That’s when my alarm went off Saturday morning to drive down to Cordele for the Georgia Veterans Sprint Triathlon.
See. I made it.
And in complete journalistic integrity, I admit to totally cropping out my under-eye circles.
* * *
Gosh you all. Here it is a week later and I haven’t finished this post. Crazy week. Even crazier me but there was a nugget from this race that I want to share.
See. I read national triathlon pubs, posts and blogs. They are good and all. But what about us midlife peoples who are just doing the best that we can to make it 2.5 hours down the road in time to start?
For example, I recently read an article about the swim. How when we swim laps in a pool, we get mini-rest breaks touching the wall to turn around. You don’t get those built in, bitty rests in open water. This well-meaning expert suggested to do your flip turn a few feet in front of the wall with no rest or push off.
Are you flippin’ kidding me? I can’t even do a flip turn this days without sending myself into a vertigo death spiral. Much less do one in front of the wall and not push off.
For what it’s worth, here’s a real midlife try-athlete’s advice on the swim:
The park was quite lovely.
The photos look a little dark cause it still was early.
The little swim course.
I didn’t think it looked 400 yards. I asked someone if we turned at the yellow buoys and she said, “yes.”
Maybe that was my problem. I thought I’d get it over lickety-split.
When our wave — 50 and overs — got up to the water, I was in the front.
I don’t know if it was because I was in front of the pack, but soon it became apparent to me — things weren’t working. My breath and my stroke and my pace were a jumbling mess.
To swim well, you glide through the water. Cutting through the water as smooth as Everclear in trashcan punch.
That morning my forward progress through the water felt like a ride in an out-of-balance on the spin cycle after taking a shot of rot gut.
Pooh. My heart, my stroke, my breathing were all messed up.
What did I do? Attempt a flip-turn mid lake?
Heck no. I flipped on my back and started backstroking. My breath settled back down, I got into a rhythm and cruised.
Till I thought, “Jamie. You are in a race. Flip right back over this minute and swim like you aren’t the looney woman doing the backstroke in a triathlon.”
I flipped over and tried the freestyle. Nope. Still weird. Can’t get a pace. Back to the backstroke.
I tried this two more times before it occurred to me, this backstroke thing was working.
My heart rate, my breathing, my pace — it all felt right.
So I did most of that little swim on my back.
Got out of the water and headed to transition.
At races end, I met up with my friend, Aubie, and told him about my swim fail yet win.
Then I got home and looked at the results. I finished fourth out of 13 in my age group.
And the bigger surprise, I had the third best time in the swim.
So here’s the midlife takeaway.
Go with what works for you at the moment. No matter if it’s not convention or slightly goofy. Or really goofy.
I love to swim freestyle, but maybe I started too fast, or maybe I was trying to swim too fast — whatever reason, I couldn’t regain a comfortable pace with that stroke.
But I did on my back. At least for that moment. That race.
I learned don’t be afraid to change midstream. Have confidence in what’s working. If you have clarity of mind and body, go with it. Even if you’ve never tried something that way before.
One good thing about driving 2.5 hours south of Atlanta to race is not that many of the competitive metro crowd shows up. At least till the secret gets out that this is a great little race.
A very fun morning. And a lesson learned that I won’t soon forget.
Any backstrokers out there?
And a quick shout out for two Cotton Patch Tri-Club members, David Burback and Joe Cardwell, up in Canada today.
Tomorrow they race the Mont Tremblant Ironman. KILLER DILLER. Wishing you guess the bestest racing day ever.
What? No one has posted here since . . . heck, when did I post last?
I could have posted about the beach. My three flat tires (bike). My first ever chiropractic adjustment. How I’m going to tank the run of another triathlon on Saturday. The first day of school. My therapy epiphany.
I just didn’t write.
I did everything else but blog.
So to love and pet and whisper I’m sorry for being gone so long to my dearest blog, I’m hopping on the Finish The Sentence Friday bandwagon.
For I can hop. It’s Friday. And I like to finish sentences.
My own. And everyone else’s.
Hoeing in a sundress. Is that a word? Hoeing?
The most amazing thing my body has done is…
1. Given birth.
That’s cliche. The truth. But cliche.
