What’s next?

There are many things on my agenda for the next few months. I have learned not to plan too much because surprises appear that I would never have imagined.

I do have some upcoming plans, both tri related and non-tri related.

Augusta 70.3  – I thought about cancelling, but only briefly. I have such an amazing support group in the Augusta tri community. So, on September 28th I will give Augusta another try.  Before that I will attend Tri Camp the weekend of August 8-10 for a course preview and some coaching from the team at Tri Coach Georgia.  And I get to stay with Katie Brooks Hansen and go to Farmhaus with Jeff Spires.

August will begin at Camp Sumatanga for my Candidacy Retreat.  For those of you who do not know,  I began the candidacy process for ministry when I returned from Duke earlier this summer.  So far the process has mainly consisted of filling out a lot of forms and then waiting for the forms to be processed and approved. This weekend includes some further testing but also begins the mentoring process that will help me discern where I belong. I have felt a call into some kind of ministry for decades. I now see that many of the experiences I have had along the way will contribute to anything I wind up doing. If you could see me talking with my hands and body  it would be easier to explain what I am thinking about ways that faith, health and story are intertwined and what I have grappled with as I have been trying to figure out how to merge these into something that I can do.  (I know my storytelling friends totally understand what I mean about how I talk.) I am excited about the process and what it will bring.

Starting in mid-October I am leading a small group study on the book Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation by Fred Bahnson and Norman Wirzba. The book is a series of essays which challenge our notions about what the Bible says about the land and our relationship with it. In the first essay Wirzba challenges the Socratic notions about the body and soul while discussing passages that counter those notions.  He also discusses the ways in which society and individuals have lost their connection with the land and the importance of reconciling with all creation.  I think this will be a fascinating book to teach and will provoke lively discussions.

Finally, I am attending a Courage & Renewal Retreat in Chapel Hill at the beginning of November.  The retreat is in the clergy and people of faith track and will be another tool that I will be using to discern my place in ministry.  The content of the retreat is based on Parker Palmer’s work, who I worked with when I lived in Grand Rapids. His writing and practices have always resonated with me and I am looking forward to the insight I will gain through the Circle of Trust process.
That’s it for now.  I am sure there will be surprises that I don’t anticipate. I also know this -

oliver quoteI want to make a difference in people’s lives.


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Barb’s Race, part 3: The rest of the trip

After the race I eventually made my way back to the Applewood Inn. I think everyone from the She Does Tri team was present for the awards ceremony to see Krista Schultz receive 1st place in her age group and K.C. Cloyd receive 2nd place in her age group.  We took a IMG_149288838689579group photo (but Molly was missing) before we parted.

greta and kristaIt was great to see everyone since I can’t make it to Luray this year.  I didn’t make it to the party because I still did not feel well Saturday night, mainly from my sunburn.

On Sunday I had two things planned.  The first was a photo shoot for an article that will appear in Diabetic Living next March.  They found my blog, interviewed me about the changes I have made, and decided to include me in a story about women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who started exercising and changed their lives.  Since I was going to be at Barb’s Race they asked if I would do the photo shoot while I was in Calfornia.  I met Sara Sanger in Santa Rosa for the photo shoot.  She was fun and great to work with,  plus she has a great dog and a few cats so I got some animal love along with the photos. Rochelle, who did my make-up, was from Flint so we talked about Michigan.  It is always fun to talk to someone who actually knows where places like Grand Blanc are located.  Sara started in her studio and then we went out to shoot some photos near a vineyard and on bike trail. Her sister Danielle was assisting her and took a few photos for me of the photo shoot.

photo shootI had scheduled a massage at the spa at the Inn for Sunday afternoon. After reading about all the massage therapists, I requested Douglas. Very good choice. It was the best massage I have had in ages. It was so good that I scheduled another one for Monday.  He also gave me some excellent suggestions for places to stop along the coast on my Monday afternoon drive.

goat rockI drove north of Jenner first to the overlooks and then turned back and stopped at Goat Rock for a while. I continued on to Bodega Bay, stopping at a few other beach spots along the way. In Bodega Bay I found a small coffee shop and the rest of my inspiration for the Advent devotional that I needed to finish. It was a wonderful and peaceful afternoon and perfect way to end my trip.

