I’ve seen where @susannabarbee and @jaimemckee have been doing a Stream of Conscious weekend link-up.
I met these two women at Type-A Parent Blogging Conference a year ago. It’s been fun to see how their social media/writing/blogging careers have progressed in the last 12 months.
Well . . . .
So I’m going to hop on their linkup this beautiful afternoon and take a well-deserved break before I start transcribing an interview.
Setting the timer for 5 mins and just writing.
Wait a sec — I’ve got to set my timer.
I’m sitting outside on the porch because it is absolutely gorgeous out here.
A little warm, but I’m shaded and heck. I just like warm all over cold and wet.
While out here, I’ve noticed a number of bikes going by.
I’ve writen about riding my road bike, but I haven’t talked about my other bike. My cruiser.
I try to ride this guy when I have little errands in town. I ride it to the bank. The tellers love it. But you do have to balance on the curb while the little door swings out. Then I drop letter off in the box, and cruise to my workout at the gym.
You know what brought the enjoyment level of my bike to a new level.
Now I can drop all my little trinkets in there and head off.
Now I do feel a little like the witch in the Wizard of OZ and I must look a bit silly but I’m okay with it.
Because I feel so young on my . . .
Okay. Not the most inspired writing. But it was fun. Just like me and my bike and a sunny day.
The other afternoon with a sky as clear and blue as an aqua cat’s eye marble, I pulled my bike outside. As the heavens arced overhead and the pavement rushed underneath, even the trees stood still. No wind except the rush of air created by speed.
Even though I only had an hour, a little voice nudged me to Doster.
For those not familiar with the roads crisscrossing Morgan County, Doster Road rolls through some of the most scenic pastureland in the county.
There are a few steep hills. Riding out from town, you get to go down.
Coming back toward town you climb up – but climbing the mountain clipped into a bike is another post entirely.
About five miles out of town, I approached the hill. After cresting the top, bike and I hurled downward. Still operating as a team.
Now my bike computer has decided not to work. Hate it when that happens. I can’t track of my speed but I’ve been down this hill enough to know — without braking — I’ll hit about 35 mph.
Here’s the headcase part. I haven’t done Doster much this year. Maybe twice?
And rushing downward that day, my hands twitched to squeeze the brake. A slight quicken in my pulse. You better slow down heading into the turn toward the bridge.
I can ride this hill without braking. I’ve done it lots. What was my hesitation?
And just like that, therapy happened.
Relax. Trust yourself. Put your head down and ride.
I exhaled. Bent over the handlebars all the while my hands hovered over the brakes. Well you never know if a heat crazed doe is going to dart out.
I was down the hill and over the bridge, pedaling back up the next incline.
Why was the urge so strong to brake going into the turn?
Fear of course, but fear of what?
How many times throughout my day, my week, the years, my entire life – have I put on the brakes mi-experience rather than exhaling and
And enjoying the hell out of it?
Sometimes a gal’s just got to get on her bike and ride.
Roger Taylor’s relentless drumbeat guides my down pedal many a ride.
What can I say? I shall always be a child imprinted with AM radio and 70s music.
Ironman. A title not bestowed lightly. By Hollywood or triathletes.
Swim 2.4 miles. Bike 112 miles. Run 26.2.
Don’t underestimate the .2.
Two triathlete friends and more importantly, two longtime personal friends, David Burbach and Joe Cardwell, embarked on that journey a year ago.
Yes, about a year ago, I stood in the late summer, warm twilight at a party. With the rolling green pastures of Morgan County as a backdrop, David told me in his casual, smiley Dabo way, “Jamie. I’ve signed up for an Ironman — in Quebec.”
It’s one of those moments I’ll remember forever.
You don’t just sign-up for an Ironman. You commit a full year of life to becoming an Ironman.
On the evening of August 17, 2014, in Mont-Tremblant, Canada, David and Joe crossed the Finish into that elite fraternity.
So here in their own words are their impressions of that quest. Joe was a little more free-form with his reply to my questions, so I pulled in all his thoughts where I thought they fit best.
Back story: Will Lewis, another racer that day, played baseball with Joe at the University of South Carolina. Will has done a few of these little endeavors before and lives in South Carolina. And I apologize if the photos are a little distorted from my contorting them to fit the blog.
