Month: July 2017

My bucket list

Someone the other day was talking about a film with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson called The Bucket List.  A 2007 movie about two strangers who meet in a hospital after finding out they both have terminal illnesses and decide to check off things on their bucket list before they pass.  It got me thinking, if I had a bucket list what would be on it?  So here goes.

Days away from the ultimate hike
  1. Hike the Appalachian Trail
  2. Travel beyond Tennessee by car
  3. Run the original NYC Marathon
  4. Visit Canada
  5. Visit major cities like Chicago, New York, Boston’s art museums
  6. Visit San Antonio ‘s riverwalk
  7. Run an official 50k
  8. Participate in a freshwater TRI
  9. Cycle from Mickler’s Beach to St Augustine on A1A
  10. Visit the Grand Canyon
  11. Camp at Yosemite 
  12. Run 50 marathons
  13. Zip line 
  14. Drive a stick shift
  15. Swim an ocean marathon(2.6 miles)
  16. Ride a cable car
  17. Repel off a tower
  18. Learn how to scuba dive
  19. Sail a boat
  20. Ride in a helicopter
  21. Stand on the Skydeck in Chicago 
  22. Cook on a charcoal grill
  23. Start a fire in the fireplace
  24. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
  25. Sing karaoke 
  26. Drive a corvette 
  27. Drive a motorboat
  28. Eat a lobster roll
  29. Wakeboard
  30. Waterski
  31. Climb a tree
  32. Run a track race
  33. Drive more than 3 hours by myself
  34. Run the Boston Marathon course
  35. Read the Bible
  36. Visit a place where I don’t speak the Native language
  37. Try caviar 
  38. Make a homemade cake and frosting
  39. Make flan like my Aunt Lyda use to make
  40. Roller skate
  41. Learn how to French braid my hair
  42. Experience an earthquake
  43. Climb a rope
  44. Go whitewater rafting
  45. Drive in snow
  46. Build a snowman
  47. Do a split
  48. Stay up for 24 hours
  49. Pick and eat wild blueberries 
  50. Play The Game of Life board game 
  51. Watch my grandkids being born
  52. Go fishing on a small boat
  53. Sit in an ice bath 
  54. Ride on the back  of a motorcycle 
  55. See all 7 planets using a telescope 
  56. Sled down a hill
  57. Jump off a high dive 
  58. Milk a cow
  59. Go horseback riding
  60. Canoe the St Johns river
  61. Visit Key West
  62. Hike  and camp at Cumberland Island
  63. Visit Gettysburg during annual July reenactment 
  64. Visit Florida Caverns
  65. Go to New Orleans during Mardi Gras
  66. Visit the Space Needle
  67. Set off firecrackers
  68. Run up a steep hill in San Francisco 
  69. Walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  70. Take a Ghost Tour
  71. Visit Salem Massachusetts 
  72. Snorkel at a freshwater spring
  73. Whale watching
  74. Visit Vatican City
  75. Run in the snow
  76. Go to the Summer Olympics and watch Track and Field events
  77. Learn how to surf
  78. Paddle board
  79. Watch Wicked on Broadway 
  80. Eat at a Jewish Deli
  81. Walk the Boardwalk at Atlantic City
  82. See the Gingerbread houses at Cape May NJ
  83. Go to the Opera
  84. Attend a rock concert
  85. Ride a train out west
  86. Touch the Pacific Ocean
  87. Drive Route 66 and stop at all the touristy stops
  88. Ride a mule down the Grand Canyon
  89. Eat a slice of reindeer pizza
  90. Cook a made from scratch meal
  91. Slide down Slippery Rock
  92. Taste a moon cake
  93. Travel to see the autumn foliage 
  94. Drink a hot toddy 
  95. Learn how to couple dance
  96. Whistle with my fingers
  97. Change a car tire
  98. Learn how to play chess
  99. Plant a garden
  100. Learn how to sew
I love art museums! Treasures galore for your eyes to enjoy

    Do you notice anything on my bucket list?    There are no “things” on it.  I don’t want anything I want experiences…isn’t that why we have bucket lists in the first place?  You want to do not just collect or buy things.  Clearing out my very cluttered household, I realize all this stuff doesn’t mean anything and I won’t miss most of the “things” I have gotten rid of.  What is important is the memories and experiences  I have had either by myself or with family and friends.  Those last forever.  Those mean something.  Those are special.  I want to live life and I am so thankful for everything I’ve experienced so far.  What do you want to do?  Have you thought about it?  Make that list today, and start checking it off.  

    Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,

    Mercedes

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    My AT Journal…last day

    Family fun

    Day 3

    Our morning began with packing up our mat and tent.  Everything was wet and muddy because of last night’s rain.  We wanted to leave camp by 8:30 because today we were hiking back to Base Camp.  We had oatmeal and instant double shots of Folgers.  Some of us were ready to go at 8:37a m, so we headed out. The rest would follow.  It was a short hike, 5 miles downhill and should bring us to our campsite by lunchtime.  “Whitey” hiked with me and we enjoyed the flora and fauna on the trail.  “Hufflepuff ” and the other young adult hikers were up ahead.

    This flower looks like a firecracker
    Beautiful mountain flower
     

    We waited at the bottom of the trail for everyone else to catch up because we wanted to be together to hike the last 2 miles on Kimsey Creek Trail into camp.  The sign on the trail said it would be easy-yeah right!  Our trail was no longer dirt and roots with some rock here and there, but just slippery, find my feet and trip me riverbed rocks.  And of course roots that kept grabbing my shoe and tripping me more.  So I let “Whitey” go ahead of me.  He didn’t trip or slip,I did!  This part of the trail had some beautiful small rapids, single file man made bridges and natural log bridges that we crossed.  Now “Caboose” had waterproof hiking boots, so he sloshed through,but I didn’t so I was trying really hard not to fall in the water or the thick mucky mud.  I came close several times and did get my right shoe and sock soaked…oh well lesson learned.  “Pedia ” also hung back and walked with us too.  Then a very large tree in our way…scoot scoot across.  Slippery boulders…walking stick and haul myself with pack over and nearly took a dive down the embankment into the water.  Are you seeing a correlation to my trail name yet?  Then the most beautiful sight yet, waterfall!  We took a break and took lots of pictures.   Onward hikers!

    Brotherly love on the trail
    One of the easier natural bridges we crossed
     

    Wild blackberries!  We found a field of ripe blackberries and had a sweet snack.  I was leery of going in there because I immediately  thought of birds and snakes, but luckily we only encountered thorns.  What a nice treat to wrap up our hike.  Dayhikers!  We saw a group lead by a guide, so we knew we were close.  After exchanging hellos, we kept on hiking.  Everyone else was way up ahead, except for the 4 of us when it happened…the “Slipster” lived up to her name.  Boom!  I went down.  Not just a knee or a hand, but I became a turtle in its shell flipped over(I think the weight of the pack had something to do with it).  Everyone around me was concerned, me…I couldn’t stop giggling and laughing.  I was pulled up and righted and kept on.  I wasn’t hurt at all even my dignity.  It was funny!  Then “Pedia” said he knew this part of the trail and we walked into camp.

    We had done it!

    All of our planning and pre hike at the Ocala National Forest in April paid off.  Something I wanted to do as a present for my AT loving husband, proved to be an accomplishment for myself and my kids too.

    Hearts:

    Unplugged from technology.  I had time to read, have conversations without them or myself looking down at our phones, and no mindless tv watching.

    Darts:

    No technology in an emergency.  If there is a medical emergency, you better be with someone else to help you or else you can be in big trouble.  Satellite phone?

    Hearts:

    Exercise.  Yes, hiking is a form of exercise.  I broke a sweat and my heart rate was elevated climbing up and coming down the trail.  Some people in our group ran the trail(future ultramarathoners).  Either way you are off the couch and getting heart healthy.

    Darts:

    When the trail says easy, don’t believe it.  Make sure you get good supportive trail shoes and waterproof them.  The trail is rampant with tiny streams(thank goodness for rain), so be aware of slippery rocks.

    Hearts:

    Campfires are cozy and keep the gnats away.  It’s also a great way to have camaraderie with your group.  We told ghost stories, played what if games, and even performed skits.

    Darts:

    Weather can be unpredictable so be sure to pack a long sleeve shirt or hoodie.  Even in July, mornings were cool.  Up on the mountain, weather rolled in quickly so make sure to pack a rain jacket or poncho.  In our tent, we were cozy; hammocks…rain fly!

