This is a blog for the strong, the determined, the wild. In the past ten years more than 100 have joined the triBE on a journey to BE strong, to BE fierce, to BE triathletes. We are dedicated to the belief that anyone can BE a triathlete and support each other in every endeavor. Our team members are all sizes, speeds, and ages. This is our story.

"When anyone tells me I can't do anything, I'm just not listening any more." ~Florence Griffith Joyner

If this isn't enough you can read more from me here:

Sunday, March 31, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

I just spent six days with my family in Manhattan exploring a city I’ve never known.  I was there once a long time ago visiting a friend for a few hours.  I remember nothing from that long ago trip but the walking and the bagels.  Turns out both are still there.

I thought I’d share my thoughts about fitness in Manhattan.
Things that keep New Yorkers fit:

Walking:  Despite a truly amazing subway system, one we took advantage of daily, there are still miles and miles of walking.  My friend Donna Walker told me she walks in New York if it’s less than 20 blocks.  That’s probably a good rule of thumb although there were long days when we probably took the last train home for less than twenty blocks. My aching feet reminded me that I had hours and hours under my belt.
Stair Climbing:  Even if you take the subway, there are still dozens of stairs and the escalators are broken more often than not.  So taking the subway often trades a long walk for short bursts of stairs, both up and down.  We often found ourselves on the 7 train in particular, and I can assure you that it is 75 stairs down or up to that particular track, the deepest one in the system.

Calorie Counting:  At many of the restaurants you’ll find calories clearly listed on the menu.  (Mayor Giuliani at work.) At the movies last night I noticed that nachos and cheese are a staggering 1600 calories.  My son’s favorite burrito at Chipotle is more than 1200.  It definitely makes you think about what you are eating and consider swapping your first choice for something healthier.
Delis:  There’s a deli and a Starbucks on every block, but the delis are not what you think.  They offer huge variety, from steam tables of Chinese food, to salad and fruit bars by the pound.  You can grab quick snacks like nuts, protein bars, and dried fruit and there is always fresh fruit right near the register.  You can actually have a sandwich made as well.  It’s quick and easy, reasonably priced, and offers lots of healthy choices. Interestingly, candy bars are mostly sold at the magazine and cigarette stands. 

Things that keep Manhattanites chubby:
Food carts:  There’s one on every corner of the downtown areas and the choices are not at all healthy. 

Lack of open spaces:  Running in New York is nearly impossible.  Even Central Park is pretty crowded.  Cycling is a death wish.  I only saw one health club, although I am sure there are more.  I would be hard-pressed to be a triathlete in Manhattan. 
Grocery Stores:  I never saw one.

Cream Cheese:  Bagels are truly delicious and there are a million bagel shops.  Every single one had 20 flavors of delicious cream cheese, and unless you ask for it on the side, you’ll get about a quarter cup on any bagel you order.  Delicious, yes.  Artery hardening as well.
Pizza:  It’s just so good and by the slice.  It’s easy to eat it every day. I reluctantly admit this is a bad thing.

I am so grateful that I am home writing this from my recliner.  I am so looking forward to falling into my own bed and sleeping long and deep.  I can already feel the humidity opening up my sore nasal passages.  The high was 50 degrees in New York. Tomorrow I will enjoy the beautiful sunshine in a tank top as I walk around campus.  I bet it will feel easy after this week.  Tuesday I will swim outdoors and head to my gym to lift some weights.  I will go for a ride on Wednesday on our magnificent bike trails and am reasonably confident that I will not encounter a taxi. 

The lessons from this trip are clear.  I should walk more.  I should cook more.  I should spend more time outside.  I had a spectacular trip, but I am reminded, there’s no place like home. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Whole Lotta Nothin’ Goin’ On…

When I was 25, I loved summer.  I have been a teacher my entire adult life and summers used to be days and days of endless anything.  In summer I could read a book every day, and I did.  In summer I could get up when I wished, sleep when I wished, eat when I wished.  The clock had no command over me.  Wanna play frisbee?  Yes.  Wanna go to a movie?  Yes.  Wanna make a pie?  Yes.  Wanna go to the beach?  Yes.
Yes. Yes. Yes.

Twenty plus years later, I am still a teacher.  My life is still run by bells that ring every 45 minutes most of the year.  Summers are jammed with consulting jobs.  The rest of the time is run by my children.  There is car pool and practice and making dinner and homework.  I have very little time of my own, and I tend to cram it as tightly as my every day.  Weekends are laundry and going to the gym, groceries, haircuts, drinks with friends, cleaning the house, errands. 

Go. Go. Go.
But lately I have been talking with friends about the consequences of such a life.  I am on spring break now with ten days to structure as I will.  I am filling six of them with a nonstop trip to New York with my family, but these first four days were mine to use, and I was thinking I have wasted them.  And as I reflected on that, I realized I have wasted nothing.  You see I have done things, but far more slowly.  I worked out an hour or so every day, got a haircut, and attended a surprise birthday party.  I have run those errands and bought groceries.  I had a leisurely meal with friends, caught up on a little television, spent some quality time with my children, and slept long uninterrupted hours.

