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.

nicklcpitching

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)

NickMomDormroom

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:

janekat

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

3 Shots of Tennessee Whiskey

I had every intention of practicing yoga on my recent trip to Nashville. I researched studios in a trendy ‘hood called the Gulch, a dynamic area of urban development and redevelopment located between Music Row and Downtown. The Gulch is an exciting combination of the old, the adapted, and the cutting edge. It pulsates with opportunities for the very best Nashville experience.  I almost went here.  Almost.

I was too busy having epiphanies and getting out of my comfort zone to bother.

They did not come as after-effects to shots of Tennessee Whiskey though I think one could argue that such a drink or song could cause hallelujah moments. Amen??

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Whiskey in Tennessee is like coffee  most places. Consumed with anticipation of its sweet and smooth effects.

I am not a whiskey drinker which I kept secret in its capital. I did, however, feel what I imagine to be similar ripple effects from shots of such. I felt more calm, more capable and happy with hope and anticipation for life’s next chapter(s) after shots of a different kind. All thrown back in Nashville, my  new favorite city (for now).

Shot #1

A conversation with her:

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There is nothing like a heart to heart conversation with an old friend to take the adhesive off a ‘stuck-feeling’ outlook. Thanks, Beth for a million years of friendship. I can see clearly now one should dream, prioritize, make a task list and act. Duh!! Thanks for not, saying ‘DUH’!!

Shot #2

I did my best to stick to my Ironman training plan by taking a ride on this:

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Twice. For a total of 2.75 hours, 2 of which were in HR zone 4 and sometimes 5. The endorphins and sense of accomplishment is a hangover I welcome.

Shot #3

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I did not have Justin Timberlake or Chris Stapleton (at least in the carnal sense) as they belted out the sweetness of strawberry wine. I did however spend the evening in the Country Music Hall of Fame for a business dinner and private concert (300 people) by him:

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That’s Richie McDonald of Lonestar fame. Though they have many hits in their own right, I did not realize that he wrote Walking in Memphis, sung by Marc Cohn – which is one of my  all time favorite songs. My maiden name is Handy, no relation to WT. I do however have a prayer in Memphis Nashville.

Here are some some after-effects of my 3 shots:

I bought boots.

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I stayed out very, VERY late. (I did not drink Miller Lite – I am discerning.)

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I opened my mind. I closed out the weekend with a beer. (I don’t like beer.)

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That Fat Fire is for you, Beth. The actual epiphanies, that’s for a later post.

Cheers.

Do you practice yoga and train for long-ass races while on vacation?

 

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.

ClairandCam

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.

ClairGraceTri

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. 

ClairMikeHardywood

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.

OpenWaterSwim

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.

Camriver

5 Ways to Stay Focused

Life is hard.  Life is busy and if you are like me you have about 590 things going on in your mind at once. This trait makes Yoga my perfect mate and hardest endeavor which is probably why I love it so.  Stillness is almost extinct in this day and age where multi-tasking is revered and doing more means we ARE MORE.  And yet I am convinced that in stillness we finally truly begin to live.  Savasana or Corpse Pose CAN BE the HARDEST YOGA POSE there is.

Doesn’t that look exhausting?  I once had a panic attack during Savasana – never mind that the room was 107 degrees.  There is so much vitality in ‘dead body’ pose, never mind the oxymoron.  Indira Gandhi said:

Indira-Gandhi-Quotes-2[1]

And there you have it.  In the frenzy of modern life, stillness is the key to vitality.  In the repose of corpse pose we are vibrantly alive.  BUT HOW THE HELL DO WE GET THERE?

How do we become still and focused?

