A good read about one’s purpose. It’s probably not triathlon.

In April of 1958, a 22 year-old Hunter S. Thompson wrote a letter on the meaning of life when asked by a friend for advice. What makes his response all the more profound is the fact that at the time, the world had no idea that he would become one of the most important writers of the 20th century. Therefore his beliefs about purpose were hypothetical—they were statements of faith.

But if it’s true that our beliefs really do become our reality, then there’s no better example of a life fully realised than the one of Hunter S. Thompson. Let his perspective inspire you:

“I was not proud of what I had learned, but I never doubted that it was worth knowing.” – Hunter S. Thompson

April 22, 1958
57 Perry Street
New York City

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called “Being and Nothingness” by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called “Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre.” These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors.WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know — is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo — this merely happens to be mine.

If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.

And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,

Your friend,


10 Truths of No-Bullshit Triathlon Training.

He is much more eloquent with his words than I am…but yeah, I have thought about these things for years….34 to be exact…(yrs. in tri training/racing) kinda like “dog years”…


By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com


Triathlon is big business now. With profits to earn and gadgets to sell how do you cut through the marketing haze and decide what really gets you to the finish line?

There are 2,377 books about triathlon on Amazon.com. An online seminar, a Facebook page and- bam, anyone is a triathlon coach. Add triathlon forums, that guy with an M-Dot tattoo dispensing advice and the amount of bullshit heaped on new triathletes is harder to cut through than the swim pack at Lake Placid.

Here are 10 no-bullshit, hardcore, old-skool insights on triathlon training. No quick-starts, no “12 Weeks to Ironman” plans. They aren’t easy, they aren’t pretty, but they produce results. You may not like them, you may disagree with them, but history proves these are solid producers for getting better.

  1. Fire your coach.

You don’t need them and they’re probably not qualified. You…

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IMG_0408Hubby and I are cut from the same cloth.  We like to be up and out early.  When I was a child, living in Ohio, I wanted to be the first one out the door after a snowfall to see my prints where I ran around the front yard.  As my playing “snow tag” with my sisters, eventually grew into a love for running, I wanted to be first at putting my prints in the snow and mud down the dirt road where we lived.  I became more competitive and then wanted to be first woman back at the gym as our “jogging class” made our route around campus.  In races I was only first overall in a couple of small 10ks and mountain runs longer than a marathon, where virtually a handful of women were showing up.  But those firsts felt good never-the-less.

Little did I know, that there was a boy, and then a man, who shared these same passions.  Being first to break snow on the trail as he ran in Germany.  Being first as he ran “All Army” races so that he was able to bring home a turkey for Thanksgiving.  Racing cross-country in Europe with some of the world’s best runners, didn’t guarantee any “firsts”, but those opportunities made him a good runner.

We have both had our share of awards that say “first”-I have given most of mine away and so has he.  We don’t like to display our trophies and medals in our house.  I still get firsts as I choose my running races and triathlons carefully, but the firsts we continue to relish are those with each other.

Saturday we woke to overcast and chill but we decided to brave the weather and walk our six miles that we usually do. We end up in a wash where all the animal and people tracks had been covered over by the moving sand and debris with the rain the night before. I made the comment that it was nice that the ATV tracks had been covered up, and that we had been the first to walk in the wet sand, and jump over the flowing waters, that morning.

Sunday we rode “our” mountain bike route.  It had snowed the day before and the mud we usually encounter had frozen over, making for a nice “crunch” as we rode.  We both noticed the dainty deer tracks, thin ice on shallow puddles and the fact that there were no other mountain bike tracks on the trail.

It was nice, once again, to be first.


33rd season – it’a a wrap!

So another year has almost come and gone.  They go by more quickly than ever now and each passing year means that I have less time to be here enjoying those I love and doing what I love doing.

I have the option to draw my SS money right now.  But I love my job too much to even consider retiring next year.  Maybe one more, and then???

Thank you Ali’i for having me as a team member this year!  I love their kits and bought a ROKA wetsuit through being a member.  Was comfortable racing this season for sure.

I had a good local race season.  Didn’t travel anywhere to race except to work in a 5k with my nephew back in Ohio.  I had podium finishes in all my races except the 5K, with all being firsts except for an Oly tri where my hammies kept cramping up and I practically walked the entire 10k, so faded to 2nd in AG.  So mortifying!  Gotta figure out what the trigger is…it’s definitely NOT dehydration or electrolyte imbalances.  More pickle juice I guess!  It’s all about choosing one’s race venues right?

Next year?  It’s being planned-tentatively.  A mountain bike event in Prescott is being tossed around.  I almost won the Whiskey Row marathon there years ago and I would love to go back and see that course again-most of the mountain bike course is on the marathon course I hear.  Maybe a two mile swim in Redding…and some local stuff including a back-to-back Oly one day followed by a Sprint the next day!

