresh wings.

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My spiritually and emotionally war-torn, heartbroken sister and her precious family was trying to breathe thousands of miles away from me.  (Lord, don’t let me lose them too – bring them back from the abyss!))

My siblings and friends were pitifully trying to wrap our minds around our profound, knife-in-the-gut-loss.

I honestly do not remember EVER feeling so viscerally frozen with with sadness, grief and depression.  And then I remembered her mantra: Fight the good fight.  Finish the Race.  Keep the Faith.  I remembered how to breathe. 

So here are a few things that went down:

I did my first Sprint Triathlon with my beloved sister, mother to 5 including our angel girl.

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My husband and I became vegan-leaning vegetarians (We lost 25 pounds collectively – another post).

My family and I raced for Cameron at a brewery. 

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Along with my hero sister and brother in law and some terrific friends, I signed up for this:

Lord, help me.  I am crazy!  Happily nuts.  Off the deep end and training like a fool. 

And so last week we did our first open water swim.

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I was scared sh*tless.  Here’s what saved me:

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L’Oreal Silverstone Lipstick.  I never go anywhere without it.  I got nailed for applying said lipstick before the goggles went on.  My beloved sister laughed.  (Did you see that??:  She laughed at me)  Why would anyone polish their lips when they’d be submerged in river water for a couple thousand yards?  “You are ridiculous.”  She said.  She laughed. So here’s the lesson:

Never, ever swim in open water without your lipstick!

I have a feeling Cameron is laughing too.

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Yes, bartender I’ll have another!

Have you heard of Kombucha?  The Chinese call it the “Immortal Health Elixir?” It’s been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.  (Source:  The Food Renegade)

I tried my first bottle this past week.

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The ingredient list includes ‘trace amounts of alcohol’.  No wonder I like it.

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Me (2nd from left) and my blogging buddies (which includes Beth from Shut Up and Run!, 2nd from right) are not afraid to leave a writing conference for libation nutrition.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a drink made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  My bottle said it had trace amounts of alcohol in it.  SCORE!

I drank the brand on the right in the blueberry flavor.  My children think it tastes like PAAS Easter Egg dye. (Not that they’ve ever ingested it.)

 

The beautifully gilded shells that encase the eggs are not edible once decorated with this potion.  The imagined taste of PAAS matched the real taste of Kombucha for Kathleen, thus explaining her forced smile as I forced her t hold the bottle of Kombucha.

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Kathleen did not love it.

(She is not old enough to drink.  No wonder.)

Here are the health benefits of the “Immortal Health Elixir” – Komubcha.  They include (in less detail than the source):

 #1 — Detoxification

Detoxification produces healthy livers and aides cancer prevention.

#2 — Joint Care

Kombucha contains glucosamine, a strong preventive and treatment all forms of arthritis

#3 — Aids Digestion and Gut Health

Because it’s naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability.

#4 — Immune Boosting

Kombucha is extraordinarily anti-oxidant rich, and you all know the benefits of anti-oxidants for boosting your immune system and energy level.

This and alcohol.  That’s good  great stuff.

I was compelled take a shot of Kombucha give Kombucha a shot, when an experienced vegetarian friend gave me and  my newly meatless American Sportsman husband (Digest that!!) advice on ways to sustain our new lifestyle.  We are No Meat Athletes (or we think we are!).  Collectively we have lost 16 pounds in one week.  For now I am happy to have my husband along for a ride I wanted to take for sometime.  Who knows where of if this vegan train stops?

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I don’t really care.  All we have is Now.  And that’s enough. Plus, I rode her for the first time today:

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Happiness.  And forever miss of my Cameron.  Fight.  Finish.  Faith.  That’s all I got.

Bartender, can I have another?

