Monday, March 30, 2009

*70.3 = 1.2 mi swim + 56 mi bike + 13.1 mi run

* My sister Beth just called to ask what the heck the title of my post was supposed to mean. Here I am acting all cool writing out just "70.3" which is the technical term used to describe a 1/2 Iron Man triathlon. When in reality - I just learned what 70.3 meant a few days ago. I'm sure I'd have my cowbell confiscated if anyone ever found out that I forgot to take off my bike helmet before I went running.*

** For those of you with bloglines, or whatever program you use to read this blog, don't you love how I've re-posted this same entry over 10 times today, due to various edits?? Charlie read it once and had to correct several of my inaccuracies. Then one of my friends called. Then my sister called. Then Charlie re-read it and had more to say. Next time, I'm having him write the post.**

Before I dive in to this post about my husband's triathlon yesterday, I want to make it clear that I'm not planning to make my website private. I've already been down that road and have decided against it. Today, I received several e-mails from people who are really concerned that I might be heading in that direction. Rest assured, I'm not.

The purpose of my post the other day, in addition to pointing out once again that there are some cRaZiEs in this world, is to let people who read this blog know that I purchased my own domain and at some point, hopefully soon, I'll be creating what I hope to be a better website.

That's it. No more, no less.

We good?

Okay then!

Speaking of crazies in the world... how crazy do you have to be to get out of a warm bed at 5:30 in the morning and intentionally go jump in to a 57 degree ocean with HUGE swells and a massive current alongside 200 other crazies men?

The triathlon that Charlie competed in yesterday, pitted my husband and his fellow relay team members alongside real live Navy Seals. In my opinion, Navy Seals are the baddest of the bad ass when it comes to physical fitness.

From the website: This triathlon is the only "grassroots" race that features a cold ocean and surf swim, the discipline and endurance of a windy bike ride and the mind-bending harassment of a soft sand and pavement run.

Charlie's leg of the race was to swim 1.2 miles in the open ocean, with huge rolling swells and a water temperature of 57 degrees. He completed his part in just over 30 minutes.

And while that was impressive, it was even more impressive seeing the man that was carried down to the water at the start of the swim - and back to the transition area when he was finished with his swim - because he was a paraplegic.

Can you see him back there with his arms over the guys in yellow shirts? I would have snapped off a better picture but a millisecond after this photo was taken, I was nicely asked to move out of the transition zone. Something about my big old stroller and four small children and busload of gear was blocking the athletes from getting their bicycles. Apparently, they aren't concerned with me capturing the best photos I can for this blog.

When Charlie was out of the water, he secured the race chip to our neighbor, Tom, who then furiously set off on a 56-mile bike ride that he completed in just under two and a half hours.

Tom is an ANIMAL on a bike. He maintained a pace of approximately 25 miles per hour, with a monster head wind. He passed every single person on the course except for four of the elite athletes. Here he is grabbing a water bottle from the team's relay runner, Carl. Poor Carl had to jump out of the way before he was mowed over by the guys that were trying to keep up with Tom.

And while that was pretty impressive, it wasn't quite as impressive as the paraplegic that used his arms to propel his body for 56-miles in the most horizontal recumbent-style bicycle I've ever seen.

We set up camp and remained on an overpass for the entire time it took Tom to ride his bike four times up and down the silver strand of Coronado Island.

I packed enough food to feed a small army which was fortuitous because the cool breeze from the ocean, the over cast day, and the salt air made our children ravenous. To the point that they never stopped eating. The entire two hours we sat on that bridge.

The only break they took from eating was when they crawled on to their father's lap for a nap - or crashed out in the stroller.

Meanwhile, I stood at the apex of the bridge and rang a cowbell as hard as I could for everyone that was peddling up the hill, while shouting "DIG! DIG! DIG!! FEEL THE BURN!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!"

I'd never rung a cowbell at a race before. But I think I might have found my new calling in life. I can honestly say that it was one of the funnest things I've ever done.

Everyone needs to go buy a cowbell and stand on the side of a road and ring it for absolute strangers who are competing in a race. The tired looks of appreciation - heartfelt smiles - and screams of THANKS!! - that I received from hundreds of people were awesome. Seriously. Go buy yourself a cowbell and then find out when the next race will be in your town.

When Tom finished his bicycle leg, he rendezvoused with the team's relay runner in the transition area.

The timing chip was strapped to Carl's ankle and then he took off to run a half marathon, the majority of which was in sand. And seeing as the tide came in while he was running, he had to run on soft sand at a slope - or - in the surf. At no point did I wish I was out there. Infact, all along, I happily rang my cowbell and thought, "Thank God I'm NOT out there!!"

Carl is a fast runner and was only passed by a couple people.

Including this guy from Kenya.

We stayed on the beach for the entire one hour and forty minutes that it took Carl to complete the course. And while we sat there, it was awesome to watch all of the athletes who had flown in from all over the world, participate in this grueling race.

There were a lot of people that were there as part of a team. It warmed my heart to see that there was an entire team from MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas. This is the very hospital where my friend, Deana, is currently undergoing treatment for her aggressive form of lymphoma.