1.  Practice a crap load of yoga!

It is said that yoga is about peeling back the layers and finding the simple truth.  Your authenticity.  The place you are aligned and happy and not distracted and pulled in a thousand directions which is my usual state of mind.  Anything other than the truth is a lie.  So all the unrealistic expectations you have for yourself and the way-too-dense to-do list are lies.  So get back to your truth and your mat and maybe Savasana won’t feel so flippin’ hard.  It can be luscious.  We can remember the peace of the stillness and bring it to the great activity that is the truth of our lives.  Indira says it’s possible.

2.  Clean up your diet!

Get rid of crap you don’t need.

  • Your body will like it.
  • Your digestive processes can operate with efficiency and precision.
  • It is proven that some foods help brain function.

In Carol Sorgen’s article:   Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain.  It is said that if we add these ‘superfoods’ to your daily diet, you will increase your odds of maintaining a healthy brain for the rest of your life.

  • Blueberries
  • Wild Salmon
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Whole Grains
  • Avocadoes

blueberry

Dear God!  I think I just died and went to good-food-choices heaven.  I love all of these.  If they can help me focus and live better.  huge, huge SCORE!

They say eating a green pizza bigger than your head works too.

LunchatMedCO

3.  Find a ‘Focus Mantra’

This idea may sound a little vague and a lot woo-woo but hang with me.  Focus,  Dang it!

A mantra is:  any sacred word or syllable used as an object of concentration and embodying some aspect of spiritual power.  (Dictionary)  My personal one for personal reasons is:

Fight.  Finish.  Faith.

camkathrace

Find something that grounds you.  It can be as simple as one word like ‘believe’.  It can be a little more lengthy like Indira’s quote above.  (Don’t say I never gave you anything.  You have your very own Focus Mantra now.)

believe

 

4.  De-clutter everything.

I am very very sentimental but I do not keep things I don’t need, love, or use.  Just because Great Aunt Ethel (whom you never met and passed on in 1965) touched a soup ladle (and you don’t even like soup) doesn’t mean you have to keep said ladle.  You are NOT are a sinner if you give it to Goodwill.  Others I am very close to probably disagree.

And keep your living and workspace clear of crap you don’t need, love, or use.  Clean lines and open spaces invite good thinking and calm minds.  Not like this:

desk

This is my current workspace.  It is an example of what NOT to do.  Because of a recent profound loss, I am giving my entire life a haircut.  No more dead-ends that take up space and serve no purpose.  This means my home, my calendar, my relationships, my to-do list and my commitments.  Lean and open is the new approach to everything including my body and mindspace.  Here we go!!!

5.  Be still

To cultivate stillness and focus you have to practice.  Do some of this:

Budget-YogaAffordable-Ways-to-Practice-Yoga[1]

That is all.

I am in this quest with you.  I am still me.  I am still certifiably an adult with ADD.  I have:

  • 45 hobbies
  • 100 areas of interest
  • 755 goals for the year

And 1 life (as far as I know) with 24 hours in each of a finite number of days.  This is not easy for me but anything worthwhile never is.  There is magic and vitality in the stillness. I will focus on finding focus and perhaps Savasana won’t make me an actual corpse.

Do you have trouble focusing?

See above.

How to you right yourself in the waves of distraction?

See above.

Do you a saver or a purger?

Purger all the way!!

 

 

 

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.

kombucha2k

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?

ClairMikeAfterRNRHalf

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

Clairroadbike1

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

Bartender, can I have another?

Miami Madness

Finishing the 2014 Lifetime Miami Marathon is by far the hardest physical thing I have ever done including drug-free childbirth.  

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I did it.  I ran 15 miles in tremendous pain.  The end.

The bigger, better aspects of the race report include this:

1.  My sisters gave me their marathon.  They stayed right with me throughout the race.  The didn’t have to.  They were feeling good.  My body started breaking down (for a number of reasons) around mile 11.  Theirs did not.  They are my heart.  My Mom and Dad in heaven would be proud.  They are the reason we did this.

Miamiprerace

2.  I ripped around Miami like Crockett and Tubbs in this mustard yellow Camaro convertible.:

crockett and tubbs

3.  After I actually finished this crazy thing – I cruised around Biscayne Bay in a yacht in a bathing suit, with wine and a medal around my neck.