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Barb’s Race, part 2: Race Day

Barb’s Race and the Vineman course are a bit different than some courses. The swim is in the Russian River, starting at Johnson’s Beach.  T1 is also there but then T2 is at Windsor High School.  I was staying close to the race site and arrived fairly early.  The Vineman full distance began first with Barb’s Race following.  I sat up my transition area and was taking in my pre-race nutrition. I was not feeling nervous but I was already pretty hot at 6:30 in the morning.

20140726_064308chillingI had chilled my Skratch Labs the best way possible the night before.  I started with the ice bucket but abandoned it for the sink.

I always like to have some kind of physical reminder with me about what and who is really important to me.  I wore these:

The braided one is from Ann and Sofia, the yellow Livestrong is for wristVickie, and the pink of is from Paige.  Ann, Vickie and Paige are all She Does Tri teammates and inspiring friends.

I also added this photo on my bike, because doesn’t her sweet face just say, ” come on, keep going!” ella

My other teammates began arriving and setting up as well.  Ashley and I got a pre-race photo. Some day I will have a photo with my glasses straight on my face.

ashley and millieSwim: Mammas let your babies grow up to be kayakers

My swim wave started at 8:33.  The Russian River was wet suit legal, even in late July, and varies in depth from so shallow you have to crawl to about 7 feet.

I found my usual spot and thought about my Meme box. I started but could not get control of my breathing.  Stop at a kayak.  Those who have been reading my blog for any length of time know that I believe that kayakers are angels on earth, especially those who guard swimmers in open water swims and races.  The kayaker I stopped at asked if I had asthma or any medical issues he needed to know about before I went on. I regrouped and continued on my way.  As I swam, I realized he was still coming along beside me and another woman who was in the back of the over 50 group.

The river is fairly narrow but there were many kayakers, SUP, and other boats.  I could hear them calling to one another to watch for one swimmer or another.  I assumed the kayaker who had been beside me the first few hundred yards would fall away and pass the two of us onto the next one in line.  That is generally the way it works. However,  every time I looked up, the same kayaker was there – the entire race.  I am not as nervous as I once was in the open water and this was one of the easiest swims I have ever had in a race but it was reassuring to see the same friendly face.  I stopped another time because I could not see the turn around point and he was able to tell me how many more buoys I had to go.  I do wish that I had asked him what his name was.

The rest of the swim went well.  There was a point where I did stand up for a short time because I had a number of people standing up in front of me. It was rather fun to laugh together and talk about how funny we all thought it was to walk through part of a half ironman swim.  Going down to the turnaround was against the current.  I think this is the first swim I have had against a current and it felt somewhat difficult to me.  When I was coming back I had a hard time getting to the center of the river where I wanted to be. (Sam explained the reasons to me this morning.)  I felt like my stroke was pretty good most of the way.  I didn’t get hit much during the swim, though I was passed by a whole lot of people.

Final time for my swim was 1:08.  I was hoping for faster but really thought that I would hit somewhere between 1:10-1:15 so I beat my prediction.


Transition practice pays off. I cut my T1 time by over half the time it took me at Augusta!  Yeah.

Bike: Hills and vineyards …and heat

It was roughly 9:45 by the time I got on the bike, and it was hot.  The first 5 miles are fairly flat and there are cars parked, with people opening doors into the bike lane, and some traffic to deal with.  I didn’t go out super fast as was planned.  At mile 5 there is a very sharp turn that we were told to slow down for. I had to come to a complete stop because there was an elderly man taking a stroll in the bike lane. He probably saved me from crashing around the corner.  One of the good things about being near the end is there is not a lot of congestion.  I passed several cyclists on the way out to the first turn and continued to pass some over the next few miles.

