Strength Training

I’ve started strength training again and have learned the lesson to not drop it during my triathlon training, and I’ve turned to my favorite tool, TRX. When I was a personal trainer, I would use TRX on clients from their 20s to their 80s. It’s a great tool to hit the muscle groups and core.

Here’s a list that I’m using on various days. I’ll use these workouts on certain days, and I’ll also pick and choose the workouts and combine with free weights and planks and push-ups. There are so many options that you cannot get bored. Here are the workouts:



TRX for Swimmers:

TRX for Cyclists:

TRX for Runners:

TRX for Triathletes:

Enjoy, and be sure to start out slow and build up.

My Story for the Holocaust Remembrance/April 2017

Obviously, this post is not about training or healthy recipes, but I wanted to share my story that will be read at a Holocaust Remembrance at the end of April. It’s haunting story about survival, and I wrote it after my first child was born almost 20 years ago. The story, edited down for the reading, still possesses the same power of raw emotion that appears in my fiction writing. I wrote this story after reading a specific sentence from Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz. When I read that sentence, I knew that the horrors which he saw were not exaggerated, and it changed my life.

“Survival in Screams”

My reality changed when I heard my child scream for his first breath of life one week before deportation to the camp. I should have aborted him, but I brought life into a world full of death. I have committed a grave sin. In the dark woods of my life, I found myself stranded in guilt and looked for guidance, but all I could hear were screams from my child. Screams of life, screams of survival.

I held the child for the first time: his warm, naked body, still bloody from the entrance into the world. He screamed and screamed because he was cold and hungry. I wrapped him in a blanket and held him to my full breast, where he sucked down the warm, life-giving milk.

What could I have done with the child? My first thought as he lay suckling at my breast was to give him to someone, anyone to sneak him out of the ghetto. I did not care about my life, but his–he was my child. What plans I devised in my head. Many times, I thought of plans to sneak him out–baskets, coats, etc. But there were guards everywhere, and I had no outside connections. When the guards came to take us away, it was like preparing for the ride to Hell. I tried to hide as much food as I could because I knew that I had to eat to maintain my milk for the child. I had to survive, so the child could live through my milk: my life-giving nourishment, the key to his survival.

I already hated myself and the child. All I could think of was Charon’s raft in Inferno, and how we were like the sinners that Charon transported across the river Styx. However, we would not be going to some Elysian Fields but Hell and, literally, fire. Of course, I was right. Charon’s boat in the guise of black trains lay ahead of us. Were we all going to fit in the boxcars? Boxcars. Those were for animals. Surely, we were not . . .

We were crowded in the boxcars like animals. God, my child’s screams were so loud. I tried to stifle them, but I could not. I was scared that someone would beat him to get him to stop; lord knows I wanted to. The rage filled my heart when he screamed, but the sorrow overshadowed it. The child screamed and screamed for the life-giving milk, but his screams soon died into a whimper. He was getting weak, as all of us were. How much more could he take? I didn’t care about myself, but he was so strong–you must hold on, little one. But for what? I supposed for life, for survival. His voice haunted my ears, but what terrified me even more was when the screams fell silent.

Finally, the boxcar stopped; it was the end of Charon’s ride. We had crossed the waters of Styx and had come to the other side. We were about to enter the City of Dis and await for Minos to decide our fate. Here, the name was Auschwitz, another name for Dis. But I knew we had arrived in Hell. My guilt grew even stronger.

The child was dead. He slowly starved to death. I held his limp, skinny body to my breast. He would drink no more, no more of my life-giving milk. I looked at my child: his eyes, dark brown, with no light; his mouth, open for no milk. I ran my hand down his face to close his eyes, to shut his mouth. What terror he must have felt, more than I would ever know.

The doors of our cart were flung wide open and artificial lights almost blinded us; the shouts in some unknown tongue ordered us to get out. But among the shouts, I heard the ringing in my ears of the child’s screams. The cart was emptying. Do I leave my child in the car and possibly have a chance for survival or do I stay with him and die? His screams were in my ears. I looked at him and he was dead. I placed the swaddled bundle in the corner next to a dead man that I knew. I emptied with the living but glanced back into the yawning darkness of the boxcar.

“Rest in peace, my son.” I hated myself.

I had death in my eyes, and so did the man with the baton. He was Minos, that mythical creature who used his tail to draw circles in the dust that placed sinners in Dante’s circles of sins, but this Minos decided our fate with a swing of his baton to the left or right. I looked at him, not really caring which way to go. I stepped to the left and somehow was chosen to stay alive. What irony. I did not deserve to live; I left my dead baby in the boxcar.

I remembered reading that Dante climbed out of Hell on Satan’s back and was left with some redemptive qualities that made him a better man, and he crossed the river of Lethe to wash him of sins. There was no climbing out of Hell for me, no river of Lethe, no redemption. I did survive, but I was not Dante. I did not come out a better person, having seen death and walked through Hell. I did not come back as a prophet with the need to tell the tale. What I came back with was the insanity that I had to live a normal life without family, without anything, except memories.