4.  I stayed at the Fontaine Bleu the night after the race.

Here’s the pool.

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The view from my coffee perch.  Don’t hate.

5.  Here’s the mantra that saved my sanity while I was gritting out mile after mile:

In this body, in this moment – it’s a beautiful place to be.

My body was broken but I wouldn’t let my spirit be so. For this, I am proud.  Not a tear was shed until the end.  Gratitude, disappointment, relief – it all came out.

And so, my third marathon is born.  Not nearly as pretty as my third child:

Janehaircut Hopefully my fourth marathon will be pretty.  Or at least remotely cute.

Thank you, Miami.  I coming back.  Fierce.  Ultra so.

Do you think I’m pretty?

Oh for god's sake.  Can MMY be more self-involved?  I take selfies at work instead of writing research proposals.  (shhhh, I need my job.)

Clairselfie

My new mantra:  Strong is the new skinny.

Not a petite person but related to several and friend to many, I have always had a negative body image.  The overly blessed bosom that I skinnied down with the help of a plastic surgeon 13 years ago had always been by  nemesis.  With that weight gone, you’d think I was slim-pickins.  Not so much.  I still want to be different that I am.  I forever compare myself to the likes of others who are freak-of-nature gorgeous and with not-possible bodies.  Aim high, right?  Wrong when it comes to body image.  Aim where you are then move if it makes you healthier.

On Sunday morning  when my husband grabbed my arm (don’t call the police – it was in play) he said:

Dang, my wife is getting so strong and muscley.  She feels like a 13-year-old boy.

1.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

2.  It felt dang good.  I do feel strong.

Whether it’s the marathon training or the yoga or my age (45) – I am entering my own skin.  I am still not skinny.  I still rock the 3 (BIG) baby belly.  But that’s okay with me.  I am doing my best, getting stronger and feeling good.  One day I may just feel great about it.  For now, ‘good’ is as good as it gets.

ING Miami Marathon, here I come.

ClairMegan

I want my daughters to love themselves as they are.  The only goal is optimum health and maximizing potential.  No size. No specific weight.

KathJane5k(I love Jane’s expression.  This was taken after a Toys for Tots 5k.)

My middle daughter is 13 and for better or better or worse she is built like her mother only much better.  I want her to embrace her build and her strength as a gift.  She is Katniss to me – mighty, fierce, all girl and all things tenacious.

And cool as crap.  Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) told Barbara Walters:

‘I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV.’

Katniss also said:

I think she’s gorgeous and I love her.

 This one too:

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Even if she does make fun of my selfies.  Here’s her imitation of her mother:

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If strong is the new skinny, this woman is a rail.

Sharon  Dangles - NPC Continental Championships 2011 - #1

Do you think she’s pretty?

Saturday’s run:

16milerun

Up next:  18, baby!

Not my size (there I go again, still working on it)!  My mileage.

Privates and having tea with a suffragist

Today’s headline is a reflection of my homebound day caused by an East Coast ice storm: random and (hopefully) curious.  This post is 2 parts. I hope you like them both.  Please let me know.  I live just to the right of the red circle.

The Private Part

Due to a gap in federal funding, my project hours at my writing job have been cut in half for a period of 4 months.  I was at first anxious about the reduction in my family’s monthly income.  However, I decided to take the news as a gift and take a closer look at my privates.  Yippeeee!  Having completed some graduate courses in social work with a previous goal of becoming a therapist, my inclination to offer private yoga classes is a natural evolution of my current undertakings.  Private Yoga it is.  I  have considered this notion on many occasions but haven’t taken any steps in that direction.  I have some wonderful friends poised to enter this dynamic with me – now I have some extra time to make it happen.  I am scheduled to teach my first private yoga class later this month.  I can think of nothing better than assisting another in their health, wellness and athletic goals within the framework of yoga practice.  If you want to be a better athlete – whatever your sport – Yoga can help.  If you want to be a better wife, husband, sister, worker or friend, yoga is your man.  So if clearing out the attic to make space for super positive energy and healthy change in a one-on-one exchange sounds intriguing to you, please let me know what you would like out of private yoga.  Filling the well with your good input before I move out fully in this direction with gusto

