Looking to “Skinny Up” Your Thanksgiving?

For more years than I care to remember I read articles and Googled recipes and poured through diet blogs in an effort to help me minimize the diet damage that my Thanksgiving fare would wreak on my waistline. And year after year I left my “skinnified” holiday meal feeling like so much was missing.

I felt full and yet so unsatisfied.

That’s because food-centric holiday celebrations are all intertwined with our memories and our expectations, and when the reality falls short of what we believe it SHOULD be, we feel let down and unsatisfied. And, chances are, we will continue to try to fill the subconscious void by eating even more than we would if we had prepared what we actually wanted in the first place.

Isn’t that ridiculous? 

But think about your family’s traditional holiday table… I’m willing to bet that there are certain foods that you associate with your Thanksgiving memories, right? I mean, beyond the turkey. Maybe it’s your grandmother’s stuffing recipe… or your aunt’s pecan pie… or your sister’s mashed potatoes… Without those foods Thanksgiving just isn’t the same. I remember my sister’s first year in California and her calling home on Thanksgiving crying because the meal was just so foreign to her – even though turkey, stuffing, bread, vegetables, and pie were served. Because her reality conflicted with her memories.

So, here’s my advice when it comes to Thanksgiving. Eat the food!  Life is too darned short to eat mashed potatoes made with skim milk or pie with fat-free whipped cream or whatever other “skinny” version of traditional holiday treats you may be tempted to try. Just eat the food, enjoy your family and move on. 

Get up on Friday morning and jump back on whatever diet horse you choose to ride, but for the love of all that is good and holy, enjoy your holiday! I promise, it won’t make any difference in the long run – and it might just help!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Accountability Time… AGAIN

Accountability Time… AGAIN

Okay friends, I have ONE MORE MONTH of workout “restriction” to go. I’m not going to lie, having your health care provider tell you that you may only exercise for a MAXIMUM of 30 minutes per day was a bitter pill to swallow for this Ironman triathlete, but the alternative was NOT attractive either – adrenal burnout, out of control cortisol, weight gain, etc. – so, I’ve been a good girl (for the most part – there was that 56 mile bike ride at Ironman Gulf Coast 70.3 last month… and that 2500 yd swim with Megan a couple of weeks ago…).

But you know, after Gulf Coast, I found myself completely going to the other extreme too. I didn’t want to do shit! It’s like my brain said, “Well, if you can’t go out and ride for 3 hours and run 5 miles off the bike it’s not even worth getting dressed.”

Stupid? Of course!

But the bully in my brain got pretty feisty and, other than yoga, I can count the number of workouts I did in June (30 minutes or whatever) on ONE hand. Not good, friends!

So, I have a plan for July and I want to add an extra layer of accountability in by posting my plan here on the blog and then updating it every Monday. Don’t let me slack, people! I have a sprint triathlon on the schedule on 9/8 and a full marathon on 11/25, so I can’t spend another month sitting on my ass. I plan to spend my bike and run sessions working on heart rate training, so 30 minutes each, with the goal being to increase mileage within a set heart rate range (125-135 bpm) during those 30 minutes over the month.

I appreciate any support and/or encouragement! ❤ And if anyone wants to play along at home, the more the merrier!

Here’s the plan…

The Yoga is a YouTube 30-day series – “Yoga with Adriene” called TRUE

The Core work is a short phone app – hence every day.

Okay, Happy July… Here we go!

A Rough Patch

I went from I. AM. SAD to just spinning out in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Mom’s illness progressed much more quickly than any of us thought possible and she passed from this world peacefully on Easter Sunday. She was surrounded by the people she loved the most (and who loved her back) and she really did go out on her own terms. If death can be beautiful, then her’s most certainly was.

She didn’t want a funeral, so we held a Celebration of Life in her honor. I wrote this reflection on my Mom and her greatest (of many) gift to me.


(April 14, 2018) During the last two weeks I have been asked countless times by friends, colleagues, and family members “How are you?”  and I guess my answer is that it’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve been reflecting on my Mom a lot over the past few months as I’m sure you can imagine… How much I love her… What a special person she is… What an awesome “Ga” she was to Josh, Will, Maggie, and Sabrina… What a wonderful gift she was to all of us. Thinking about it, I believe one of the greatest gifts she ever gave me was the gift of perspective.