5 Things I will Do Forever

1.  Miss my niece, Cameron Kathleen Gallagher.  Cameron is the 16-year-old beauty and fledging runner who lost her life at the Finish Line of the Shamrock Half Marathon on March 16, 2014 which happens to be my daughter, Kathleen’s 14th birthday.  God can be clever that way.  March 16 or 3/16 or 3:16 is also this verse from the Book of John.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

New International Version (NIV)

Cameron (left) and Kathleen 3 weeks before Cam went to heaven:

 

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For God so loved the world, He called this angel home.  He has big plans for her.

If you somehow missed  this internationally covered story, I implore you to wake up and read it, wallow in it.  Make a commitment to stay your course, finish your race and keep the faith.  I commit to you, myself, my family and friends that I will live to promote this mantra.  In everything I do.  Including the Ironman I am planning.  (Did you hear that, Cameron??)

2.  Run

Back in college I started running so I could drink beer.  Now I run for wine – more of a 40-something female’s libation of choice.  When I turned forty I did my first half marathon.  Since then I have finished the race many times. (Did you hear that, Cameron??)  Injuries and bad attitudes notwithstanding, I love to run.  I will never stop.  I am dragging my family along.  (Actually they are very willing – my husband and I have done 4 half marathons together and a number of 10k’s)

Here are 4 of us after the Monument Ave. 10k on Saturday, March 29, 2014.  My youngest simply could not have missed her BFF’s sleepover.

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My Kathleen did it for Cameron:

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(Did you hear that, Cameron?)

 

3.  Try new things.

I am preparing for my first Triathlon.  I figured I needed a road bike.  Here we are:

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I love her.  Jack, my lab is certainly wondering:

a.  why I have my ear where my butt will go.

b.  when he can baptize the tire with this tinkle.

4.  Write.

I love words.  I am honing my craft and focusing in new directions.  I am thrilled to be  part of this amazing publication.

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Please stay tuned.

5.  Practice Yoga, Seek the Truth, Love you.

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Will you be with me forever??

(Did you hear that, Cameron??)

6 Ways to Find Zen in the Lap Lane

I used to be one of these:

Before this summer I hadn’t swum a real lap since I was 11 years old.  I love the water.  I can swim but hadn’t worked it into my fitness regimen.  Frankly I was afraid.  Since I hurt my foot during the Miami Marathon, my running is still a ways off.  So to keep from going crazy stay in shape I reintroduced myself to the lap lane.  Plus, I had have a crazy, out-of-the-park, idea to make it to an Ironman one day.  I suppose I ought to swim a few strokes, get a road or triathlon bike and have my head examined.  I am not committing to that goal just yet because once I do there is no turning back.  I think baby steps are in order like a Sprint Tri in April.   A special goody bag from the No Running Party sponsored by my plantar fasciitis (which is No Fun) is that I learned I LOVE TO SWIM.  Go figure.  A lot of strong athletes shy away from triathlon because of the swimming component.  Of the 3 sports, swimming can be the most daunting.  There’s this little thing called drowning and another minor possibility – getting clobbered.  But if you believe that fear is lies you can learn to find some Zen in the lap lane.  Here’s what’s working for me: 1.  Invest in really good no-fog goggles. ($39.99)

My daughter said I look like a nerd.  It’s a good thing I no longer care about such things. 2.  (Men cover your eyes) Ladies – get a bikini wax.  The lap lane is no place to be self-conscious about your – ahem – hairline. 3.  Keep a gym pack packed with these essentials:  bath towel, favorite shampoo and conditioner, hair brush, lotion, minimally stocked make-up bag for the days you need to be somewhere after a swim.  For those of us not blessed with a lap pool in our back yard, the process of going for a lap swim at the gym can hardly seem worth it for all the stuff to pack and remember.  Minimize the prep by stocking your gym bag with some essentials.  Better yet – have a designated swim bag separate from your regular workout satchel.   Make sure it’s waterproof. 4.  Invite a swimming friend to accompany you. It makes you accountable.  You swim at your own level.  There’s hardly opportunity for talking as you focus on not drowning.  Making a date greatly increases your chances to make it happen. These two friends look like they are having fun.  Makes for great bonding.