A suffragist, a Virginia gem and tea when I was 8

I read this article in yesterday’s paper – and learned an old family friend is a famous daughter of the Commonwealth.  As reporter Jim Nolan stated:

There have been so many great women in Virginia’s 400-plus-year history that it would seem nearly impossible to settle on 12 to immortalize in bronze for a monument in Capitol Square.

That was the task for the Women of Virginia Commemorative Commission, which made its final selections last week. 

Who’s on the list

17th century

Ann Burras Laydon of Jamestown (circa 1595 to circa 1637) — first married female settler

Cockacoeske of James City County (died circa 1686) — chief of Pamunkey Tribe

18th century

Clementina Rind of Williamsburg (1740-1774) — publisher of the Virginia Gazette

Martha Washington of Fairfax County (1731-1802) — first lady

Mary Draper Ingles of Southwest Virginia (1729-1813) — frontierswoman who was abducted by Shawnee Indians, escaped and traveled 600 miles to get home

19th century

Sally Louisa Tompkins of Mathews County (1833-1916) — Confederate hospital administrator

Elizabeth Keckley of Dinwiddie County (1818-1907) — former slave, seamstress, confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln

Sarah G. Boyd Jones of Richmond (1867-1905) — African-American physician who earned a medical degree at Howard University, returned to Richmond and became the first Virginia woman to pass the state’s medical board examinations

20th century

Virginia Estelle Randolph of Henrico County (1875-1958) — educator

Laura Lu Copenhaver of Smyth County (1868-1940) — entrepreneur

Maggie L. Walker of Richmond (1867-1934) — first black woman to charter a bank in the United States

Adele Goodman Clark of Richmond (1882-1983) — suffragist

The last lady on the list is a gem I have fond memories of – someone we drove to Mass and with whom we shared tea. I was 8 or 10 or so.  So gentile and kind and stately and elegant and artsy.  I sat at her kitchen table, mostly listened to the adult’s banter in the room – fascinated by the look of the older woman’s face.  Magical eyes, soft measured hand gestures as she spoke and a prayer shawl atop her head reflective of a time gone by.  On several occasions between 1975 and 1983, I was in the presence of Adele Goodman Clark. She was friends of my grandparents and was particularly fond of my mother (me too.)

I recognized her name, looked her up and sure enough that’s the one.  I never knew how amazing her life had been all that she had accomplished.  In short – just who I  had the privilege to know.  Here she is.

File:Adele Clark 1916.png

Here’s a lovely sketch of her that used to don the walls of my grandmother’s home in Ginter Park.  It now takes of residence at  Library of Virginia.

Given my mother’s close bond with Miss Clark, I bet she was a feminist of sorts.  She had the leanings.  I wish I could talk to her more about this.  Alas, she is in heaven with her grand dame of a friend.

As evolved as Adele Clark was, I bet you anything she would love yoga.

I loved yesterday’s run.  Here it is.

12 mile run

Dirty Love and My Hero

I am in the middle of reading this book. 

                        

In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.  –Amazon

I picked it  up at Hudson News (you know the place) in Atlanta while galloping down concourse C desperate to make my flight.  Though today’s post is not a book review, I will share this observation of my reading experience.  Andre Dubus is a master at story telling and character portrayal.  Presented like a montage of short stories woven together mysteriously taunting the reader with a yet-to-be-revealed web of connection, the writing is brilliant.  Though the characters’ experiences are extreme they are relatable human beings.  It is a raw and rich telling of very dark stories.  The dark part is disturbing and makes me wonder why I am reading it.  The stories haunt me during the day but entice me to keep reading at night. 