    What a beautiful sight!

    I have been bitten by the AT hiking bug!  Already planning my next hike sometime next year.    The journey will continue.

    Remember it’s about the journey not just the destination,

    Mercedes

    My AT Journal continued…

    Instant Bustello is better than none

    Day 2.

    9:00 a m is our goal to be out of camp and start hiking.  We have 8 miles to hike.  The bear bag was safe from bears but not mice.  Nice little hole from them gnawing but the food was okay.  “Whitey” had breakfast.  Apple Cinnamon breakfast squares, granola bars, and little bites muffins were fuel until lunchtime.  “Red Face” and “Hufflepuff ” started early since they wanted some father/son alone time, and the rest of us started a little after 9:00.  We were headed to Standing Indian mountain.  There were a lot of switchbacks.  The wildflowers were beautiful, the bees were humming, the birds were singing, and the trail was difficult.  I stayed with “Whitey” and “the Caboose” because I wanted to talk.  We took several breaks to make sure we didn’t leave anyone too behind.  Roots kept on jumping up to trip me but I never fell.  We saw a lot of the trail on either side burned(not sure if it was a controlled burn or not), but greenery was coming back.  And we kept climbing up and up and up. I decided to try a faster pace and kept up with “Pedia” and “Bear Train”, but they fell back as I speeded up.  We caught up with “Hufflepuff “, who claimed he was going to pass out but he and “Whitey” were going to lose 30 pounds on this hike.  I kept going.

    Rhododendron trees were everywhere on the trail. Blossoms were alive with buzzing(I didn’t get stung)

    “Chill” lead us slower hikers to the Standing Indian Mountain overlook where we planned to have lunch with a spectacular view.  While waiting, we took pictures, had a snack or two, and I charged my phone(the good thing about the summit…sunshine).  1:00p m, we saw the rest of the group…and they were smart(they left their packs at the base and walked straight up without the added weight)!  Why didn’t we think of that?!?!  Everyone, except…where’s “Whitey”?!?!  I check and there he is at the bottom laying down.  What?!?!   After revisiting his symptoms later rationally, we realized he was more than likely dehydrated.  At the time, we thought he was having a heart issue.  I got some pink lemonade and fruit punch crystal light for sugar and crackers and dried pineapple to settle his stomach and “Hufflepuff ” had a wet cloth for his neck and forehead.  We were worried.  After half an hour, he got color back in his face and was able to continue( we only had about 2 miles to go downhill to get to our next shelter).  “Two-Pack” carried his pack and “Whitey’s” pack too.  

    The summit of Standing Indian Mountain

    We made it by 3:30 p.m to the Standing Indian shelter.  There was  already another hiker there at the shelter who had been on the AT since June!  We began setting up camp and I helped with water duty.  That entailed going to the stream downhill, filter the water through a filtration system, and filling everyone’s water bottles that needed water.  “Red Face” is the filtration expert so we handed him our water bottles. We saw a wild rabbit eating , which was so cool.  Another hiker saw a snake, but luckily I missed that experience.   This campsite had no wildflowers or flowering trees, so bees were not an issue.  Horseflies were.  I used the privy for the first time.  Just like an open port a pottie.  We got a fire going and the boys were taking turns gathering firewood.  Rain began on and off, but it wasn’t bad.  It seemed warmer than the night before.  Dinner consisted of rice, chicken, bacon ,tortillas with ranch for flavor.  “Twinkle Toes” and “Dirty Peanut Butter” got their dinner first(rice & ranch).  “Dirty Chicken” said the canned chicken smelled bad, but thought it would be fine.  It wasn’t.  We had to dump the food for the bear(hopefully it didn’t get sick), and ate ranch tortillas, PB tortillas, crackers, granola bars, trail mix, or beef jerky.  At least we weren’t terribly hungry.  Our vegetarian hikers laughed that the chickens were getting revenge on us. 4 more hikers came by, a family,and told us they had hiked from Blue Ridge GA.  They were probably jogging/running the AT.  They had an American Boxer with them.  Poor pup looked beat, but friendly.  He would keep those bears away tonight.   19 of us in all!  One more bathroom break and bedtime. “Whitey” was doing better and slept.  I tossed and turned because I was warm and couldn’t get comfy.  Our tent was also on a downward slope so gravity kept sliding me down.  Oh well, deal with it.