4.  Get lost in the repetition of the stroke.  You body knows what to do.  Before you know it you are solving problems and finding inner peace as you rack up lap after lap.  It’s the ‘swim zone’.  Don’t interrupt if you find me there.
5.  Really absorb the great benefits of swimming.  Know what a great thing you are doing for yourself.  It motivates.
A great article says that in the lap lane you will find new strength, enhanced energy and a more youthful sense of well-being.  You will find yourself looking a feeling younger.  That right there is some Zen.  Makes the hairballs almost bearable.
6.  Keep a record of your progress.  When I first started a few weeks ago I could hardly swim 2 consecutive laps without a break at the end of a lane.  The other day I swam 56 total laps with 40 of them consecutive.  Not Ironman material but better than nothing.
I am still Married to My Yoga but I have found a very nice friend in Swimming.
Made any  new friends lately?

4 Steps to Avoiding Post Race Depression

For a number of reasons unique to my disaster of a run own marathon experience, I was heartbroken after the Lifetime Miami Marathon.  However, it is widely known that many athletes (this includes yogis) experience some post competition/event depression. (Yes, there are yoga asana competitions worldwide and recently in the US – another post/another time).  There are number of ways to address this.  Some great tips can be found in this article by Chris McCormack of Triathlete Magazine. 

Four steps to help with the hollow feeling after intense often emotional training and race day outcome include:

Rest -1 to 2 weeks post race. Chill out.  Take a yoga class with friends.  Hope on a bike or go for a casual jog on a trail that ends at a bar where cold beer flows.  Work out socially without guilt.  No pressure.

Recharge – 3 – 4 weeks out.  Start mentally planning for a next event.  Work out only 60% of your A game.

Reset – 4 to 6 weeks after.  Go back to structured, trackable training.

Rebuild 6 weeks or more – Track towards your new goal with renewed energy, good health and motivation.

I think this is a great footprint for recovering from a number of major life events.  Recognize where you are, honor it and contract amnesia.  The best of the best athletes and life performers have short-term memory.  They stay present and gain energy from what is exactly real and right in front of them.  So, so yogic.

Besides the typical post race let-down, I was dealing major disappointment over how things turned out.  I was strong.  I trained with focus.  I was surprising myself by advancing my pace.  Simply put, it wasn’t may day.  Besides the acute pain in my foot/leg, there was some pride involved as I shuffled onward at a snail’s pace to finish.

So, so many good things happened however to make this race certainly one of my most memorable and maybe one day – a favorite.

1.  The phone call from my husband less than a minute after I crossed the finish line.  He had been following me through text alerts and knew something had gone wrong.  I did not cry once during the race as my body snarled along – but the sound of his voice released it all.  Best.  Phone call. Ever.

2.  This text from another friend.  I saved it.

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3.  The vegan meal and fine wine shared with favorite people.  God it felt good to be alive and so unconditionally loved my sisters who gave me their race.  Never.  Left.  My.  Side.  So blessed, am I.

4.  The constant support from my soul sister in Colorado.  She is my ‘move-a-body’ friend.  Forever.

I am rebooting – moving from rest to recharge.

I am a yogi and a runner.

Source:  www.hellobeautiful.com

I have selective short term memory.  What marathon?

I am dilated to about 4

Like birth stories, I never tire of race stories.  Ever.  I love your gory details of sweat and push and finish.  I want all of it – how was the labor, the big day prep and your spouse?  How did your body and its functions feel?  Take your time, tell me all of it – I have a glass of wine and you have my full attention.  Don’t leave out a thing.

Be careful, if you are a runner or a parent and you come over for happy hour the conversation just may gravitate here.

Not that I am assuming you are as riveted by such a thing or that you have a particular fancy for my stories but if you are at all connected to the ultimate push you might appreciate that I am dilated to about a 4.  I am giving birth to my third marathon in 3 days.  It’s a bit of a long labor but much more fun than the one did for him.