From what I gathered in talking with people manning the tent, the athletes for the team are comprised largely of cancer survivors, who had been treated at MD Anderson. Yeah. If you could see just how fast these people were moving, I don't think that the "treatment" that they received was limited only to cancer.

Bionic body parts, anyone?

Just seeing these people who had defeated cancer out on this extreme terrain made me smile.

This guy made me smile, too.

I loved his jersey that read, "This One's For You, Mom!"

Once Carl was in the homestretch, we pushed our stroller through deep sand to the Finish Line. Our stroller that was buried under three guys duffle bags, water bottles, towels, a diaper bag and a wetsuit. This stroller brings new meaning to the word "Sag Wagon."

This was the first time I'd ever been to a finish line so soon after the start of a race. Considering I'm usually IN the race and among the LAST to arrive at the end.

Soon after arriving at the finish line, we learned that Charlie's relay team was in 17th place out of the 270 participants. In fact, his relay team won second place in their age category. They beat last years first place winning team by 37 minutes and they might have won first place this year if not for a guy who ran a half marathon in sand in an hour and five minutes.

And while it was extremely impressive that these three men raced a total of 70.3 miles in just over four hours, I was amazed by the paraplegic who completed the entire race by himself.

Once we found out that Charlie's team had won an award, we decided to stick around for the ceremony. By the time they finally got around to announcing the second place winner of the race, at least four hours had passed since the race had been over. During that time we collected all kinds of fun souvenirs.

Like a J├Ągermeister beach ball.

I'm sure this will be a huge hit at our church picnic.

But at the end of the long day, the guys collected their trophies and had the opportunity to meet the Admiral and shake his hand.

On our way back to the parking lot, Charlie and his team members were talking about how they all needed massages. Of course I couldn't bite my tongue before I blurted out that I had a tougher work out than all three of them combined.

Think of it!

I got four small children up and dressed and fed and out of the house before 6:30 AM, and then I had to RUN with a double stroller full of four kids from a parking lot one mile away to the start of the race. And then, I spent the next nine hours moving from one event to the next with my cheery group.

Do you know what I think when I look at this picture?

Someone needs more COWBELL!!


  1. Totally awesome and inspiring!

    I ran the run portion (that's repetitive, huh?) of the CAF half-Ironman a few years back. It includes a couple of miles up Torrey Pines Road. A guy with one leg totally passed me. I was so impressed and inspired. And slow. I was really, really slow, too.

    Good job!

  2. So, do tell. Is there a story behind the Yankees cap and the Red Sox cap within one team? I'm somewhat new to your blog. If you blogged about it before, just send me to the appropriate post.
    BTW, I'm in NH and a Red Sox Fan.
    You asked in a previous post if we come back to see the answers to these questions. I don't have the memory I used to, so I use the email follow-up button.

  3. You HAVE to come to my 1/2 marathon and ring your cow bell!!!! Please? Please? Please? NJ shoreline is SO much...uglier than CA. Don't you want to come experience it?

    In all seriousness, your hubby's an inspiration. And so is that Parapalegic. I only have to run 13.1 miles. On the road. While looking at a beach. At 7:30am. If they can do THEIR races...I can at least FINISH mine!

  4. Wow! Way to go, Charlie! And way to go you for ringing that cowbell for all the participants. That sounds like so much fun. I know I LOVE to hear strangers cheer me from the sidelines when I race, so I imagine that a cowbell would be even better. I think I may have to do that the next time there's a race around that I'm not participating in...

  5. I'm off to bed, crying I'm laughing so hard about your cowbell.

    You rock.

  6. I absolutely loved this post! This post was so much fun. I'm ringing a cowbell for you right now!

    This is why we watch the Las Vegas marathon every year and sing to all the running Elvi (Elvises?). It is sooooooo much fun!

    Why don't you two dress as Elvis and come do it next year!

  7. WAY TO GO, GUYS! You rock! yes, even you, Jenna!

  8. look at Carolyn at the last pic. she looks so cute!!! LOL

  9. Jacqui: I'll tell you something crazy. Some of my very best friends are Yankee fans. It's the oddest thing seeing as I'm a die hard Sox fan. But really, a lot of those Yankee fans are good people. Even though they root for the suckiest baseball team in all of history. ;)

    California is such a huge melting pot and people are very migratory. It's not like living in New England where most of the people that live around you are 5th or more generation of people that have lived in that same exact area. (at least that's been my experience).

    As a result, we've developed some very good friendships with people that have arrived here from anywhere and everywhere.

    I think that the fact we have Red Sox and Yankee fans on the same triathlon team, just goes to show how Charlie and I are willing to look beyond our friend's character flaws.

    I'M KIDDING. The rivalry is totally fun and we always have a great time. Especially when the Sox are a few games ahead...

  10. great post!!!
    yes, get them little cowbells.

  11. Whoa!! That is awesome! Not sure what I liked more in this story, Charlie & his buddies, The Parapalegic, the guy with "this one's for you Mom" shirt or the cowbells! All so fantastic. I am really impressed.