Right now I am thinking about this post, waiting for the laundry to dry, and watching my son solve his Rubic’s cube.  I could grind my teeth over the deluge that has made today’s ride delayed at best and probably impossible, or I can enjoy the hour returned to me for sipping coffee in my pajamas and thinking. 
This morning I was texting with triBE teammate Donna Walker.  She’s a single mother of two teenagers, teaches an overload of classes at my school, and directs several plays a year in our theatre department. I texted her to see if she had gotten up yet, not because I think she should get up, but because I think she should stop worrying about the fact that sometimes she doesn’t seem to be able to get up.  When I think about her life, I think the healthiest thing in the world is sometimes not getting up.  Perhaps what makes her so amazing in her every day are the few days she allows herself to just do a little nothing. 

Last night I was talking to my friend Cyndi Parrish. She’s been homeschooling her youngest for years and this spring he was ready to go back to school.  She was lamenting the long hours alone at home and wondering how to fill her days.  I think she’s wondering who she should be now.  It’s a real dilemma, one that she’ll likely struggle with a while.  That feeling of limbo is uncomfortable, but she’ll know when she knows, and I’m sure she will wake up at some point with her days again filled with entirely too much.  And when she does, she'll be awesome, just as she's always been.
I know we can beat ourselves about wasted time, but I truly think the only time we waste is the time we spend worrying about wasting time.  Today a cup of coffee and my youngest son are within an arm’s reach.  I am deeply content.  Outside the window the rain falls, the wind blows, and the overcast sky makes me a little sleepy.  Perhaps I’ll trade that missed ride for a nap.  After all, I’m still in my pajamas.

There’s never enough time for all the nothing you want.  ~Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Are You Crazy?

A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare to cut the rope and be free.  ~Nikos Kazantzakis

Where’s you limit?  At what point do you say, I am never doing that.  That’s just plain crazy.  Is it sky diving?  How about bungee jumping?  Eating octopus?  Going back to school?  Running a marathon?  Playing high stakes poker?  Climbing a mountain?  Quitting your job?  Roller coasters? A triathlon? The list goes on and on.

We have teammates that do some arguably crazy things.  Amanda Dean and her husband Bill compete in adventure races.  Canoeing, mountain biking, and trail-running meet orienteering in the ultimate outdoor adventure.  Sounds cool you say?  It is until you realize that a short race is 6 hours.  These races can last 12 or 24 or 72 hours.  That’s right, 3 days!  Is that crazy?

Christine Haskins loves a different kind of adventure wherever she can find it.  A world traveler, I think there is a club she joined with the motto, “I will try anything once.”  I can’t tell you the number of times I have watched her sit down at a bar or a restaurant, strike up a conversation with the server and tell them, “Bring me your best thing.”  She has eaten things that I am not sure are food, but all turn out to be so delicious.  She has even drunk things that were on fire!  Is that crazy?
My friends aren’t even all that extreme. Whatever crazy you can imagine, there is so much more.  Flip through cable and you’ll see people doing anything and everything.  There are folks that live in a house with cameras everywhere.  Others run obstacle courses through foam and paint balls.  A brave few do stunts in the dark or are yelled at while trying to become a chef.  People eat glass or bugs, sing or dance for millions, do stand-up comedy until they are booed, or compete to stack cups.  The list goes on and on and there seems to be endless volunteers. The real question is, why?  Why do people do crazy things? 

Some probably do it for money.  Others like the attention.  But in the end, there is one thing they all have in common.  They feel alive.  For those crazy minutes their hearts beat faster, their focus narrows to the here and now, and they are quite sure that everything they are and know is on the line.  Adrenaline and endorphins pump through the veins.  It is excitement and pleasure and fun.  Crazy makes you feel perfectly, awesomely, completely alive. 
This weekend five members of the triBE headed out to the Lake Nona distance ride.  50 or 100 miles on a bicycle. Hours and hours in the saddle.  These few hearty souls today are awesomely, breathlessly, perfectly alive.  And in my humble opinion, slightly, wonderfully crazy.  Congratulations to Dawn Young, Angela Thomas, Rose Ray, and Julie Jaworski.  And a special shout out the Marie Leticee who beat the odds, overcame her injuries, and finished this race!  Wow.  Just wow. 

So it’s your turn.  You get to decide what it means to be crazy.  Think about the last thing you said you would never do.  What if you did?
Wanna go crazy?

"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they are okay, then it's you." ~Rita Mae Brown  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Present Tense

On Halloween, 1980 I swam the best 500 freestyle of my life.  I was blessed with a coach that kept records of every swim at every meet, and when I looked up my times throughout high school, I was surprised to discover that my best 500 freestyle happened in my sophomore year.  If you look at the times, you can even see how it happened.  I was Debbie Saunders back then and Lainie Galland swam it with me and paced me. 
It wouldn’t make sense to put both of us in the same race, but I am sure my coach, Dennis Dale, was teaching my 15-year-old self how to swim faster.  There is no record of me ever swimming under 6 minutes again in my career.  I didn’t realize that until today, although I am sure I struggled with it at the time. 