    Second Shelter. We did see a jumping mouse trying to get into “Crazy Hair’s” pack
    Privy…don’t forget your toilet paper and wipes.

    The journey continues…

    Remember it’s about the journey not the destination,

    Mercedes

    My AT Journal

    Slipster and the gang are all here

    You might be asking yourself who is “Slipster”?  That is my trail name.  I will not use real names, but everyone’s trail name for anonymity.

    Day 1.

    We began our day at 6:30 a m.  I knew that we would be on the trail for 3 days, so I quickly took a shower at the Standing Indian campground where we were camping.  Then coffee.  The luxury of real coffee.   “Whitey” was the camp chef that morning whipping up pancakes and sausage for everyone.  I packed my pack.  First putting in my mat and my jungle blanket, then my camp chair, my garabage bag with my clothes and toiletries in separate ziplock bags, a rain jacket, my mess kit, my 2 liters of spring water, my solar charger to charge my phone so I could take pictures, and trail mix for snacks.  All of that weighed 26 pounds.  I was also carrying lunch for our other hikers for the first day.  I carried a walking pole for added support.  We cleaned up camp, checked and rechecked our packs, and then put them in the back of Mr. Ed’s truck and we drove up to our starting point.

    45 minutes later…our starting point.

    It took three vehicles to get all 14 of us there.  They dropped us off, and we officially began our hike up to Moony Gap at 11:30 a m.  “Twinkle Toes”, “Red Face”, “Two-Pack”, “Bear Train”, “Dirty Chicken”, and “Chill” were in the lead with “Caboose ” bringing up the rear and the rest of us in the middle(single file of course).  12:30…lunchtime!  We had flatbread, singing cow cheese, summer sausage/pepperoni, pringles, and granola bars.  We also had Crystal Light packets for added sugar with our water.  I just drank water.  “Sleeping Singer” was having a rough time, but was able to eat and keep it down.  My pack became lighter(you pack out your trash).  Potty break and I felt better.  Move out hikers!  “Whitey” stayed with our nauseous hiker,but they kept moving.  Our goal for day 1 was 5 miles.  Lots of level ground through forest, but also lots of up and down. I am so glad I had a walking stick.  I kept looking down to make sure I didn’t trip on tree roots or rocks(after all this is mountain country).  I was hiking at a medium pace, but I wasn’t running like some of our lead hikers.  Oh youth! 2:30/3:00 p.m. we arrived at our Shelter.

    Scenic Overlook before our shelter. Beautiful.

    The Shelter is a covered wooden platform with a bench and a table.  There was a more modern privy, but the bees and flies were a problem.  Some of us braved it, some of us found trees.  Around our campsite were massive rhododendron trees with bumblebees humming.  Myself, “Whitey”, and “Bear Train” had lightweight tents, while the rest of the group had hammocks.  Some of us took a much needed power nap after setting up camp.  Afterwards “Red Face” and “Dirty Peanut Butter” went down the trail with a blue blaze on the trees to indicate a water source, to filter water for drinking and cooking.  “Hufflepuff” had dinner which was success rice, ham, and vacuum packed red beans.    Our two vegetarian hikers got their servings of beans and rice first and then ham was added.  It was tasteless, but “Whitey” rescued the day by providing salt/ pepper packets or hot sauce packets to add flavor.  Dessert was a granola bar.  We gathered all of our food and trash into a bear bag outside of camp just in case. Last bathroom break before dark.  The older boys made a fire because it was getting cool, and then…rain!  Everyone got into their tents or hammocks, which had a rain fly and hunkered down for the night.  I was out like a light.  “Whitey” was on bear duty unofficially.  “Sleeping Singer” sang to us all night(it was actually very funny because he doesn’t remember doing that).

    At Base Camp(Standing Indian) we had a visitor. There were at least two raiding coolers or just wanting lemon Oreos

    The journey is just beginning…

    Remember it’s about the journey not the destination,

    Mercedes

    Fall Marathon Training. AKA I hate/love running

    Game face? Or I got up too early and just ran 12 miles.