The glass was always half-full for Mom – she understood the power of positive thinking intuitively at the soul level. When things happened throughout her life that anyone looking in from the outside would consider to be negative, or obstacles, or even tragic, Mom would always get this thoughtful, far-away look on her face and just smile and say, “Oh well, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.”

She always told me that if I wanted something badly enough and was willing to work for it, I could have it, without question. She never cautioned me to dumb down my dreams or to fashion a “Plan B.” She was my biggest fan and most ardent cheerleader.

Mom was my very first life coach, although I didn’t realize it at the time, and sadly, for much of my adult life I viewed her as somewhat foolish and impractical – a dreamer. But what I failed to notice for a very long time was that my mother – that wishful thinker and pie in the sky dreamer – was actually a very competent “DOER.”

Behind the scenes, without a lot of fanfare she raised two pretty amazing daughters, working multiple jobs to make sure we had everything we needed (and most of what we wanted). Then, once we launched out into the world, 25 years after most of her peers, she reclaimed HER life. The amount of courage she must have had to summon in order to shed the comfortable cloak of a Virginia Tech secretary and go back to college in her 40’s must have been incredible. But she did it and she did it with passion and she created the life that she had only dared to dream for all those years while she was raising her babies.

How many of us do that?

How many of us have the guts and the courage to follow our dreams when EVERYTHING in our outside world tells us that we are being foolish, including the people who are closest to us?

When I ponder the legacy of my mother – my son’s grandmother – I hope that she will be remembered as the eternal optimist who lived by the Quaker creedo – “Pray, but move your feet!” I hope that whenever any of us think of Mom we remember her steadfast belief that we can have ANYTHING we want badly enough if we are willing to have the courage to rise above our circumstances of the moment and go to work for it.

My perspective of my mother’s life has shifted dramatically over the years and I am oh so grateful that God chose her to be my Mom.

So when people ask me how I am or if I’m sad I hope I’m able to muster up that same far-away look and wistful smile and tell them that everything is just as she wanted it to be – just as it’s supposed to be. That we should all be so lucky to live our lives on our own terms all the way to the end.

Before I sit down, I’d like to read a poem I found that really speaks to the gift of perspective – a gift my Mom gave everyone she ever encountered.


“She’s Gone” by David Harkins

You can shed tears that she is gone

Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her

Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind,

be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what she would want:

smile, open your eyes, love and go on.


I look out at all of you gathered together in this sanctuary and the common thread that binds us all together is Alice. You call her “friend,” “colleague,” “teacher,” “cousin,” “sister” and even “Ga,” but Anna and I have the happy privilege and honor to be able to call her “Mom.”

On a fun note, my sisters and I got to spend some quality time together and even recreated an old childhood photo. (No Old Mil was consumed in the re-enactment of this photo… blech)

I. Am. Sad…

Mom- 1977

I received some news this week… I knew it was coming… I’ve been steeling myself in advance of it… I REALLY thought I was ready for it… And then it came…

I got a text from my sister on Thursday evening (although I didn’t actually see it until 4:15 am on Friday morning)… “Hey. Call me when you have a few minutes to chat. New details to share regarding Mom.”


Our Mom is sick. She’s been very sick since last summer with some mystery respiratory thing. She has a very hard time breathing unless she is sitting still or laying in bed. When she exerts herself in any way – even walking to the kitchen or bathroom – her blood oxygen level bottoms out and she is left breathless and on the verge of passing out. She’s been hospitalized twice for this condition – most recently over Christmas, when I went to Virginia and had my epic fail of a run. The doctors know NOTHING. And even if they did know what was causing it, they admit that there is probably nothing they could do about it. They have diagnosed her with end stage interstitial lung disease – I suppose this is the clinical way of saying “The lady can’t breathe and we have no fucking idea why,” but I digress…

So, my sister, Anna, took Mom up to the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center for a followup visit after her extended stay with them in December. The lead doctor on her pulmonary care team laid it out as gently as he could…

Mom is not going to get better… (we knew this)

A more invasive lung biopsy may give more clues as to what is wrong with her – although she would likely not survive the procedure, and knowing more doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to treat her any more effectively.