As a writer, I’m taking a giant leap over the obvious.
2. Had sex.
An act I seriously wondered in sixth grade if I’d ever accomplish.
With someone else, that is.
But guess what. My body has done it. With another. At least once.
See Number 1.
3. Swam a mile in the St. Pete Bay as part of a triathlon.
The water was so rough, I looked at the kayaks. Really, really hard. If you touch a kayak, its stoic rider scanning the waters with his mirrored sunglasses, you are out. As in out of the race.
I felt guilty even entertaining such notions at the time — till I heard that they fished 90 would-be participants out of the bay that day.
4. Ran two marathons.
I blame training for two marathons in consecutive years, as the reason my knees are sh*t for running but that’s how I roll.
Go big and f*ck up for knees for the rest of your life. WOOOOO.
Have you ever truly swam? It’s the most amazing body experience.
Secondly only to Number 1. Number 2. And Number 6.
6. I can’t think of anything.
No. After weighing all my personal options, I’m going to go another way.
The most amazing thing my body has done is . . . grow old.
The the same 25-year-old me on the insides.
Yet not me.
I now have gray hair that I color. Skin that drapes on my frame with a mind of it’s own. Aches. Pains. Hormones that are fleeing my body faster than urban development around The TED. RIP.
My body relentlessly grows old.
A fact amazes me every day.
And what say you?
Plant them and t
hey will grow.
they will grow. Some will grow.
Spend $20 on seed and six weeks later end up with 10 flowers.
My sunflowers almost got the best of me this year, as I showed in this silly vlog for the Ten Things of Thankful group.
Something kept eating them. Their little heads would pop up and be whittled away by wee bugs overnight.
Then to realize they had bug spittle all over them.
It was almost too much.
But this past week, my persistence paid its dividend.
Yellow petals finally withdrew from those shy brown and yellow faces.
Ten Things of Thankful that I persevered with my sunflowers.
10. Every time I pull in my driveway I smile.
It’s one thing to write about bees. Entirely another to watch them in action. Every time I look, every head has at least one bee working away.
See the bee. See the yellow. See the bee buzz in the yellow.
How can you feel sad staring at this color?
(Although living in a room of it for 48 hours might have me tearing out my toenails with my incisors.)
Once you get the babies past the critical stage, they tower over me. And I’m tall.
A fact that I hated in seventh grade. Sunflowers have incredibly posture.
6. They greet the sun every morning.
As heliotropes, their heads tilt upward and swivel all day following the sun.
Each dawn they face east, waiting expectantly for the light.
5. They just do their thang.
Sunflowers are content. Glorious in their own imperfections.
4. They relax and let others do their job.
The rains beat them down. Then once the sun is out, they straighten up best they can. Spewing forth pollen, they allow their estheticians — the bees – to work away.
3. Heads grow heavy and backs bend. Elegantly.
2. Time takes it’s toll.
It may only be a few days, not 50 years — but rain, those darned bees, bugs ripping their leaves into Swiss cheese, leave their mark. Just a few weeks after blooming, those radiant heads look like hell.
1. It holds fruit. Tons of fruit.
Shhh. Don’t tell them. But in a week or so, their heads packed with seeds will hang low facing the ground. The stalks once so green will turn as a tobacco leaf ready for rolling into a cigar.
Age does get us all.
The sunflower matures without a compliant.
Acquiesces to the ravages of time with a gentle bow.
Linking up with . . .
Quite the domestic diva day for me. Between writing assignments, I decided to do some of the things I intend to do — but never have the time.
I pickled dill pickles. I pickled jalapenos.
Then I sat on the porch and shelled butter beans that my dearest BRF, Kim Sitzmann, brought me from her garden.
I used to have my own butter bean plants but when I down-sided my garden a few years ago — my rows of butter beans got the pink-slip.
Just enough to make a good dinner for me.
And I’ve had James Garner in the back of my mind today. Sorry to hear of his passing. Eighty-six. How did that happen? I guess the same way my dad got to be 84.75 and I got to be fifty-something or another.
I was in grade school when The Rockford Files premiered and in high school when the run ended.
