Bittersweet Goodbye….

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My labor of love…..

Last week I was contacted by Seacoast Online to be interviewed about the 10th anniversary of Pumpkinman.  While I was thrilled and excited about the opportunity to talk all things Pumpkinman, I also realized this could be the platform I was searching for to announce my retirement, something I had been struggling with/wrestling with/ignoring/ denying for a few months.

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It’s never easy to leave a job and co-workers, but this was different.  Pumpkinman was never a job, the people connected with Pumpkinman were never “co-workers,” they were and are my friends.  Pumpkinman was my baby, it always will be. And while, over the years, I had been contacted to see if I would buy into the big named productions, I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t take Pumpkinman’s personality away by adding a corporate logo to its face.

But, the time has now come for me to move on.  I said ten years ago if I could make a go at this and make it successful I would do it till my daughters graduated high school.  Mia is now a sophomore at Boston University, and Lydie a senior, is planning to study in England in January and then off to college next fall,  so the timing was right and the time is now.

It’s never easy to say goodbye.

It’s bittersweet to leave what I have nurtured and watched grow into something more than just a triathlon.  More than just a race.  I have watched our community come together.  I have watched the likes of baseball and football coaches chatting with lycra clad athletes and finding commonalities among them.  I have watched student volunteers turn into athletes racing.  I have watched teachers and principals challenge one another to a racing duel.  I have watched elite athletes like Olympic Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson cross the finish line, and I’ve witnessed athletes like John Young (who is a dwarf) compete and succeed.  I’ve made some of my most dear friends because of Pumpkinman.

It was for me, the race that gave to me, far more than I could ever give it.

The towns and residents of South Berwick, Eliot, Berwick and North Berwick have embraced the race with such vigor and ownership, I sometimes feel like they don’t need me to lead the charge, and with that in mind, it was easy to gracefully pass the torch to my friend, Rachel.  Nothing will change about the event, no one will even miss me behind the scenes, especially since Rachel, Kyle and I have been glued at the hip for the last five years.

Next weekend will be bittersweet on so many levels.

Life changes in the blink of an eye.  And this year, has been one like no other.   The events that happened this year, don’t really have anything to do with why I am handing the reigns over to Rachel, but they did impact my decisions on how and when I choose to do it.

The first big life event was, I got divorced.  That was huge.  Jeff and I were together for 26 years; more than half our lives. He was and always will be an integral part of Pumpkinman.  Much of the safety on the roads is in part due to his diligence and constant watchful eye….he’s taught Brad (Rachel’s husband) well, so rest assured nothing will change.  Jeff also made sure I always found humor in the event every year.  Trust me I am a stressed out mess, but he always one way or another made me laugh at some ridiculous event that happened over the course of the weekend (who will ever forget naked man in transition – I don’t even think you had to be there to know the “blinding” story).

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I also sold the family home and moved to a little farmhouse in Berwick….which has been great and scary at the same time.  I’ve had to learn to be independent and prove to myself I can do things on my own (like removing the dead mouse that Bella killed as a gift to me).  The bonus is, I live just two miles from Spring Hill, so I have had a watchful eye on all the paving and road construction all summer.

If you follow me on social media, you know I am on the west coast a lot.  I love it there, and plan to move to the Pacific Northwest in the future.  What’s most exciting is my new adventure ….I’m starting a company!

My close friends know this but in a nutshell here’s the story (excerpt taken from the soon to be unveiled  website) scroll to the bottom if you want to skip this part….

The journey started in 2014 when Brady, my 14 year old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, was starting to hit the bumpy part of aging. He still had his spirit, but he was starting to need a little help getting up in the morning; he creaked, moved slowly and on some days he just didn’t get up.

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I was trying different nutritional supplements to help keep him active and happy but I kept coming across articles that had a common theme: recent innovation and research in an extract of HEMP called CannaBiDiol (CBD).  CBD was proving to have significant benefits for dogs, especially aging ones.  On the next visit to Mike the vet I asked about it and was surprised when he didn’t reject it outright. He’d been hearing more and more about interesting developments so I decided to dig deeper and see what I could do to help Brady.