In the summer of 2009 I ran the best race of my life.  I didn’t start running until 2004 and to be fair, I did a half-assed job of it for a long time.  But that year I came out of the Danskin triathlon and decided to train for a race called the Bix 7, a seven mile race in Iowa littered with long hills, the kind of which you don’t find here in Florida.  I got help from veteran runner, Trish Horel, developed a training plan, and stuck to it.  There were a lot of runs on treadmills creating incline and a couple weeks of training in the hills of Georgia and the mountains of North Carolina.  In the end it was so very hard.  I raced exactly as fast as I thought I might and when I finished, I never wanted to do it again.  Four years later I realize it was the best race I ever ran, not because of how fast I was, but because of what it meant for me. 

My point?  Our perspective changes.  How we interpret and remember the past is always altered by the intervening days and experiences.  What must have been a tough time for me in high school slid away over the years, forgotten and unimportant.  What certainly was a tough time for me three summers ago is replaced by a longer view of the value of experiences in my life. 
The toughness of the present has turned my head for quite a while.  I’ve had long year of not running well or at all, a painful and slow recovery from knee surgery with no resolution in sight, and an endless week of respiratory infection that has drained my strength and my sense of humor.  Each of these has contributed to my longing for glory days, for times past when things were “easier.”  But the reality is, they weren’t.  The past is nothing more than simply that, past.  The longer I spend there, the less time I have here.  By hanging out in the past, I imagine I’ve been missing some things here lately.

And there’s no solace in living in the future.  We all have dreams and worries, hopes and fears.  And every minute spent worrying about what might be is one less minute spent creating what will be.  Every moment spent hoping for the best is one less for planning and doing and being the best right now. 
I am not 15.  I am not even 43.  I am 47, and I am here and now and doing whatever I can do today.  And if I’m smart I will do it joyfully, mindfully, and perfectly present.  Today’s pain will become tomorrow’s glory days.  Today is the gift.  It’s time I stopped wasting it. 
"If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present." -- Lao Tzu

Love this video, especially the woman at the end.  Amazing!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Winds of Change

“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.” ~Madonna

Did you get the emails?  Did you hear?  The Danskin triathlon is now being managed by Iron Girl.  More importantly, for the first time in my memory, perhaps for the first time ever, this race is not being held on Mother’s Day.  It’s not even on a Sunday.  So what does this mean?  Well, no one is 100% sure, but there are some good signs.  Iron Girl certainly talks the talk: 
So here's what I know:  The race is now on Saturday, May 4.  It is still in Clermont and the courses for both the sprint and the supersprint will likely be the same.  Iron Girl has managed a lot of races and once again Maggie Sullivan appears to be involved.  The swim angels will be there.  The race remains for women only, and they are offering the usual swag including t-shirts and medals to commemorate the event.  There's even a post-race breakfast. 
There is nothing that would make me think this isn't going to be the same awesome race!
In the end this has always been about empowerment.  We have always been working together to feel stronger and achieve our goals.  We are ever learning, growing, and becoming ever so much more so our best selves.  This has never been about the race itself, but about the journey.  It is this journey moves us forward and bonds us together. 
So I'm not going to worry about any changes in the race.  Registration opens next week and if I can, I'll set up our team and you can be part of the triBE on race day.  I'll let you know when it's all set.  In the meantime, keep training.  We've lost a week and so it is important that you stick to your plan.  There's nine weeks to race day.  Get out there today and get your sweat on.  There's a race ahead and a big ol' breakfast to earn!
I can't wait!
“There are women who make things better... simply by showing up. There are women who make things happen. There are women who make their way. There are women who make a difference. And women who make us smile. There are women of wit and wisdom who- through strength and courage- make it through. There are women who change the world everyday... Women like you.” ~Ashley Rice t
Team Updates:
I am sad to report that the change in the date has already caused several members to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.  We will definitely miss you!  Please let me know if you still want to train for a race.  I can help you find one!  
A trio of PR's ... Rose with
Tom and Susie Brown
I love a woman so mad about her performance at last weekend's Gasparilla Half that she set out this weekend to do it again.  Congrats to Rose Ray on an outstanding 1:43 at the Swamp House Half!    
Molly and Curt Halcom

And kudos to Molly and Curt Halcom gearing up for today's Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.  Love the tracker on this race that allows you to follw your favorite athletes online throughout the course.  This race started with a 1.5 mile swim in 50 degree water followed by 18 miles of biking on the treacherous hills of San Francisco.  It looks like Molly and Curt did the 8 mile run together including the dreaded 400 stairs of the Sandladder climb near the end of the race.  Congratulations! 

I also caught a glimpse of Amanda and Bill Dean out on an adventure race this weekend, but I'm holding out for some better pics next week! 

And if that's not motivation enough, how about this?