Nickatbat_thumb.jpgAt 8 pounds 13 ounces it felt like he came out this size.  So worth it.  So love my boy.  I learned the hard way that drugs, labor, and me don’t mix so I switch things up and had a mid wife deliver my next 2.

My first marathon was a bust.  Horrible feeling, injured, sick (recovering from pneumonia) but I did it.  It took a very, very, long time but in some ways it was my best one.  It didn’t let anything stop me.  And I gave birth to this.

My fist marathon.  Felt like I had popped out a 26.2 pound baby.  But I had her waiting for me after she rocked her 4th half marathon.  My blessing of a friend since we were 4.  I love her so much.  I wish Dawn could come to Miami.  My family drove 2 hours for the day.  I am so blessed I want to cry.

And cry I did when I  had her:

KathleenpitchingBaby #2.  She came out fierce.  I love her so much.  Worth the labor – not nearly as tough as #1.  I was relaxed and one under my belt.  Just like marathon #2.  Still tough but easier, more fun and I had him to run me in.

That’s not the Incredible Hulk in green.   That’s my incredible husband.  He risked shame and entered the marathon as a bandit at Mile 19 and ran me home.  Sounds like baby delivery.

And the third one was so sweet.  The baby, the delivery without drugs and the afterglow.  Sweet baby, Jane.

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I am hoping marathon #3 is as smooth.  Dilating to 4 has been a little rough as I have a very sudden onset of the dreaded PF (plantar fasciitis)  but I have the assistance of a most incredible running midwife PT.  An ultra runner herself, she has magic hands and words to boot.  When I thought I was going to give up and require drugs during baby delivery #3, my midwife said:

I know 3 things, Clair.  This is going to hurt.  You can do this.  And you will have a baby in 15 minutes.

Amy said almost the same thing about marathon #3.  She said we can deal with the pain.  The reaction to it is just a mind game.  You will bag another marathon in 3 days and 26.2 miles.  I love her.  And I believe her.

3 babies.  After Sunday, 3 marathons.  No more babies.  God willing many more races.  Thinking about a big, big, boy.  50K.

See you on the other side.  Florida, here I come.