Have you ever done back to back tris?  How was it?

Have a great break from racing for a short while!  Get strong!  Get focused!  2016 race season will be here before you know it!


Not yet….

True story.

Two young guys were running along the streets of Santa Monica in the early 70s going at a leisurely sub 6 min. pace, chatting about work, school, girlfriends, the usual…when some on-looker decides to comment with sarcasm; “Oooh”, he quips. “Wish I could be a fast runner too!”

Without skipping a beat or breaking stride, one young man turns to the naysayer and says, “not yet”.  They run on.

Sage advice given.

There are many moments in life like this where we tell ourselves and others that “now” is not the time.

You are too young to have that baby.  Not yet.  Maybe someday.

You are not fast enough to run that 10k.  Not yet.  Maybe someday.

You are not trained enough to drive the car, teach a room full of students, do therapy.  Not yet.  Maybe someday.

You haven’t had enough life experience to be able to vote, have a truly meaningful relationship, buy and maintain and pay for a house.  Not yet. Maybe someday.

It’s good to have a marathon (or two or a dozen) under ones’ belt before a BC is attempted, or the marathon at the end of an Ironman.  Not yet. Maybe someday.

It’s good to have experienced what a classroom of 30 is like before you decide to become a teacher for life.  Not yet.  Someday.  Maybe.

It’s good to have knowledge of child development and have some parenting skills before you raise a child.  Not yet.  Someday.  Yes, someday!

It’s good to practice parallel parking, your calculus or your Spanish, if you are going to be tested on these things.  Not yet.  Maybe one day. Someday.

Practice is good.

It makes you good at what you do, or what you want to do.

Don’t expect to do things well if you haven’t.  Make someday, today.            IMG_0006


Embracing 60+ TWO


Have I learned a thing or two in my 62 years on this earth?  Maybe a few things. Still learning.  It’s a long process.

Embrace the mystery. There are no answers for many things which occur.

Accept that there is no control (or at least very little of it) and worrying doesn’t help. (Although I am a master at this-so it’s an ongoing challenge for me.)

Don’t talk with family/friends about politics or religion if you happen to be on opposite sides of the fence. No one will budge on these issues and someone will be mad or hurt at the end of the “discussion”.

Being a part of a team at work is rewarding.

Being comfortable with being alone is something to practice, as we will all find ourselves in this position a few times in ones’ life.

Be of service to others. It’s the most wonderful road to happiness and contentedness.

Have many interests and connections with people with diverse backgrounds-not with those who just do what you do and think like you do.  I continue to learn things from those whose backgrounds are complete opposite of mine.

Your swimming, biking, running, weight-lifting, knitting, kayaking, hiking, whatever your passion may be, should not be all consuming. If you put all your eggs in one basket to “make you happy”, you will be constantly searching for “it”.

That person you married?  Tell him or her you love them several times a day.  Same with your kids.  Same with your parents.

Keep in touch with old friends.  Via letter writing.  Keep the USPS alive!

Celebrate little things- making it to another Friday after a hard work week.  Saving enough money to finally get rid of that old love seat and get a “real” couch. Your cat/dog’s adoption date.

Promise yourself that once you reach your 60s you will buy bottles of wine that cost $15 or more.  No more cheap stuff.

Not rocket science for sure…just trying to keep it simple for the next 30 years.

So Many Stars

We have lived in our “new” house/community for almost a year now, and I have often bragged to others about how quiet, dark and clean it is. How everyone is friendly and waves hello, how people take care of their pets, pet waste, and feed and water the birds. We walk to and from the fitness facilities, have our favorite walking/running/cycling routes established, and continue to explore and add to them. In the early mornings the Milky Way is visible as there is little ambient light, and we often see shooting stars from the corner of our eyes as we make our way around the golf course or “loop” road. I sometimes say “Hi” to Frank, John, or Eloise out loud, making up a game that this is a way to communicate with lost loved ones, and they in turn, are telling me everything is OK.

When I run my 3.2 before work a couple days a week I am pretty much alone, save for the paper delivery cars or maybe a golf cart or two headed up to the gym or pool. I am able to hear the vehicles from quite a distance as sound travels long distance here when it happens because of the surrounding quiet.

Normally I gauge my running route where there isn’t a hint of traffic or a person walking their dog. I bounce back and forth across the street just by “feel” or by headlights headed towards or in back of me. Normally I run facing traffic and jump up on the sidewalk if there happens to be any cars. I may see two or three on any given morning.

It’s been over a month, and I still mull about what exactly happened that morning in my head, as it could have been then end. Of a couple of us.