A lung transplant MIGHT be a viable option to extend her life… but she’s not a candidate for a transplant.

She is currently maxed out on oxygen that can be delivered in-home.

And so it goes…

At the end of the day, it was the first time a doctor has been willing to time-stamp my mom’s life expectancy… 6 months… that’s what they say…

I also know that in my business, diagnoses are mere suggestions and we can accept or reject them. I have told my mom that she has lived her 70+ years on this earth on HER terms and SHE gets to decide when and IF she goes out this time around. She doesn’t have to buy in to a 6 month life projection.

But still… I am sad.

My Mom is the greatest!

She never, EVER told me that I “couldn’t” do something. She encouraged me to spread my wings and fly.

She is my biggest fan and my most loyal supporter.

And she is a terrific Grandmother to Josh, Will, Maggie, and Sabrina… REALLY TERRIFIC!

My goal over the coming months is to do whatever I can to make sure that mom still has the ability to live life on HER terms. She deserves that.

Really, we all deserve that.

I would really consider it a personal favor if you would send love, light, positive intentions, and prayers to my mother… Her name is Alice… and she’s one in a million.


Habit Stacking

I’ve really been trying to get my stuff together from an organizational perspective this year. Here’s a post I wrote for our business blog that discusses what I’ve been doing. It’s called “Habit Stacking” and it’s terrific!

Hello Everyone! Angie Flynn here. I wanted to share a concept I’ve discovered recently that has really helped me get my s&*t together. Deb and I joke about it a lot, but I can get a little squirrelly and scatterbrained at times (I know, SHOCKING, right?). 1,008 more words

via A Behind The Scenes Look At Habit Stacking — Cheslow Achievement Group

Hypocrite No More!!

Courtesy of 123RF.com

Have you ever been in a space where you gave advice that you had a really hard time following yourself?

That’s where I found myself A LOT over the past 8 years when it came to drinking enough water.

Sometimes I would do better… Once in a while, I would actually get on a roll and do great… But eventually, something would happen to knock me out of my routine and my fledgling habit would wither on the vine. And I would feel like an incredible hypocrite!

Over the Christmas holidays I decided that I was REALLY going to make a PERMANENT change! I mean, I KNOW the importance of drinking the right amount of water and staying well hydrated. However, KNOWING doesn’t always translate to DOING, does it?

I was recovering from broken bones and couldn’t do much else during the holidays, plus we weren’t working so I could really focus on my water intake.

I Googled “water apps” and found a suggested list of apps that could help me track my daily water intake. Some worked better than others, but in the end, I uninstalled them. What ended up working for me was getting a 64 oz. glass container, filling it up each morning, and then using  my Pomodoro Technique breaks to go drink between 8 and 16 oz of water.

I also took a 30-day break from coffee in January and replaced my caffeinated coffee and tea habit with hot water with lemon for those 30 days. It turns out that I REALLY like hot water with lemon, so I kept it up after January was over. So, not only was I able to count the volume that I normally drank in the form of coffee or tea (about 32-48 oz per day) as actual water consumed, but I also didn’t have to replace that volume with more water as I would have to do when I was drinking caffeinated beverages. It was like a double bonus!

I found that I was suddenly and quite effortlessly drinking between 96 and 128 oz of water each and every day!

My energy skyrocketed… My weight loss rebooted… My skin looked better…

It was incredible!

I’m now moving to the three month point of this new baby habit. Sometimes I miss, but most of the time I am very well hydrated. My body will tell me when I’m not drinking enough water (or when I’m drinking too much coffee – yes, I do drink coffee again, but only a fraction of the amount I used to drink).

So, for anyone looking to level up their hydration game, here are my tips:

  1. Buy a large glass container (64 oz is a good size) and fill it up with filtered water each morning.
  2. Try hot water with lemon as a replacement for some of the caffeinated beverages you may be drinking currently.
  3. Get an app or set a timer to go off every 30 minutes. Drink 8 oz of water each time the alarm goes off. Note: If you do this between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm, you will drink A GALLON of water during the day. You may or may not need this much, but it’s a painless way to get the water down!

How much water should you be drinking?  Here is the rule of thumb that I follow:  Your current weight/2 + 24 oz from every hour of exercise + equal volume for any caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

So, if I weigh 140 pounds, I exercised for an hour this morning, and I drank a 16 oz cup of coffee, I would need 110 oz of water today:  (140/2) +24 +16 = 110.

So, drink up!  Your body will thank you for it!


Proper hydration is one of the fundamental pillars of my new health and wellness program, UnREALogical Health.


A Funny Thing Happened During My Run…

A Funny Thing Happened During My Run…

How I spent most of the holiday

As some of you may know, my Mom has been battling a severe respiratory disorder since last summer. In October I made plans for my son and me to travel to Virginia during the holidays to spend some time with her. On the day were flying up to Virginia, I received a call from my sister, Anna, that Mom had taken a turn for the worse and she was going to drive her up to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville to be checked out.

No worries, I quickly did some mental gymnastics, rented a car, contacted my ex-husband to see if I could bring Josh to him from the airport, and planned to then make the 2-ish hour drive from the NRV to Charlottesville. Our sister, Jennifer, lives in C’ville and had offered up her home as basecamp for us for as long as we needed to stay. The flight from Orlando to Roanoke was on time, I dropped Josh off in Christiansburg, grabbed a venti Starbucks, and headed for Hoo-ville.

I stopped at the hospital and saw Mom first thing. She was better than I expected her to be, which put my mind at ease to some degree, although I knew things were not good. I left the hospital and made my way to Jen’s. It was great to get there and see that not only were Jen, Sabrina, and Anna there, but also my Dad and Step-Mom had stuck around as well! It had been a long day and the next few promised to be stressful while Mom underwent a lung biopsy and we waited for some definitive diagnosis of her condition, so we all called it a night shortly after I arrived.

You can see how thrilled I was about this run…

The next morning I woke up early and felt stressed out. I looked at my phone and saw that it was 30 degrees outside. I debated going outside for a run, but I didn’t have any running tights with me – only shorts. I had promised myself I would run at least 6 miles while I was there. I don’t like the cold… I didn’t want to go… But I got dressed anyhow. I put on my Cannondale thermal shirt, my long-sleeved Space Coast Marathon race shirt, and my prized Ironman Florida Name hoodie (this will be important later), my compression shorts, running shorts, and sneakers, hat, and gloves and headed downstairs.

My sisters were on the sofa talking and enjoying coffee. I wanted so badly just to grab a cup and sit, but no, I had WORK to do! Races don’t train for themselves and all that stuff. Jen told me about a great running path and out the door I went. I have played what happened next over and over in my mind, trying to make sense of it… Trying to figure out what exactly happened, and the truth is that I have no freaking clue, but I’ll relay as best as I can remember.

I turned on my running playlist, hit GO on my Garmin and started a slow jog down Jen’s street. I turned right, making my way to a traffic circle, feeling great even in the cold, and thought I should probably make my way to the sidewalk instead of running in the middle of the street. At that moment, my right ankle rolled outward and I was unable to recover my balance. What happened next probably only took 0.5 seconds, but it seemed to take 5 minutes. It was one of those moments like when Neo dodges the bullets in The Matrix. I felt myself falling, I knew I was going down and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Years of martial arts training kicked in and I evaluated the possibility of doing a front fall, but I was falling sideways and couldn’t figure out how to straighten myself out. My next thought was literally “PROTECT THE GARMIN!!!” so I pulled my arms into my core and tried to throw myself into a forward roll. I landed in a tuck on my left shoulder and thought all was well until I heard a sickening “SNAP” inside my earbuds. I knew I had just broken my collarbone. I finished my fabulous forward roll and stood up (I should have gotten style points if nothing else). I surveyed my situation… I could walk… no blood… nothing hurt THAT bad… OH GOD, THE GARMIN… Whew, it wasn’t even scratched… Maybe I could just go 3 miles instead of 6… No, that’s stupid, clearly I had a broken bone. So, I turned around and walked back to my sister’s house. She was walking her dog and came up to me on the street. I told her I thought I had broken my collarbone. I went into the living room to sit down while Jen went to fetch Anna and they figured out what to do with me. I sat there with my eyes closed, going inside my mind, evaluating… analyzing… trying to figure out a way to make this not so… Then, I heard Anna say she would pull the car around and we would go to the ER. I stood up to walk to the front door, took one step and then everything went black.

When I opened my eyes, Jen was standing over me asking if I was okay. “Of course I’m okay, I’m just going to the front door.” Then I realized I was crumpled in a heap on the living room floor. I had passed out cold. I tried to get up again, but my legs just wouldn’t hold me and down I went again. I remember thinking that this must be what it feels like when people collapse during a race and just can’t get up and get moving again.

At that point, the idea of taking me to the ER was ditched and an ambulance was called. I was told that it looked like every ounce of blood in my body had vanished and that I was white and pasty and obviously in shock. While we were waiting, Jen got Deb on my phone and I just started bawling! I told her how badly I had effed up and that I had come to Virginia to help and all I was doing was making things more stressful for everyone, and how was I ever going to be able to start my Ironman 70.3 training program on time now… She assured me everything would be fine in a way that only Deb can.

After we hung up, I noticed that my shoulder was really starting to ping and so I closed my eyes and again went inside my own head and dealt with the pain – which is just what I do when I hurt. It’s quite effective. I didn’t open my eyes again until the EMTs arrived, who were, BTW, FANTASTIC!  Well done Albemarle County, well done! They evaluated me right there on the living room floor, asked me what happened, what hurt, etc. That was the first time I mentioned rolling my ankle. They carefully took my shoe and sock off and I saw the huge lump on the side of my foot for the first time. SUPER!

They got me out of the house and onto a stretcher and into the back of the ambulance where they started getting all the vitals and stuff. They said my vitals were quite impressive as was my pain tolerance. Then the most horrible part of the whole entire episode happened. They had to CUT my clothes down my left arm to assess my injury. Bye bye, Ironman hoodie and marathon race shirt (from my ONLY standalone marathon). I nearly started crying again. Once I got to the ER, it was kind of a blur. More vitals, the right sleeves of my beloved hoodie and race shirt cut out so a proper blood pressure could be taken, more assessments, x-rays, drugs, but hey, ZERO WAIT TIME!! #bonus My dad and step-mom showed up… Jen and her daughter came back… Anna had come in the ambulance with me – it was a freaking family reunion, but it was AWESOME, I’m not gonna lie. I have really missed my family!

We passed the time joking around until a doctor came back and delivered the news I already knew. I had broken my left clavicle and had an avulsion fracture of my right 5th metatarsal. Basically, when I rolled my ankle, my peroneal tendon stretched so far that it snapped the end of my 5th metatarsal off. Happily, it was not floating so no surgery would be required – just lots of time in a boot.

Can we just talk about how HUGE this foot is for a moment? 😮

I left the ER a couple of hours later with my arm in a sling (clavicle fractures like mine rarely require surgery and are not casted), a crutch, a plaster splint, and a way too small walking shoe. Thankfully, my step-mom had a zip-up hoodie in her car because they finished cutting off all my layers and I was left with my sports bra and shorts – and it was 28 degrees outside!

I spent the next few days in a pseudo-haze of hydrocodone, but all-in-all everything went great. Mom had her biopsy. We got some answers – not enough of them, but some. My dad, step-mom, sisters, and sweet niece couldn’t have been more amazing caretakers. Anna and I had hours of much needed (and longed for) conversation. We all made the very best of a truly suck-ass situation.

I flew home on Saturday and got picked up in Orlando by a wheelchair at the plane door – Deb made me promise – which was weird and surreal. Deb and Erin took great care of me during the holidays. It was frustrating to not be able to do all the Christmas cooking and things I normally do, but I was so grateful to be surrounded by people I love. It’s easy to focus on the things that are going wrong while losing sight of everything there is to be so incredibly grateful for. I was determined to be present for the holidays and enjoy them, regardless of the “perfection” of the circumstances, and our Christmas was terrific.

Today I head back to the orthopedist to get another round of x-rays and see how I’m healing and develop a plan to get me back to a point where I can start training again. My training plan for IM Gulf Coast 70.3 is supposed to begin on 1/21… I don’t know how realistic an “on-time start” will be, but maybe I can get clearance to ease back into swimming… or aqua jog… or run on the elliptical in my boot. We’ll see.

At the end of the day, I DO believe that everything happens for a reason, and I believe the reason for my unfortunate injury was threefold:

  1. It broke a pattern and allowed Anna and me a much needed shared experience to open the door to healing some old wounds. It was totally worth it and I’d have it happen again tomorrow if that is the ultimate outcome.
  2. It taught me a valuable lesson about letting go of control and allowing other people to take care of me for a change.
  3. It gave me a pause in my “training” (if that’s what you would call what I’ve been doing for the last year) that I desperately needed. It gave me time to think about what is really important to me regarding triathlon in 2018. Is it REALLY so important to do another Ironman RIGHT NOW? And it has me HUNGRY to get back in the pool, on the road, and on my bike!

Let’s do this, 2018! I’m predisastered and ready to go! 🙂




Are We Having Fun Yet?… The Holiday Edition — Cheslow Achievement Group

This is AWESOME for this time of year and SO TRUE! Just wanted to share!

Image Credit: Rebekkah_ann/iStock by Getty Images Handling the inevitable stress, tension, and disappointment of holiday gatherings… It’s a scenario that plays out across the globe every holiday season. Families come together to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. But how long does the celebration last before someone gets their feelings hurt and walks off to sulk…

via Are We Having Fun Yet?… The Holiday Edition — Cheslow Achievement Group

I Am Not A Dog…

I Am Not A Dog…

Deb and I have been playing around with intermittent fasting for a while now and it has really proven to be a game-changer for us so far (I’m sure I’ll blog about it when I have more data), but I’ve noticed something recently that has really caused me to stop and think. I realized that when I want to “reward” myself I go to food 100% of the time!

For example, yesterday was “balcony cleaning day” here at the condo. On the last Saturday of the month, we are allowed to break out the hoses and scrub brushes and clean the outside porches and just blow the water over the side. It’s a pain in the ass, but it makes a big difference – especially after Hurricane Irma completely salt-blasted our sliding doors and windows. The thing is that we always “reward” ourselves after porch cleaning with a big breakfast – either I make eggs, bacon, pancakes, etc. here or we go out for breakfast. But, since we were fasting yesterday, there was no big breakfast and I was jarred by how sad that made me and how unmotivated I was to clean the porches.

Then, I started thinking about it… I do not have a single non-food reward system in place anywhere in my life!

What the hell?  I’m not a DOG!

But it’s true!  Whenever Deb and I start planning something that will make busting our butts to getting some big project done “worth it,” we automatically go to food… dinner out at our favorite restaurant, munchies in front of an episode of Star Trek, comfort food, etc. … ALWAYS… 100% of the time. And that’s just crazy! Is it just me?

I have resolved to come up with some non-food rewards that I can go to when I need something to spark my motivation in the moment. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

  1. Take a nap.
  2. Sleep in!
  3. Spend an hour away from my phone or computer.
  4. Eat lunch outside or at least away from my desk.
  5. Take a vacation day from work to do whatever I want!
  6. Unwind with a movie of my choice.
  7. Plan a long bike ride with my friends.
  8. Subscribe to a magazine I’ve been wanting to read.
  9. Buy a new song for my running playlist.
  10. Invest in some moisture-wicking workout socks.
  11. Buy a new sports bra.
  12. Come home with a bouquet of flowers.
  13. Sign up for a race.
  14. Splurge on a new running outfit or tri-kit (Hello, Tri*Fe Tri).
  15. Go for a mani/pedi.
  16. Treat myself to a massage!
  17. Get fitted for new running shoes at a running store.
  18. Plan a weekend getaway with Deb.
  19. Go to a yoga class.
  20. Plan our next dream vacation!
  21. Get a new hairstyle.
  22. Go to the local farmer’s market.
  23. Have a tourist day and do some of the fun things our town has to offer visitors (NOT Disney, thank you very much)
  24. Buy some new accessories for my bike.
  25. A new pair of earrings.

How do YOU reward yourself? Help me build my list so I can stop letting PIZZA be my reward!

“Race” Report: Hurricane Irma … and A Decision

“Race” Report: Hurricane Irma … and A Decision

Damage from Hurricane Matthew (10/2016)

Hurricane Irma… What can I say? You sure did keep us on our toes, I guess. Look, I think I have a mild case of Hurricane PTSD from last year’s Cat-3 Hurricane Matthew which nearly killed Deb (when a palm tree came crashing through the bedroom window of the house we were staying in and sent dagger-like shards of glass flying across the room no more than a foot from her head) and destroyed the exterior of our home to the tune of $50,000 in damages. It was my first up close and personal experience with a hurricane and, honestly, I had no interest in a do-over. We moved into a condo back in June and we live on the 14th floor of a 15-story building that sits right on the intercoastal waterway. The prospects of riding out a major storm way up high on the river did not interest me in the least.

So when I started hearing reports of a monster storm chugging its way across the Atlantic, I paid attention. I tried desperately not to give a lot of energy to all the “what ifs” that were swirling around my head, but it was hard. Irma turned into a Category 5 hurricane and started breaking records left and right. Heck, there was even talk of adding a Cat-6 storm designation in her honor because she was such a big, nasty bitch! On Monday, as she churned through the Lesser Antilles leaving utter devastation in her wake, I started my mental preparations. Okay, I could book a hotel for the 4 of us out of harm’s way… But WHERE? NO ONE agreed on where the storm was heading! She may go up the east coast of Florida… maybe the west coast… maybe right up through the center of the state… maybe turn and head out to sea… maybe bypass Florida altogether and just keep on going into the Gulf… Nowhere seemed “safe.” On Tuesday, I started searching hotels and could not find anything in Georgia that would take our dogs, Kona and Pooka (happily, many hotels ended up waiving their pet policies for hurricane evacuees – kudos to them!). I finally found a hotel with 2 pet-friendly rooms just north of Charlotte, NC, so I reserved them – just in case.

I went out that morning and bought 2 cases of bottled water – because that’s what you do in advance of a major storm. I went to meet Megan to swim that evening and stopped to top off my gas tank (again, that’s what you do) and had to go to 3 gas stations before finding one that had gas – which was eerie and weird. Deb and I made the decision to bust our asses in the office, get everything wrapped up that we could, and if we needed to leave, we would head out on Friday morning. Then people started posting the pictures of the major highways which had turned into parking lots filled with people trying to get out of Florida… people posted that the gas stations along the highways were out of gas and people were running out of fuel on the roads with nowhere to go. AND, as all the spaghetti models of Irma’s path started to come together, it looked like she would be marching straight through Georgia and into North Carolina and Tennessee when she was through with Florida… SHIT! It also looked like she was going to come up the spine of Florida meaning that the entire state would be involved – hurricane conditions stretching from coast to coast and from Miami to Jacksonville – all at once!  CRAZY! But that also meant that she would lose steam as she went north with projections that she would be a Cat-1 storm by the time she reached us.

On Thursday evening, after a lot of soul-searching, Deb and I decided that we would ride out the storm here at home rather than taking our chances out on the road. I don’t know that my family back in Virginia or Deb’s family in Maryland were too happy about that decision, but it was the right call (in retrospect). On Friday morning, I headed to Publix to get provisions. I wasn’t terribly worried about finding food – it was unlikely that there had been a run on avocados and kombucha. 😉 I found everything on my list in record time. And here’s what I noticed about the people I encountered: Everyone was AMAZING! The Publix employees were terrific as always. The customers were kind to each other and helpful. I saw more than one person allow someone who only had a few items to skip to the front of the line. Tall people were helping “vertically-challenged” neighbors reach items in the back of upper shelves. People were smiling, going about their business with a purpose, and getting stuff done. I believe crisis brings out a person’s true nature and I believe that MOST people are overwhelmingly GOOD! I’m proud of my community. I’m proud of the spirit I saw shining through in the lead up to the hurricane.