    The struggle is real.  I have been so focused on my Triathlon training that my running has suffered.  Now if you look at my training log, you’d find that I run at least 3-4 times a week.  However considering I have a Fall marathon in less than 4 months, I need to ramp it up.    Cross training has really been nice to my body.  Racing, not so much.  I now have a nagging hamstring.  I need to keep stretching it and foam rolling it to keep it from screaming at me.  

    Week 1:  Monday, swim/run; Tuesday, bridge repeats(why?  There is a damn bridge at the end of my marathon-frickin’ hate that); Wednesday:  track(speed work since I have a time goal); Thursday:  cross train(cycle); Friday:  rest day(my bum did not thank my inactivity); Saturday:  long run.

    A marathon is 26.2 miles-that’s like taking a one way trip from Jacksonville to Nocatee Town Center.  It takes hours to complete.  You never know how your body will react.  You can’t predict the weather.    You have to be careful with hydration and fuel.  One wrong step and you’ll be spending time in the port a let.  Or even worse the medical tent.  What are you wearing?  Watch out, there is a chance of chafing.  So many factors to consider.

    It is not raining, FL summers are no joke.

    I started with 10, I’m up to 12, next week 14.  What time do I start, with my other BRF’s in the same boat?  The sun has not even made an appearance(4:00 a m) ,2 hours and I made it to 9 drenched miles.  What made it better?  Train with a group, seriously training by yourself can really be dangerous.  Running that early in the morning-think safety in numbers.  A running friend told us about seeing a wolf on his run!  Yeah-no!  Find a training group.  Also think about carrying water with you in a hand held bottle or run a loop and hide water at certain places along the route.  No joke, you can get dehydrated quickly with the humidity in the summer.  Never take it for granted that water will be available.  I made that mistake on a super long run once, and it was horrid.  Shade is your friend, find some.  And make sure that your training plan coincides with your race calendar.  I noticed this morning I have a scheduled 16 miler the same weekend as the Tour de Pain races-oops!  No training plan should be set in stone.  Flexibility is key.  Thunderstorms, hurricanes, family vacation…juggle and make it work for you.  School/work is looming, I will be moving my super long runs.  November 12th I will be taper mad and ready to run.  

    Mind over miles

    It’s all a mental game.  You have a long run, and you’re dreading it; your mind says it’s too far, it’s too hot, you can’t do it…that’s what my mind was telling me the night before.  Believe  it or not, I felt anxious-for 12 miles?!  Yep even after doing 13 marathons, and dozens of half marathons…it happens to the best of us.  So the morning of , I broke up my run by thinking of it as one 8k towards Hodges’s Blvd, and an 8k back.  The worst part was just waiting to do those last 3 with  my Jax Galloway group.  I actually got grumpy(like when someone calls out in a race you’re nearly done but you’re not even close)-mindset is everything.  Grumpy-it seems to take forever, positive-it goes by quicker.  A trick I use to help me stay positive and upbeat is I smile when I run or cycle(can’t get that when I swim though).  It tricks my mind and hopefully inspires others to think if she’s smiling, it must be fun.  Try it you’ll be surprised.

    No matter what happens in the months leading up to it, I need to believe in my capability to accomplish those miles.  With hard work during the summer,with a degree of fun I can do it.  And so can you.

    Remember it’s about the journey not the destination,

    Mercedes

    Believe in yourself…my ocean Sprint story

    One of my proudest moments(photo courtesy of Heather A)

    When I first thought about doing a TRI 2 years ago, I didn’t swim very well, I had a fat tire Beach bike, but I knew how to run.  Who would ever thought I would accomplish my first ocean sprint TRI.  Now I know about freestyle vs breaststroke, a road bike and aerobars, and  wearing a TRI suit or kit during all three legs.  I’ve also become a USAT member, so I can do certified races.  My journey began on this crazy ride back in December 2014, when I signed up for My First TRI with Enjoy Fitness.  What made me sign up?  Hmm, that’s a good question, but I don’t know why.  I just did, and then I realized I needed to learn the rudimentary skills of efficient swimming because even though it was a super sprint( in a pool); I still needed to breathe(not hold my breath) , I needed to swim more than 50m, and I needed to learn not to cup my hands when I swim.  We joined the JCA and my swimming nightmare began.  Chris is a great swimmer so he tried teaching me.  Nope.  I read books.  Improvement.  Then injury-no TRI.  However I kept swimming.  Did I get better?  Yes and no, but I kept at it.  I bought a used road bike from a running friend, and began riding and trying out various routes and bike shorts(diaper shorts).  Our running group of ladies created The Cycling Goddesses, a non competitive team who train together.  They are clipping in, I have not gone that route.  And of course I began incorporating bricks into my training routine.  Bricks are bike and then run workouts(your legs do feel like jelly the first…ten times you do it).  I signed up for two super sprints in 2016(The Ultimate Tri sponsored by Stellar and My First TRI sponsored by Enjoy Fitness), and was able to complete them successfully.  I placed in my age group too.  Again the swim was the bane of the whole thing.