This is one of the most beautiful courses I have seen.  The roads wind through a number of vineyards.  There are climbs and rolling hills and there are a number of technical turns.  Things were ok until around mile 18.  I started feeling ill at that point and stopped for longer than planned at the first aid station.  I continued on, knowing that the next one was at mile 29 and that I only had a few more miles on Westside Road, which no one seems to talk about much when describing the course.  The pavement is rough and there are a number of climbs, nothing huge but they just seemed to keep coming.  Fortunately there were also some beautiful stretches of shade.  At the next aid station (mile 29) I was pretty sure that I could not go any farther.  But they had a sprayer and ice packs at that stop and I was able to get cooled down enough to feel like I could try to get to mile 40.

There are many stretches of fairly flat road and there are many descents with assist with momentum for making it up the hills.  I stopped again at mile 40, realizing that I was now on the 5 hour bike plan instead of the 3:30-3:45 hour plan I had hoped for.  I was still hot and not feeling great. The two most difficult climbs come shortly after mile 40 on Chalk Hill Road.  These are the climbs everyone talks about. The last one is less than a mile and no worse than going up Dry Creek, which I have done a number of times.  I made it almost to the top of Chalk Hill.  The heat was too much though and I stopped at what I thought might be a support vehicle.  It wasn’t – it was a spectator, but she poured water over me and gave me water.  Outside assistance – I was finished. She probably prevented me from over heating though so it was really worth it. I knew that over Chalk Hill was a steep descent and that there were a few more hills as well as several miles in the sun.  So at 45 miles, I called it a day.  Louise, the spectator, was kind enough to load me and my bike in her van and take me to the medical room.  (The volunteers didn’t seem to know where the support vehicles were or if there was first aid on the course.)

I identified two key factors that prevented me from finishing.  The heat was one.  Saturday was the only really hot day while I was in California and we were told that it was the hottest race day in several years. Many athletes did not finish.  The second was my nutrition plan. I had a plan and I followed it.  I set my timer on my watch to buzz every 15 minutes to remind me to eat or drink it I had not. I filled my water bottles at every stop.  But, and this was key, I was relying on gels and larabars after several months of training with real food.  I simply could not figure out how to carry what I needed with my in my luggage so I relied on what I had done in the past.  I will not make that mistake again.

Certainly I was disappointed not to finish.  I was not devastated, however.  I learned quite a bit, improved my swim and T1 and I made every climb until the final one without getting off my bike.  When I looked at my moving time on the bike I was near and a little over my goals for times and miles per hour so if I would not have had the stops, I would have made or come near my goal time.

More importantly, when I got back to my room and looked at various facebook pages and my email, I had messages from friends from many parts of my life who were cheering me on, encouraging me, and were concerned when I disappeared from the race tracker.  They were supportive when I told them what had happened.  For that, I am so grateful.  There will be other races and other days.

Posted in bikes, challenges, choices, mental toughness, nutrition, races, She Does Tri, tracking, triathlon, TriAugusta | 2 Comments

Barb’s Race recap: part 1

I have already established the fact that I didn’t finish – along with a lot of other people who were doing one of the 4 races held Saturday.  So now for what was good about the trip and what’s next.  And this will be multi-part because I have more to say than I realized.

Pre-race prep

I came out on Wednesday to give myself some time before the race to test my rental bike and to get used to the time change. Two hours doesn’t seem like much but time changes can throw me off sometimes.  Also, packet pick up was only on Friday so I had to be here for that.

First stop was the Docookeubletree San Francisco, after my GPS tried to take me to Miami, Florida and directed me miles out of my way.  I would never have seen San Bruno and some other industrial sections of San Francisco otherwise. (Ok, I am trying to be positive :))

On Thursday morning I headed to Santa Rosa to pick up the bike I rented.  It was much easier, in my opinion, than trying to bring my bike along.  I rented from Echelon Cycle and Multisport, a fantastic LBS in Santa Rosa.  They had this sweet bike ready for me when I arrived.

I was not familiar with BMC bikes, but I loved this one.  It was full carbon.  They fit me to the bike using Joe Wenning’s bike fit but also made some adjustments once I wasbike there to make sure everything was right on this bike and that it had been set up correctly.