I knew that I was not an animal yet because I could feel. Every hour of my day was filled with the thought of the child and his struggle to live. When I worked, I thought of his body: weak, fighting to survive. When I ate, I thought of his mouth: open, sucking the life-giving milk. When I dreamed, I saw his eyes: dark brown, pleading for more milk, for more life.

I suppose my son was the one that kept me alive; his screams reminded me of my guilt for bringing him into this world, a world where I starved him to death. Such a small one gave me the strength to live. It was in his screams that I survived.

Race Report: Galveston 70.3 Half Ironman


I felt trained thanks to Tri Now, and I had a plan in place. Of course, I was terrified because of the swim. If I can get through the swim, then I am good on the bike and can survive the run. My goal was to finish before the course closed, and I knew I was going to cut my time very close with that time cut-off.

The Swim

The swim was a wave start, and it did not bother me at all even when the next wave swam over us, but lots of people were freaking out in the water. I had a hard time calming down and putting my head in the water due to anxiety. It wasn’t until more than half way through the course that I calmed down and found my stroke. I was also stung by a jelly fish on my left arm and thought my watch was shocking me. I figured out it was a jelly fish and decided that I better find my stroke. I was able to focus on the large ferry ship, but I had to change my breathing to the other side because of the waves. Every time I switched to the other side, I was pulled farther away from the buoys. I kept having to zig zag to get back to the markers and find some feet to draft. I checked my stats, and I swam 1.5 miles. I can go faster. I just have to work on finding my stroke and relaxing in the water.


T1 is where I lost most my time because I had to park my bike and run to the damn porta potty. Yes, I have to learn to pee in the water. I was told to just hang on to the canoe. No wonder so many people were hanging on the boards and canoes.


The Bike

The bike was great, but I need to improve on speed. I averaged 14.9 mph., which is slow. I stopped briefly at each rest stop for nutrition, which could have been done on the bike. I just need to learn how to play with the water bottles and practice tearing off the gels on the bike. I felt I could have gone faster on the bike, but I was not sure because of the run. The wind was not an issue, and I saw many groups drafting each other.  Um, I didn’t know I could draft. Also, the ride was very boring without drafting anyone or talking to anyone. I ended up singing Christmas songs. Out loud. So bored. At the end of the ride, my left foot and right hamstring started cramping, so I need to watch that salt intake.


I lost time here running to the medical stop that was right next to my transition area. I was concerned about the cramping, so I grabbed some salt. Yes, I had salt in my fuel belt, but I completely forgot about it because I was focused on the run and knew I had to get my butt on the course.


The Run

That’s me, realizing that I have to run 13.1 miles. I felt a lot better when I saw the Tri-Now tent and people cheering. My nutrition fell apart on the run. After drinking 2.5 bottles of Skratch/Ucan on the bike, plus water, I did not want to drink the mixture on the run. The salt I took from the Aid station made me sick, and I had to use the porta potty again. Too much liquid. So much time was lost on the first loop. After I had some Coke, I felt much better. On the second loop, I started drinking Red Bull at every two aid stations. It was enough to keep me going. I also drank water at the aid stations and poured ice down my back. I kept a ratio of 2:1 on the run, but I felt that I just needed to run more and did not need that walk break, especially since I lost time on the first loop.

The last lap was a killer. I was freaked out when Coach Frank said I had to get to a rest stop by a certain time. I had no idea what rest stop it was. I knew I had plenty of time before the course closed, but now I was totally freaked out because I wanted to finish. I knew that my porta potty breaks had lost time, and I started to panic. That probably was a good thing because it made me push harder for that last lap in total fear. It was on this last lap that I felt like a member of the Tri-Now Family.

Nicole and Nestor ran with me for part of the loop because they saw I was totally scared about finishing. I had to run because I didn’t want to take any walk breaks with them. I’m not sure what I was doing was running. Nestor broke off and Nicole stayed with me. When she broke off, Anya ran with me. When I rounded a corner with about 1.5 to go, I thought I could take a walk break. But there was that damn beach cruiser and Coach Frank. I just kept running with Coach staying on me—thank you!!! Now, I know that I do not have to rely on those walk breaks that have been ingrained in me since Galloway. I can run, but I need to get faster.


The Finish Line

All that training was worth it. It was incredible to cross that line. I was so grateful for my family and my Tri Now family for all their support. The best part was Anya taking my hand and helping me walk to the transition area. She said she loved me and was proud of me. This is huge in a mother/daughter relationship because we butt heads all the time. She also ran 6 miles on Sunday, so maybe she wants to start getting into triathlons. I love it that Gabe volunteered to lead the lead runners on the course. He really had fun, but it showed me that he felt left out of my training. It’s a good thing that triathlons have relays.

Overall, I accomplished my goal. Running  a Half Ironman is just beyond anything I ever thought I could accomplish. Will I do another one? Yes. However, relays are in my future with Gabe. He can cycle, and I can continue to conquer my open water swim nerves and get faster with the run. Now, I just have to figure out how to get my college son, Michael, involved and Anya, my teenager.