    I kept training.  I even tried my first attempt at an open water swim, and was told to keep practicing my pool swimming, so I did.  2017.  This was the year I would do my first ocean TRI!  My swim had taken a backseat since Labor Day, so I had to build up again.  I signed up for the Ultimate TRI, and completed it successfully but my damn swim was slower.  Why?!?  I knew why.  My old friend panic was still stalking me when I swam.  I couldn’t relax, which would lead to panic and not being able to breathe.  Then I really went out on a limb in May and I signed up for BFAS , a Sprint & Olympic TRI distance at Mickler’s Landing.   I opted for the Sprint ( 440 m swim, 16 mile bike , & 5k run). Okay,  I had 2 months.  Open water swimming with Buoys and Brews on Sundays or Mondays.  Damn panic, I failed again and again.  I was beginning to worry.  I had had one successful swim but grew so tired, I nearly drowned.  A guardian angel had my back that day and told me to float and then try to swim back to shore.  After that, I couldn’t do it.  Time was ticking…

    Another book about swimming, Total Immersion the revolutionary way to swim better, faster, and easier by  Terry Laughlin became my bible.  I did better.  Then another suggestion: run before you swim to relax yourself(thank you Rob C.), that really worked!  Whenever I had swim practice in my training log, that’s exactly what I’d do.  Time grew closer.  

    One week away.  Doubt, anxiety attacks, wild nightmares.  It was a horrible countdown.  I tried everything to calm down.  I read blogs from other triathletes, I trolled Facebook TRI groups, I cheered for other successful athletes, and encouraged others all the while freaking out about myself.  This was not taper stress, this was I don’t want to DNF or DNS stress.  904 Fitness had a really good article about becoming a triathlete and how you look at the swim as your own ocean track(400m).  I just ran Wednesday JTC Track, that’s not far! I could do this!

    Thursday.

    Packet pick up at Bird Legs Bicycles at Jax Beach.  I packed my gear bag.  I set out and then rethought my race kit(bathing suit and my Nuun kit)-nothing new.  I slept very well.  I was at peace.  

    Friday.

    At least I thought I was at peace.  I had the worst night ever.  My heart was beating out of my chest, I was hot, I was cold, I’m gonna die!  The only way I calmed down was by praying.  I prayed so much, I fell asleep for about 2 hours.  Then 4:15 a m and time for pre race eat and coffee.

    Novice wave(photo courtesy of Heather A.)

    I loaded everything and set out.  I got to Mickler’s just as the sun was coming up, it was beautiful!  I parked and started my walk towards the transition area.  I needed end caps for my bike handles, but other than that, my bike was good to go.  I had a volunteer help me with my TRI tats, and then set up my gear with my bike.  Potty break, and then headed to the beach.  The waves were calm and the water felt good.  I saw a couple of familiar faces, but decided I needed to do a run to relax.  I ran to the Olympic start flag and back, and made myself get in the water.  It’s not bad.  It’s not bad at all.  I see the buoys and lifeguards, I can do this ocean track!  Then I hear someone calling my name…it’s one of my BRF’s Heather!  Yay!  She is my rock and stays to watch all three legs and report back to my running peeps.  Did I ever tell you how lucky I am?  Now you know.  Novices(in Orange caps) are last-that’s me.  Two minutes…

    And it begins…

    I felt really calm the whole time.  I swam the breaststroke and even freestyle, but no panic, nothing.  I just swam.  I was well taken care of and watched by 3 lifeguards(Heather told me that after I finished).  I finished in 15:17.  Super slow but I never stopped!