Mariko swapped saddles and gave a Fitzik saddle that was wonderful to ride. The gears were different than my bike so I knew I needed to ride to make sure I knew what I was doing.

Then it was on to check into Applewood Inn.  This is a wonderful inn tucked in off the road to Guerneville.  It has lovely rooms and a fantastic restaurant, as well a great spa.  This was my room:

viewpatioAfter I checked roomin, I went off to drive the bike course, which made me a bit crazy on Thursday.  It looked like it was all up hill.  Everyone talks about Chalk Hill at mile 45, but I had not heard anything about Westside Road, which seemed to be 11 miles of uphill climbs.  Thanks to Jeff Spires and Sam Morgan for talking me off the ledge about the course that evening.

I had a lovely dinner of seabass and a butterleaf lettuce salad.  That helped as well.

Friday with Ashley

Ashley arrived on Thursday and came up on Friday to drive the course and also go to packet pick-up.  After intermittent internet access, we connected and drove the bike course. I felt much better about it on Friday since I could see where the flats were and was able to figure out that the downhills were going to give me the momentum for the uphills.

Yes, I attended the meeting.

Yes, I attended the meeting.

We ended at Windsor High School, attended the mandatory meeting where they tell you a few things about the course, including a warning about the first sharp right turn where several people evidently wind up in blackberry bushes.  The packet pick up was a breeze.  Brad Rex was doing his running commentary from the Vineman podium – always love seeing Brad – and we saw Krista Schultz too.  After we dropped our run stuff in transition, we went back to Johnson’s Beach for a short bike ride and swim.  Ashley had also rented a bike.

This race is unusual compared to other longer races I have done since you don’t drop your bike the day before.

So that was Friday.  Next part will be race day.


Brad Rex


Johnson Beach

Johnson Beach


Posted in bikes, Brad Rex, challenges, Krista Schultz, races, She Does Tri, swimming, training, triathlon | Leave a comment

Barb’s Race: the short version

Well, I didn’t finish.  It’s ok though. I had a good swim and T1, made 45 miles on the bike to just shy of the top of the hardest hill.  But I knew I was feeling too bad to continue.  The heat was a big factor – in the 90s and maybe near 100. I’m not really sure but I know that I heard it was the hottest weather they have had for at least 4 years for the race.

I’ll write more later. There were many good things and it is 9 weeks until Augusta. best of luck

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Tri again: Another half

This weekend is Barb’s Race, another 70.3 triathlon.  I am out there trying again.  This time I will finish.  I drove the bike course today and it has more hills than I anticipated (define rolling, please!).  But there are not any that I can’t ride.   The river looks great.  I drove the run course without realizing it and it didn’t seem too bad.

I rented a bike for the race instead of hauling my own bike on a plane. It is a very nice bike.  I was momentarily disappointed that it was not the Cervelo that I thought I had rented, but the BMC is pretty sweet.  I do need to ride a little tomorrow because the shifting is different and I need to make sure I know what I am doing.  bike

So, here I go again.


Posted in bikes, challenges, mental toughness, triathlon | 2 Comments

Buster Britton x 4: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

This morning I competed in my 4th Buster Britton Sprint, a great race that Team Magic puts on at Oak Mountain State Park.  My times have improved every year and I have learned something every year.

bibbsI made a few mistakes, but nothing major that I can’t fix.  I signed up for Buster Britton because I like the race, it’s two weeks until Barb’s Race and gave me a chance to check on a few things, and because Bike Link was the main sponsor.  When I fell and hurt my knee I decided to switch to the Aquabike.  I really wasn’t sure about running by today though I probably would have been ok.  I was happy to be finished after the bike though!