On the beach, ready to start.
How and when did you decide to do this?
David: Will Lewis wanted to do one more Ironman. He signed up and talked Joe into it, then I got the email from
Joe to ask if I was in.
Joe: This has always been on my bucket list. You must have support at home and for the last five or more years I asked Kathryn “how about this year” and always got the easy (for me) “no” until last year. Kathryn and I knew that this journey was about priorities and that my training would have to be put in front of a lot of things. It definitely took a lot of support and understanding from the family.
There are closer Ironman races, why Mont-Tremblant?
David: Will wanted something more scenic than Panama City. He wanted to sign up for Lake Placid but it was closed out. The next e-mail was that we had signed up for Mont-Tremblant.
David and wife, Sarah.
What surprised you good/bad about the swim? The bike? The run?
David: The water temperature was great with the wet suit. And yes, wet suits really do help buoyancy and swim time.
My chain came off four or five times in the last 10 miles and my thighs were started cramping up. Then it rained the last four or five miles so the end of the bike ride was a little frustrating.
I loved the run being in kilometers with signs at each kilometer.
What did you think in transition coming off a 112 mile bike — about now heading out to run a marathon? Great question from Elise Faust’s inquiring mind . . .
David: I was happy to get into dry running clothes but was concerned having to run 26.2 miles since my thighs were cramping at the end of the bike ride.
Joe: After riding your bike for 112 miles you are so ready to get off that in some twisted way you are looking forward to starting the marathon.
Did you feel adequately trained? Would you do anything differently? Any advice to would be Ironmen.
David: Yes, I felt adequately trained and I don’t think I would have changed anything. My advice would be to commit, start training, and get in tune with and listen to your body.
Joe: I stuck as closely as possible to a training program that was developed by a successful coach, figuring who was I to second guess him? My advice would be to pick a plan from an experienced coach and trust it! I did have to make adjustment due to weather, calendar conflict, etc…
Who traveled to the race? Thoughts about family/loved ones and training for such an event.
David: Sarah (David’s wife), her sister and husband and my nephew. Sarah did a fantastic job planning, cooking and vacationing around my training schedule.
Joe: I was very happy to have what felt like an entourage: wife (Kathryn), kids (Mary Claire and John), sister and her boyfriend drove up from Boston with my niece. Not to mention the three other athletes and their crews. That also added a little pressure to finish. That is a long way for a lot of people to go for a DNF. (The dreaded Did Not Finish.) And it was kind of fun having my mom tell me every time we talked what a terrible idea this was. And how and I was crazy and would ruin my body.
Lowest point? Highest point? And this doesn’t mean race elevation. Mentally/physically.
David: I had two low points during training. A bike wreck in February that kept me from running or riding for a week and swimming for two weeks. The second low point was that I got a stomach bug in Honduras and didn’t train much the 3rd week of July and didn’t feel 100 % the week after we returned. Editor’s note: David has traveled on a church mission trip to Honduras the last decade of Julys.
The high was the Half Ironman in Macon, the end of May. My time was better than expected and recovery was very quick.
Race day high was at the beginning of the 2nd loop of the run when I told my nephew (Gene) that Sarah could go the the Ironman store, there was no doubt that I wouldn’t finish the last 13 miles.
Joe: The low point by far was finishing the first of two 13 miles loops on the run and approaching the sign that said ‘left to the finish line and go right to the second loop.’ All the while having to listen to crowd go wild as they minted new Ironmen. That was demoralizing.
The highlight was clearly the end of the marathon and running down the shoot. The crowd was incredible, hanging over the barricades, high fiving and cheering you on. Then finally standing at the finish line of something you were never certain you would be able to complete and hearing them say over the loud speaker “Joe Cardwell you are an Ironman” 15 hours and 10 mins after I started.
Three life-lessons you personally took away from this experience?
* I love to eat! So when you are burning 30,000+ calories a month training you don’t have to be too disciplined in your eating habits.
* If you set a goal and develop a plan on how to achieve that goal! Discipline and time will get your there.
* Lofty goals are much easier to obtain when someone is striving for the same goal and working with you! Thanks Joe Cardwell.