On Friday, we brought in everything off our balconies, did laundry, prepped food, made big bags of ice, filled the bathtubs with water, figured out how to turn the circuit breakers and water off in our condo – just in case, charged every laptop, cell phone, battery bank, etc. in the house. We were as ready as we were going to get. Josh’s 15th birthday was on Saturday and although we couldn’t give him the birthday we wanted to, we did the best we could. On Friday evening we went to Dick’s and he picked out the sneakers he wanted for his main present. We tried to go bowling, but the lanes closed early. 😦

On Saturday morning we woke up to a cloudy but beautiful day! We took our cars to our friend’s house and put them in his garage where they would hopefully be safer. We took Josh and Nicki out for burgers at The Daily Grind and then for dessert crepes at Cinnamon Tree Cafe (Josh’s bday choices). Josh opened presents (a Garmin from us and the new Rick Riordan book from Nicki) and then Nicki took us home. There wasn’t much more to do but wait. We piddled around the office, watched videos, played cards, ate good food and went to bed early.

On Sunday morning the storm was turning toward Florida. The wind was starting picking up here and the water in the canal next to our building was much higher than usual, but we were still able to take Kona outside with no worries – she was such a good girl through all of it. We fixed a big breakfast, turned down the fridge and freezer temps (in advance of losing power), made grab and go piles in the fridge that we could transition to coolers quickly if/when the power went out, and then just tried to enjoy the day. Irma was not scheduled to arrive in earnest until nightfall – which was a creepy prospect, but it was what it was.

The wind really started blowing around dinner time. Kona was pleading with us to go outside and no amount of coaxing would get her to use the training pads we bought. So we tag-teamed… we went downstairs to the parking garage and I held the door while Deb and Kona went 15 steps outside to the grass. Kona was thankfully very quick. By 8 pm, the wind and rain were coming straight at our unit from the east. We could see the hurricane glass in the sliders flexing. For the first time, we decided to turn on The Weather Channel and see what was happening and just like that I wanted to stress-eat ALL my hurricane snacks! Among the reports from the crazy weather people who were outside during the storm, there were tornado warnings popping up all around us. We weren’t afraid of the hurricane any longer, but tornadoes are another matter. We decided to pull mattresses into our interior master bathroom and sleep there. It wasn’t bad at all and the awful noise of the wind was muffled in there. We actually got several hours of sleep. Josh slept like a rock – per usual. 🙂

At 4 am, Deb and I both woke up and ventured out to see what was going on. Even though it was dark outside, you could see that the river had completely taken over the condo pool and was all the way to the parking garage. Through the kitchen window, we could see that the small neighborhood to the south was completely underwater and the river was all the way out to US 1! I felt so bad for the people in those houses, but the river will not be denied – it goes where it wants! I couldn’t go back to sleep so I got up around 5:15. The river was retreating by then. I could see the white tile outline around the pool and see that the neighborhood was not as swamped as it had been an hour before. The wind was still fierce, but by 7 am when it was light outside, it was starting to die down. We never even lost power, which was shocking!

Daybreak brought clarity on the damage – which was minimal for us in the grand scheme of things… The brand new condo dock (which was just finished and inspected in July) was destroyed. The pool is a mess, but nothing an industrial pool vac and a little chlorine can’t fix, and our carpet got a little wet around the big slider to the east balcony. That said, Deb and I were both chomping at the bit to check on our house in Ponce Inlet (which is under contract for sale, but not yet closed). We spoke to our old neighbor who said there was no visible damage which was a big relief. Turns out we lost the chimney cap and one small strip of soffit, but other than that, no issues and not a drop of water inside! Thank you, Baby Jesus!


I know this was not the case for everyone in Florida and my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the storm. I am just beyond grateful that our area was spared the worst of Irma’s wrath.

Now, in other news, I have an announcement… Megan and I have decided not to race Great Floridian this year. She is injured and me, well, to be perfectly candid, my heart just hasn’t been into training this year. I’ve tried to kick my butt into gear, but I’ve been so into the business – it always seemed like there was something more important to do than swim, bike, and run. I haven’t been a complete sloth, but I’m not terribly interested in throwing up a Hail Mary for 92.6 miles. GFT was a HUGE knee-jerk reaction coming off of IMFL last year. It was the closest thing I could find to another Ironman – without actually doing another Ironman – and it made sense in my brain at the time, but I’m just not feeling it. I don’t even feel bad about it. Taking 2017 off from hardcore training was probably one of the best things I could have done for myself, and now I’m excited about the 2018 season, which looks like it will include IM Gulf Coast 70.3, IM Augusta 70.3, and POSSIBLY another shot at Ironman Florida – I’ll make that call after Gulf Coast. 🙂