    T1.  Time to ride.  I felt good and thanked as many volunteers and police officers as I could.  There was still vehicular traffic, but they gave me ample room.  The Nocatee intercoastal bridge was a bear, but I made it!  Around Nocatee( I did pass people), and up and over and back to Mickler’s for the run.

    Off I go ! (Photo courtesy of Heather A.)

    The run, usually my favorite part, but today it’s getting late and hot.  I have my Galloway timer and have it set for 1:00/:30.  Sprint and Olympic runners are going down old A1A where there is some shade but not much.  Olympic athletes have it way tougher with a straight shot to Sawgrass and not a tree in sight.  There is gatorade and water and it’s cold!!  There are also icy sponges-very nice!  There’s the turnaround and I’m headed back to the Finish.  2:01:37!  14th/15 female novices.  I did it!

    33:37 on the run-not too shabby.(photo courtesy of Heather A.)

    Yes, I am already thinking of racing another TRI, and see how I can improve my slow swim and my transitions.  I know, funny isn’t it?    If a TRI is in your future, know that you can do it!  Believe in your heart that you can do it.  Take swimming lessons if the swim is hard for you.  That’s what I plan to do.  Practice transitions(silly mistake on my part).  You can not believe how long it takes to do something that you do regularly(my T1 was 7 ½ minutes-yikes!).  Make bricks part of your workout week.  If you are doing a local race, then practice on the race course.  If you have to travel to it, find out if it’s hilly, elevation levels, etc.  And the most important thing, have fun!  Age group wins are great, but is that the real reason you decided to TRI?   Maybe…maybe not.  I’m here to push my limits and see what my unathletic body can do.  It’s definitely been a wild ride, and the story continues.

    Remember it’s about the journey not the destination,

    Mercedes

    All in…My Jacksonville Grand Prix journey

    Patriotic spirit

    The Jacksonville Grand Prix is a set of certified running races put on by First Place Sports.  Each one of these races can be a different distance, no they are not all 5k’s, and are spread out in the race calendar.  Starting last year, races were divided into Fall season and Spring season.  If you place in the top ten in your age group, you accrue points.  The person with the highest points overall wins overall winner, and top 3 per age group wins( you have to have 200 points and over).    JTC at their annual banquet, gives out the plaques to the winners at the end of the award ceremony.  Last season I was 8th in my age group with a total of 105 points.  

    This season my goal is to aim for the top 5 in my age group.  And so it begins.

    July 4th Celebration 5k is the first race in the Grand Prix.  I am there toeing the line.  Parking was a bear, but luckily we found a lot and parked.  10 minutes to spare!  It is hot(82 degrees at 7:20 a m), and sunny.  I despise heat, but I wasn’t worried because I had hydrated the night before.  I was pretty close to the start.  Again I was representing the JTC as a race team member, and saw several team members lining up too.  7:30 a m and while the Star Spangled Banner was blaring, my mind was wandering to Atlanta.  The first wave at Peachtree 10k was starting, I was really missing being up there!  7:31…boom…run!  Down Baymeadows past Goodby’s Creek to the longest mile ever (8:20-slow).  Left and first water stop.  Down Primrose and right on San Clerc.  2 miles.  17:18.  Drank water at the 2nd water stop and time for my faithful Galloway timer(I was going to try to run all the way, but my stomach had other plans).  I will not barf, I will not barf…(my mantra).  1:00/:30-thank you.  3 miles at San Jose Blvd and the turn towards the Finish!  27:38-6th in my age group!

    Fastie Amanda. 4 minutes ahead of me!

    I’m on the Grand Prix board!  My first 35 points!  I’m on my way.  Only  165 plus points to go.  Next races are in August and some of the hardest ones, Tour de Pain(3 races in 24 hours) and Summer Beach Run(5 miles of hell on the beach).  My goal is to finish these races without fainting or getting heat sick.  Last year these races were difficult and I didn’t even enjoy end of the races eats.  So mad at myself!  What’s different?  Track.  Do I enjoy running around and around the giant hamster wheel?  Nope, but that’s how you get faster.  Now just to embrace the suck of heat.  That’s the most difficult part for me.  Southern girl who loves cold.  Crazy stuff.  It’s a journey folks and I hope you follow along to see how I’m faring.

    Remember it’s about the journey not just the destination,

    Mercedes