I'm going back to Cali, Cali, Cali…
I’m going back to Cali,
(Courtesy of LL Cool J)
If you grew up in the 80s’ when rap was king, or have a teenager who loves old school remix, these lyrics may bring back memories of football pep rallies and high school dances. Late in the fall of 2012, I found myself singing these lyrics over and over again, with great anticipation of returning to what is one of my most favorite events, the “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlon in San Francisco. I had once again entered into the lottery system in hopes of securing a slot for Alcatraz earlier that year, however, it was not to be. It seemed if I wanted to return “to Cali” I would be pursuing a charity slot again as I had for my first year in 2011. Having gone the charity route before, I was blessed to have the benefit of so many wonderful friends and connections through the Challenged Athletes Foundation. This would be needed as the time frame allotted for fundraising for the 2013 race was shortened somewhat due to a conflict on the scheduled event weekend. The 2013 World’s Cup would be held on the usual weekend of the race, at the race site, therefore Escape was being moved to early March.
Now hold on, and let me back up and fill you in on my first experience at the “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlon in 2011. After much convincing from my best friend and training partner, Robert Palmer, I entered the lottery in hopes of securing a slot. Much to my surprise (not really!) I was not selected for the lottery. Robert, however, was… so, back to the drawing board. After many bike rides and long conversations, Robert and I came up with the great idea to pursue a charity slot! And a great idea it was! I signed on with the Challenged Athletes Foundation and began to raise funds to support this wonderful charity and the life changing work they do. I was blessed to be gifted by so many donors that I reached my fund raising goal, thereby securing my entry into “Escape” for 2011. I-was-on-my-way!
Then, wouldn’t you know, Robert and I, after more bike riding and conversations decided it should be a big family vacation! So, the planning ensued. I always thought my first year at Alcatraz would be the most memorable. I mean, how can you top a week long family vacation, time spent in Napa Valley, lunch in Chinatown, Trolley rides, driving down Lombard Street (over and over J), and watching the seals at Fisherman’s Wharf. There is nothing like touring Alcatraz Island and then finishing out the week with completing the race itself, and being blessed to share all of this with your own family and your best friend’s family too. Really, can the next year get any better?
I’m going back to Cali, Cali, Cali…
I’m going back to Cali…hmm I don’t think so
(Courtesy of LL Cool J)
Ok, so let’s fast forward back to late fall 2012. In December my family and I relocated to the beautiful Space Coast as Tom, my husband, began to pursue a new career. Shortly after moving to this new area, my health took a downhill swing. I’m going back to Cali…hmm it isn’t looking very good right now. On top of being asthmatic I suddenly had to have my tonsils removed. How could this be? How can you make it this far in your life in Tallahassee, the allergy capital of the world, and relocate to the fresh salt air of Cocoa Beach and end up needing to have your tonsils removed? Nevertheless, a tonsillectomy I needed, and a tonsillectomy I got. The procedure went smoothly. As an outpatient surgery, I went straight home and was doing great. I believed I would be back on my feet and outside running by the end of the week! This was the first week of February, about 3 and a half weeks before race day AND I still needed to secure my charity slot. By the next morning, I was burning up with fever and very ill, off to the ER. Many tests later it was finally determined that I had developed pneumonia in conjunction with the procedure. This led to an extended stay of 5 days in the hospital. Triathlon training for an asthmatic who has just had her tonsils removed and enjoyed the daily offerings of hospital life is pretty much non-existent.
Going back to Cali…hmm I don’t think so…
More and more it would seem that my return to San Francisco, and attempting to escape from “The Rock” was not to be in the cards for this year. After a wonderful visit with, yes you guessed it, Robert, and much encouragement I decided to petition my Doctor for release to participate in the event. I have to say, it took a lot of discussing and quite a bit of convincing, but in the end I was granted my release. Again with the gifts of key donors, my charity commitment was fulfilled. This time it would not be a family trip, it would be Robert, Paige, his wonderful wife and my dearest sister in Christ and myself. Three weeks later… I WAS “going back to Cali!
Can I say that year two topped my first, hmmm…I cannot say that it was better, they were equally “the best!”
Michelle Beitelmann was born and raised in the Big Bend area and currently resides in Cocoa Beach. She is a multiple Ironman finisher: Ironman Florida (2009, 2011) and Ironman Lake Placid (2013). She has finished the infamous Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon twice, and countless sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. She has run the Tallahassee Marathon and 26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.