There is sort of beauty in the truth of even when it’s not all butterflies in the meadows and what ‘ave you.  If you saw Just Go With It 6,000 times like me you’ll understand this reference, if not just go with it.  It’s funny and ironic.

Source:  listal.com

My conclusion:  there is a lot of beauty in the truth.  My goal is to post on MMY once a week.  I am compelled to be smart, funny, prolific, charming and yes pretty (you know you do it too, only post the good pics.)  I am never all of these things at once and only sometimes (very rarely) one or two at at time.  So after reading a particularly engaging part of Dirty Love last night, I decided the the Truth was much prettier than embellishments.  Nobody believes the BS anyway and most can smell it a mile away.  So the truth-tellers are my heroes.  People who can be real even if it sucks because sometimes things do.  And that’s the truth.

Like cancer.  Who hasn’t been affected?  You???  You might be lying (hope so) but here’s one of my all time heroes and I just became aware of her blinding light last week.

She is Deborah Cohen.

courtesy:  Deborah Cohen’s Caring Bridge Page

She danced her way to the table for a double mastectomy.  Read and watch this.  Tell me what you think.  You will come out changed and loving Blue Ivy Carter’s mother.  I love Deb.  She has me wanting to dance in my truth.  So here goes a few little nuggets of truth:

My real 10 mile run on Saturday.  A Garmin, like Dirty Love can’t lie.  9:39 pace not 9:28 like I might have said.  Liar!

10 miles 2013!

Here’s the real me in my  new Speedo for my master swim class.  Go ahead, say I look like a skunk.  She did.  And don’t say one word about the duct tape on my couch.  I might cry.

skunkie

Because this is a yoga blog and this post is about heroes,  here is my Virasana (aka hero’s pose) with my real hair and real Mom Jeans and bad balloon shirt.

hero's pose

And finally, here’s the real me, writing a real post.

real me

Do NOT be jealous of my  neck.  Go ahead, throw up – unfollow, unfriend, deny you know me.  I won’t cut your ear off but I will know you left me for real (shallow) reasons.  And that’s a truth I can live with.  Stay and we’ll have real (truthful) fun.

I feel naked.  Like Dirty Love – but it can be fun.

Love you.  Be my hero.  What’s your truth?

Ironman Florida, You’re a good girl! (video)

I have the great privilege of teaching yoga to associates at CarMax headquarters in Goochland, Virginia.  One of my students has this tattoo:

Here’s how she got it:

Swam 2.4 miles in open water

Biked 112 miles

Ran 26.2 miles

ALL.  IN.  ONE.  DAY.  I love her and her moxy.  Having done this crazy thing, numerous times, she is a real inspiration.  I am humbled that she accesses my yoga class to balance her training. 

This makes my upcoming ING Miami Marathon seem small – but I know it’s not.

These Ironman athletes, men and women, are super heros.  And I get to witness their heroics in Florida on Saturday when my girl, Beth, competes in her first full Ironman event.  No stranger to challenge and a fan of the big push, Beth won her way to a spot on X2 Performance Ironman Team.  Here’s what she did to prepare (in 18 weeks).

Total Swim:  56 Miles

Total Bike:  1,745 Miles

Total Run:  275 Miles

Total Miles: 2,076 miles (basically the distance from Denver to Key West!)

We aren’t quite rendezvousing in Key West, though I love it there– we are meeting up in Panama City, FL. 

It will do.  I can’t wait.

While Beth is churning out unbelieveable mileage in 3 ways, I will be running my 10 – 52,800 steps closer to heaven.  On the beach, in the sun.  Unfurling my mat at the end.  Heaven.

Here’s a kiss for good luck:

ClairBethkiss

 

You’re a good girl, and you know it.  Just hold on.