* Importance of setting big goals. If you set small goals you will only accomplish small things. Big things are not easy.
* Life is about priorities. Is this goal really that important to me? If so am I willing to prioritize it?
* The importance of planning. Fill in what needs to happen to get me from here to that big goal, and break it into smaller pieces.
First thought in your mind upon crossing the finish line?
David: I did it! I am an Ironman!
Joe: I just did that! I am an Ironman!
Editor’s note: They both really did write the same thing. Well, other than Joe adding a just.
Anything you’d like to add?
David: I was completely amazed by the number of friends that tracked Joe and me during the day.
Joe: Having David as a training partner was incredible. He is can do!
On a separate email Joe added, One thing I left out was that while I did this for my own reasons, it did make it a little extra special that I was on Rick’s bike.
Editor: Sadly, we lost our fearless Ironman Rick Spence to cancer -- and he was our little Cotton Patch Tri group’s only Ironman. Until now. I couldn’t help but think Rick enjoyed a front row seat watching David and Joe every step of the way.
What’s your next challenge — athletic endeavor or other?
David: That in itself is the challenge, determining the next great endeavor!
Joe was mum on his next challenge but said that he indeed was getting the Ironman tattoo on the back of his calf. Still waiting to hear David’s thoughts on the tattoo.
Love these men. So proud of them.
And an Ironman for me in a galaxy far, far away?
Never say never.
If there is anything you’d like to ask this newly-minted Men of Steel, please do so in the comments and I’ll be sure that they know to reply.
Those closest to me know that my greatest personal fear (discounting tragedy associated with loved ones) is not cancer, jumping out of plane with faulty parachute or being pulled under by a renegade alligator swimming in some lake but – for many years, my secret fear has been Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
And after a chance meeting with a delightful person – younger than I — who has limited physical function yesterday, my . . .
Ten Things Thankful – August 23, 2014
10. I can get up out of this chair with not even a thought.
9. I have privilege of wrapping my hands around the handle of a grocery cart.
8. I can push that cart out to my car.
7. I can decide to stop my legs when a car crosses in front of me. Then chose to walk again when the car passes.
6. I can reach a hand into my bag fishing through all the crap and pull out my car keys.
5. I can start the engine of my 2001 groovy sedan. Push the accelerator with my right foot and brake at stop signs.
All because my brain and spinal column silently communicate.
4. I can walk into my house.
3. Unload my bags.
2. Load the dishwasher.
1. And type on this keyboard.
Quite miraculous come to think about it.
Linking up with the wonderful:
Today, I cut open this watermelon grown in my garden. And I ate it. We all ate it.
My son took a photo of it and sent it to his girlfriend.
Anything that would make a 20 year old take a photo to send to his girlfriend — is down right miraculous around here.
I ate a quarter of it for breakfast.
After planting watermelon in my summer garden — year after year — this is the first that made it to this point in my whole lifetime of gardening experience.
Actually eatable. Actually good. Not kicked open too early by some rascal with four hooves, a white tail and large brown eyes. And not rotting on the vine for what reason God-only knows.
Here’s the funny thing.
I didn’t plant any watermelon this year.
Yes, I have a bummer (sic) crop of melon and I didn’t even entertain the notion of planting any.
Why should I? Year after year sowing and never reaping. Year after year after year.
So the summer I didn’t plant any seeds or transplants look what happened.
Yes. I’ve got a tired looking, feeling and acting garden this point of August. Well, all my plants are worn out — except those darned melon.
I can say, with the exception of my tomatoes, those watermelons might get my garden’s award for the best performer this summer.
And I planted over 20 tomato plants. So that’s not really a fair comparison.
I’ve just about stopped trying to spoon-feed y’all analogies about things because – well, it’s just not done by us professional types.
But I got to thinking — was there a message to me in this messy watermelon-producing patch? This bumper crop that sprang from all the mistakes, miscues and curses of yesteryear.
The first fruitful melon I’ve ever harvested and all I’ve done is to get the heck out of its way. And try to outsmart the deer.
Maybe I need to stop striving and grow – wild and messy, unbrushed and untamed – trusting in what was planted not by deliberate measure but sown organically, almost imperceptibly, quietly.
And bear fruit. In abundance. In peace.
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!