Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cast of Characters; In Which Everyone Gets New Nicknames

Looking back over the training season, I have a lot of people to be very grateful for.  You just can't do this sport alone - it takes a tribe.  So, in the grand tradition of giving people silly nicknames (we'll say to protect their identities), this post is to introduce some of the major players in my triathlon life and give them some well-deserved gratitude for all they've done.

Jedi and I standing at the top of Mt. Wachusett on our anniversary -
the same spot we got married 8 years prior.
First shout out has to go to my husband, who shall henceforth be known as The Jedi.  This guy has willingly taken the brunt on my whining, my ditching him and the kids for workouts.  He's sherpa-ed the kids through several races.  Given endless foot rubs and patiently listened to me cry about my many injuries.  He's endured several training rides with me (including the one pictured) that can only be described as spousal abuse.  And he still loves me.  Clearly he is crazy.

Why The Jedi?  A couple of reasons, first being that he has an uncanny way of things turning out the way he wants.  "The Force is Strong with Him".  He has never had a bad roommate, been out of a job, or had a bad place to live.  He got to marry me (lucky duck), and be a stay at home dad.  He once conjured a grizzly bear out of nowhere while we were hiking just by saying "it sure would be neat to see a bear while we're out here" (I disagreed).  The second reason has to do with our martial arts backgrounds - that is in fact how we met.  Being raised on Star Wars, I've always been a sucker for men in silly pajamas, so when I met Mike I fully indulged my Luke Skywalker crush.  It was love at first sight.

Younger Jedi and I with our training partners and teachers

The next important man in my triathlon life to thank is my coach Sheriff.  Sheriff and I are childhood friends - before he became a big time actor and personal trainer in New York City, he starred opposite me in several embarrassing school plays.  The first of which being Robin Hood, in which he played the Sheriff of Nottingham and I was his wife.  We were ten.  It was great.  After moving up through middle and high schools with many more embarrassments like national science competitions (which we won) and marching band (I was the drum major, he played... I want to say xylophone?), he grew up to be a great athlete and USAT coach, and I grew up to be, well... me.  But he still believes in me even though he knew me when I thought pegged jeans were cool, and I still trust him to coach me even though he spent a year of Ms. Dunning's science classes sitting behind me throwing paper into my excessively permed hair.

The Sheriff now - kick*ss triathlete

Me and the Sheriff then.  No I wasn't a cheerleader - it was the
marching band Halloween parade and I was in costume.
I can only assume his costume was "plumber"

On the heels of that childhood memory, let me tell you about another girl that inspires the heck out of me - another childhood friend, who shall be known as [you guessed it] Maid Marion.  

Me and Maid Marion in Robin Hood
So that was Maid Marion when we were ten.  And this is her now - a National Champion autocross driver, marathoner, mom of two kids, and owner of a Baby Boot Camp franchise in New Jersey.  Easily one of the most amazing women I know, and the complete opposite of some chick that needs to hang out and be rescued by a band of outlaws:

Marion planking with her kiddos

Behind the wheel of her car, when she looks like she be lying across the hood

Introducing another marathoner, Merlin.  Merlin is the cofounder of Girls Gone Healthy Wellness Coaching.  I met Merlin last year as our kids were on the same soccer team.  This was well before I started running.  We stayed in touch, and back in the spring I called her and her cofounder Jill for some advice.  It was Merlin who convinced me to join the gym, to get up out of bed and train, and who first casually suggested "since you already bike and run, why not do a triathlon?".  

I call her Merlin because she is a wizard (and there aren't really any good witch names that don't have bad connotations) and because she gives great practical advice.  She is wise. She has the power to transform you into a completely different person with her advise and encouragement.  She is also a potions master - a seller of the Shaklee brand wellness products, she has nearly completely cured her own son of allergies, and given me several supplements for both myself and my kids that have been tremendously helpful.  She also appears out of nowhere when you are in trouble.  Like when I strained my knee - she was at my door immediately with alfalfa to help it.  Ditto when my son had intractable vomiting.  She even conjured herself, with two kids in tow, to my first sprint triathlon just to cheer me on - which boy did I need!

Gypsy and I at our first sprint tri

My true partner in crime is my triathlon training partner, Gypsy.  Like Merlin, Gypsy just might have magic powers.  For one thing, she is a petite girl, and yet I swear to all above she gets taller when she runs.  When this girl sprints - her legs and arms grow six inches.  She is FAST.  She also juggles being the mom of FOUR girls with a calm that I can only gawk at.  In fact, this nickname truly came to mind because once I told her I made my own daughter cry by telling her I was going to sell her to gypsies.  To which the real Gypsy said, "Oh don't worry I tell my kids that all the time".  Not alone here!!  It is also Gypsy that has convinced me to sign up for a 70.3 next spring, so I'll be needing her powers then.  You'll be hearing a lot more of our adventures together, I'm sure.

Then there is my bestie, Legos.  (The artist previously known as Jess).  I call her Legos partially because her son is uncannily obsessed with them - he is four and can follow directions and assemble kits that would take a teenager hours, but also because she is just a great, classic, awesome person to be with.  There is no situation in life in which it isn't fun to play with her.  She gamely came out with me for the Red Rock Warrior Challenge Triathlon, and I think might be heading towards another sprint with me next year.  She inspires me daily with her commitment to health and her impressive weight loss journey since having her second adorable child.  Next up, Legos and I will be taking our kids on the Color and Glow run Saturday night - stay tuned for that post!  What could go wrong running 3 miles with two four year olds, a five year old, a thousand strangers, and a bunch of people throwing paint?

Legos and I after a color fight at the Color Run earlier this year

Another bestie is Rio.  Yes, as in Duran Duran's "Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand".  Because that's what she used to blast in the dorm after yelling "30 second study break!" out her door.  This chick moved out to San Fransisco a few years ago and made me feel even more slovenly than I already did while pregnant, nursing, pregnant again and nursing, etc. by joining a running club and starting to knock off half marathons like it was no big thang.  Well payback is a b*tch, because Rio got hitched out there is now just a few weeks away from becoming a mommy herself.  To celebrate the fabulousness that is us, we are going to run the Raleigh Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon together in April of next year.  Even odds as to who will have an easier time getting in shape for that distance - the new mom or the train wreck that usually me.  Good times.

Pretty sure this was me and Rio on my 21st birthday....

Another friend I have a feeling you're hear more about is Hummingbird.  Number 346 at the Red Rock Warrior Challenge - she is a runner who has been bitten by the triathlon bug.  She and I have something else in common - in our very small town, we actually both own home bakeries.  She is an incredibly talented artist in addition to bad*ss runner.  I call her Hummingbird both for one of her signature recipes (Hummingbird cupcakes), but also because she is fast on her feet and very precise in her cake decorating.  In baking and decorating, I have a style that I like to call "impressionistic".  When I make a mistake, I cover it up with frosting or a flower or something.  Hummingbird's corners are always perfectly defined, her decorations spotless.  This girl has patience and determination. I'm looking forward to training more with her in the future (though she really needs to get a bike.  HINT).

Hummingbird, me, and Legos

My next shout out is to someone that I couldn't come up with a good nickname for as she defies description, my sister in law, Erin.  Owner of Sykes Fitness Training, mom to my adorable niece and wife to my lovable but often stubborn brother, this girl may actually be the nicest person on the planet.  An accomplished runner, cyclist and now triathlete, Erin puts more effort and genuine caring into her clients and the people in her life than anyone I know.  She recently started the PALS program for breast cancer survivors.  She has helped countless people achieve their wellness goals and inspired many, including me, to reach for the next big mountain to climb.  I am incredibly lucky to have this wonderful woman as my sister.

Me, Erin, Jedi & my bro and associated kidlets at a
SAG stop at the Prouty Ride for Norris Cotton Cancer Research last year

Next, the other man in my life.  My boss & work-husband, who hand-selected his own nickname as "The Scarecrow that Strikes Fear into the Heart of Everyone".  Or something like that.  Which is truly ridiculous, because you're not allowed to pick your own nickname, and because he's about as scary as a Labrador puppy.  But he IS scarecrow-like in that he always makes me laugh (Wizard of Oz style), and that he stands over me at work and scares away all the nasty senior execs and other troublemakers that try to bother me and make me cry.  He is also very supportive of the cake business, the triathlon training, and every other random project I get in my head, none of which I'd be able to do with the flexible work life he defends for me.  So Scarecrow, you can keep your nickname.


My last person to thank is one that will never see me race.  Our martial arts teacher, Elliott, passed away unexpectedly from cancer a few years ago.  A life-long runner and marathoner, he used to try to get me to run as well.  He always pushed me (for better or worse), and every time I put on my sneakers I think "Oh man if he could only see me now".  So E, I hope that you can, and that you are laughing your butt off.

Elliott promoting The Jedi to second-degree black belt

There are many more who have put up with me, ran with me, listened to me, consoled me, drank with me, etc.  To you all I say thank you, and that your nicknames are coming as well.... 

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