Making version 1, 2 and 3……After reading everything I could about the science of CBD and what was going on, I tracked down a source and set about trying to make a treat.  Version 1 turned out harder than the average walnut and probably didn’t win on taste, but an hour after his first biscuit, Brady was walking about like he used to as a younger dog. The next day I witnessed a similar effect which really surprised me…I just didn’t expect such a dramatic change.

Batch after batch, I continued to improve the recipe. I learned more about CBD, where to get the best source and how to use in the recipe. Most importantly – I started to understand the right amount to use for the best effect.  And so began the task of making biscuits I would buy. Biscuits that were made well, blended from great ingredients, independently tested to the highest industry standards and give positive results. There were many biscuits burnt, long nights on the computer and a lot of trial and error.

My small kitchen became a hive of activity but it smelled delicious as different batches of biscuits cooled. Friends popped over to grab some for their dogs and before long I couldn’t walk thru town without someone stopping me, wanting some for their dog.

Brady and Austin……As the weeks passed Brady enjoyed life. He was a lot more active though he moved in a slower and more measured way, but occasionally I saw the puppy in him again. He was much more likely to regain his curiousness about something, to be more affectionate to me and even playful.

Austin, my 1 year old puppy couldn’t have been more different. He was in great shape and had no issues getting up…a ball of energy from 5:30am his energy ranged from full-on to exhausting!  At some point I let him try a biscuit and I was just blown away by how much he seemed to chill out and relax.

So began a nice few months of walks…Brady was happy to get out with Austin happy to trot along, still a puppy but less crazy. I got to spend brilliant time with them both and they enjoyed each others company. I couldn’t hold off the sands of time and one day Brady left us. Obviously,  it was sad beyond words but I was grateful having been able to spend so much active time with him. It wasn’t that his life had been extended, but that his enjoyment and quality of life was much higher.

And so we became Austin & Kat…..Word of my biscuits continued to spread. I received feedback from friends – I loved hearing how the treats were making a positive difference and after some encouragement decided to take a leap of faith. I enlisted the help of some awesome friends and began the pleasure and pain of starting the company (looking back I had no idea how hard it was going to be)!

Since Austin would sit patiently, waiting for me to finish yet another batch and since he’s been chief product tester it seemed only natural to put his name on there too.

So we are starting Austin & Kat , our bakery is in Spokane and we’ve partnered with Bumblebar (go buy one they’re yummy) to copack and distribute (Picky Bar – Pro Triathlete Jesse Thomas uses them too)…..

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If you’re still reading, thanks!  I’ve enjoyed every moment (both good and bad) these last ten years.  The journey has come full circle and I am excited at what lies ahead…I am also really scared, but at this point, if I wasn’t a bit scared, really excited and ready to take on the world, then I wouldn’t be alive.  I am also going to start racing again in 2017….I’ve not yet ruled out Ironman, but to be honest, Ironman took over my life, and made me forget and ignore what was really important.  I won’t ever judge anyone for taking the challenge on year after year, I just know for now, I need a bit of a different type of balance in my life.

oh….and yes, I did meet someone pretty cool too.  His name is Tim.  I hope you’ll get to meet him in the future.

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Spring in my Step.

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Where to start…

December 2013, was one of the hardest and most amazing months of my life.  While I had developed the most debilitating injury of my athletic career, I also embarked on a trip of a life time with the family to South Africa.  Bad and good.  Sometimes those world’s collide. In my case it was like a head on collision with the Acela Train!

Fast forward to April, 2014.  I’m trying to find the silver lining in this injury that has dropped me to my knees, left me in tears, and has changed me. I’ve withdrawn from races, the biggest one being Galveston 70.3 which takes place this Sunday and is one of my absolute favorites! Lemons to lemonade as my dear friend, Leslie said she did last year (and it obviously worked because this gal crushed IM 70.3 Oceanside this past weekend winning 45-49 and crushing all the 40-44 gals in the process)!  

So, Leslie wasn’t a cyclist (albeit she has Kona qualified a ton of times and raced 70.3 World’s too – so she obviously can ride).  She spent the last nine months surrounding herself with the top women cyclists out there in Cali (namely Julie Dunkle).  What she did was transform her cycling, Leslie became a cyclist and an amazing one at that.  So my achilles heal (no pun intended Leslie) is I am not a runner.  BUT RUNNING DOESN’T HURT!!  I can ride but I can only ride on the trainer (great power numbers too), but I am forced to stare at the ground because of the disc(s) injury in my neck (I need to see where I am going).  Swimming is also difficult due to the ridiculous amount of atrophy in my left shoulder, back and arm.  I can swim and am swimming, it’s just really slow.  So right now I work on form and consistency (2km three times a week seems to be about what I can handle).

BUT RUNNING DOESN’T HURT!! 

So JRM (coach extraordinaire) and I had a long conversation this week about a change of focus.  I have four solid years of Ironman training under my belt, two, sometimes even three IMs a year in the process, so I can step away from the bike for a little while and work on my running.  I’ve always, whimped out when I am racing the running part of triathlon.  Fear?  Who knows, but I want it and I want it really bad now.  I want to be a runner!

Take a look at just a few days of intense focus!

Tuesday, I did an EASY 6 mile run….I am listening to coach and running easy when I am told!

Wednesday, was a progressive run (no looking at the watch for pacing). The instructions were…Perceived Exertion but progress through the run…..SPOT ON!

Thursday, was 15 minutes off a very hard two hour stare at the ground ride which included 30, 20, 15, and 10 minute sets at 70.3 pacing….trust me the 15 minute run was easy, if I broke 9 minute miles that would be amazing, needless to say I am pretty confident I did not run more than 1.6 miles in that 15 minutes.  But coach said easy, so easy it was….and that prepared me for today’s track.

Friday….OH MY GOSH! Main set was 3×2 miles at 10K pacing (200m), threshold pacing (200m) repeat….I haven’t run like this ever, especially this early in the season.

ImageI took complete ownership of this place that has scared me time and time again.  I got in my car after the session and just smiled.  Even before looking at the file I knew I won!  

Lemons to Lemonade.

On another note, I’ve been listening to lots of new music.  I was in a Eric Church, Luke Byran, Miranda Lambert rut, and I am exploring stuff my girls are shocked I am listening to!  Take a listen to the teenage phenom Lourde, 17 years old seriously??

Finding new music can make you happy and help you see beauty in things you may have missed before.  I want to stop and smell the roses, I think I have been forgetting to do that lately.  But, with my new found love in my running, I have a SPRING IN MY STEP.

Lemons to Lemonade.

 

 

It’s no makeup Monday and Love your Selfie Day

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Honestly….we all need to do this.

Step away from all the baggage we carry around all day and be thankful for who we are.  I’ve had a rough time as of late, looking in the mirror and not liking the person who is staring back at me….she comes in three versions….

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Cleaned up Betty Girl…..

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New York Selfie girl (little makeup)

AND…..

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#NoMakeupMonday girl

Today, the sun is shining bright and the sky is blue.  If I am to be a role model, an inspiration to my girls, then I need to like all three of the women I am.  Each of them serves a purpose, but the one who probably has the most to offer, is the one who isn’t hiding behind a mask.

Take those layers off today, and share the best you with those around you.

The End of Winter Days

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I didn’t plan on writing about my dog today, but Jeff and I were speaking about Brady this morning.  Jeff had stumbled across a beautiful list of twenty things about dogs; and #19 struck a very difficult cord for us.

“Take care of me when I get old, just as much as you cared for me when I was a puppy. When I was young, you spent so much time cuddling me and touching my soft fur. My fur might not be as soft and I am no longer small, but my love for you has only grown stronger.”

Brady just turned 12, he’s a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, born on Super Bowl Sunday 2002 (hence his name). He bound into our lives when we needed him most.  We had lost our beloved Golden, Palmer, that previous fall, and our hearts were ready to welcome a new family member.  We didn’t pick Brady, he picked us.  We were very lucky to get him, as there were very few Toller breeders in the country.   As luck would have it, we moved into our new home in Eliot, Maine, and Brady arrived to christen our new wood floors just two days later.  He was so full of himself, the “cock of the walk” Jeff would say.

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His energy was contagious, and we ran with him, hiked with him, vacationed with him and let him teach us about wild abandon. Sometimes, we forget about the things that mean the most around us.  We take for granted the dog waiting patiently at the door when we come home.  We get frustrated by the smudge marks on the glass panes, realizing only later, that his nose was pressed up against it just waiting for the sign of my car, or for me to head down the driveway on my bike.

He moves so much slower now.  He won’t always “go” outside, especially if it is cold.  He decides to go on walk abouts when not leashed; and even recently spent the day in jail (fittingly on Super Bowl Sunday).  But he has his moments of wild abandon, where everything in his body feels good and he flies thru the powder snow playing once again like a pup.

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He sleep a lot; and doesn’t always respond to his name (even after offering cookies and cheese); but he still is at the door the minute we walk in. Waiting to give us that bit of love he so instinctively and without reservation can.

If you’ve met Brady, you know he’s a special dog.  He’s relentless in his pursuit of EVERYTHING (especially tennis balls).  I know he’s touched many….I’ve watched the FedEx man stay and throw the ball for him during the height of Christmas deliveries. I’ve watched from my window the lawn mowing crew, get off the riding mowers to play with him.  I’ve watched my daughters friends snuggle with him in front of the TV. I’ve watched each of my girls take him on long solo walks sharing their secrets only with him; and I’ve watched Jeff love this dog so deeply.

So we wait, knowing this will probably be the last winter Brady will spend with us.  I have a hard time forgiving myself for getting frustrated with him, when I know he can’t entirely control his behavior.  Today, Jeff and I decided, it’s our turn to make his life special, the way he has made our lives special.  To make his end of winter days loving and peaceful, and when he has those moments of reckless abandon,  we will join with him and be kids, too.

Today, I sat on the floor for an hour, and brushed him and rubbed his belly before the girls headed off to school.  He looked at me with those big brown eyes and I know he was saying, “thank you mom.”

My amazing journey in California

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What should have been a homecoming to this….

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has unfortunately turned into this….

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Late nights and celebrations are too much for this New Englander homebody, and I am paying for it now. Ahh, the dreaded FLU.  On the bright side, I am back to Kona weight…..hmmm, probably not such a great thing.

This adventure was multifaceted in so many ways, it combined visiting and networking with friends, sponsors, and business partners all while allowing me to play, train, relax, celebrate, drink wonderful wine and eat delicious food in beautiful Southern California.  My first stop, was an annual trip to the wonderful home of Leslie and Geoff Weathersby.  Leslie is the owner of Foodsense Now; and a bada$$ triathlete making her comeback this year, after a tough second half of 2013. Watch out ladies racing 45-49, she is a FORCE to be reckoned with (I’m secretly happy we aren’t racing together this year)!

While visiting with Les, I got the chance to visit with my friend and Mama Betty (one of our teammates christened her that), Kristin Mayer of Betty Designs.  Over drinks and dinner, Kristin shared with me the exciting new designs for early Spring (ok, February, but seriously, that’s spring in SoCal). And, let me tell you….I will be broke.  The collection is amazing.  You will not be disappointed…..here’s a sneak peak.  Can you say OMG???  If you like what you see PM me for savings details.

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Ok fast forward….food, drink, long runs (yes, almost 16 miles one day and some even in the sand), my longest swim since injury (1200 meters whoot whoot), great conversation, an open house tour (yep, 3.1 million over looking a canyon or something), a masters swim party (topic of conversation: “you look cool with pants on”), meet Beth Walsh in person (finally, what a radiating doll), and great food and wine (I think I said that twice)….and back to the freeway I go.

Onward to LA.

My first ever Triathlon Business International Conference!  I am so excited, because this is where it is at!  And, once again, I get to use my somewhat overused phrase, LITTLE FISH BIG POND.  That’s how I feel when I am in the Tri World in California.  This is the mecca. The birthplace. I become one big giant sponge when I am there.  I border on ADHD because there is so much to take in.  This year, however, I have some grounding individuals around me.  Katelyn who has now joined the medical team at Pumpkinman, Jennifer from IMAthlete (a long time friend), Mark Walter the owner of SunMultisports, and Brian Hughes owner of Fast Splits Multisport are all there to keep me from sensory overload.

The conference itself is engaging to say the least.  Travis Tygart synonymous for the ultimate Lance demise was one of the keynote speakers (I sat front and center, and was on the edge of my seat listening – absolutely fascinating to hear him – albeit I knew just about everything he said).  His address, led many to tweet (including me) about his commentary….which infuriated LA.  So much that, he tweeted and requested to come to the conference YIKES!  But after much hoopla and rearranging and unrearranging his lawyers and team suggested it best he not show!  Honestly, I did want him to come. It would have been maybe his last chance to ever have an audience of industry leaders and professionals in one room. I wanted to see what he would say.  Mike Reilly was the MC for the entire weekend, and he tweeted this (ironically in response to ME!)….