I know he was Maverick and he was successful in movies — but to me James Garner was Jim Rockford who lived in a trailer on the beaches of Malibu, California, driving a gold Pontiac Firebird just like my Johnny did when we met.
In the days before internet, heck in the days before cable TV (and when solitaire was played with an actual deck of cards) – the trailer, the beach, Southern California girls — all seemed impossibly glamorous.
I pulled up the theme song. I forgot about the phone calls that always started the show.
And I forgot another thing too.
Like how absolutely adorable a 40-year-something James Garner was.
At least my kind of adorable.
My kind of adorable back in 1974 and still my kind of adorable in 2014.
Jim Rockford — Hope things are truly beautiful where you are now.
Well, I since haven’t gotten around to writing about my wonderful Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference experience — here’s a little teaser.
Stacey Gustafson was one of the funny ladies I met this April in Dayton, Ohio. Be sure to check out her blog.
And she’s got big news that she asked me to share . . .
Are You Kidding Me? My Life With an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives.
Who among us can’t help but picture our face in that grimace?
I wonder how there’s any gray-hair dyed blonde left on my head some days.
Here’s the word on Are You Kidding Me?:
Hop into your minivan and get ready to cruise through the crazies of Suburbia! Humorist Stacey Gustafson makes an entertaining tour guide in Are You Kidding Me?, a brash, voyeuristic peek inside the topsy-turvy world of suburban motherhood, midlife madness, and all points in between. If you’ve ever called SWAT on a neighbor, faked a heart attack in church, or pulled your hair out while questioning the sanity of your family, Stacey’s tongue-in-cheek brand of humor will resonate with you. Enjoy the ride and don’t forget to fasten your seat belt.
Now I haven’t gotten my middle-agey, crepy-skinned hands on a copy yet, but I saw this lady do standup at EBWW.
Those hysterical b*tches are my heroes. And had me teetering all night in my granny panties.
Stacey lives with her family in California but grew up in the Midwest so she’s got the red and blue states down.
Be on the lookout for Are You Kidding Me? set for release September 2014 in print and eBook.
Better to be reading about someone pulling out their hair — than screaming in pain alone.
Can’t wait to read it, Stacey!
It pays to live in small towns. Especially if you want a snake.
Not just any snake. A beautiful long lean (and very hungry) black snake.
Today the Lord answered my prayers.
Let me back up a second.
* * *
Last summer my 20 year old came home from a visit with his girlfriend bearing a pet.
A large beautiful black snake.
Whom we named Elvis.
Our house was torn apart at the time by remodel in progress, and we were living in a garage apartment. I told the children to take Elvis over to the house and put him in a random reptile tank we had. Doesn’t everybody have a old reptile tank in their attic?
Well. Seems we had lost the top to the tank. But the kids told me, “Don’t worry mom, we’ve got it covered.”
A half hour later, I learned Elvis had left the building.
Great. And that room was the only room I could get internet. So I tippy-toed up there through the construction zone and sat down with my laptop.
While I was deep in thought, Elvis slid ever so gracefully out from under the futon I was sitting on and made his way for a stack of books.
SCREAM even louder.
No one – workmen or children — seemed to care that I was about to be killed.
The kids eventually came and rescued me. Or did they save Elvis?
That’s when I said that Elvis had to go. He was a snake. A wild animal. Albeit a very nice one.
When I posted on Facebook about our adventures with Elvis our wonderful Morgan County Animal Control Officer, Cindy Wiemann, reminded me of just that. It was against the law to keep Elvis.
Honestly, I so wanted to put Elvis under our house to keep rodents away.
But only did we not have a door at the time,
We didn’t have a floor.
So as my daughter sobbed, we reluctantly let Elvis go in a neighbors’ side yard. A little unknown present from me. I’m so giving that way.
I told Cindy, if she ever finds another snake and we have a floor at the time, please bring him to me.
* * *
Today, Cindy showed up in my driveway with a plastic tub.
Could it be?
I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
A big long black beautiful exterminator of my very own.
Yes, what was the loss of a dumpster out by the interstate was my gain.
My hand reached down to stroke his silky back and Cindy’s eyes got big as snake eggs.
“He’s very angry right now.”
That’s okay. I understand cranky men. I loved him still and I had just the spot.