I drove up last night and picked up my packet.  Since the start time was 7 am this year, I decided staying in Pelham instead of getting up at 3:30 and driving there was a better option.  One of my mistakes was last night though.  I had not packed breakfast food so I had to go on a hunt for something to eat.  I had planned on going to a grocery store that I knew was nearby but the traffic was awful so I just went to a couple of gas station stores until I found a banana and some cereal.  That is not my ideal breakfast, especially not on race day.  I dischydrateovered today that there is a WalMart and Publix if I had driven in the opposite direction.  Next year I will know that.

As I mentioned after my Thursday run, I realized that I was a little dehydrated. I knew it would take a few days to get myself back to normal so I expected that I would not be 100% on Saturday.  I did make sure I had my water bottles and Skratch Labs mixed on Friday night so I was ready for race day.

I also managed to put my race numbers on right and by myself.  Do not assume this is easy. I have seen many race numbers on upside down or in some mangled form.

skratch labstritatI also added a Skratch Labs tat since I am a TasteAgent.

Race day

So,  I was ready for race day.  I slept well – very unusual, was up at 4:45, and at the race site by 5:30.  I made sure my bike was ok and then went to set up my transition area.  That is when I realized that hydration was still an issue.  It was only a little after 5:30 am I was already sweating (no perspiring- pure sweating).  I went back to the car for salt tabs because I knew that even though this was a short race,  I would need them because it was already hot and humid.

I had plenty of time.  I went into the water – hot – and swam a little.   Then it was race time.  The swim and run were changed this year but the bike was still the same.


I’ve moved up in numbers but I was really wondering what I had written down for my swim time with so many people behind me.  I thought about moving back in line since Team Magic allows this but decided to stay right where I was.  I have some experience starting from the swim spot because it was where John Hanna and I swam a few times when I was working with him.  I knew that it drops off pretty fast at that spot so you are in deep water faster than you might expect.  The swim course headed straight out across the lake, back toward shore and then another left to shore. I swam strong and steady the whole time.  I did not touch a kayak once or even think about doing it (though I am always aware of where they are).  I got out a little far from the buoys but that was ok because I wasn’t getting kicked and hit. The last turn was a bit of a problem for most of us because we were swimming right into the sun and you couldn’t see the big orange buoys that marked the finish.  I was heading a little off course (and was not alone in doing so) but a kayaker yelled at me and guided me back to the right direction.

Final swim time 14:07 (1:12 faster than last year)


I have been practicing transitions and it is helping. T1 was 3:20, faster than last year but I can still improve.


It was hot on the bike and I realized that I was having some problems within the first couple of miles. This route is hilly enough to be a challenge but not impossible.  I know the course because I have raced it and I have been riding it this spring.  This was the hottest day I have ridden though.  There were good moments and not so good moments during the ride.   I passed Geoff Leonard around mile 2 while I was climbing a hill.  I had three people in front of me and I was evaluating if I could get around them or not in the 15 seconds allowed.  Geoff yelled some words of encouragement and I went and passed all three.  I was having a bit of a hard time but I was making it.  Around mile 4 I felt like I was really in trouble though and I stopped briefly just to get myself together.  Someone yelled some more words of encouragement and that kept me going.  I knew I could get to the turn around point. Once you turn around, you head right back up a long hill.  I took it a little slower than I might have just to make sure I made it. On the next hill I did something dumb that I know not to do and dropped my chain. That caused me to stop and flip the chain back on, which I am now pretty good at doing. The rest of the ride wasn’t bad at all.  When I looked at my splits, I had mostly very good speed and mile times. I just had two spots where I slowed down. My top speed was 34.4 mph.

Time 1:02 (1 minute faster than last year). And no crashes or concussions this year.

My overall time was 1:19.  I had hoped for a bit better than that but given the heat,  I am not unhappy.  I finished the race when I felt like quitting at least once.  I won the Aquabike (and I was the only one in the category so that isn’t impressive) and I improved my times on the swim and the bike.

prizesbikelinkprizesWinners received great prizes.  The bag is a cooler and chair. BikeLink also gave each winner a bag full of nutrition, bike gear, tubes, and other really great bike stuff.

Overall, a good day on the race course.

Posted in bikes, nutrition, progress, races, Skratch Labs, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment