This is my mother, in whom I am well pleased.

My mother died. If she were only my mother one might say there is hope for me to someday have joy again, after all, mothers are not forever. However, she was more than a mother. Nan was an only child, so there are no aunts or uncles or first cousins for me. I have a sister but I was virtually raised as an only child. I don’t have children. She was a single mother. Because of these factors, my mother and I were exceptionally close. We experienced everything together. She put all her eggs in one basket–me! Me. She often said, “You are my world. I love you more than life itself.”  That was a lot of pressure but I tried desperately to rise to the occasion and the journey continues. My mother bragged about me with unadulterated abandon. She exaggerated everything but for her, it wasn’t an exaggeration!  Every race was a marathon, every triathlon an Ironman.  And if I was God to her, my husband was Jesus Christ (they have same initials–John Christian!). He is her greatest contribution to my life. She would not accept anyone else. “John is The One.”

I knew my time with her was getting short. I could no longer visualize our future. She was dropping big hints, “You’re going to have to start getting all these lessons Mama has been teaching you.” I called her for advice on cooking beans and crock pot stuff, etc. just to engage with her on topics other than cancer, leukemia, white counts, transfusion, MD Anderson, property, titles, the Will, goodbye…  I stopped being critical of her diet, pushing her to lose weight, and ignored her drinking as best I could. Read More

Let's keep it 100 for 100 days!

We have hit the ground running, literally, with this 100 day challenge.  I started yesterday but will start again with everyone else today (tonight)!  You are welcome to jump on board at any time.  Personally, I am very regimented when it comes to my own challenges but this is for everyone and you have to do what’s best for you. I’m not going to freak out and get all rules-y. Here’s what I will suggest:

Do a minimum of 10 minutes of physical activity to count it. Adjust this according to your own fitness level. I strongly suggest you choose a MINIMUM because the day will come when you won’t want to do anything. Knowing your minimum will help you do something.  I’ve chosen a 5K (3.1 miles) as my daily minimum. Currently, I don’t have a maximum. If you think you need one, set it.

Get your workout done before midnight.

100 consecutive days is the goal because we are building consistency but do what you can!  Be as consistent as humanly possible within our 100 days.

Share your workouts at the First Ladies of Fitness facebook page or on your own wall. The encouragement from others is a boost. I’m a member of dailymile. If you’re more private, that’s cool but confession/posting keeps you honest!

Talk to your doctor if you think you have any issues.  Pain is inevitable. Know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate pain. It’s different for everyone.  Generally, if your entire session is painful, if it never lets up, you need to get that checked.  I have run as much as 3 miles in discomfort that eventually dissipated.

Get started!  Time is passing whether you get it done or not. You may as well do it.

Finally, take it ONE DAY AT A TIME.

The body was made to move. Not only are we fully capable of exercising each day for 100 days, we are capable of exercising each and every day of our lives.  Moving makes us stronger. There’s a lot a hype about overuse, running being bad for the knees, etc. The evidence overwhelmingly shows that the majority of people are not moving enough!  If you get an overuse injury, consider yourself lucky! You have crossed over into a whole new category!  I’ve done a lot of stuff and have never had an overuse injury.  I have had an “I’m so clumsy!” injury but not overuse.  That being said, don’t start out with 5 or 6 miles a day for 100 days if you’ve never run a mile.  Be smart.

What do you want to do?  Where do you want to go?  What’s the plan?  Those are big questions you may not be able to answer today but I’ll guarantee having a strong, healthy fit body will be an asset.  Also, exercise is not just about the physical benefits, it’s also about the mental and spiritual rewards. See how far you can go! I know it’s farther and further than you can imagine. Move it.

In too deep.


It was 8 years ago this summer. I was 35.  John and I were vacationing in Cancun again.  We had gotten in the habit of going down to Cancun or Playa del Carmen just about every year. It was so cheap back then and a direct, short two hour flight. It was awesome. We may have preferred the “spice” of Negril over Cancun but Jamaica wore on us a bit. It could be a real hassle and once we discovered Playa del Carmen, that was all she wrote! It was a great compromise, somewhere in between.  So, like I was saying, it was 8 years ago that we almost drowned in Mexico.

I have always played in the deep waters–with a life jacket–despite my lack of swimming skills and fear of sea creatures. I grew up going to the beach in Southern California and hanging out in Galveston with my best girlfriends. I actually loved the water very much, despite what you may hear from the Tough Cookies who witnessed my first triathlon season. I was one of those people who thought she could swim.  And because my husband was so natural in the water, I always felt safe, invincible even, when he was around. Read More

My finisher's medal.

Guess what the world’s best triathletes have in common. You got it!  Besides being extraordinarily disciplined, they can run like the friggin’ wind! They are strong and merciless runners. Mer-ci-less. It’s awe-inspiring!  Chris McCormack, winner of last year’s Ironman World Championship, ran 26.2 miles in 2:43:31.  Yes, after swimming 2.4 miles and cycling for 112 miles, there was only 40 minutes between him and the guy who won this year’s Boston Marathon!  But Chris McCormack was not the first person out of the water, I saw the first person out of the water, Andy Potts.  Andy Potts finished in 21st place.  Macca (Chris McCormack) wasn’t the fastest on the bike either, that was Chris Lieto, who finished in 11th place.  But Macca’s run was brutal and the 2nd fastest. Yes, there was someone faster on the run, Craig Alexander, last year’s Ironman winner. But Craig Alexander’s deficit on the bike was too much to make up and he finished in 4th place overall.

The same is even more true for the women!  Mirinda Carfrae was not first out of the water, nor did she have the fastest bike ride, but she killed the run in 2:53:32!  If I’m not mistaken, Julie Diebens had the fastest swim and bike but her run was 3:16:12. Julie came in 3rd place, because, once again, the 2nd place winner, Caroline Steffen, had a much stronger run in 3:05:47.  Therefore, while most people fear and loathe the swim, it’s the run that will make you a believer! Barring any weird mishaps, like Craig Alexander’s “slow” bike ride, the strongest runners are going to finish at the top! Read More

Who's that girl?

I still have the sheets of paper where my husband calculated how fast I needed to ride and where I needed be at a certain time.  We used the entire Moody Gardens Hotel Spa & Convention Center Galveston Island notepad to build our strategy.  I remembered my Tough Cookie coach having a handy-dandy little TriCalc app on her phone and downloaded it to check my husband’s work. He was very proud of the results.  Initially, he was against the app, now he likes it.  We knew I had to be at mile 48 by 1:18 pm and T2 (bike to run transition) by 1:51 pm because it was listed in the Athletes Guide. We also knew that I lost 19 minutes because of these new numbers. John gave me the cold hard truth: Maintain 14.2 mph for 56 miles. No stopping.  No water breaks. No potty breaks. No flats. No problem. ***Sigh***

Unfortunately, I was desperately trying to maintain 11.99 mph! I bargained with myself not to drop below the average speed displayed on my speedometer. That was the best I could do. For the life of me, I couldn’t do any better.  I look like someone who should be able to ride faster. My quads have their own zip code for goodness sakes. My hammies are like…well, hams!  Listen, I don’t expect to be any faster in the water, well, maybe a little bit and quite frankly, I’ve made a great deal of progress with my running and don’t expect to get much faster. However, not being able to maintain 14 mph, headwind or not, was beyond disappointing.  I watched tiny people pass me and thought, “I’d be faster if I were smaller!”  I watched bigger people pass me and thought, “I’d be faster if I had bigger thighs!” “I’d be faster if I were younger!”  “I’d be faster if I’d been riding since I was in my 20s like that grandma!”  But I knew the truth, “I’d be faster if I had trained longer!” Read More

This is my transition area. I had to really squeeeeeze in. It's important to arrive early. I needed a little more space!

By now, I consider myself an advanced beginner triathlete.  I can still count the number of races I’ve done. My first was Skeese Greets, a super sprint, in 2008.  In total, I’ve completed 3 super sprints, 4 sprints, 3 olympics, and 1 Ironman 70.3.  That’s only eleven races but I think the half Ironman pushed me from intermediate beginner to advanced beginner.  Unfortunately, one of the barriers to my moving up in skill level is being able to change my own friggin’ flats in a reasonable amount of time. Dang it! It’s always something! Right?

In all the races mentioned above, except the half Ironman, I felt only intense elation once I was out of the water. It’s always been about getting the swim done.  As I mentioned before, I’m pretty comfortable in the water, however, I don’t like to press my luck and am always glad to get it over with, kinda (I’m really starting to enjoy the water).  Furthermore, the bike and run distances for the sprint and olympic races have never intimidated me. Sure, I got my butt kicked by Cap Tex tri and Austin tri last year, both olympic distance, but I had absolutely no doubt that I would finish those races–barring some bizarre freak accident.  I never “go all out”, my goal has been to finish.  But although I was thrilled I made the swim cut off in Galveston and gave John a huge smile as I trotted to T1 (swim to bike transition), I was full of anxiety.  For the first time ever, the bike had Center Stage and not just because it was in the middle. Read More

Add vegetables to your daily diet! You don't have to give up ANYTHING, just add the veggies!

It’s time! The time is now!  Our first challenge of the year is a NUTRITION CHALLENGE!  I think we did pretty well last year. Personally, the Nutrition Challenge was a real eye-opener for me. I was made keenly aware of the lack of vegetables in my daily diet and that’s no good.  Vegetables are our medicine.  A plant-based diet is your first defense against disease, obesity and an inactive lifestyle.  As always, there are no guarantees but it’s been proven over and over again–everything begins with good nutrition! So, since there will never be an ideal time to start eating better, you may as well start right now!

This Nutrition Challenge is not about removing anything from your diet, it’s about adding the good stuff in.  Don’t deprive yourself!  As much as you want to do it, don’t make this too much about weight loss. I know it’s difficult not focus on weight loss but just remember that diets are temporary but good nutrition is forever.  Begin this challenge with the idea of adding more vegetables to your diet.  Begin with the idea of moving toward a more plant-based diet.  When you start including more nutritious foods (veggies!) in your daily plan, you will lose excess weight! Read More