Travel Week

“Benny!” A middle-aged bum shouted across the beaten-up, rundown, hooker-infested bar at the bottle-tossing bartender standing in front of me who dropped a twirling bottle when he jerked his head up after hearing the bum’s call. My booze-slinging new pal must be named, Benny.

Where am I? My mind was slow and thoughts were dizzy as I stared at a short glass of ice-water sitting in front of me. Benny offered a shot of Jack on the house, but I was in no mood for my pesky pal from college, I needed clarity to handle what came next, which meant water only. Then the sad and melodic croons of the blue trumpet filled the room. I slammed my water, held back burning tears, and walked out of the bar.

I will always remember the night I wish could forget.

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I had a coffee date with my mom last Saturday and she brought with her a box full of old homework, VHS episodes of My So Called Life, (priceless), and the original story for what I wrote above, The Blue Trumpet, was among the decades old treasures. I re-worked one of the scenes on Sunday morning, (I forgot how fun it is to write fiction), and believe it could be the start of a fun story. If you like it, stay tuned….

 Prized possessions: My So Called Life episodes and my first club soccer team jacket from the Alta Loma Aztecs. Thank you, Mom!

Prized possessions: My So Called Life episodes and my first club soccer team jacket from the Alta Loma Aztecs. Thank you, Mom!

Seventeen years ago this past weekend, June 3rd, 2001, I ran my first marathon, the Rock ‘n Roll San Diego. Time flies. While running my final long-ish run last Sunday before I race Ironman Boulder next Sunday, my mind drifted back to that fated day years ago. I remembered just hours after finishing the race, my hair blowing and skin freezing in the wind while sitting in the back seat of my friend’s yellow Jeep Wrangler buzzing through the streets of Huntington Beach, that what I experienced during the race shifted something inside of me, and that the marathon was not just a one and done Bucket list check-off item, but a window into the next phase of my life.

After finishing that first marathon, my friend Sarah and I took a Greyhound bus back to Boulder from LA. As recent college grads and current Dairy Queen Employees, it was the only means of travel we could afford. It was an odd twenty-plus hour excursion. There were some colorful characters along for the ride, but everyone stayed to themselves, so there wasn’t much drama, but what was odd about the trip was how many times we stopped at convenient stores to stock up on food, etc. We could have sliced off a third of the total driving time if we would have stopped five vs. fifteen times. It was ridiculous.

 Aerial view of the CU campus in Boulder, CO.

Aerial view of the CU campus in Boulder, CO.

I wasn’t in a huge hurry to return to Boulder, my job at DQ was secure, but since that long bus ride commenced about thirty hours after I finished my first marathon, I just wanted it to be over. My tight back, fatigued legs, and sunburned face did not appreciate the uncomfortable tight quarters of our coach, but since it was our chosen/only way back to Boulder, I endured it with a smile, (and belly full of Chips Ahoy!),  anxious to return to my home away from home for one more month of college-life utopia before moving back to LA for good.

 My roommates and best friends from college: Starting bottom screen left and up: Hillary Jackson, Chanda Grizzel, Susie Wood, Sarah Gonzalez, Annie Fabik, and yours truly.

My roommates and best friends from college: Starting bottom screen left and up: Hillary Jackson, Chanda Grizzel, Susie Wood, Sarah Gonzalez, Annie Fabik, and yours truly.

I do feel differently about this Ironman than I have any of the others. It means more than I thought it would when I signed up for it nearly a year ago. I am such a different person now than I was when I lived and went to school in Boulder twenty years ago. Actually, no, that is not it. While reading those stories I wrote as a preteen that my mom reunited me with last Saturday, it is clear that I have stayed true to my personality my whole life. The difference is that when I was in college, fully aware of the dominance of the CU Triathlon Club team, I never believed I could reach that level of fitness. I also didn’t believe I was that good of a writer, or filmmaker - I wasn’t. Not yet. During the innocent ages of seventeen thru twenty-one, I didn’t understand that it takes years of practice to gain mastery in a craft, whether you possess natural talent for it or not.

It took years and many awful, wonderful, and character building experiences working on movie sets, and post production houses, writing fiction, non-fiction, a book, blog posts, and swimming, biking, and running thousands of hours to realize that I could be great at what I loved most, it would just take working hard at each of them every single day for over a decade to do so. 

I am still not there, there is plenty of room for improvement, but I am enjoying the journey along the way.

 Just before my last ride on Simone before our big day in Boulder.

Just before my last ride on Simone before our big day in Boulder.

Sunday will serve as a progress report for the triathlon portion of the adventure.

I can’t wait to share how it all goes down next week. Ironman Boulder will be my thirteenth iron-distance triathlon, my forty-ninth marathon, (I am counting the two treadmill marathons), and the first time I get to race in front of my two best friends in the world, Emily Tweten and Hadara Katarski.

 The two best women I know, and my best friends forever, (screen left to right), Hadara and Emily circa 1999.

The two best women I know, and my best friends forever, (screen left to right), Hadara and Emily circa 1999.

Plus, there will be a strong presence of TeamSFQ and TeamHPB athletes laying it down ALL day in Boulder.

 Two of my bad-a$$ teammates that I will be sharing the course with on Sunday, Mary Knott and Amy Hite. 

Two of my bad-a$$ teammates that I will be sharing the course with on Sunday, Mary Knott and Amy Hite. 

Moreover, throughout all of my blubbering to reach this point, I am excited. Once again Hillary has Mr. Miyagi’d my fitness, and restored my faith that I am in a solid place to take on the day.

It will be hard. No doubt. But who doesn’t want to spend the second Sunday in June taking on a hot, thinnly-aired, challenging romp through some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country? Let’s GO!

In case you were curious, I will be flying to Colorado this time around.:)

Following was my Senior year of college theme song, Britney's Spear's quintessential example of the "smoky eye", that's right, her video for her hit, Stronger. Enjoy.:)