Yoga and Endurance: Interview with an Ironman

Shut Up and Run! , says she almost 365 days a year through her insanely popular, funny, inspiring and often irreverent blog of the same name.  She’s a wife, mother, social worker, certified running coach, marathoner, blogger extraordinaire  and as of Nov 1 – Beth Risdon is an Ironman.
I saw it.
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Clair, Beth and Erika – now even more bonded!
It was an Unbelievable, Life-changing experience.  For Beth and all the athletes.  For spectators/cheerleaders like Erika and me.  Witnessing the true grit and will of the human spirit (especially from someone you adore) during an Ironman was just awesome.  I dare you not to get super inspired by these super heroes.  I am in awe.  I want some of the Kool Aid.
If you’ve stopped by MarryMeYoga like, ever (Thank you!) you might know that Beth of Shut Up and Run fame  is a dear friend who agreed to let me pick her brain about Yoga, training for endurance sports and her approach to getting it all done –  Ironman – the granddaddy of endurance.
Yogi’s, marathoners, triathletes, health aspirants and lovers of life – I hope you enjoy this Interview with an Ironman.
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Beth, You are an  accomplished tri athlete with drive like I’ve never seen.  You stay as fit  as ever even when you aren’t training for a specific event. Over time, where has  Yoga fit in to all that? 
For years, like the past 15  years, yoga has been an integral part of my workout routine. I always saw  it as a treat I gave to my body. A time to slow down, to think, to not be  so crazed and manic. For someone like me who tends to be very “Type-A”, yoga  forces me to calm the eff  down. 
Here’s Beth calming the eff down:
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Whereas you have run impressively in a number  of high-profile events like the Boston Marathon and participated in triathlons,  relays, and cycling events galore (not to mention a 21-mile run with Dean  Karnazes)  I want to focus on your recent Ironman finish in Florida.   I followed your blog to keep up with your training schedule.  Wow!   Will you comment on the overall physical demands of Ironman  training? 
It wasn’t as bad and grueling as I expected. I am still not sure  why. I came into training with a decent foundation as I had just run a  marathon. Yet, still, I ramped up from training 6-7 hours per week, to  doing 12-17 hours per week of swimming, biking and running. For me, the key  to not falling apart was sleeping well, good nutrition and time management.  And wine. Yes, there were days I cried because the workouts were really  long. But, for the most part my body really loved the challenge and the variety.   
And now your family.  I know you are a  passionate wife, mother, and friend.  How did you prepare Ken and the kids  and others you spend time with for the time commitment of this undertaking? 
We talked about it in the beginning – how I was going to need for  them to understand I might be tired and how they might have to pitch in more  than normal. I made it my absolute priority to not let my training  adversely affect my family. This meant early morning workouts, doing family  things when I would have preferred to nap and letting some small things go. The  house wasn’t always its cleanest, and our dinners involved lots of short  cuts. But my marriage survived and Ken even told me he thought I did a good job  of balancing it all. Again, time management and planning are key  elements. That said, I am a huge believer that  my kids need to see me taking time for myself and my goals. It can’t always be  about them.
Beth and her 2 awesome children:
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And now your job and your writing.  How  the heck did you fit everything in? 
I make a list at the beginning of each week that includes all  work deadlines, training sessions, appointments, etc. I break it down per day.  There is no magic answer. I don’t mess around. I just do it. There was little  time for reading books, socializing and other things, but I met all of my  obligations. 
Let us in to your heart and mind for a  second.  I described you to friends of mine as one with the heart of a  champion.  Will you comment on the mental and emotional aspects of  training.  
It’s simple. I do not entertain the thought of giving up. I do not  give myself the choice to NOT do a workout. There is no excuse (with the  exception of being injured or sick) that is good enough to keep me from my  training. It is a decision that a person makes. I think people make motivation  and discipline a very complicated process. It is not.  You simply have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable and  realizing it won’t kill you.
Do you see aspects of Yoga in any of  that? 
Absolutely. Yoga teaches you to be strong in mind and  spirit. It all goes together.  
Did you have any specific visualization of  meditative aspects to your training – especially as race day approached? 
Yes. Mostly I visualized myself being in my lowest low  mentally and physically and what I would tell myself to get out of that space.  It usually involved telling myself that things would not necessarily get worse.  It also involved staying in the present. With the Ironman distance, you can  easily doom yourself by looking at the day as a 140.6 miles to cover and 13  hours of constant movement. The key is to only accept what is in  front of you. Okay – now I am going to swim for an hour and a half. Now I’m on  the bike. I am going to ride for 20 miles and see how I feel. You have to break  it up into sections that your mind can accept. No one should go into an  Ironman saying “I am now going to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a  marathon!” It’s simply too overwhelming.
Beth accepting what’s in front of her – not a bad view!
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What’s next?  Thoughts on your Yoga  going forward??? 
I’ve got the LA Marathon coming up in a few weeks and  I’m hoping there will be another Ironman for me this year. I’m also planning my  first ultra marathon trail race (50K) in September. I’d like to bring yoga back  into my fitness regime. I do believe it feeds the body and soul in a  way that nothing else does.  
So many treasures to ponder, Beth.  Thanks for letting us in to an Ironman’s lair.
My biggest take away is the time management piece.  Writing things down, organizing – sticking to the plan.  Let the people who count in on your goals and heart’s desire.  Be honest, own where you are.  Inspire others to really live.  I know Beth has done that for me as an athlete and as a friend.
And of course Yoga along the way to keep your body and soul in check.
I do believe (Yoga) feeds the body and soul in a  way that nothing else does.
 – Beth Risdon, Ironman
Were truer words ever spoken?
P. S.  Thanks for the Interview.  Love ya!
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