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ok….enough about the conference….let’s get to the TBI Active Awards Conference.

You may remember my HUGE PR, Facebook and Twitter Campaign to get  Pumpkinman nominated for some of the awards….well we did.  We were nominated and made the top five for:  Best Small Race, Best Race for Beginners, Best Swag and Bucket List Race.

We took home awards in:  Best Race for Beginners and Best Swag (check out some of the other players)!  This was no joke!!

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Mike Reilly and myself (taken at like midnight – which was 4am EST time hence the way I look BLAH)!

The rest of the Conference was a blur, as I wandered around like Meryl Streep after winning her 5000th award…or was it more like Taylor Swift after she won the first time….who knows, but I felt like Belle of the Ball.

Katelyn and I got the chance to play tourist in the afternoon after the conference wound up and we found ourselves on Venice Beach.  What a freak show!  We took lots of silly photographs and had lots of laughs and it was a great way to wrap up a very successful conference!

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And, then, Tuesday night this appeared at the hotel door…..

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So I packed her in my suitcase, and headed home.

The End.

Winter Blues and Bliss

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How can something so beautiful as fresh fallen snow cause such conflicting feelings?

Blues and Bliss….

I love snow storms, they’re beautiful, calming and quiet.  I am forced to stay home, build a huge fire, put on big comfy sweaters and cook food that warms the soul.  When the storm finishes, I rush to get my running shoes on. I want to be the first footprints in the snow, I want to have snowflakes on my eyelashes and see my breath as I run down the beautiful streets in town.

And then, it turns ugly.  The salt and sand muddies the sides of the road.  Drivers buzz me while I run because they’re late, don’t expect me, or resent the fact that I am relishing in the outdoors.  It’s cold, the black ice appears on every corner, and the frost heaves fill with salty puddles of snowmelt.  My dogs drag “blobs” of frozen snow in every time they go out and it melts in huge puddles that I step in with socks on.  The cat refuses to go outside so liter box duty increases ten fold.

And then, the world stops, because it snows again.  And the Blues once again, become Bliss.  I need that….it’s only been two days.  But today, after my run the sun crept behind the clouds and it got dreary and cold; and its Blues all over again.

New England is getting ready for the next arctic blast and another huge snowstorm.  And I, sit here patiently waiting on hold with Jet Blue to switch my flight from Boston to sunny San Diego on Wednesday morning to Thursday.  My bliss will now start Thursday, as I head off for my annual SD Leslie Myers Weathersby adventure.  It’s the girls and Geoff this time around!

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Breakfast, it’s for dinner too!

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Sometimes, we crave things like breakfast at dinner time.  Here’s a quick Almond Flour Gluten Free Pancake recipe that is sure to please.  Add a side of fresh fruit and bacon (yes, BACON) and you are good to go!

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Almond Coconut Pancakes

Prep time:  5 mins

Cook time:  5 mins

Total time:  10 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill almond flour/meal 
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus a little for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon White Rice Flour
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • dash of sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • real maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons almond oil

Instructions

  1. Prepare your cast iron skillet with the almond oil.  If you aren’t using a cast iron skillet, GET ONE.  They conduct heat better, once cured provide amazing flavor to food, and can be used for stove to oven dishes.
  2. Whisk your eggs in a medium-large sized bowl.
  3. Add your coconut milk and whisk together with eggs.
  4. Next add your almond flour and mix together.
  5. Then add your shredded coconut, white rice flour, baking soda and mix together.
  6. Lastly, add in your honey, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Mix together thoroughly.  The batter will be very thick.
  7. Turn the heat down on your pan, the pancakes cook slowly because of the thickness of the batter.
  8. Scoop the batter into the pan and spread it with spoon, careful not to pull the batter up from the pan.  Cook each side 2+ minutes, watch for burning, but also make sure the inside is cooked.
  9. To serve, sprinkle a bit on coconut on top and heated maple syrup.  
  10. ENJOY!