For now there was a door to our house and more importantly, we have a floor.
The ancient door to the crawl space which is only open to venture under the house to change the air filter to the heater/air unit.
I have a snake. JOY.
“I guess we have to give him a name,” I said.
“Herbie?” Cindy replied. “I used to have a snake, Herbie.”
So that’s the tale how I got my live-in exterminator, Herbie.
I love him so.
This is also the story of how my husband is going to be changing the air filter under our house for the next 20 years.
Any snake fans out there?
Expectations. I try hard not to have them but riddle me this?
How does a gal have goals — either for the next 10 years or the next 10 minutes — without setting expectations?
My Ten Things Thankful – My 4th of July, Peachtree Road Race exploding great expectations edition.
* * *
Yesterday, the Fourth of July.
My son and I in Piedmont Park for the customary hold-a-shirt-up pic after the Peachtree Road Race.
10. Wait. There was supposed to be
three in this photo.
For three months my 10 year old and I had trained to run this race together. It was to be his first 10K.
Our last official training workout on July 2.
9. I am so thankful for my dog.
Who loves to sleep on the cool bathroom tile in the summer.
At 5 a.m. on Friday, I wake the boys up to head into Atlanta. Joe stumbles into the bathroom to take a quick shower.
Here’s where everyone must swear not to mention I shared this to Joe.
Half asleep he trips over the sleeping dog and crashes onto our 1925 cast iron bathtub.
I know this has happened because I hear a crash the likes of two-ton meteorite hitting the bathroom tile.
See. The dog is always here.
Joe knocks the wind out of himself. And becomes hysterical.
I love that the legs routinely come off our newly restored tub.
See. We are working to figure out a better way to attach the blasted legs to the tub.
7. Poor boy is very upset and says he is too sore to run. After trying 20 minutes to convince him he can do it without any luck, Jake and I leave.
Photo of the three of us in Park after race — gone.
6. On the drive into Atlanta (we are now 30 minutes later than I wanted to leave),
I try to relax while talking to my son.
All the while the refrain from Frozen is blasting in my head.
5. Because we are late, change idea of parking at park (too crowded by now) and decide to park at start.
So I turn onto I-285.
Soon after that I saw flashing signs: ALL LANES BLOCKED because of accident. Said prayer for those involved and decided to creep off 285 to Marta station.
Parking lot was packed. I noticed all these people. All very nicely dressed.
My brain is trying to figure it out. A wedding? A family reunion? So weird. Then see a sign Jehovah’s Witness International Convention.
Please do not take this in anyway against the Jehovah’s Witness but there were a million of them.
Every stop the train picked up a handful of late runners and 3,000 more convention goers.
Each stop took about 30 minutes.
4. I was impressed with the Jehovah’s Witness.
As I was crammed in the back of the car standing by the door.
No one seemed rushed or bothered. Everyone seemed happy. Except me.
Let it go, let it go. That’s what I kept telling myself. So I talked to the nice man from Jamaica right behind me. And the old fellow from Macon in front. And the beautiful young girls in saris right beside me. One of whom was a stunning young Indian girl. The other two looked and talked like they would spill forth from the Delta Delta Delta house at any major Southern university — while wearing gorgeous colorful Hindu wear.
3. Then the crazy preacher man got on the train. And
stood right in front of me.
“The Church is in me,” he started. That sounded great. Then he latched onto my son like a piece of gum that inevitably finds the bottom of my shoe. We learned stream-of-consciousness about his playing basketball in college and then how no cop better try an illegal search and seizure on him.
By this time, I have given up all hopes of getting to the start of the race before 9 a.m.
I had fallen down the rabbit hole into an episode of Seinfeld.
I became the crazy talking lady on the train.
We switched trains and headed up toward Buckhead. Gathering more runners each stop. Till Lindbergh station. The train driver told all runners to exit and wait for the Lenox train. The Marta guys outside were telling all runners to stay on till the Buckhead station.
Crazy late runners don’t need this.
A few of us stayed on the train and headed up to Buckhead. As woman stood beside me freaking out that the train wasn’t going to stop.
Then I noticed two women in front of me. They touched and held onto each other like a couple as the train lurched.