I was running with traffic, looking at the fading stars, noticing a tinge of pink/blue on the east horizon was happening earlier and earlier with the summer approaching. I checked my watch and it was a little after 5 a.m. I heard the truck before I saw it, and it seemed to be picking up speed as it approached. I got out of the bike lane and jumped up onto the dirt alongside the road. Luckily I didn’t cross over to the other side and jump up on the sidewalk, because that’s exactly what the Dodge Ram ended up doing. It went left, completely crossed the road, jumped the curb, took out about 12 feet of railing and came to a stop at the edge of a wash with a large boulder wedged under it’s front end. I stopped, hoping that someone wasn’t hurt badly, and finally breathed a sigh of relief when the guy opened the driver’s door. He was bleeding from his hand a little and couldn’t find his cell phone. He seemed really confused and I was afraid he had hit his head. A neighbor had heard the commotion, and came out to talk to the driver who apparently fell asleep at the wheel. I personally believe he may have had a slight stroke or heart attack. I explained to the gentleman that helped call paramedics that I still had to run home and get ready for work. Shaken, I cried a bit telling my husband the events of the morning. The truck had crossed right where I normally run. Facing traffic. On the sidewalk. Thankfully there were two less shooting stars the next morning.

Just Jump!

“Just jump!” I yelled at my sister from below. She quickly became a silhouette as the sun set behind her as she stood on the high dive. “It’s really fun!”, I further encouraged. “Hurry, it’s getting dark!”

“I will give you 50 cents if you do”, my dad said from below as he threw chlorine blocks into the city pool. He was done for the day and I was too. Being city manager at the pool in the summers to supplement his teaching income was something that I surely never paid attention to at age nine. We got to swim for free each summer, and it was extra money for our family of six. He also coached football and basketball. I look back at all that now and wonder where he had the energy.

“Why does she get 50 cents dad?” fell on deaf ears. I had just jumped. For nothing. For fun. All I could think about was how many caramel creams, candied lipsticks and packs of Smarties that much money could buy at the concession stand the next day. My sister slowly climbed down the ladder in the dark.

I get it now. I understand why he didn’t need to bribe me or pay me for jumping.

He knew I had it in me all along to jump for other reasons.

Not rewarding me for something that I so enjoyed, would have made it not special anymore, and I probably would have quit challenging myself then and there.

It’s why I can still jump into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay and swim to the city. It’s why I can scream down a hill on my road bike, or ride over large rocks on my mountain bike. It’s why I climbed to the top of trees as a kid and still climb to the top of mountains at age 61. It’s why I can go into a weight room and do my thing and not worry about what others are thinking about me. It’s why I was able to have a career and be able to support my daughter and put her through college. It’s why I can get up in front of a room full of my peers and give a presentation, or strap a guitar on my back and sing out of key, with a room full of preschoolers. It’s why I still toe the line at various kinds of race distances, never thinking about how I can’t do it, but how great it will be. It’s why I get up every morning at four a.m. and go out the door with wonder to encounter what, a coyote today? A javelina? A rattler? A few lizards? A full moon? A shooting star? An ornery child or parent at work? A broken garage door or irrigation system?

Yeah. Just jump!

My Mom swam with Tarzan

The year was 1936 and my mom was 10 years old. They lived in a Cleveland, Ohio suburb where my grandfather (her father) was a typesetter. My mom had two older brothers that let her follow them and their friends around while they played baseball, football, tennis, rode bikes, roller skated and swam in the summer months. During winter they played ice hockey and my mom kept up with the guys in whatever their sport of the day/week was.  She was accepted. They called her by her last name. During the summer months all the kids attended recreational programs and the boy’s activities were very different from the girl’s at that time.  My mom actually got permission to join the boy’s activities as she was more interested in sports in which they were participating.

This same summer (1936) there was a swimming show put on at Lake Erie called “The Great Lakes Exposition”, where swimmers performed synchronized acts and divers would tumble off of high platforms into the lake. This was held at night, with bright lights flooding a floating stage, complete with musical score. The stars of the show were Johnny Weismuller, who played the first Tarzan in the movies of that era, and a swimmer named Eleanor Holm Jarret Rose, who swam and dove in the Olympics.  Being ten and watching something like this was probably one of the highlights of my mom’s youth, as her parents didn’t have much money to take the kids places or buy them fancy toys.

A few days later my mom was invited to a party at one of her friend’s houses. It was in a more elite part of town and the house had a pool, so of course my mom and her “guy” friends were swimming when who should walk up and start giving them swimming pointers, but Johnny Weismuller and Eleanor Rose!  They all knew him as Tarzan. Imagine being ten years old and meeting Tarzan and having him give you suggestions on how to better your stroke! She still has the autograph of both swimmers I hear.

Thanks mom for being such a wonderful role model as you were doing things athletically many girls and women still don’t try as they are fearful of failing or that someone might not agree with or try to squelch their interests. You pursued yours and didn’t care what others thought of you. You did what you loved (and still do!) and I am glad to say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as I have always tried to be true to my heart also, and follow my own (and your) path.  Happy Mother’s Day!  I am sure glad you are mine! xoxox Love, Cheryl