    I say bring a portable cd player next time too... along with the cowbell and bull horn! ;-)

    Great Job Guys! Marg.

    PS By the way, if we're doing a tri in October... your gonna have to work on warming up that ocean -- 57 degrees is just too cold for me.

    You can do it. Look what you've accomplished so far!!!!!

  12. there isn't one part of this post that isn't awesome! from you getting the kids and gear up and out the door to the men that not only raced but kicked butt in the process to the guy that did it on his own. awesome stuff... a cure is on the horizon!

  13. The more I think about it... the more I think we need to "attempt" something like this too. Why let the guys have all the fun?

    Who knows...We probably will come in 2nd... ALTHOUGH it may be 2nd from the last!! It sounds fun! Just need one more team member...hmmm...Amy? Geology chick? Lisa, Simplesweeter? Regina? Mom? anyone??

    Marg ;-)

    PS I'm serious.

  14. What a fantastic day! Thanks for sharing--I loved all the photos. I'll be showing my hubby tonight as he just started preparing for his second tri.

    A friend lent our kids her cowbells last summer for the triatlon. I just thought it was strange since I didn't know people did that. But it was'll have to get the kids some too!

  15. Because of this inspiring post, I am TOTALLY buying a cowbell and taking it to this year's NYC Marathon to cheer on my brother-in-law and the thousands of other runners participating in the race.

    And congrats to you and your team, Charlie! It makes me want to get up off the couch and start swimming/running/biking again. And I will. I will. With the help of more cowbell!

  16. You are such a great storyteller Jen!

    Contemplating how I could use more cowbell in my life...

  17. Great job supporting the athletes! LOVE the cowbells! Every race I've run someone has rung a cowbell and every single time it made me smile. I ran the Chicago Marathon one year and there was a little old lady probably in her 80s standing outside her high rise beating a wooden spoon on a frying pan. She was there when I went by at 8am...and still there when a friend of mine who was walking went past 3hrs later.

    Congrats to Charlie and his team. Great race! And absolutely amazing you mobilized and entertained 4 kids through it all!!

  18. Very inspiring! Great job to everyone!

    And I have that same stroller. LOVE IT.

  19. I just wanted to say thank you. I am one of those people who get a huge smile on their face when someone rings the cowbell and yells at me. Even though it is a complete stranger. I love it!

    Congrats to your husband and his group!

  20. Way to go Charlie and crew!
    I had no idea about the cowbells! We have many races in my city May-Nov and we often sit out and cheer as the runners pass. My hands are usually sore from clapping~ can't wait to get my cowbell.

    (Ummm... where would one get a cowbell?!)

  21. I can't tell ou how proud I am of you and Charlie. He is truly a winner I don't care where he finishes, he is one special guy.

  22. OK... Marg! I hate swimming in the ocean (maybe it's because I hate wearing a swim suit), so I'll ride or run... I'm in!

  23. One of many cuzzins'4/1/09, 12:28 AM

    LOVE the cowbell!!! Boston Marathon is a few weeks away and we always watch the runners arriving in Boston. This year my hands won't hurt from clapping because I'm bringing a cowbell.

    Charlie and his team did awesome. Very impressive...especially since he had a teammate with ...ahem, ahem... a Yankees cap on his head?? Say what?

    Poor Margaret is still smoking that race?...Ya, right!...Keep puffing away Maggie!!!

    Congrats to Charlie & team on completing the race not to mention their placement. Wowee!! Great job!!

  24. Well done on all the cheering - I know where your coming from.

    I have watched my husband do 8 full ironmans, about 15 halfs and more triathlons than I care to remember. The part I am most proud of is when he crossed the finish line with our three kids in his final race in 2006 (before we moved here). I took pride in the fact that I stayed from the start and cheered him at every possible position. What I loved most - the 2nd lap of the run. We would drive out to where there were no crowds. Then we would get the local paper (that had all the numbers and names of the competitors). With the kids we would work out who was coming, where they were from etc. Then we would cheer for them by name, their faces would light up and they would try to jog a bit faster. We would do this until Jason came past on his last lap - then we would dash into town to watch him finish. The kids were always good. Regardless of age (last race the youngest turned 4 the day before). Race went for 17.5 hours. We were always there until the end. My In laws have a cow bell - I try to avoid them like the plague.

  25. Oh, and get the kids little hand clappers. As you move them side to side they clap. And it's a sound you can put up with for hours on end (unlike a cowbell).

    It is such a positive experience for your kids. Adults training to be healthier, work together and achieve a goal. You just did your home schooling for the week.

  26. I LOVE watching races and being a cheerleader. BEST DAY EVER -- spending my 10th anniversary in HI with my dh watching the Ironman Championships. :) No cowbell - thunder sticks!

    My oldest got her 1st sunburn (BAD MOM) watching her dad do the Superfrog :) (many moons ago)

  27. What a wonderful adventure for all of you. Congratulations to Charlie he looks great. I am very proud of you Guy.
    Great for the family to all participate. What a way to spend a day.