I locked eyes with one of the woman and it all came out.
My 10-year-old was supposed to be running with us.
My sleeping dog.
The 1925 cast iron tub.
The ALL LANES BLOCKED.
The mass of sweet convention goers.
WILL THE TRAIN STOP AT THE BUCKHEAD STATION???
1. We stopped at the Buckhead station.
The entire train heaved a sigh of relief. The couple and I offered a “have a good race” to each other and Jake and I started the mile and a half walk to the start.
No, the picture at the end of the race didn’t look as I imagined — but once I LET things GO — things turned out pretty awesome.
Yes — there were only two of us in the photo but to heck with expectations.
Thankfully, I’m not the best at making realistic ones.
Reality is well reality.
And pretty good.
Linking up with . . .
Last Sunday, I left my house at 4:45 a.m. and set the GPS for Lake Allatoona. I hadn’t really trained all that vigorously but I thought, what the heck.
And since this blog will be my diary when my 98.75-year-old self lies in bed all day with nothing else to do but read about the crazy things I did –
Ten takeaways from the morning.
10. I don’t mind being by myself.
Yes. An hour and a half drive by myself early on a Sunday morning is akin to a morning at the spa.
9. When encouraged by attractive, athletic strangers I will do very goofy pre-race poses. Okay. They don’t have to be athletic, attractive or a stranger to me. My ability to channel my inner, self-conscious 12-year-old self for photos never fails.
Some pre-race poses shot by my rackmate, pretty athletic Mary. Photo of pretty athletic Mary at end of post.
8. Love my good luck Rickstrong t-shirt. Never fails to put me at ease.
Love you Rick. You are forever in my thoughts at these things. Especially, when going over what in the heck I forgot in my transition bag
7. Love my new transition gear bag.
Attending the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference in April was definitely a highlight of my year so far. Got to blog about that some day — so 98.75-year-old me will remember it.
6. Love hanging with the older gals on the beach.
The 50 – 60 gals were the last wave to leave. So the yellow caps had time to chat on the sand. We are funny.
Plenty of jokes about giving us the yellow caps so the guards in the water could see us going under.
But joking aside — this group is TOUGH.
5. The swim.
I’m a bit snobbish about swimming in these Georgia man-made backed up rivers they call lakes. They are usually clay mucky ucky. But Allatoona had sand on the beach, where we went in and where we exited. And the water seemed clearer. Or at least not like you were putting your face down into a thin pool of black-strap molasses. I LOVED this swim.
I was 7th out of 20 in my age group out of the water. For me, pretty awesome-sauce.
4. Left it all on the bike.
Okay. I’m sort of stealing this photo. Why?
Because no one comes to take photos of me at these things. Which I actually don’t mind. See #10. But as a consequence I have no visual aids of actual race.
This was a 16 mile, hilly course. Halfway through I remember thinking, I could push and leave nothing for the run. Or I could not push and still have nothing for the run.
4. I bonked on the run.
Do people still say that? Or is there some other term the young, hipster athletic crowd (with the 5 billion dollar bikes) uses to describe utterly falling apart, unable to move faster than a snail on crutches? Well a 5′ 9” snail on crutches. Trying to run but –
Not sassy jazz hands.
Saggy jazz hands.
I slogged through the run somehow — and finished.
With JAZZ HANDS.
2. Met Pretty Athletic Mary. Who would be my bestest tri friend in a parallel universe.
Yes. Mary Gantt, happened to rack her bike next to mine. She was also 51 — and looked amazeballs. She was first out of the water — in age group — but had to wrap her foot because she had surgery on it earlier this year.
And this is the kicker. She missed placing by :08 seconds. Pooh for her. And having to stop and wrap that foot.
Look at her purty Cannondale. Look at her purty hair.
My hair looks like I got sucked into some NOAA supersonic wind tunnel.
Great meeting her and her husband John. He’s training for the Ironman in Lousiville this August.
1. There’s a 51 on the back of my calf.
Here I am walking around Ingles with a 51 on my calf. Starving, I pulled into the grocery store to make me a salad for lunch. It was then I realized I was walking around the store with my age written in black Sharpie on the back of my leg.
Honestly, I look at that and still think.
Oh, I guess I’ll eventually get used to it. About the time it’s time to write a 60 on there.
And BTW. I’m not officially 51 for a few more days.
It was a great race.
Except bonking on the run.
My next race is in 16 more days. I vowed to be better prepared for the run. Have I run since then????
Have you ever bonked? At anything?
An 11th grade physics test maybe?
I’ve got this bitty triathlon tomorrow. So yesterday, late afternoon I took off on my bike.
As I headed out of town, an object in the middle of Dixie Highway caught my eye. It wasn’t a squished Amarillo, Nor a squished snake. Nor the yellow tassel that’s been on the road since graduation last month.
It was a pack of Winstons.
Even at my blistering 12 mph pace, I could see it was perfect. Not opened. Nary a scratch.
IT WAS MINE.
That’s what I thought when I saw it.
Smoking is bad. Smoking is evil. Smoking makes the inside of your lungs look like an ashtray at the Clermont Lounge circa 1975.
But every now and then I like a smoke. Cigars preferably. But a free Winston will do in a pinch.
My mouth salivated like Pavlov’s pup.
So I decided to turn around and get my pack.
As I turned I thought — I can make it without clipping out.
Turn, sharper turn. Oh darn. I should have unclipped.
You see, Dixie is a narrow road and three-quarters through my turn back I realized I was going down.
And down I went.
Luckily, my handlebars weren’t bent. And only my knee was torn up a bit.
My chain was knocked off though.
So as I flipped my bike over to fix the chain, what did appear?
A MIA plug.
Taken this morning as a visual aid.
It’s against all triathlon law — from the Supreme USAT Court to the refs for this bitty sprint I’m doing tomorrow — no plugs, no race.
And of course, when I pulled along side that pristine Wintson package with bloody left knee and grease all over my fingers, it was EMPTY.
But that disappointment was minor compared to the crushing disappointment I would have felt tomorrow morning after driving an hour and a half only to be told I couldn’t race.
Once again in my life, the Lord works through a pack of Wintsons.
So now I’m off in search of a handlebar plug.
What have you got planned for this Saturday?
“Don’t be alarmed. When you see our house, every manner of emergency vehicle will be parked out front.” It was my father-in-law.
This was the call we got as we drove over the bridge to the St. George Island.
Sure enough. When we rounded the curve to the beach house we’ve stayed for the last few years, a firetruck, sheriff’s cars, ambulance, resort security truck were all stopped in front of the house.
Poised in front of the house was the better word.
An electricity tickled my skin as I got out of the truck. Something was dreadfully wrong.
* * *
“Please pray mister.”
A young boy ran up to my brother-in-law.
The upshot of all this emergency hoopla was that two riders had tipped over a jet ski and couldn’t be found.
See. This is what it looks like when loved ones are looking for you.
Loved ones who don’t know if you had a life jacket on.
Kind of like wanting to attend your own funeral to see all the down faces and tears. Well, hopefully to see tears.
First we heard two girls were on the jet ski. And that they weren’t wearing life jackets.
Then it turns out the girls were the ones who came to shore and told my son that the elderly men riding with them (granddads perhaps?) had tipped over.
And were gone.
One girl thought they were wearing life jackets.
One girl wasn’t so sure.
“Well. If they were wearing life jackets, I’d say the chances are good they will be found alive.” I said this to my in-laws and sister-in-law gathered at the rail.
As I went upstairs to help unload all our gear, looking out the window reminded me of one thing.
It would be dark in 15 minutes. Rescue boats and jet skis had been crisscrossing the water for an hour at this point.
I prayed. I did these prayers while shoving down my imagination, which tried ever so forcefully to insert the terror the loved ones must be feeling.
We all were praying.
“Why don’t they send out a plane?” my mother-in-law asked.
And as if on cue . . .
Well, about 10 minutes after the plane went out we saw activity.
People running to the sheriff’s SUV and driving off.
The men had been found.
Four miles out.
One of the police boats out in the Gulf.
Yes, just as darkness closed in, they spotted the men.
Bobbing four miles out to sea. Wearing life vests.
Neither could swim.
Seat belts and life jackets.
No trip is too short.